Also, check out my Guide to Home Theater Receivers for everything you need to know before purchasing one.
1. Yamaha RX-V475 5.1 Channel Network Home Theater Receiver
The Yamaha RX-V475 is an example of how much a home theater receiver can offer for a very reasonable price. Although its suggested list price is $449.95, it can be easily be found in the $399 price range.
This receiver has a powerful 5.1 channel amplifier (80WPC- measured with 2 channels driven), and Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio decoding. The RX-V475 can also wirelessly access iTunes and additional music streaming from an iPod Touch, iPhone, or iPad via Apple AirPlay. However, in addition to Apple AirPlay, vTuner internet radio, as well as media files stored on USB flash drives and PCs connected to a DLNA compatible home network can be accessed.
Of course, more traditional features have not been neglected. These include Yamaha's SCENE function, which allows preset or customized listening and viewing modes, as well as Yamaha's Silent Cinema headphone surround output. Also included is HDMI 3D and Audio Return Channel and MHL support and up to 4K pass through switching (no upscaling) via 5 HDMI inputs. The RX-V475 even offers the YPAO speaker setup system. If you are planning to purchase a modestly-priced home theater receiver with useful features, power, and performance, the RX-V475 may be just the ticket.
2. Denon AVR-E300 5.1 Channel Home Theater Receiver
The Denon AVR-E300 is good example of how high-end features have filtered down to a very affordable price level. The AVR-E300 sports a 5.1 Channel configuration with an adequate 75WPCx5 output that is perfect for small or medium-size rooms with Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio decoding. For video, the AVR-E300 has five 3D and 1080p pass-through compatible HDMI inputs. However, it does not offer analog to HDMI conversion or upscaling.
On the other hand, other practical features include, the Audyssey MultEQ automatic speaker setup system, as well as a front mounted USB port for accessing digital media content directly from either an iPod or iPhone as well as flash drives and compatible USB hard drives. Added perks are the inclusion of Apple Airplay, Internet Radio, and access to audio files stored on DLNA compatible network connected PCs and media servers. If you are looking for a home theater receiver that offers little more for a little less, then check out the Denon AVR-E300.
Also, if the AVR-E300 is not in your budget, then also check out the Denon AVR-E200, which eliminates Audyssey MultEQ, USB connectivity, Internet Radio, and DLNA compatibility, but still offers the basic audio decoding, processing, and pass-through video switching features for needed for a basic home theater setup.
Compare Prices for the AVR-E200.
3. Pioneer VSX-823-K Network Home Theater Receiver
The Pioneer VSX-823-K provides a built-in 5.1 Channel configuration (80 wpc - meaured from 20hz to 20kHz, .08 THD with 2 channels driven) with Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio decoding as well as additional surround sound processing. The VSX-823-K also provides the MCACC speaker calibration system which makes speaker placement and level setup very easy.
For connectivity, the VSX-823-K has 4 rear panel HDMI 1.4a 3D and 4K pass through inputs and switching. Also, there is an extra front panel HDMI input that is MHL-compatible. Also on the front panel is an USB port that allows direct connection of a USB flash drive, iPod, iPad, or iPhone (no optional dock required). Just plug in any of those Apple devices using the provided connection cable and you can access iTunes and Apple AirPlay functions.
Three additional bonuses is that the VSX-823-K incorporates Internet Radio (vTuner, Pandora), Bluetooth (via optional adapter), and is DLNA certified. The DLNA feature allows the receiver to access media content stored on network-connected PCs and media servers.
Note: Although the suggested price for the VSX-823-K is $429.99, it can be found for $399 or Less.
4. Yamaha RX-V375 5.1 Channel Home Theater Receiver
The Yamaha RX-V375 offers a lot for its $299.95 price tag, such as a powerful 5.1 channel amplifier (70 wpc measured with 2ch driven from 20Hz-20kHz at 8 ohms .09% THD), Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding for Blu-ray Discs. There is also a front panel USB port for connection of USB flash drives or Apple devices, such as an iPhone, iPod, or iPad. The SCENE function allows preset or customized listening and viewing modes. One feature I especially like is the Silent Cinema headphone surround output.
