7 Best Home Theater Receivers Under $500 (Reviewed)

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An AV receiver is the brain and the whole home theatre system is the body.  You need a sharp and swift brain to run the body perfectly.

After that, everything will run successfully.

AV receivers are the most important part of the home theatre system and many people want it in their price range. That’s why I have written three articles on three different price ranges.

Finding the best new receiver in these low price ranges like 500 and 300 is very difficult.  But I have tried my best to research the top ones for you.

Our Top Tested & Reviewed Products At A Glance

AV Receiver

Video Quality

Audio Format

Ratings

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Sony STR-DH790

N/A

(4K HDR Ultra HD)

7.2 Surround Sound

5/4.9

Sony STRDH590

N/A

4K HDR

5.2 Surround Sound

5/4.8

Onkyo TX-SR494

N/A

4K Ultra HD

5.2.2 Real Dolby Atmos

5/4.6

I have been a home theatre enthusiast for quite some time and have tested many home theatre products in my friends’ houses and installed them for my clients. That’s why I have hands-on experience with many receivers. This review is the product of my experience.

Without taking much time let’s deep dive into the reviews.

1. Sony STR-DH790 – Best For 7.2 Surround Sound

Specifications

Video support: 4K HDR | Surround formats: 7.2 | HDMI ports: 4 inputs  | Wifi: No | Built-in Radio: Yes | Bluetooth: Yes | Streaming services: Not specified but better be to use a streaming stick

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4.9Expert Score

Specifications
10
Build Quality
9.8
Sound Quality
10
Video Quality
10
Pros
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • 4 HDMI ports
  • eARC functionality
  • Dolby Atmos and DTS:X audio Virtualization
  • Dolby Vision and 4K HDR video
Cons
  • The user interface is minimalist
  • The USB power port is not capable of powering streaming sticks. You need to power the streaming device separately through power outlet

Is It For You?

For those who want a good quality 7.2 channel surround sound receiver under $500.

Build Quality

The build quality is good and the design looks simple and sleek. 

But the system heats up. That’s why it is recommended to place it in a well-ventilated place and give it a 15-30 mins break after each 3-5 hours usage.

Sound Quality

When I set up the receiver in my client’s room the sound was clear, crisp and the bass was punchy.

Install acoustic panels in the theater room, to have error-free sound. I have discussed the width and height of the panels too in this guide.

Video Quality

The HDR and Dolby Vision are delivering really well with the 4K passthrough.

Unique Features

The simple and sleek design of this receiver.

Detail Review Of Sony STR-DH790

It provides pure 7.2 surround sound and Dolby Atmos and DTS:X audio virtualization with Dolby Vision and HDR 4K quality video.

This is an entry-level 7.2 channel receiver that can be used for small to medium-sized home theatre rooms. Because this receiver has modern features that can satisfy modern needs. Like Bluetooth connectivity, 4K, and eARC HDMI functionality.

It can be used for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X the object-based sound. 

Just connect the 5.1 or 5.2 surround sound on the ground and connect two speakers in the ceiling and the Dolby Atmos connection is done with this receiver.

The Bluetooth connectivity is good and you can stream your favorite music from mobile or favorite apps.

A calibration mic comes with it in the box, which can be used to calibrate the audio of the surround system according to the acoustics of the room.

This calibration process was easy and Swift.  I just connected the mic to the front 3.5 mm audio input and followed the calibration guide.

The sound was clear and the bass was punchy. But For guaranteed punchy bass you must find the best affordable subwoofer for yourself. The receiver is affordable that’s why I am referring you to my affordable subs review.

This receiver has a feature that can provide surround sound from just two front speakers. This feature is good only for small rooms where you can’t set up all the speakers.  But I will not recommend it for medium to large rooms.  Because there you must set up a complete surround sound to get its complete magic.

 When I turn on the input device the eARC turns on the receiver too. I get the eARC functionality after the firmware update.


