The Home Theater Audio Video Receiver - or AVR - is a commonplace but complex product that is the brains and brawn at the center of most home theaters. The critical functions of an AVR include input switching, volume control, digital signal processing (in particular bass management and room correction) and power amplification.
At least three 18Gpbs inputs with reliable HDMI switching that support High Dynamic Range (HDR) content, including HDR10 and Dolby Vision.
Room correction that improves sound quality (many don't) and allows flexibility in top correction frequency and target curve. We prefer Dirac Live.
7.1.4 channel audio processing with support for Dolby Atmos and DTS.X.
At least 7 channels of internal power amplification delivering 80 Watts per channel (all channels driven).
NAD's top AVR. The T777v3 is a recent addition to our recommendations. 7 channels of 80W/ch all channels driven power amplification, 18Gbps HDR capable HDMI switching, Dirac Live and integrated Bluesound music streaming capability. Dolby Atmos but no DTS.X. Two year warranty.
Sound quality is good, but it's not quite up to the level of the AudioControl AVR-7. At $2500, it's a solid choice and our low cost recommendation.
The AVR-7, at $4200, is AudioControl's lowest cost AVR. It's assembled in the US and has a 5 year warranty.
This AVR offers 7 channels of 100W/ch all channels driven power amplification, 18Gbps HDR capable HDMI switching and Dirac Live. Dolby Atmos and DTS.X are supported. It's also rack mountable.
Sound quality is exceptional, and HDMI switching solid. With 6 or 8 ohm, high sensitivity speakers, this isn't far off reference sound quality. It's our go-to AVR and highly recommended.
Yamaha, NAD and AudioControl are our main AVR brands. We also have access to Marantz, Denon, Sony, Onkyo and Integra. Beyond the AVR recommendations above, there are some lower and higher cost models that may be better suited to your project. Yamaha, for example, offer their AVENTAGE line of AVRs from $550 (7 processed channels only), whilst NAD's T758v3 at $1300 has 11 processed channels and Dirac Live but has limited power output and only three HDMI inputs. At higher price points, AudioControl's AVR-9 offers 200W/4 ohms to drive lower impedance speakers.
Nyal Mellor, Founder, Acoustic Frontiers