Great AV Receivers for Any Budget

Still essential for any great home audio system.

Many are turned off of the whole receiver plus speakers setup because it seems difficult and complicated. But in truth, it doesn’t need to be either. There are great receivers for any budget; you can spend tens of thousands of dollars for audiophile bliss, or you can spend a couple hundred bucks and get something that’ll blow any soundbar or wireless speaker out of the water. Here’s what to look for.

Basic Unit

This unit also packs in Bluetooth, so you can stream directly from your phone. Yamaha

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Receivers are the traditional way to build a stereo. They can take inputs from TVs, streaming boxes, turntables and even cassette players, if that’s what you’re into. Then they output to speakers connected by speaker wire; those speakers don’t need to be plugged into an outlet, so they’re called “passive.” Really, that’s all you need: a receiver, some cheap wire, and two speakers. That setup can create truly amazing sound.


The back-panel has color-coded connections for easy organization. Denon

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As you get up in price, you’ll find more and more features. One great feature to look for is HDMI inputs and outputs, especially if you plan to hook up your stereo to your TV. With HDMI, you can allow your receiver to be the heart of your entertainment unit: plug in your TV, your cable box, Blu-ray player, videogame console, streaming box and more right into the receiver. That way, only one cable needs to snake up to your TV.

Truly Luxurious

This system can handle nearly a dozen standard speakers. Marantz

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You might notice a collection of numbers with some receivers: 2.0, 5.1, even up to 13.2. Those numbers refer to the quantity of speakers and subwoofers the receiver can respectively handle; the first number is for passive speakers, the second is for subwoofers. Is two subwoofers excessive? Sure, but only in the best way.