If you’re setting up a home theatre system – games console, big screen TV and a brand new set of surround sound speakers – you’ll want to pay particular attention to the A/V amplifier that will be placed at its centre. The best A/V receiver under £500 may not seem as exciting as the other components of your home theatre, but it does the most important job of all: rerouting the audio and video signals that arrive at the speakers they’re supposed to be played on and to the TV. Most importantly, the A/V receiver is responsible for improving the quality of the signal along the way so that you can get the best sound and video quality from the rest of your system.
- Yamaha RX-V683BL
- Yamaha RX-V583BL
- Onkyo TX-NR575
- Onkyo TX-SR373
- Denon AVR-S710W
- Pioneer VSX-1131
- Yamaha RX-V383BL
- Denon AVRS530BT
- Onkyo TX-SR383
- Pioneer VSX-531D(B)
- What can you expect from an A/V amplifier under €500?
- Features to consider before buying an A/V amplifier
- How to set up an A/V receiver
To find the best A/V receiver under £500, we’ve considered a number of features that affect the quality of sound delivered to your speakers. Firstly, we looked at the number of channels, as this determines how many speakers you can add to your amplifier. We also considered the power of the receiver’s amplifier, which plays a key role in determining which speakers you will use with your receiver. Finally, we looked at the HDMI ports, which allow you to connect multiple AV devices, such as games consoles and TVs, to your receiver, as well as special features such as Bluetooth.
We spent 35 hours reading customer reviews and technical specifications of the most popular and best-selling A/V receivers under £500. The result is a list of the top ten sub-€500 A/V receivers on the market today, summarised in the table below. Read on for detailed reviews of these ten A/V receivers, including the pros and cons of each. Our buying guide and Frequently Asked Questions section cover everything you need to know about choosing from these A/V receivers and finding the one that’s right for you. Finally, we present our three favourite A/V receivers under £500.
With advanced technologies that rivals can only dream of, the Yamaha RX-V683BL AV receiver is one step ahead of the competition. It can effortlessly create an excellent sound environment, whether in a medium or large space. First of all, the unit is Wi-Fi enabled, which simplifies system connections and allows you to enjoy music streaming services and networked audio. In the absence of a network router, there is a special Wi-Fi direct function that allows you to stream music directly from your smartphone via the Airplay app, AV controller app, etc.
In addition to offering a wide range of network functions such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, the AV controller app also allows you to control various functions from your tablets, Android phones, iPods, iPads and iPhones. Simply download the app from the Google Play store or the App store, depending on the type of smartphone you are using. Simply put, this app simplifies operation and makes everything incredibly easy. For voice control, the AV receiver is also compatible with Alexa, which you need to purchase separately.
In addition, the device is compatible with Hybrid Log-Gamma and Dolby Vision technologies, which allows for smooth sound, incredible contrast and rich, bright colours. The unit also allows you to add up to nine additional MusicCast rooms, which is quite impressive. There’s also an eco mode, which reduces power consumption by around 20%. In terms of drawbacks, it has only one, in our opinion. The only minor gripe we have with it is that it comes with a really cheap, short FM antenna – cheap enough to replace, but cheap enough to provide a better/longer one from the start.
- 150 W (8 ohms, 10% THD)
- 90 W (8 ohms, 0.06% THD)
- 6 / 1 (HDCP2.2, HDR10 / Dolby Vision / HLG and BT.2020 compatible)
- works with Alexa; 17 DSP programs
When it comes to A/V amplifiers under $500, it’s incredibly hard to beat this feature-packed amplifier from Yamaha. As well as being Bluetooth-enabled to work with games consoles and your phone or computer, the amplifier has Airplay to work with Apple devices, can connect to Spotify, Tidal and Deezer music services via your home WiFi network, and can even work with Amazon’s Alexa smart devices. If that wasn’t enough to make you want to use this receiver to stream your music and shows, this receiver also supports multi-room audio so you can play alternative music in a second room or control audio from the same source in up to nine rooms.
In the context of a larger home cinema system, this receiver also performs well for its price. The receiver is a seven-channel system with ports for not just one, but two subwoofers, meaning you can turn up the volume and use two subwoofers to fill the room with bass. The 80 watt output rating is higher than that found on many comparable receivers at this price, while the receiver can also deliver a maximum of 145 watts. The video output is also 4K compatible and ready for your enhanced TV screen.
The only downside to this receiver is that it only has four HDMI ports, which is surprising considering the many other ways it makes it easy to connect to all your devices.
