Top 5 AV Receivers for 5.1 Surround Sound under £300

April 2018
Top AV Receivers under 300

Sitting at the heart of every home cinema is an AV receiver. This bit of kit distributes signals from and to multiple devices at once. However, not all AV receivers are equal and this can make choosing the right one rather difficult.

 

So what are the major types available?

 

Luckily for us, there are two major camps of AV receivers, namely 5.1 and 7.1. The first number denotes how many speakers you have and the second is the number of subwoofers.

 

So in a 5.1 system, you have five normal speakers and one subwoofer. Generally, you would place speakers to the left and right of the screen. As well as another pair behind the seats.

 

There’s also a speaker which is typically placed under the screen. Finally, the subwoofer is also placed under the screen.

 

The only difference between 5.1 and 7.1 AV receivers is that you have two extra speakers, which gives the viewer a different audio experience.

 

These two extra speakers are generally placed in the middle of the room between the set at the screen and the two rear speakers. Again as there are 2, one goes on the left, the other on the right.

 

We’ve searched the internet for five AV receivers, which all offer 5.1 surround sound and cost under £300. This means they are affordable for most home cinema enthusiasts. So let’s get started!

 

 

Item

Photo

Our rating

Price*

Purchase

Pioneer VSX-531

8/10

£199

Onkyo TX-SR373

7/10

£249

Yamaha RXV383

7/10

£225

Pyle PT588AB

5/10

£196

auna AV2-H338

5/10

£170

* Prices correct at time of publishing

 

 

Pioneer VSX-531

Pioneer VSX-531 receiver

photo by Pioneer

 

Features

Power: 140 Watts per channel [5 total channels]
Inputs: 4 HDMI, 1 Optical, 1 Coaxial, 2 Antenna, 2 Audio Visual phono, 1 Audio phono, 1 USB
Outputs: 1 HDMI, 5 powered speakers (Front Left, Front Right, Rear Left, Rear Right, Centre), 1 passive subwoofer, headphones
Display: Ultra HD (4K/60p/4:4:4), 3-D ready
Decoders: Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus
Weight: 8 Kg
Size: 43.5 x 16.8 x 32.1 cm
Extras: Built-in Bluetooth

 

Description

The Pioneer VSX-531 AV receiver is built around High Definition audio and visuals. Priced at £199 (Buy at Amazon), it offers a lot for the price.

 

The unit has multiple inputs including 4 HDMI, 2 sets of audiovisual phono, and more. So provides enough inputs for even the most demanding home cinema enthusiast. Its outputs are just as good with 1 HDMI as well as sockets for 5 powered speakers and 1 passive subwoofer.

 

In terms of formats, it’s 4k Ultra HD ready and provides 4K/60p/4:4:4 24-bit video thanks to the unit’s HDCP 2.2 technology.

 

Audio wise, the VSX-531 has Dolby® TrueHD® and DTS-HD® and therefore ensures all of your DVDs and Blu-Rays will sound rich and detailed. As well as the Pioneer’s Advanced Sound Retriever, which aims to make compressed audio sound more lifelike and natural. Plus with Bluetooth and a USB socket, you can play media over your mobile phone or tablet.

 

Pros

  • Impressive feature list for the price point
  • Easy to navigate user interface
  • Has a built-in microphone to optimize the sound

 

Cons

  • Requires an active subwoofer
  • Some features aren’t user intuitive
  • Bluetooth doesn’t work some devices

 

Conclusion

Overall the Pioneer VSX-531 AV receiver is quite impressive, and not just because of its price.

 

The features lists and technology specifications ensure that you probably won’t need to purchase another AV receiver for a few years.

 

So if you’re looking for a great unit at a sensible price then consider the Pioneer VSX-531 (read our full review). 8/10

 

 

Onkyo TX-SR373

Onkyo TX-SR373 Receiver

photo by Onkyo

 

Features

Power: 155 Watts per channel [5 total channels]
Inputs: 4 HDMI, 1 Optical, 1 Coaxial, 2 Antenna, 2 Audio Visual phono, 1 Audio phono, 1 mic, 1 USB
Outputs: 1 HDMI, 5 powered speakers (Front Left, Front Right, Rear Left, Rear Right, Centre), 2 passive subwoofer, 1 monitor, headphones1 HDMI, 5 powered speakers (Front Left, Front Right, Rear Left, Rear Right, Centre), 2 passive subwoofer, 1 monitor, headphones
Display: HDR, 4K/60 Hz, 3D
Decoders: Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD
Weight: 7.5 Kg
Size: 43.5 x 32.6 x 16.8 cm
Extras: Built-in Bluetooth

 

Description

The Onkyo TX-SR373 is a featured pack AV receiver, perfect for any home cinema. And at £249 from Amazon, the unit is our most expensive unit.

