Buying an AV receiver is simple, yet complicated. Sure, you could go to Amazon or Best Buy and purchase the first reasonably priced unit. But, you really want to purchase a receiver that will fit your current and future needs, work reliably, and last for many years. It’s definitely worth your time to consider the different AV receivers available for purchase and what your expected/known needs are.
My Top AV Receiver Recommendation
Most home theater setups contain 5 speakers, 1 subwoofer, and 1 display. This requires a 5.1 channel AV receiver. For typical home theater setups, I highly recommend the Onkyo TX-RZ820 A/V Receiver (Available on Amazon.com). You may be thinking, “this is a 7.2 channel, not a 5.1 channel receiver”. Remember, you want a receiver that will meet your current and future needs.
You may only have 5 speakers and 1 subwoofer, but this receiver allows you to have a total of 7 speakers, 2 subwoofers, and even run 2 separate displays. It will provide plenty of power to your speakers with 250 watts/channel (6 Ohms) or 130 watts/channel (8 Ohms). This is plenty of power for standard home theater speakers! It’s also a good practice to purchase an AV receiver that will not be used at its full capacity. If you are only using 5 of the 7 speaker outputs, then this is less of a strain on the receiver.
We’ve used many many Onkyo AV Receivers throughout the years. We literally have 5 older b-stock Onkyo receivers (all still work) sitting in our inventory room right now. They notably have great GUIs (graphical user interfaces). This is important when adjusting the different settings available on the receiver.
The Onkyo TX-RZ820 also includes a variety of audio streaming services such as built-in chromecast audio, airplay, Bluetooth, Spotify, Pandora, and others. Note: There are some reviews indicating that they received a DOA (dead on arrival) unit, and struggled to work with Onkyo support.
From my experience, we haven’t experienced hardly any issues with Onkyo AV receivers. The few issues we have experienced have been resolved in a reasonable manner. The TX-RZ820 is backed by a 3-year warranty, so for this price, it is an outstanding deal!
What to Consider When Purchasing an AV Receiver
When you are purchasing an AV receiver, the most important things to consider are:
- The inputs and outputs available and how many you think or know you will need.
- The number of speakers and subwoofers connecting to the receiver, and the amount of power the AV receiver is capable of outputting to the speakers.
- The different features available on the receiver are personal preference.
- The price! Budget is always something to consider, for 95% of people.
Best 5.1 AV Receiver on a Budget
While the Onkyo TX-RZ610 is a fairly low price for a great AV receiver. Sometimes your budget can be very limited. The Denon AVR-S540BT (on Amazon) is a very cheap option for a standard home theater AV receiver.
It is a barebones 5.2 channel receiver. It has 5 HDMI inputs, 1 HDMI output, 5 speaker outputs, 2 subwoofer pre-outputs, and some standard not so special features. It claims to output 140 watts/channel to the speakers, but it’s unknown if this number is actually accurate or not.
From the different reviews, it’s nothing special, but it definitely gets the job done. Likely a great first AV receiver to have and use for a while until you decide it’s not enough for your needs. Which, who knows? This could be exactly what you’re looking for! It purely depends on your wants or needs for your system.
Getting a Little More Serious? Recommended Semi-Highend Receiver
The bigger brother to the TX-RZ810 is the Onkyo TX-RZ830. At first glance, you may not notice a large difference between this unit and the TX-RZ820. However, the main differences are:
- Its 2nd HDMI output can be used in a Zone2 environment. This means that theoretically, you could have 1 input playing through the main HDMI output and a different input playing through the Zone2 HDMI output.
- It has much more power than its little brother, the TX-RZ820. It can output 250 watts/channel (6 Ohms) or 120 watts/channel (8 Ohms). If you have a high-quality system of speakers, then this unit will have absolutely no problems with powering everything.
- This unit has the ability for 3 Zones of audio (technically 4 because there are a zone 2a and 2b). So with this setup, you could have the same or even different music sources playing in 3 separate zones. Zone 2a and 2b are locked together, meaning 2 separate rooms have speakers, but they both will play the same source and can not work independently of each other. This is an outstanding feature if you are a lover of music! We have music playing all over the house with a similar setup, and it is outstanding.
- The TX-RZ830 also has pre-outs for all of the speakers. These come in handy when you want to apply even more power to some speakers with a second amplifier.
This AV receiver also has a standard 3-year warranty with Onkyo, you can also purchase an extended warranty if you are worried about it failing after 3 years.
There are so many different options for AV receivers. Don’t just go out and purchase the first cheap unit you can find. You may find that in a year or two when you want to upgrade your speakers or another aspect of your system, that you are unable to do so because of the limitations of your receiver. Think long term when purchasing an AV receiver because these babies can last a very long time. The high-quality ones are truly built to last! So, hear me out and consider the recommendations I have mentioned.
If you are looking for other Home Theater equipment, I have many other pages similar to this one that all recommend other great pieces of equipment. This includes projectors, projector screens, wireless/wired speakers, soundbars, etc. Check out the recommended products page of my site, it has all of the home theater equipment that I would recommend to anyone.