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The 7 Best Home Theatre Receivers

A high-quality home theater receiver serves as the central hub and powerhouse of your entertainment system, bringing movies, TV shows, video games, and music to life with immersive, room-filling sound. By decoding the latest surround sound formats, upscaling video to 8K and 4K, and providing ample connectivity for all your devices, the best home theater receivers provide a truly transportive experience that makes you feel like you‘re in the middle of the action.

To help you choose the ideal receiver to serve as the brains and brawn of your home theater, I‘ve hand-picked the top models from respected brands like Denon, Yamaha, Marantz, and Sony. My selections offer advanced features, bountiful power, and impeccable performance to satisfy discerning audiophiles and cinephiles alike. Whether you‘re a movie buff, a hardcore gamer, or a music lover, these home theater receivers have you covered.

The first must-have capability in a modern receiver is 8K video with 4K/120Hz passthrough and upscaling. This futureproofs your system and ensures you can enjoy the highest-quality video from the latest gaming consoles and 8K video sources. Look for models with multiple HDMI 2.1 inputs that support 8K/60Hz and 4K/120Hz passthrough, as well as gaming-centric features like Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM), and Quick Frame Transport (QFT).

On the audio front, Dolby Atmos and DTS:X provide the most immersive 3D surround sound available today, bouncing sound off your ceilings and walls to envelop you in a sphere of audio. The top receivers can process up to 11 channels to support Atmos and DTS:X speaker configurations like 7.1.4 or 5.1.6. They also offer lower-speaker-count virtualizations of these formats for smaller setups.

Multi-room audio is another key capability that lets you enjoy music and radio throughout your home. The best receivers act as multi-room hubs that can power speakers in other rooms and stream synchronized music via platforms like HEOS, Yamaha MusicCast, AirPlay 2, and Chromecast built-in. Voice control via Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple Siri adds further flexibility.

Most high-end receivers also include advanced room correction systems like Audyssey MultEQ, Anthem Room Correction (ARC), or Yamaha YPAO which use a microphone to analyze your room‘s acoustics and automatically calibrate the audio to optimize performance for your space. This provides clearer sound and deeper immersion.

While the top home theater receivers excel as generalists, certain models are specially tuned for particular content. For example, the Marantz Cinema 60 and Denon AVR-X6700H are exemplary choices for movie buffs thanks to their support for IMAX Enhanced and Auro-3D formats. The Denon also packs the height of power at 140W per channel to drive even the most demanding speaker setups to ground-shaking levels.

On the gaming front, the Yamaha RX-A2A and Denon AVR-X2700H lead the pack with their full suite of gamer-friendly features like VRR, ALLM, and QFT. They provide the smoothest, most responsive gameplay with reduced lag and judder. For music aficionados, the Marantz NR1711‘s HDAM preamplifier delivers exceptionally transparent, detailed, and dynamic sound.

Connectivity is another critical consideration. The leading models provide 6-8 HDMI inputs to accommodate all your media sources. Wireless connectivity is also a must in today‘s streaming age. All the products featured here support Bluetooth and Wi-Fi for easy streaming from mobile devices, along with Apple AirPlay 2 in most cases. Some even work with wireless surround speakers to reduce cable clutter.

When it comes to power, a higher wattage-per-channel spec generally means the receiver can drive larger and more demanding speakers to higher volumes with lower distortion. Most of the receivers here fall in the 90-100W range which is sufficient for all but the biggest rooms and speakers. The Denon AVR-X6700H, however, boasts 140W per channel of power to drive even the most colossal systems with ease.

Ultimately, choosing the right home theater receiver comes down to your specific needs and priorities. If you have a large room and crave the highest power and most advanced features, the Denon AVR-X6700H is tough to top, though it comes at a steep price. For smaller spaces, the slim Marantz NR1711 packs a surprising punch given its compact form. And if you‘re on a tighter budget, the Sony STR-DH590 delivers solid performance and key features at an accessible price.

Once you get your new receiver home, you‘re in for a treat. After unpacking it and connecting your TV, media streamers, game consoles, speaker system, and any other sources, your receiver will serve as a versatile hub for all your entertainment. Most models include an automatic calibration process that adjusts the audio to your room with just a few button presses and the included microphone.

With setup complete, you can enjoy your media with dramatically better sound quality than your TV‘s built-in speakers. You‘ll be able to hear subtle details, feel the rumble of low-frequency effects, and get wrapped up in an expansive, three-dimensional soundstage that draws you deeper into your content than ever before. You‘ll wonder how you ever lived with plain old stereo sound.

During movie night, you can savor the same immersive surround sound you‘d experience in a premium cinema, with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X audio raining down from above and zooming around you. When it‘s time for gaming, you‘ll enjoy hyper-responsive, ultra-smooth gameplay free of lag and screen tearing. And when you want to relax with some tunes, you can stream music from your phone to multiple rooms throughout your home with multi-room audio.

A high-quality home theater receiver can completely transform your entertainment experience, surrounding you with captivating visuals and exhilarating sound. By choosing one of the top models spotlighted here and optimizing it for your space, you‘ll gain a versatile and powerful hub that will serve as the heart of your home theater for years to come, treating your senses to unmatched immersion and excitement.