 

Starting with an easy to understand rear panel including a speaker placement guide. It will only take a few minutes to hook this unit up.

 

As you would expect there 8 inputs, 4 of which are HDMI. This means you have a good amount of input source to choose from and ensures that you can seamlessly switch between different devices.

 

Using Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio technology means you will enjoy watching movies as the sound will be rich and deep. In order for the system to perform at it’s best, it uses Onkyo’s AccuEQ to measure and correct speaker placement, allowing for a balanced sound throughout the room.

 

Also with 4K and 3D displays, the viewing experience is just as good as the audio.

 

Finally, with Bluetooth and a USB socket on the front, the unit interacts with a range of sources to enhances your movie watching and or audio listening experience.

 

Pros

  • Onkyo is known for building long-lasting units
  • Good features list for price
  • Superb sound quality

 

Cons

  • Doesn’t always work with Bluetooth
  • Difficult to configuring the unit
  • Old fashioned user interface

 

Conclusion

The Onkyo TX-SR373 has some good features and touches, and it continues to impress with its sound quality. However, you do need to add an active subwoofer, which is a bit of a negative. That said as the unit uses up to date technology, it feels much louder than it is. So if you’re upgrading from an older version and notice the wattage is lower, don’t be alarmed as this doesn’t matter.

 

Our favourite touch is the back panel which is easy to understand and has a speaker placement/wiring guide. This means you don’t have to look for a manual or rely on trial and error to get all of your devices hooked up.

 

However, as the user interface and software needs an update, the Onkyo TX-SR373 (read our full review) scores a respectable 7/10.

 

 

Yamaha RXV383

Yamaha RXV383 receiver

photo by Yamaha

 

Features

Power: 135 W per Channel [5 total channels]
Inputs: 4 HDMI, 1 Optical, 2 Coaxial, 2 Antenna, 2 Audio Visual phono, 1 Video Coaxial, 1 mic, 1 USB
Outputs: 1 HDMI, 5 powered speakers (Front Left, Front Right, Rear Left, Rear Right, Centre), 1 passive subwoofer, 1 monitor, headphones1 HDMI, 5 powered speakers (Front Left, Front Right, Rear Left, Rear Right, Centre), 2 passive subwoofer, 1 monitor, headphones
Display: 4K Ultra HD, HDR Video
Decoders: Dolby Vision
Weight: 7.78 Kg
Size: 31.5 x 43.5 x 15.1 cm
Extras: Built-in Bluetooth and Airplay

 

Description

The third of in our list of AV receivers is the Yamaha RXV383. Available in either black or white, it’s priced at a cool £225 from Amazon, it’s very affordable.

 

The first thing that caught our eyes was the front panel. The large volume knob almost feels retro! And the layout of the other control, along with the large screen, creates an easy user journey. While you might hide the unit away, it’s important to have an intuitive user interface.

 

Like the Onkyo, the back panel has a setup guide, which again is super helpful as you really don’t want to spend time looking for, or even at a manual!

 

In terms of advanced features, the unit has many. Our favourites include the YPAO™ sound optimisation, which automatically fine-tunes the speaker setup to the room.

 

Another nice feature is the Virtual CINEMA FRONT, which provides virtual surround sound with 5 speakers in front. This function is perfect for smaller rooms where there may be issues with sound separation between speakers in a normal configuration.

 

Pros

  • Superb feature set for the price point
  • Good range of advanced features
  • Nice setup guide on the rear
  • Good front panel layout

 

Cons

  • Not using the latest Dolby
  • No active subwoofer
  • Doesn’t always work with Bluetooth

 

Conclusion

The Yamaha RXV383 is feature packed and great value for the price. It would be easy for the company to charge at least double just for the additional features alone.

 

However, the unit lacks up to date Dolby technology (for example the Pioneer has Dolby TrueHD and Digital Plus). And also is not 3D ready.