2. Sony STRDH590 – Best For 5.2 Surround Sound

Specification

Video support: 4K HDR | Surround formats: Dolby Digital | HDMI ports: 4 inputs  | Wifi: No | Built-in Radio: Yes | Bluetooth: Yes | Streaming services: Not specified but can stream it straight from the phone | Audio channels: 5.2

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4.8Expert Score

Specifications
9.8
Build Quality
10
Sound Quality
10
Video Quality
10
Pros
  • The surround sound feels real
  • The virtual surround is good too
  • Dolby Digital Audio and Dolby Vision video
Cons
  • Lacking modern technologies
  • No feature to manually balance each speaker

Is It For You?

For those who can sacrifice modern technology for the sake of cinema-like audio.

Build Quality

The design is simple and sleek. I like its sleek design. The build quality is sturdy and tight

Sound Quality

The sound is deep and rich. I was feeling like I was in the middle of a live concert.

The sound can be balanced with the voices of the movie by night mode. I was able to hear the voices clearly and didn’t need to lower the volume when an explosion or sudden increase of sound happened in the movie. Because voices and sound were balanced by this mode.

Video Quality

The colors on the screen were high and vivid. It was easy to differentiate between black and grey on the screen. The white was more balanced.

Unique Features

The cinema likes surround sound that gives feelings of realism.

Detail Review Of Sony STRDH590

This is the third-best 5.2 surround sound receiver that provides 4K HDR video with Dolby Vision and audio with Dolby Digital quality.

This 5.2 Sony is best for its cinematic-like audio in the home theatre. The above 5.2 by Denon is the best for its modern technologies like streaming services support and multi-room audio with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi and a few more features described in its section.

Provide 4 HDMI inputs that are HDCP 2.2 compatible and the one output is ARC compatible. 

This ARC transfers Dolby Digital in compressed form while eARC transfers it in its original form and eARC can also transfer Dolby Digital Plus. This receiver supports ARC and the above Denon receiver is eARC-supported. 

This Sony receiver comes with automatic audio calibration. But if you have one seating row in your room then better be to calibrate the sound with an SPL meter.

It provides virtual surround sound from just two front speakers. You can rely on this feature if you have a small room or are not comfortable with the complete 5.1.

But I will not recommend using this feature in any other conditions because you must have a complete 5.1 speakers layout to feel the 5.1 magic.

The HDMI connectivity is the best, when I turn on the input device it turns on the receiver and TV automatically. 

It has Bluetooth connectivity functionality. I have connected my client’s phone with this receiver and the music was good with the complete surround sound. I felt like I was in a concert.


3. Onkyo TX-SR494 – Best For An Entry Level Dolby Atmos (5.2.2)

Specification

Video support: 4K Ultra HD | Surround formats: Dolby Atmos | HDMI ports: 4 inputs  | Wifi: No | Built-in Radio: Yes | Bluetooth: Yes | Streaming services: Not specified by the manufacturer | Audio channels: 5.2.2

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4.6Expert Score

Specifications
9.7
Build Quality
10
Sound Quality
10
Video Quality
10
Pros
  • Real Dolby Atmos in this price range
  • Dolby Atmos height virtualization feature for 5.2 layout
  • Self-protection circuit from sudden short circuits of speakers
  • HDR 4k video with 60hz pass-through
Cons
  • Lacks modern features
  • The inputs are pre-labeled on the remote

Is It For You?

For those who can ditch modern features for Dolby Atmos magic.

Build Quality

The build quality looks amazing. It is equipped with a self-protection circuit that can protect this receiver from sudden short circuits in the speakers.

Sound Quality

My client told me that the same speakers now sound better with this receiver. 

I was feeling the rain in the Dolby Atmos video like it is raining in the theater room.

Video Quality

The colors are dense and the quality matches the audio Dolby Atmos.

Unique Features

The real Dolby Atmos and the height virtualization for Dolby Atmos

Detail Review Of Onkyo TX-SR494

This is the best Dolby Atmos receiver with a 5.2.2 speaker layout.  If you are a fan of realism that gives you the feeling that you are in the middle of the action and can sacrifice modern features for this sound-realistic bubble then this is the best receiver for you to go with.

