An AV receiver can be described as the brain behind powering and controlling a home theater system. Its primary job is to receive data, interpret the data, and process the data before sending it to speakers and the TV. Today’s advancement in technology has led to the innovation of more modern AV receivers such as 4K AV receivers.
Essentially, 4K receivers are specially designed to pass through data without degrading the quality of the image, as long as the image supports HDCP 2.2 format. A 4K receiver has 4k pass-through functionality that allows it to reproduce 4K signals through 4K compatible projectors or TVs without losing the 4K quality. In this article, we’ll review the best 4K receivers. You can also check out our best 8K receivers.
Top 5 Best 4K Receivers
There are several brands of 4K receivers in the market today. However, not all of them offer the best value for money. When buying a 4K receiver, it’s an investment you will want to make wisely. We have made it easier for you to find the right 4K receiver for your needs by reviewing and shortlisting the best brands today. Here are our top 5 4k receivers.
Comparison Table of Best 4K Receivers
1. Denon AVR-S540BT – Best Overall
The Denon AVR-S540BT comes as a 5.2 channel 4K receiver. It delivers powerful surround sound for general TV shows and movies. Also, it produces a rich, full sound that makes it more entertaining to listen to all kinds of music genres.
- Massive power output- The receiver outputs 140 watts per channel, with an impedance of 8 ohms per channel. Thus, it’s powerful enough to drive power-hungry surround speakers. Also, it produces sound within a frequency range of 20 Hz to 20 kHz for full-range surround sound.
- Latest sound processing technologies- Another unique feature of this receiver is that it comes packed with the latest sound processing technologies. For instance, it supports DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD surround sound decoding. Dolby TrueHD creates cinematic sound effects. DTS-HD Master Audio enhances sound clarity and allows for lossless audio quality.
- Wireless music streaming- It comes with built-in Bluetooth functionality. With Bluetooth, you can stream music wirelessly from a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone, laptop, or tablet. That way, you can stream music while doing other tasks with your smartphone.
- Compressed Audio Restorer- The 4K receiver is equipped with unique Compressed Audio Restorer technology. With this technology, you get improved sound quality from digital music files such as MP3. The receiver can also play hi-res FLAC files via USB.
- Numerous HDMI connections- It comes with 5 HDMI inputs and 1 HDMI output. HDMI inputs (3, 4, and 5) and the monitor out support HDCP 2.2 for compatibility with 4K TVs and 4K HD sources. The HDMI inputs also support HLG, Dolby Vision, and HDR10 technologies. Also, the receiver is HDR compatible to allow for enhanced picture brightness and contrast with HDR-encoded data and 4K TVs.
- 2 composite video inputs and 1 composite video output
- 2 preamplifier outputs for powered subs
- AM/FM radio tuner with both FM and AM antennas
- Remote control with a smart TV remote or a smartphone remote control app
- Comes with a sound calibration mic for fine-tuning the speaker setup in a home theater room
- Lacks a phono input for a turntable
The Denon AVR-S540BT is ideal for offering a top-quality surround sound experience, especially with Bluetooth streaming devices.
2. Sony STR-DH790 – Best Premium Pick
Searching for a powerful 4K receiver? The Sony STR-DH790 is packed with all the important features you may need in a 4K receiver. Each channel outputs 145 watts. Thus, it produces a total of 1015 watts of power.
- 360-degree surround sound- The receiver supports Dolby Atmos for the best surround sound effects. It delivers 360-degree surround sound. Thus, it makes you feel as if you are right in the middle of a movie, especially when watching action-packed movies. With Dolby Atmos, the receiver positions sound from all angles of the room with utmost accuracy.
- DTS:X decoding- Also, the receiver supports DTS:X encoding technology. With this technology, expect multi-dimensional and precise surround sound. It positions sound accurately above and around the listener for the best surround sound experience.
- Cinematic sound- With this receiver, you’ll have several options to set up your home theater speakers. The receiver supports either a 7.2 or 7.1 surround sound setup. You can also set it up as a 5.1.2 channel receiver for Dolby Atmos. You can even use just two stereo speakers and still get surround sound effects.
- Auto-calibration- The receiver features an auto-calibration technology that allows for a cinematic sound experience. With auto-calibration, you can use different speakers and the receiver will calibrate them to deliver similar-quality sound.
- HDR technology- Another premium feature of this receiver is that it supports High Dynamic Range (HDR) technology. It allows for excellent brightness and contrast for improved picture color and detail. It also supports modern HDR technologies such as Dolby Vision, HLG, and HDR10.