- 145W (6 ohms, 10% THD)
- 80W (8 ohms, 0.09% THD)
- 4 / 1 (HDCP 2.2, HDR10 / Dolby Vision / HLG and BT.2020 compatible)
- Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Alexa compatible
Well under the $500 price tag, this Onkyo A/V amplifier produces a surprising amount of volume for your home theater system. Although the amplifier is only rated for 80 watts of continuous power per channel, maximum output power is 170 watts per channel, although the 10% distortion rate at maximum power makes it a level of gain you won’t want to spend much time on. However, overall system noise is kept low by Onkyo’s dynamic audio amplification technology.
This receiver makes it easy to connect to all your devices. In addition to hosting six HDMI input ports, the receiver has Bluetooth connectivity and Chromecast built in. It’s also compatible with Amazon’s Fire Connect and can connect to your home’s WiFi network to stream music from Pandora, Spotify, Amazon Music and several other streaming services. In addition, the receiver supports “Zone 2” audio, which essentially allows you to control a set of speakers in another room via a secondary set of line-out ports. Gamers also loved this receiver because there is virtually no lag between the input signal and the audio or video outputs – an essential feature for gaming.
The quality of the audio and video output is both excellent and the key to this receiver for users. The video output supports 4K video, while the audio supports Dolby Atmos and DTS:X codecs for superior audio quality at this price point.
- 170 W/ch (6 ohms, 1 kHz, 10% THD, 1 channel used, FTC)
- 80 W/ch (8 Ohms, 20 Hz – 20 kHz, 0.08% THD, 2 channels, FTC)
- 6 inputs / 1 output supporting 4K/60 Hz, HDR10, Dolby Vision, BT.2020 and HDCP 2.2 Pass-through.
- Dynamic audio amplification, powered zone, 2 speaker and line outputs, Bluetooth.
Users have loved this powerful and technologically advanced A/V receiver from Onkyo, one of the biggest names in A/V receivers. Although the receiver offers only five channels for speakers, it includes two subwoofer ports so you can have two small subwoofers to fill your room with sound. The 80-watt power rating and 155-watt maximum power are comparable to other receivers, and the amplifier supports Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio codecs to produce the sound that impressed users.
Like most other receivers in this price range, this unit is capable of connecting to your devices via Bluetooth but only hosts four HDMI input ports. That said, the HDMI output port is capable of receiving 4K video and produces particularly deep colours. In addition, the receiver is built with Qualcomm aptX for streaming from devices that support this software.
Users also appreciated the receiver’s built-in AccuEQ system, which takes into account the acoustics of your room to help you position the speakers and find the optimal output levels and crossover frequencies for perfect sound. Setup is also made easier by the clearly labeled input and output ports on the back of the unit, allowing novice A/V amplifier users to properly set up their home theater system. Unfortunately, users have also noted that the display on the front of the receiver is relatively user-unfriendly and difficult to analyse without consulting the manual.
- 155 W/channel (6 ohms, 1 kHz, 10% THD, 1 channel driven)
- 80W/channel (8 ohms, 20 Hz – 20 kHz, 0.08% THD, 2 channels, FTC)
- 4 / 1 (HDCP 2.2 / HDR, 4K/60 Hz, 3D, Audio Return Channel, Deep Color, x.V. Color and Lip sync)
- Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding, Qualcomm aptX Audio, Bluetooth
This Denon A/V amplifier may be closer to the $500 mark than most of our other choices, but for that price you get a 7.2-channel home theater amplifier with a lot of features. In terms of power, this receiver is comparable to slightly less expensive receivers with 75 watts per channel of continuous power and 110 watts per channel of maximum power. However, users really appreciated the addition of a second subwoofer channel on this receiver, which allows your bass to be as enveloping as the rest of your audio in your home theater.
This receiver also boasted one of the broadest multi-device support systems available. As well as hosting six HDMI input ports on the back of the unit, the receiver is Bluetooth enabled and has remote control apps for both Apple and Android products. The inclusion of an Android app is particularly noteworthy, as while many sub-$500 receivers support Apple Airplay, there are very few receivers designed to work seamlessly with Android. Users also appreciated the ease of use of the controls on the front of the device to navigate between different functions.
The video on this receiver supports Dolby Vision and 4K resolution for ultra-high definition displays, on par with most of its competitors. However, users noted that the remote control was somewhat flimsy. In addition, although Denon offers a two-year warranty on the receiver, customers have reported experiencing serious problems when working with Denon’s customer service team.
- 110W/ch (6 ohms, 1 kHz with 0.7% THD)
- 75W/ch (8 ohms, 20 Hz – 20 kHz with 0.08 % THD)
- 6 inputs / 1 output supporting 4K / 60 Hz, HDR10, Dolby Vision, BT.2020, and HDCP 2.2 Pass-through.
