Home cinema, which excited the minds of customers in the late 90s of the twentieth century, has now turned into the usual "thing", such as a dishwasher or hairdryer. Many have it; the abundance of options - from "cinema in one box" or soundbar to serious component solutions, allows you to assemble a home stereo system for every taste and budget.
Today we look at the heart of the home cinema - AV receivers, and not the simple ones, but the best stereo receiver under 500, the “top models” - expensive, as functional and modern as possible!
These are high quality stereo receivers with the greatest functionality and characteristics for dual-channel receivers. This segment is suitable for those who do not compromise on price/cost and buy the device for a long time.
The device includes a high-quality amplification unit with a single push-pull output stage in a discrete configuration aimed at providing a maximum power of 140 watts per channel (8 ohms). The low-impedance design makes it possible to organize the shortest path of the audio signal. And the power source, located next to the amplification cascade, eliminates energy loss, providing high power and wide dynamics for optimal sound reproduction when connecting any type of speaker system.
The device supports a wide range of high-resolution audio formats. Listen to the nuances of vocals, plunge into the atmosphere of the concert hall - feel the performance like never before.
It is equipped with optical and coaxial connectors for connecting digital devices. The optical input is for receiving an audio signal from a TV, and coaxial - from a Blu-ray player. The audio signal stays in digital space all the time, providing clear, dynamic sound in any type of program - be it sports coverage, film, or concert.
Among the wide variety of R-N303 connectors, there is also a pickup input for connecting the player so you can listen to music from your collection of vinyl discs.
The R-N303, one of the best stereo receiver under 500, supports many popular streaming services, including the widespread Spotify and the growing popularity of Tidal and Deezer, as well as Napster, Qobuz, Juke, and others. This allows you not only to listen to long-loved artists but also to discover new music from around the world.
The Denon DRA-800H dual-channel Hi-Fi receiver has developed network functions and is equipped with a high-current discrete amplifier with a capacity of 100 W per channel at 8-ohm load. A transformer is installed in the power supply, for the winding of which a wire made of OFC-copper is used. The receiver circuits have a symmetrical design, guarantee the shortest signal paths, and use carefully selected components, including custom resistors and capacitors designed specifically for audio.
Access to the streaming services Spotify, Amazon Prime Music, TuneIn, Deezer, etc. is open. Onboard there is an FM radio and digital radio DAB , and for vinyl lovers, there is a built-in MM phono stage.
The stereo receiver received 2-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth with the ability to broadcast audio to Bluetooth headphones (with the release of new firmware). The AirPlay 2 protocol is available, which allows you to organize a wireless multiroom system based on Apple devices. There is support for HEOS - a wireless multiroom ecosystem that provides control of all HEOS components with a single application and makes it possible to send audio from tablets and smartphones, streaming services, and local storage to any HEOS device. This guarantees the reproduction of the same track simultaneously in all rooms with perfectly accurate synchronization or the translation of different tracks into different rooms.
The stereo receiver has 5 HDMI input ports supporting 4K / 60 Hz, the latest HDCP 2.3 protocol, and Dolby Vision, HLG, and HDR10 video standards with extended dynamic range. The HDMI output supports the ARC audio return channel, which is convenient when connected to a TV. Onboard, there is a full range of linear and digital inputs. There is a Pre Out for a pair of active subwoofers and a separate Pre Out for a second zone. Four pairs of screw terminals are used to connect speakers to the Denon DRA-800H, making it easy to organize a two-wire connection.
The Onkyo TX-8260 dual-channel receiver is equipped with a massive high-current power transformer, capacitors designed specifically for audio, an amplifier circuit without phase shifts, which provides a wide frequency range, a minimum of distortion and a well-focused sound stage, as well as a discrete output stage for transistors. The model produces 160 watts per channel at 6 ohms, has ample opportunities in terms of switching, and is supported by a variety of wireless technologies, which makes it stand among the top models and be a pretender to be the best 2 channel receiver under 500.
The receiver is able to support FireConnect - a technology specially developed for wireless installation that allows you to broadcast high-quality audio from any source (including a vinyl player) without using wires to any room with a dedicated speaker system installed there. At the same time, the Onkyo Controller proprietary application makes it possible to combine such speakers into groups and control music playback throughout the house.
The developers equipped Onkyo TX-8260 with four HDMI inputs and one HDMI output (with support for the return channel, which is convenient when working in conjunction with a TV). All ports are of version 2.0a and support the HDCP 2.2 protocol, video in 4K (60 Hz), 3D, HDR, Dolby Vision, file transfer in DSD format, and other functions.
Its integrated amplifier has 85 watts per channel (8 ohms), built-in FM and mid-wave radios, five line inputs, an MM phono stage, and the ability to output a signal to two sets of speakers simultaneously.
As part of a cost-effective system, the SR10 delivers a crisp and decisive sound that closely resembles the more expensive Azur lineup; straightforward songs energize the listener. The detail of the SR10 cannot be called exemplary, but it has an outstanding talent: it is able to breathe new life and energy into familiar music. Radio broadcasts in FM sound just as cheerful and a large display allows you to read RDS text.
However, the Cambridge receiver has a rather limited comfort zone: the budget segment of the market. A more expensive and ambitious system will quickly reveal the shortcomings of the SR10: weak organizational skills and lack of detail. But if you do not force the SR10 to jump above the head, in its place, it will be quite good.