Do You Need an AV Receiver with HDMI 2.1?

The latest gaming consoles like PS5 and Xbox Series X, as well as some of the latest Nvidia graphics cards, feature support for 8K/60Hz and 4K/120Hz video passthrough.

Also, some of the latest Samsung, Sony, and LG TVs support 8K video passthrough.

This improvement in video quality is enabled by the use of HDMI 2.1. But what about AV receivers? Are there any AV receivers with HDMI 2.1? 

Our article is here to help you with that. We will explain the purpose of HDMI, discuss the evolution of HDMI, talk about all the improvements that HDMI 2.1 brings, and finally present to you our selection of best AV receivers with HDMI 2.1.

Oh, and we will also talk about some downsides of all the currently available receivers with HDMI 2.1 and some problems the users encountered.

What is HDMI?

HDMI stands for High-Definition Multimedia Interface.

As you already know, HDMI is the most common (and most desirable) connection type when trying to establish the connection between video sources (like Blu-ray players, media players, gaming consoles, TV boxes, etc.) and display devices (projectors and TVs) or hubs (like AV receivers).

It’s a fully digital interface that was supposed to replace previously used DVI. Eight major multinational companies were involved in the introduction of the first HDMI connector. 

HDMI founders

HDMI founders

HDMI was introduced back in 2002 and the first consumer products featuring HDMI connection were introduced in 2003.

The first TVs with HDMI support appeared in 2004. Soon, HDMI became the most popular audio/video interface for delivering HD video and compressed and uncompressed audio. 

What Versions of HDMI Are There?

Since the introduction of the first HDMI version, there’ve been 7 iterations and they all use the type of connector and there’s no way to tell which version of HDMI you have unless it’s explicitly stated or you test it. The connection is backward compatible.

The first version was HDMI 1.0 (released on 12/09/2002). It had a max bandwidth of 4.95Gbps and supported the max resolution of 1920×1200 (1080p) at 60Hz.

The max number of audio channels was 8 (each at 24bit/192kHz). Up until HDMI 1.3, the changes were not that significant.

The max supported color depth was 12bpc (36bit/px) and the only supported encoding standards were Rec. 601 and Rec. 901. HDMI 1.1 (released on 05/20/2004) brought only one upgrade – DVD audio. HDMI 1.2 (released on 08/08/2005) only brought One-bit audio support (for Super Audio CDs) and HDMI 1.2a brought us CEC support.

HDMI 1.3 (released on 06/22/2006) brought some significant upgrades. The bandwidth was more than twice as high (10.2Gbps).

The max supported resolution was 2560×1440 at 60Hz. Support for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD MA was also added. Like HDMI 1.0, HDMI 1.3 was able to transmit up to 8ch of LPCM audio.  Other notable upgrades were 48bit color support and AV synchronization

HDMI 1.4 (released on 06/05/2009) had the same bandwidth as HDMI 1.3 but it brought some very important improvements.

Most importantly, the max supported resolution was 4K/25Hz (or 3840×2160 at 30 Hz or 1080p at 120Hz).

Furthermore, it brought HEC support (HDMI Ethernet Channel) for 100Mbit/s Ethernet, ARC support (Audio Return Channel), and 3D support. HDMI 1.4 was followed by HDMI 1.4a and 1.4b but they didn’t bring any major improvements – they only defined two mandatory 3D formats.

HDMI 2.0 (released on 09/04/2013) additionally increased the bandwidth (up to 18Gbps) and finally enabled 4K at 60Hz and 3D at 25Hz.

Also, the max number of LPCM channels it can transmit was increased to 32. Furthermore, it brought Rec. 2020 (aka BT.2020) support, HE-AAC and DRA support, as well as some additional CEC features. Iteration 2.0a brought HDR support and iteration 2.0b added HDR10 and HLG support.  

HDMI 2.1 (released on 11/28/2017) is the latest HDMI version and it expanded the abilities of HDMI even more. You can read about it in the next section.