- IP control capability with HEOS link, Bluetooth, iOS and Android remote control apps.
This powerful A/V receiver from Pioneer is primarily designed as a 5.2.1 system to be used with tall speakers that work to give it an incredible surround sound effect. Users have appreciated the overall sound quality, thanks in part to the MCACC room acoustic calibration technology that helps optimise the sound. The receiver also features Pioneer’s Reflex Optimizer software, which takes calibration a step further to produce even more enveloping surround sound for your home theatre system. The receiver itself is capable of a sustained 100 watts per channel and a maximum output of 170 watts per channel, making it the most powerful receiver we reviewed for under $500.
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The receiver has seven HDMI input ports and two HDMI output ports, giving you a wide range of options for connecting devices and TVs. In addition, you can connect devices either via Bluetooth or WiFi, which many users have adapted to use Apple AirPlay with this receiver. The receiver also has Chromecast built in, but it should be noted that Chromecast can only be used to play music and not to stream video.
The main issue users had with this receiver was reliability. Many users found that faulty circuitry or an overloaded motherboard caused this receiver to fail within a year of purchase. Although Pioneer offers a relatively short one-year warranty, customers found it difficult to work with Pioneer’s customer service team, even during the warranty period.
- 170W/ch (6 ohms, 1 kHz, THD 0.9%, 1 FTC driven)
- 100 W/ (8 ohms, 20 Hz – 20 kHz, THD 0.08%, 2 FTC channels)
- 7 inputs / 2 outputs supporting 4K / 60 Hz, HDR10, Dolby Vision, BT.2020, and HDCP 2.2 Pass-through.
- Reflex Optimizer, Multi-room Audio, Bluetooth
Users were impressed with this five-channel A/V receiver from Yamaha when they installed it in a small home theater. The 70-watt-per-channel power rating may not be particularly high, but the maximum dynamic output of 145 watts per channel allows you to turn up the volume enough for a medium-sized room. Overall, users found the sound quality to be crisp and clear, thanks in part to the addition of Yamaha’s compressed music enhancement technology, which works similarly to Onkyo’s Advanced Music Optimizer to bring out high frequencies that are otherwise lost. This amplifier also works very well with low frequencies thanks to Yamaha’s Bass Enhancer, although the main limitation to your bass is your subwoofer with this amplifier. The receiver’s included YPAO sound optimization program helps you calibrate your receiver and speakers to get the best possible audio quality from your room acoustics, which users have also appreciated.
The receiver is Bluetooth-enabled to connect wirelessly to your devices, although it doesn’t support WiFi as comparable receivers often do. In addition, there are only four HDMI ports, so it’s possible to fill up your ports over time. Users have also found that the A/V receiver’s remote control signal receiver is very sensitive and won’t pick up signals if it’s obstructed by furniture, which can be quite annoying depending on your home cinema setup.
- 145W (6 ohms, 10% THD)
- 70W (8 ohms, 0.09% THD)
- 4 / 1 (HDCP 2.2, HDR10 / Dolby Vision / HLG and BT.2020 compatible)
Denon is a highly respected name in the world of A/V receivers, and this unit is designed to be easy to use in a larger home theatre system. Note that because the amplifier is only a five-channel system and maximum output power is capped at 90 watts per channel – just over half that of some other amplifiers in this price range – this A/V amplifier is best suited to smaller rooms with relatively low-powered speakers. That said, distortion at 90 watts per channel is extremely low compared to other A/V receivers in this class, at 0.7% THD.
The front panel of the receiver is extremely intuitive to use, something that first-time A/V receiver users really appreciated. In addition to Bluetooth support for wirelessly connecting your devices, the receiver has a USB input on the front panel that allows you to quickly and easily connect a phone or computer to play music. Note, however, that scrolling through your music library using either Bluetooth or the USB input requires a TV to be connected to the receiver as a display screen and navigation can be awkwardly slow.
The A/V receiver is equipped with everything you need to handle a 4K signal including BT.2020 colour gamut for bright, vibrant displays. In addition, the inclusion of five HDMI ports on the back of the unit makes it easy to connect all your devices, with the ability to expand your home theatre setup.