It provides a 4K pass-through video with HDR and audio with Dolby Atmos.

The Dolby Atmos height virtualization feature in this receiver can create a Dolby Atmos virtual sound bubble with only a 5.2 speaker layout.   but again I will not recommend this in every condition to rely on.  You should have a complete 5.2.2 Dolby Atmos layout for the real feel.

You can rely on this feature if you are not comfortable with height speakers and their installation process. 

 It can also scale 1080p video to 4K. It has 4 HDMI inputs and 1 ARC HDMI output port.

I connected my mobile phone and I was able to stream Amazon music but it is not specified by the manufacturer how many other streaming services it supports.

This receiver too comes with a room audio calibration feature.


4. Yamaha RX-V685 – Best For Second Zone Audio Feature

Specifications

Video support: 4K ultra HD | Surround formats: 7.2 Surround Sound | HDMI ports: 5 inputs  | Wifi: Yes | Built-in Radio: Yes | Bluetooth: Yes | Streaming services: Internet radio, Deezer, Napster, Spotify, Apple Music, and much more | Audio channels: 7.2

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4.6Expert Score

Specifications
10
Build Quality
8.7
Sound Quality
9.8
Video Quality
10
Pros
  • Bluetooth and wifi
  • Dolby Atmos virtualization support with second-zone audio
  • Dolby Vision, HDR with 4K Ultra HD
  • 5 HDMI inputs and 2 outputs. 1 for the second display
  • Internet radio and music apps streaming
  • Dedicated Mobile app
  • Phono inputs for turntables
Cons
  • It can be found used under $500
  • Build quality did not impress me

Is It For You?

Those who want the best receiver for Dolby Atmos with modern features under $500 and are comfortable with it being used.

Build Quality

The build quality is not good and the front looks like it is a controller from some old sci-fi movie scene and a lot of cheap quality plastic is used.

It requires good ventilation, No compromise over ventilation.

Sound Quality

The sound is crisp. My client told me that the same speakers now sound better after we replaced the old ones with this receiver.

I was impressed by the internet radio and music streams.

You must soundproof theater room to have a flawless sound.

Video Quality

The colors on Netflix’s 4K content look vivid and so alive. Love it.

Unique Features

  1. Second zone audio
  2. Internet radio

Detail Review Of Yamaha RX-V685

It provides 7.2 channel surround sound with a second zone, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, music streaming, internet radio, and many more features.

 It provides pure 7.2 surround sound with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X audio virtualization and Dolby Vision 4K Ultra HD video.

There are 5 HDMI inputs and 2 HDMI outputs.  One output can be plugged into the TV and the other to the projector or the TV in another room. The One TV in the theatre room sound will be played with surround sound and the output HDMI  will transfer audio to another TV in the other room. That TV will play its audio through its speakers.

 It also provides Second zone audio where you can connect wireless speakers in the kitchen or outdoors.

This receiver comes with an audio calibration mic that will calibrate the audio of the surround sound according to the acoustics of the room.

Mobile devices can be connected with this receiver via Bluetooth. I was able to stream music from a wide range of apps like Pandora and Deezer.

Bluetooth is delivering very well and I felt no distortion in the connectivity of my iPad with it.

When I set up this receiver in my client’s room. He was blown away by its performance and told me that the same speakers now sound better because of it.

You should connect the best affordable speakers to the best receivers for the perfect sound experience. Click on the colored words to read my guides about it.

This receiver also comes with MusicCast speakers that can be used as rear speakers at the back. These speakers can be connected wirelessly to this receiver.

The HDMI inputs were very smart. When I turn on the Blu-ray player it also turns on the receiver and TV.

The Internet radio was amazing and I was able to stream my favorite music genres and they all were there.

The dedicated mobile app is amazing and it can control almost every feature of this receiver. I was very pleased with the convenience that it provides.