- Comes with built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
- Smart Bluetooth technology for wireless music streaming
- A sleek control panel that fits in any interior decor
- 4K pass-through feature for maintaining image quality from the source to the screen
- Comes with a setup mic to allow the receiver to adjust its sound output depending on the available space and speakers
- Higher price range
If you don’t mind paying a little more for premium quality and a low-profile design, this Sony STR-DH790 4K receiver is your best pick.
3. Onkyo TX-SR393 – Best 3D Audio Playback
The Onkyo TX-SR393 is yet another outstanding 4K receiver. It comes with a 5.2 channel receiver that also gives you the option to set it up as a 2.1 or 3.2.2 channel surround sound system. Regardless of what you’re playing through the receiver, its powerful analog amplifier delivers powerful sound to the speakers.
- Supports Dolby DTS:X and Dolby Atmos- These sound formats make it possible for the receiver to deliver 3D sound in any room. It produces sound effects that move from one speaker to the next throughout the room. Thus, it wraps you into a movie or video game for a more enjoyable watching or gaming experience.
- Height Virtualizer- Another top feature of this receiver is that it comes with Dolby Atmos Height Virtualizer technology. It makes it possible to immerse the listener into a virtual surround sound space without using height speakers or adding extra surround sound speakers.
- 4K HDR- The receiver supports 4K HDR video formats including BT 2020, Dolby Vision, HDR10, and HLG. It also supports 4:4:4 (RGB) color space. With this color space, the color information in a video signal is transmitted without any compression. Thus, it allows for the best image quality.
- Advanced Bluetooth- Another important feature of this 4K receiver is its advanced Bluetooth functionality. You can stream music via Bluetooth and control volume from your Bluetooth-enabled device when streaming. Also, you can listen to the sound output from the receiver via Bluetooth headphones. That way, you won’t disturb other family members when listening to music or watching a movie late in the night.
- Powerful sound output- The receiver produces very powerful sound, with each channel delivering 155 watts at 6 ohms or 80 watts per channel at 8 ohms. It can feed powerful speakers with enough power for an improved surround sound experience in a very large room. It feeds speakers with full-range sound within the range of 20 Hz to 20 kHz.
- Equipped with HD to 4K upscaling and 4K pass-through
- AM/FM radio tuner with 40 preset radio stations
- Supports Dolby Surround upmixing and DTS Neural:X upmixing
- Supports both Dolby Decoder and DTS Decoder technologies
- Built-in Bluetooth functionality for wireless music streaming
- Lacks a USB port at the front
The Onkyo TX-SR393 stands out for delivering superior 3D audio playback. Thus, it’s most suitable for movies and gaming.
4. YAMAHA RX-V385 – Best for Wireless Bluetooth Streaming
The YAMAHA RX-V385 comes as a 5.1 channel 4K receiver with the ability to deliver massive surround sound. It delivers 100 watts of power per channel at 8 ohms or 70 watts of power per channel at 8 ohms.
- Sound optimization- One of the most unique features that sets it apart from competing brands is its sound optimization technology. It works by analyzing the acoustics of the room and the installed speaker system. Once done, it adjusts the audio output to the best quality for the room.
- Compressed music enhancer- Another great feature that makes it one of the best 4K receivers is its advanced Bluetooth technology. Unfortunately, most music files in smartphones and other Bluetooth-enabled devices are often compressed, thereby reducing their sound quality. Luckily, this receiver has compressed music enhancer technology that optimizes compressed music to allow for high-quality sound output.
- Cinema DSP- Additionally, the receiver comes with unique Cinema DSP technology that enhances surround sound effects. It expands the sound imaging and makes it feel more natural. Thus, you’ll enjoy a more dynamic listening experience, especially when watching movies. It makes you feel like you’re in a real theater.
- Supports latest HDMI technologies- The receiver supports the latest 4K HDMI standards. It delivers 4K image quality at 60 fps. It supports 4K pass-through and HDR video standards such as HLG, Dolby Vision, BT 2020, and HDR10. Thus, you’ll enjoy bright, rich contrast and colors for a more realistic viewing experience.
- Rich bass- It comes with an Extra Bass on/off feature that enhances bass. When activated, this feature allows the receiver to output richer bass, even from small speakers. Also, it allows for well-balanced and localized bass output from all speakers attached to the receiver.