- 90W/ch (6 ohms, 1 kHz with 0.7% THD)
- 70 W/ch (6 ohms, 1 kHz with 0.7 % THD)
- 5 / 1 (HDCP 2.2, HDR10 / Dolby Vision / HLG and BT.2020 compatible)
- powerful 5-channel discrete amplifier with eco mode, advanced HDMI video section
This inexpensive receiver from Onkyo is loved by its users, and for good reason. While the receiver doesn’t have the WiFi connectivity or streaming services found on more expensive receivers, it excels at playing music. The receiver is capable of 80 watts of sustained output per channel and up to 155 watts of maximum output per channel, albeit with significant distortion at high gains. The amplifier also features Onkyo’s Advanced Music Optimizer technology, which preserves high frequencies that otherwise disappear on most amplifiers in this price range. The receiver’s built-in AccuEQ technology also helps you calibrate the receiver and your speakers to the acoustic properties of your room, so you can get the best possible sound quality from your home theater.
What users particularly like about this amplifier is its dual-zone functionality, which allows you to play the same audio source or two different audio sources simultaneously in two different rooms. You also retain full control of the volume in each room, making it an excellent choice for customising your music choices between rooms.
The downside of this receiver is that it only has four HDMI ports, which can be limiting when there’s no WiFi or USB connectivity on the front. In addition, this receiver does not support 4K video resolution or advanced Dolby video codecs, so video quality will be sorely lacking compared to similar A/V receivers.
- 1ch- 155W 6 Ohm at 1 kHz THD 10% Nominal output power
- 80W / 2c 8 ohm 20 Hz – 20 kHz THD 0.08% HDMI ports
- 4 In In / 1 Out (HDR10/hlg/BT.2020/HDCP 2.2)
- Qualcomm aptX Audio, Bluetooth, AccuEQ room acoustic calibration
This inexpensive A/V amplifier from Pioneer costs well under £500, but is perfect for a first-time home theatre system installation. The five-channel speaker system is capable of delivering 80 watts of continuous power per channel and a maximum of 150 watts per channel, which is comparable to A/V receivers that cost hundreds of dollars more. The inclusion of a single channel subwoofer on this unit is not uncommon but limits the amount of bass you can put into the room. Users new to home theater systems also appreciated the fact that this receiver comes with MCACC Auto room tuning and synchronized sound with phase control to help you calibrate your home theater system to the acoustics of your room. Many customers have said they are impressed with the crispness of the sound produced by this receiver, especially given its affordable price. The video quality of this receiver matches the sound quality with the inclusion of 4K functionality and support for the Dolby Vision codec.
The amplifier has Bluetooth support to connect wirelessly to your devices, as well as a USB port on the front of the amplifier’s housing to allow you to quickly connect a phone or computer. However, note that there’s no WiFi connectivity or support for music streaming services like you might find on other sub-£500 A/V amplifiers, which can be important features for some users. The receiver also only includes four HDMI inputs at the back, which can be limiting if you use a lot of different devices in your home theatre.
- 130 W/channel (6 ohms, 1 kHz, THD 10%, 1 channel used)
- 80 W/ch (8 ohms, 20 Hz – 20 kHz, THD 0.08%, 2Ch Driven FTC)
- 4 In / 1 Out supporting 4K / 60 Hz, HDR10, Dolby Vision, BT.2020, and HDCP 2.2 Pass-through
- Bluetooth, front USB input, synchronised sound with phase control
What can you expect from an A/V amplifier under €500?
Unlike speakers, where it’s hard to get really good quality at under £500, A/V receivers in this price range can be surprisingly solid. A/V receiver technology has become cheap enough that most receivers under £500 support the most desirable features for home theatre systems, such as Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, multiple HDMI ports and Bluetooth.
That said, there are still important features that can be left out of cheaper A/V receivers, including 4K video output capability – which will become increasingly important as more and more video and games are produced in 4K resolution. In addition, while more expensive receivers generally have all the features you could want in a single unit, receivers under £500 usually force you to choose between, for example, multi-room support and automatic recalibration for your room’s acoustics. Notably, there are also few 9-channel receivers available for under €500 for those who want to add a ton of speakers to a single receiver.
Another key difference between receivers under £500 and their more expensive counterparts is output power. While cheaper receivers typically produce 100 watts or less of continuous power, high-end receivers have much more powerful amplifiers that can in turn handle more powerful speakers at their peak.
Features to consider before buying an A/V amplifier
A/V amplifiers are often described according to a set of technical specifications that give clues about the sound quality and compatibility of the amplifier with your equipment. To help you find the right receiver for you, we’ll explain these specifications and why they are important.