5. Denon AVR-S650H – 2nd Best For 5.2

Specifications

Video support: 4K Ultra HD | Surround formats: Dolby TrueHD | HDMI ports: 5 inputs  | Wifi: Yes | Built-in Radio: Yes | Bluetooth: Yes | Streaming services: Yes, Pandora, Spotify, Deezer, and many more | Audio channels: 5.2

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Check Price & Reviews On Amazon

Pros

  1. Multi-room audio
  2. Wide range of streaming services support
  3. eARC support
  4. Dolby Vision video and Dolby TrueHD audio
  5. Voice commands control

Cons

  1. Turns on randomly and give a sense of a ghost
  2. Not so good customer support

Is It For You?

For those who want 5.2 surround sound with music streaming services support.

Build Quality

Build quality is good but it is not advised to keep anything on the top of any Denon receiver and each model requires well-ventilated areas to place it in.

Sound Quality

The Dolby TrueHD is working fine with Netflix content and it can even play Dolby Digital plus Netflix content due to its eARC technology.

Video Quality

I love how accurately it can deliver the Dolby Vision content.

Unique Features

The wide range of streaming services support and voice command support.

Detail Review Of Denon AVR-S650H

This is a 5.2 AV receiver that provides 4K video with HDR and Dolby vision and audio with Dolby true HD  quality.

It provides 5 HDMI inputs with the latest HDCP 2.3 content protection technology and with eARC support.

It supports multi-room audio streaming with the help of the HEOS app.  The speakers can be connected to the receiver via Bluetooth or  Wi-Fi with the help of this app.

Music from a wide range of streaming services like Deezer, Pandora, and Napster can be streamed in multiple rooms of the house.

This receiver too comes with audio calibration according to the room environment.

This receiver can be controlled by voice command Alexa, Google Assistant, or Apple Siri.

The volume can be changed, songs can be changed and even the inputs can be changed through voice commands.

The onscreen setup guide is easy to follow and it is to the point. The user interface is minimal but can be changed by a firmware upgrade.

The one thing that I have noticed about this receiver is that it turns on randomly. It scares my client a lot. Because he thinks that there is a ghost in his theatre room that turns it on. LOL!


6. Pioneer VSX-532 – Best For 5.1

Specification

Video support: 4K Ultra HD | Surround formats: Dolby TrueHD | HDMI ports: 4 inputs  | Wifi: No | Built-in Radio: Yes | Bluetooth: Yes | Streaming services: Not specified but can stream it straight from the phone | Audio channels: 5.1

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Pros

  1. Dolby TrueHD audio
  2. 4K Ultra HD video
  3. Builtin Bluetooth with a nice range
  4. Accurate sound flow

Cons

  1. Little Outdated
  2. The display is very dim and can’t be read from a little far

Is It For You?

For those who want an entry-level receiver for their small theater room. This receiver is not the best fit for medium to large rooms.

Build Quality

The build quality looks good. Due to its cool design, my client’s theater setup looks stunning. But the display is not readable from a little far away. 

Sound Quality

The sound is accurate and precise and this is what I enjoyed a lot about it.

Video Quality

The colors are crisp and the 4K quality really stands out.

You might be making these home theater mistakes that will kill the fun for you. Click on the bluish words to know about these 17 mistakes.

Unique Features

The accuracy and precision of the sound quality.

Detail Review Of Pioneer VSX-532

This is an entry-level 5.1 surround sound receiver that provides audio in Dolby TrueHD and video in 4K Ultra HD.

It too comes with auto-calibration of the sound according to the theatre room environment.

It provides 4 HDMI inputs and 1 ARC-enabled HDMI output.

The HDR capability of this receiver is accurate and it is delivering well.  I was able to differentiate among the objects in the darker areas of the screen.

 The best thing that I like about it is that it can stream compressed music in a CD version.  It is very good to experience MP3 or WMA  content of mobile devices in full 5.1 surround sound.

As I’m talking about MP3,  the built-in Bluetooth is very powerful and seamless to stream music from mobile devices.