- Smartphone application for setting up the receiver
- HDMI ports that support HDCP 2.2 standard
- AM/FM tuner with both AM and FM antennas
- Comes with remote control and a calibration mic
- Virtual cinematic and surround sound experience in a 5-channel setup
- Lacks zone control functionality
The YAMAHA RX-V385 stands out for its compressed music enhancer feature, making it the best 4K receiver for wireless music streaming via Bluetooth.
5. Pioneer VSX-534 – Best Budget Pick
The Pioneer VSX-534 features a newer design than predecessor models. It’s slimmer, more user-friendly, and allows for easier setting up. The slim profile design makes it a great option for a minimalist. Also, it’s designed with affordability in mind.
- Height virtualizer- You can activate the height virtualizer that comes with the receiver when playing Dolby format. It enhances your listening experience by immersing you in a virtual surround sound environment. It does so regardless of the height of the speakers.
- Auto room tuning- Another unique technology that comes with the receiver is an auto rooming tuning feature. The calibration system and the provided setup mic compensate for any variations in distance, speaker size, and height. As a result, the auto room tuning feature creates an optimum listening environment that can be compared to that of a studio room.
- Three personal presets- You can utilize the personal presets that come with the receiver to save your favorite settings. You can do that by pressing the personal preset button on the receiver. It’ll automatically save the current settings like the listening mode and volume. You can save a maximum of three presets and call them using the remote control or onboard button.
- DTS:X up mixing- It supports DTS:X technology that takes in fewer channels and outputs more channels. Also, you don’t need any special speaker layout to get surround sound. It’s able to adapt to the current speaker setup and channels to output 3D cinematic surround sound.
- Supports latest video standards- With this 4K receiver, you’ll get to enjoy the latest video standards as long as you’re hooking it to a compatible TV. It supports 4K pass-through for HLG, Dolby Vision, and HDR10 signals. Also, its HDMI ports support BT.2020, 4K, and HDCP 2.3 for premium picture quality.
- Slim design for a minimalist installation
- Latest Bluetooth version for smooth wireless streaming
- Zone B sound output for connecting wireless headphones
- Onscreen display for detailed information regarding the A/V status
- Dialog enhancement feature for improved listening experience when watching movies
- A slight sound delay when changing or pausing channels
If you’re searching for a reliable and high-performance 4K receiver at an affordable price, the Pioneer VSX-534 is your best bet.
How to Choose the Best 4K Receivers
Although there’re several 4K receivers to choose from, not all of them offer the best value for money. Thus, you need to be cautious when making your choice. But how can you separate the good from the bad? Here’re some factors to consider when choosing the best 4K receiver.
Number of Channels
Most 4K receivers come with at least 5 speaker channels and 1 subwoofer channel. If you want a full surround sound experience, a 5.1 channel should be the minimum spec to consider. If you want more immersive cinematic sound, you can consider more speaker and subwoofer channels.
Number and Type of HDMI Ports
A reliable 4K receiver should have several HDMI inputs. Also, it should have at least 1 HDMI output. A higher number of HDMI inputs will allow you to connect more devices at once. That way, you’ll simply switch between the devices with the remote control rather than hooking them up all the time. Also, ensure most of the HDMI ports are compatible with 4K standards for the best picture quality.
Another important factor to consider is the power output of the receiver. The built-in amplifier in the receiver should be powerful enough to power several speakers. Also, it should have a dedicated subwoofer output for enhanced performance. That way, you’ll enjoy powerful and balanced surround sound.
Supported Audio and Video Formats
Ensure the receiver supports the latest 4K audio and video formats. This is to allow for the best 4K image quality. It should at least have support for Dolby Atmos, 4K pass-through, DTS:X, and HDCP 2.2. Support for extra features and formats is an added advantage.
Investing in one of the best 4K receivers will instantly improve your home audio setup from basic audio to cinematic audio. Just ensure the receiver you choose has all the desirable features you need. Also, ensure it’s of superior build quality for durability and reliability. After going through this guide, we’re hopeful that you’ll find the right 4K receiver for your needs and budget.
Michael Evanchuk is a San Francisco-based sound engineer with 20 years’ experience installing, troubleshooting, and repairing commercial, automotive, and household sound equipment. Evanchuk owns an auto stereo center, where he offers highly competitive car audio installation and repair services. He has written dozens of articles on different sound engineering topics, all of which have been published in leading journals, blogs, and websites.