Also included is HDMI 3D and Audio Return Channel support, along with both 1080p and 4K pass through switching (no upscaling) via 4 HDMI inputs. The RX-V375 even offers the YPAO speaker setup system. If you are planning to purchase a basic home theater receiver with useful features, power, and performance, the RX-V375 may be just the ticket.
5. Sony STR-DH540 Entry-Level Home Theater Receiver
If you are looking for an entry-level home theater receiver, check out the Sony STR-DH520. This receiver features 5.1 Channel Dolby TrueHD/DTS-HD Master Audio/Multi-channel PCM decoding, as well as additional audio processing. The 4 HDMI inputs are both 3D and 4K pass-through compatible, and HDMI output is Audio Return Channel-enabled. The STR-DH540 even offers a pass-through mode that allows access to HDMI connected devices even if the receiver is off. One added bonus is the include of a front mounted USB port for accessing content on flash drives or iPhone, iPod, or iPad.
The STR-DH540 is definitely not high-end, but has practical features (including Sony's Digtial Cinema Auto Calibration speaker setup system), that make it great for a modest home theater system. For details on the setup and operation of the STR-DH540, you can download the user manual.
Also Available: If you feel you need something more than what the STR-DH540 has to offer, but are still on a limited budget, you might also consider the step-up STR-DH740. This receiver has everything the 540 has to offer, but also provides up to a 7.1 channel speaker configuration, along with Dolby Prologic IIz audio processing and a Speaker Bi-Amp option.
6. Pioneer VSX-523-K Entry Level Home Theater Receiver
7. Marantz NR1403 5.1 Channel Slim-Line Home Theater Receiver
The Marantz NR1403 a Home Theater Receiver that features slim profile styling for smaller spaces. NR1403 provides a 5.1 channel configuration andis rated at 50 watts-per-channel (measured from 20Hz to 20kHz, 2-channels driven, .08% THD. Some of its features include 3D and Audio Return Channel compatibility, six HDMI inputs, and Audyssey MultEQ automatic speaker setup and room correction system. One thing that is missing, however, is that the NR1403 does not provide component video connections. On the other hand if you are looking for a home theater receiver, but don't have a lot of shelf space, or a lot of cash, definitely check out the Marantz NR1403.
8. Onkyo TX-SR313 5.1 Channel Home Receiver with USB PortThe Onkyo TX-SR313 packs in a lot for not a lot of money. Starting with core functions, the TX-SR313 provides a 5.1 Channel configuration that delivers 65 Watts-per-Channel (measured at 8 ohms, from 20Hz to 20kHz, at .7% THD with two channels driven), combined with, Dolby TrueHD/DTS-Master Audio decoding, as well as Audio Return Channel, 3D and 1080p pass through and switching via HDMI - There are four HDMI inputs and one HDMI output.
Another added feature is a built-in USB port for accessing audio content from iPod/iPhone or USB flash drives.
For a suggested price of $299, the Onkyo TX-SR313 offers the core basics you need for a modest home theater system, but also adds the ability for you connect your iPod or USB flash drive to access additional digital media content. Also, Onkyo even includes an onscreen menu that makes setup easy. If you are on a limited budget, or are looking for a receiver to serve as the hub for a second room system, the TX-SR313 may be just right for you.
9. Onkyo TX-NR414 5.1 Channel Network Home Theater Receiver
The TX-NR414 packs in both solid audio features and internet streaming access for a very reasonable price. First off, the TX-NR414 is rated at 5.1 Channel configuration 80 Watts-per-Channel (measured at 8 ohms, from 20Hz to 20kHz, at .7% THD with two channels driven). This is enough power for small or medium size room.
On the rest of the audio side, the TX-NR414 provides Dolby TrueHD/DTS-Master Audio decoding, as well as Audio Return Channel. On the video side there is 3D and 1080p pass through, as well as InstaPrevue switching for 6 HDMI inputs and one HDMI output. However, the TX-NR414 does not feature added video processing or upscaling.
The TX-NR414 also has a built-in USB port for accessing audio content from iPod/iPhone or USB flash drives, as well as DLNA network connectivity, and Internet Radio access (Spotify, Pandora, and more). The TX-NR414 also compatible with the Onkyo UWF-1 Wireless USB Adapter, which simplifies connect to a home theater network and the internet.
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