HDMI comparison table
HDMI comparison table

Our Top Picks

This post contains affiliate links. See the affiliate disclaimer here.

PreviewProductReviewOur RatingPrice
YAMAHA RX-V4ARead Our Review4.0Check Price On Amazon
Denon AVR-X2700HRead Our Review4.5Check Price On Amazon
Denon AVR-X4700HRead Our Review4.5Check Price On Amazon
Denon AVR-X6700HRead Our Review4.5Check Price On Amazon

What’s so Special About HDMI 2.1?

HDMI 2.1 brings quite a few important upgrades.

Most importantly it has a much higher bandwidth (48Gbps) than HDMI 2.0 and supports higher resolutions and refresh rates – up to 4K/120Hz and 8K/60Hz (and even 10K resolution). HDMI 2.1 requires a completely new Ultra-High-Speed HDMI cable.

Ultra-High-Speed Cable is required for 4K/120Hz and 8K/60Hz

Ultra-High-Speed Cable is required for 4K/120Hz and 8K/60Hz (source – HDMI organization)

HDMI 2.1 also brought eARC support (enhanced Audio Return Channel) for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. For gamers, the most important upgrades are VRR support (Variable Refresh Rate), QFT (quick frame transport), and auto low-latency mode (ALLM).

All three features are designed to improve the gaming experience by reducing latency and eliminating lag. Quick Media Switching (QMS) is another added feature – it is designed to eliminate the blank screen when switching between different sources. 

Do You Need an AV receiver with HDMI 2.1?

At the end of 2020, the first AV receivers with HDMI 2.1 have been released. At the moment the market is very limited – you have only three manufacturers and less than 15 available models.

Yamaha – 8K-ready RX series – RX-V4A and RXV6A + TSR-700 and TSR-400

Denon – X series – AVR-X2700H, AVR-X4700H, AVR-X6700

Marantz – 8K-Ready SR series – SR5015, SR6015, SR7015, SR8015

And that’s only one part of the problem. In order to watch videos or play games in 8K, you need a gaming console that can render videos in 8K, you need a video source (Blu-ray player, TV box, media player) that can render 8K or 4K/120Hz videos, you need a TV or a projector that can receive and output video in 8K, and of course, you need games and video content in 8K. 

Now, as far as consoles are concerned, you have PS5 and Xbox Series X. When it comes to TVs, there’re a few Samsung, Sony, and LG TVs.

However, you still don’t have a lot of 8K content – there’re no 8K movies and there’s a limited number of games that support 4K/120fps.

So, at the moment, you can get a huge benefit from 8K equipment but the content will appear eventually. However, there’s a much more important issue we have to talk about and it’s closely related to AV receivers with HDMI 2.1. This is why you shouldn’t buy an 8K receiver immediately.

After the introduction of the first 8K AV receivers, a very important problem appeared. According to a review from a German magazine called Heise (specialized in AV equipment), HDMI 2.1 chips made by Panasonic and used in all Denon, Yamaha, and Marantz receivers have a serious bug.

 

When you connect Xbox Series X or a computer with Nvidia RTX-3080 graphics card to the receiver, connect the receiver to an 8K TV, and set the resolution to 4K/120Hz HDR or 8K/60Hz HDR, you get a blank screen. The problem was discovered at the end of October 2020. 

Since then, Denon and Marantz (and Yamaha) have been trying to solve this issue. Sound United (the owner of Denon and Marantz) offered some solutions for configuring PS5 and computers with Nvidia RTX-3080 graphics card.

However, there haven’t been solutions for Xbox Series X. Yamaha, on the other hand, didn’t offer any solution for any console or graphics card and we are still waiting for some kind of firmware update that would solve the issues. 

So, is this a good time to buy an AV receiver with HDMI 2.1? Our advice is to wait until all the issues are resolved.

At the moment, we don’t know whether a simple firmware update will fix the problem or not. I

f it doesn’t fix the problem, the manufacturers may have to replace that faulty Panasonic chipset on all the models or return the money to their customers. Let’s just wait and see what happens.