 The range of this Bluetooth is very good, I was able to connect my mobile device from at least 41 feet away.

I call it the entry-level receiver for 5.1 because it doesn’t have that quality that can match high-end receivers and also lacks many modern features.  These modern features provide more convenience for the users and also now we cannot leave without Wi-Fi,  music streaming services, and eARC.


7. Yamaha RX-V377 – Just Good For 5.1

Specifications

Video support: 4K Ultra HD | Surround formats: Dolby TrueHD | HDMI ports: 4 inputs  | Wifi: No | Built-in Radio: Yes | Bluetooth: No | Streaming services: No | Audio channels: 5.1

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Pros

  1. HDMI CEC feature
  2. Cheap price
  3. Virtual surround sound functionality

Cons

  1. Lacks in modern features
  2. It can’t drive modern speakers perfectly
  3. Remote is cheaply made

Is It For You?

For those who want just a good 5.1 receiver at a very low price. But it is extremely outdated.

Build Quality

Build quality is good but the HDMI CEC doesn’t work with each model of the TV.

Sound Quality

The surround sound is good for small rooms but for the best quality I will recommend another receiver from this list

Video Quality

The Ultra HD colors on the screen are still good to watch but can’t match the quality of newer receivers.

Unique Features

The HDMI CEC feature is good.

Detail Review Of Yamaha RX-V377

This is just a good 5.1 surround sound receiver that provides a 4K pass-through with 3D capabilities and ARC functionality. But it is quite an outdated receiver but still, it is a good bargain under 300.

It has 4 HDMI inputs and one ARC HDMI output. It has an HDMI CEC feature.  This feature can turn on the receiver and TV when a CEC-compatible input device is turned on.

This receiver too comes with speaker auto-calibration according to the room acoustics.

It provides a virtual surround sound facility.  I arranged all 5 speakers at the front for this virtual surround sound magic.  The sound was good but still, it was not the best like real surround sound. I  arranged all the speakers at the front because my client doesn’t want to run wires from front to back of the theatre room.  He wanted them to be organized.

The radio is not very capable.  It can stream radio channels with high frequency and also misses on low-frequency channels.

It is an entry-level receiver and lacks many modern technology features.  But still, it can be a good option for small theatre rooms.


FAQs

All answers are highly affected by the price range under $500.

Does a better receiver mean better sound?

Yes, I have experienced many of my clients’ speaker systems sounding better after I upgraded their receivers. Yes, this is real.

How long should a receiver last?

Due to modern features congested more into the receivers and the users being keener about those features, now receivers lack longer-lasting ability. Now, expect the modern receivers to last at least up to 6 years.

Do you still need a receiver for the home theater?

Yes, if you want a robust object that takes care of all the input and output devices, you need the receivers. You can’t go without it if you need surround sound and Dolby Atmos magic in your theater room.

Do you need a receiver to hook up the surround sound?

Yes, you need but not always. There are amplifiers now that can also be used for the surround sound hook up but still, you will need a receiver to hook the amplifier to it and the output video devices and input devices as media sources.

Helpful Resources For The FAQs To Read More

  1. This was my opinion read more here avsforum. (Resource for the first answer)
  2. This was my opinion read more here on Quora. (Resource for the fifth answer)

This article was first posted on Homelytainment.com.
Ayaan Khan
Ayaan Khan

I'm Ayaan khan, a freelancer and a Computer Science degree holder from P.E.S. College. After my degree, I started an internship with my father in his home theater showroom. After working for a month I realized that this is the best job in the world for me and it could be turned into a passion. Fast forward to when my internship ended, I joined my father as a full-time home theater equipment tester. I test new equipment and approve it before it can be installed in the customer's house. I love to test equipment and sometimes love to install it by myself in the customer's theater room. I have the right experience and knowledge to learn from my articles. In my Free time I write & answer questions here on AVSFORUM. Every Article on Homelytainment is curated according to Homelytainment's Editorial Policy and Sponsorship Policy. If you have any questions for me. Reach out to my email (Support(AT)homelytainment.com)

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