 

Both of these issues mean you might end up replacing the unit within a couple of years, rather than it lasting for 10 or more years. However, if you’re not bothered about 3D, then this could be the AV receiver for you. Our rating is 7/10.

 

 

Pyle PT588AB

Pyle PT588AB receiver

photo by Pyle

 

Features

Power: 80 Watts per channel [5 channels]
Inputs: 4 HDMI, 3 audio phono, 2 Antenna
Outputs: 1 HDMI, 2 pre-amp, 5 powered speakers (Front Left, Front Right, Rear Left, Rear Right, Centre), 1 passive subwoofer
Display: 4K Ultra, 3D
Decoders: Not sure
Weight: 8.62 Kg
Size: 24.1 x 50.3 x 40.1 cm
Extras: 3 karaoke microphone inputs, Bluetooth

 

Description

While the Pyle brand might not be well known as Sony or Onkyo, the company has been producing audio equipment since the 1960s.

 

The Pyle PT588AB is an interesting unit with some unique features. For starters, there are 3 microphone inputs, each with their own volume control. if you like karaoke, then you’ll love this feature!

 

The front panel allows you access to a range of features such as selecting HDMI inputs, a master volume control and EQ settings.

 

While you may not have as many options on the back as some of the other units we’ve covered, this might suit your needs.

 

Sitting on the market at just shy of £200 (available at Amazon for £196), it’s worth a look if you’re after an AV receiver which also does karaoke.

 

Pros

  • Karaoke features
  • Large front display
  • 4k HD and 3D ready

 

Cons

  • Confusing front panel with too many options
  • No addition features
  • no active subwoofer

 

Conclusion

Since we haven’t heard of Pyle before, we’re able to review the PT588AB without bias. That said the unit lacks a lot of features we would expect on an AV receiver and while the karaoke feature is nice – the novelty will soon wear off.

 

So sadly, we can only give the Pyle PT588AB a rating of 5/10.

 

 

auna AV2-H338

auna AV2-H338 receiver

photo by auna

 

Features

Power: 80 Watts per channel [5 channels]
Inputs: 3 HDMI, 3 audio phono, 5.1 phono, 1 antenna
Outputs: 1 HDMI, 5 powered speakers (Front Left, Front Right, Rear Left, Rear Right, Centre), 1 passive subwoofer
Display: Not sure
Decoders: Not sure
Weight: 3kg
Size: 42.5 x 15 x 36cm
Extras: 2 karaoke microphone inputs

 

Description

With a sleek front panel, auna AV2-H338 has many cool features and is the last of our AV receivers. auna is another brand we’ve never heard of but this product is worth exploring.

 

While it may not have Bluetooth or a USB input, the AV2-H338 comes with 40 preset radio stations and 2 microphone inputs.

 

There are only 3 HDMI inputs, which means if you’re looking for a gaming and cinema system then it might be best to look at the Yamaha. However, if gaming isn’t your thing but movie watching and karaoke are, then at £170 (buy at Amazon) the auna probably your most affordable solution.

 

Pros

  • Sleek front panel
  • Karaoke function
  • Easy to set up

 

Cons

  • Can’t pass audio and HDMI at the same time. So requires two sets of cables
  • Has 5.1 surround sound inputs
  • no active subwoofer

 

Conclusion

The auna AV2-H338 gives us mixed feelings. On the one hand, you have a slimline AV receiver which looks sleek and has a good range of features.

 

However, on the other hand, the unit has some weird options. Why do you need 5.1 surround sound inputs? There’s no logical reason. Really.

 

Also, why can’t the unit pass the audio through the HDMI and split it like all the other ones we’ve reviewed? Again this makes no sense.

 

Hopefully, they will release a better version which addresses some of these issues. So our score would be a sad, 5/10

 

 

Comparing our 5.1 surround sound AV receiver under £300

So we’ve reviewed 5 different AV receivers which are currently available on the market.

 

If you’re looking purely for a home cinema setup then you can’t go wrong with the Yamaha or Onkyo. The Pioneer is also a fantastic unit and so is also worth considering.

 

While the Pyle and auna both have karaoke features, they have many issues which can’t be overlooked when compared to what else is on the market. And as there’s little pricing difference between them and the other ones we’ve reviewed, unless you’re after a karaoke machine, then we’d happily recommend the Yamaha, Onkyo or Pioneer.

 

Do you approve of our list of AV Receivers? Did we miss any?