If you still want to buy an 8K receiver, here’s our selection of the best AV receivers with HDMI 2.1. 


BEST AV RECEIVERS WITH HDMI 2.1 UNDER $1,000

Best Budget AV Receiver with HDMI 2.1 – YAMAHA RX-V4A

Editor’s Rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars (4.8 / 5)

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Impressions

Yamaha’s RX and TSR receivers are currently the most budget-friendly 8K-ready options. We are reviewing RX-V4A, which can be yours for less than $500. 

As mentioned, Yamaha’s receivers are 8K-ready and don’t have 8K/60fps support right out of the box.

The firmware update is required for 8K/60fps and 4K/120fps support. But, as you already know, there’s a problem with the chipset and the fix is yet to come. In all the other ways, Yamaha RX-V4A works flawlessly. It supports 4K/60Hz and all the latest image/color standards that came with HDMI 2.0.

RX series is redesigned and doesn’t look like all the previous Yamaha receivers. The front panel now looks much cleaner and has a shiny black finish. There’s a large volume dial in the middle and just a few buttons and selectors. The unit comes with a YPAO calibration mic and a remote.

RX-V4A has 4 HDMI 2.1 inputs and one HDMI eARC port. All these ports support HDCP 2.3 and they all have native support for 4K/60Hz video passthrough. The unit also supports HDR/HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision, and BT.2020.

The support for the previously mentioned HDMI 2.1 features (variable refresh rate, ALLM, QFS, QMS) will be available after that update. Aside from HDMI inputs, you have one coaxial, one optical input, three analog RCA inputs. It also has a USB port for music playback.

The unit features 5 speaker terminals. It also has 2 subwoofer pre-outputs allowing you to connect up to 2 subwoofers and make a 5.2 surround sound system. The advertised output with 2 6-Ohm channels driven is 80Wpc (0.06% THD).

The unit is easy to set up and calibrate – you can use the AV Setup Guide app and YPAO mic. 

As far as additional features are concerned, RX-V4A has built-in AM and FM tuners, it features Bluetooth connectivity (it has both – Bluetooth transmitter and Bluetooth receiver), and wi-fi connectivity (dual-band wi-fi).

Furthermore, the unit supports voice controls via Google Assistant, Siri, and Alexa. It supports Airplay2 and has multiroom capabilities (MusicCast feature). Two surround channels can also be used for Zone 2 speakers (multizone feature).

Advantages

  • Budget-friendly 
  • Clean and sleek design
  • Quick and effortless setup (YPAO mic and AV Setup Guide app)
  • Four HDMI inputs and one HDMI eARC output
  • Optical input, coaxial input
  • Three RCA analog inputs
  • USB port for music playback
  • Five 5-way binding posts + two subwoofer pre-outputs
  • AM/FM tuners built-in
  • Bluetooth connectivity (Bluetooth transceiver)
  • Dual-band wi-fi connectivity
  • Multiroom capabilities (MusicCast feature)
  • Airplay2 support
  • Voice control support (Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant)

Disadvantages

  • The HDMI 2.1 firmware update is not available yet
  • Lacks phono inputs
  • Doesn’t support Dolby Atmos and DTS:X
  • Lacks preamp outputs for all the channels

Best AV Receiver with HDMI 2.1 Under $1000 – Denon AVR-X2700H

Editor’s Rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars (4.8 / 5)

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Impressions

Denon AVR-X2700H is the cheapest non-Yamaha 8K AV receiver on the market. It’s significantly pricier than the previously reviewed Yamaha RX-V4A but it’s still one of the rare 8K receivers under $1,000.

AVR-X2700H is also significantly more versatile than the Yamaha receiver – it has 6 HDMI inputs and two HDMI outputs (one of them is HDMI eARC). All the HDMI inputs support 4K/60Hz but only one IN and one OUT port support 8K/60Hz video pass-through.