Power, measured in watts, is one of the most important aspects of an A/V receiver, but also the most difficult to analyse, as there is no standard method of reporting power among manufacturers. The power output rating describes the wattage – essentially the volume – that a receiver can consistently deliver to the speakers. This is important because the power of your amplifier needs to be equal to, or slightly greater than, the power output of your speakers for you to get the most out of them. Like your speakers, A/V amplifiers are also designed for maximum power that can only be maintained for a short time, and this power must also be equal to or greater than the maximum power of your speakers. An undersized amplifier will not only limit the capabilities of your speakers, but is also more likely to blow them out than a higher powered amplifier.
These days, almost any device you want to connect to your receiver apart from the speakers themselves – a TV, games console, computer and many others – uses HDMI ports to connect. So it’s important to consider the number of HDMI ports on your receiver. You need at least one input port for each device you plan to connect now, and it’s also a good idea to have an extra port or two for any devices you might want to add in the future. While most receivers only offer a single HDMI output port, the Pioneer VSX-1131 offers a second port that could be used to connect a second TV
More and more devices are now Bluetooth-enabled, making it extraordinarily easy to connect your device to your A/V receiver, if the receiver itself is Bluetooth-enabled. Although it’s not an essential function of your receiver, all of the A/V receivers under £500 that we reviewed are Bluetooth-enabled.
Almost all A/V receivers have a rectangular, box-like shape, but you’ll need to place this box in an easily accessible location at the front of your home theatre system. So it’s worth having a location in mind and measuring its dimensions before choosing an amplifier.
A/V receivers differ from each other in many other ways. One of the most popular features is multi-room audio, which allows you to use one amplifier to play different audio sources in different rooms of your home. If you have a large house and several people with different musical preferences, consider choosing an amplifier like the Pioneer VSX-1131 that has this feature.
In addition, some receivers, such as the Onkyo TX-SR383, offer AccuEQ room calibration, which automatically detects and adjusts to the acoustics of your room to produce the best possible sound for your cinema. While this feature is by no means essential, it is a great way to get the most out of your home theater.
Almost all A/V amplifiers have a rectangular, box-like shape, but you will need to place this box in an easily accessible location at the front of your home theatre system. So it’s worth having a location in mind and measuring its dimensions before choosing an amplifier.
A/V receivers differ from each other in many other ways. One of the most popular features is multi-room audio, which allows you to use a single amplifier to play different audio sources in different rooms of your home. If you have a large house and several people with different musical preferences, consider choosing an amplifier like the Pioneer VSX-1131 that has this feature.
In addition, some receivers, such as the Onkyo TX-SR383, offer AccuEQ room calibration, which automatically detects and adjusts to the acoustics of your room to produce the best possible sound for your cinema. While this feature is by no means essential, it can help improve sound quality.
Even if you don’t have a 4K TV yet, if you want to upgrade in the future, having a 4K-compatible A/V receiver will save you from having to replace that component of your home theatre system then, too. The Onkyo TX-SR373 and TX-NR575, Pioneer VSX-532 and VSX-1131, and Denon AVR-S710W receivers are all 4K compatible, as well as the new BT.2020 colour gamut, which has been designed for 4K.
How to set up an A/V receiver
Once you have your new A/V receiver in hand, how do you set it up? The first step is to find a new location for your receiver, where it will have sufficient airflow to prevent overheating and where speaker wires and HDMI cables can be easily connected. Once the unit is in place, you can use HDMI cables to connect your TV via the HDMI output port. Most A/V receivers will have an on-screen instruction guide to help you through the rest of the setup process. You can also connect HDMI cables for any cable box or gaming device into the HDMI input ports at this time.
Installing the speakers requires a long coil of speaker wire – each speaker will be connected to one of the audio output ports on the back of your receiver, the number of which should match the number of channels supported by your receiver. Also connect the subwoofer at this time to the subwoofer output port. Once the speakers are connected and placed in the room where they work best, you can calibrate the system using the built-in room acoustics calibration software or by carefully moving the speakers around the room while you sit in the main listening position.
Although the competition between these audio receivers is fierce, we think the best A/V receiver on the market today is the Yamaha RX-V683BL. The Yamaha RX-V583BL is our second choice, and the Pioneer VSX-532 is the best budget A/V receiver. All three amplifiers support Bluetooth technology to connect to your devices wirelessly, and they’re also capable of connecting to your home’s WiFi network to stream music from various online sources or connect to your phone via Apple AirPlay. What’s more, the Yamaha receivers are 7.2 channel systems, which means that as well as connecting overhead speakers, you can also add a second subwoofer to fill your room with bass. While the Pioneer receiver doesn’t have this feature, it’s our choice for those on a budget because of the support for 4K video and MCACC room audio calibration technology.
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