According to the product description, the unit supports 4K/120Hz pass-through but not from all the media sources (that’s the problem we’ve talked about in the introduction). That’s why there’s a little star next to every 4K/120Hz claim in the product description.

They still haven’t found any workaround for Xbox Series X. According to the spec, the unit is compliant with HDCP 2.3.

It supports all the latest image and color standards (HDR/HDR10/HDR10+, Dolby Vision, BT.2020, HLG) as well as some of the latest HDMI 2.1 features (variable refresh rate, ALLM, QFS, QMS). 

Besides the HDMI inputs, you have two component and two composite video inputs. Furthermore, you have a bunch of analog and digital audio inputs (two optical, one coaxial, one phono, four RCA).

When it comes to speaker terminals, there are 7 available channels (5-way binding posts). Also, there are two subwoofer outputs and two preamp outputs for Zone 2 speakers.

The largest surround sound setup you can make is 7.2 (or 5.2.2). The advertised output with two 8-Ohm channels driven is 95W per channel (0.08% THD). 

Denon AVR-X2700H has built-in AM/FM tuners, it supports Bluetooth connectivity (Bluetooth transceiver), and dual-band wi-fi connectivity.

It also supports multiroom connectivity (compatible with HEOS wireless speakers), multizone feature, and can be voice-controlled (compatible with all the most popular voice assistants).

The unit decodes all the common surround sound formats including DTS:X and Dolby Atmos. The last two speaker terminals (Surround Back Left and Right) are assignable and can also be used as height channels.

Advantages

  • Reasonable price
  • Easy setup procedure – Audyssey MultEQ room calibration
  • Video inputs – HDMI x6, component x2, composite x2
  • Video outputs – HDMI eARC out, HDMI monitor out, composite x1, component x1
  • 8K/60Hz and 4K/120Hz video pass-through through one HDMI IN and one HDMI eARC OUT
  • Audio inputs – optical x2, coaxial x1, phono x1, RCA x4, USB x1
  • Audio outputs – headphone x1
  • 7 speaker terminals (5-way binding posts) + two subwoofer preamp outputs + two Zone-2 preamp outputs
  • AM/FM tuners built-in
  • Bluetooth connectivity (Bluetooth transceiver)
  • Dual-band wi-fi
  • Airplay2 support
  • Multiroom capabilities (compatible with HEOS speakers)
  • Multizone support (Zone-2 preamp outputs)
  • Compatible with Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri, and Josh.AI

Disadvantages

  • Lacks preamp outputs for all the channels (it has only Zone-2 preamp outputs and two subwoofer pre-outputs)
  • Doesn’t support 4K/120fps video pass-through from some media sources (Xbox Series X)
  • Only one HDMI IN and one HDMI OUT port support 8K pass-through

BEST AV RECEIVERS WITH HDMI 2.1 OVER $1,000

Best AV Receiver with HDMI 2.1 Under $2000 – Denon AVR-X4700H

Editor’s Rating: 4.9 out of 5 stars (4.9 / 5)

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Impressions

X4700H is the upgraded version of the previously reviewed X2700H. It has more HDMI inputs as well as other video and audio inputs, and it has more speaker outputs (11 in total but only 9 powered at the same time).

X4700H has the same downsides as the X2700H – it has only one 8K HDMI IN and one 8K HDMI OUT port and it doesn’t support 4K/120Hz video pass-through from all media sources.

This receiver, like many others in this price range, has 8 HDMI inputs (one input of the front panel and 7 on the back). Of those 8 IN ports, 7 are 4K/HDCP2.3 and only one supports 8K/60Hz pass-through.

Also, there’re 3 HDMI outputs and only one supports 8K/60Hz and 4K/120Hz video pass-through. All the HDMI ports support Dolby Vision, HDR/HDR10, HLG, and other HDMI 2.0 image/color standards. Two 8K HDMI ports (one IN and one eARC OUT) support all the HDMI 2.1 standards we’ve talked about (variable refresh rate, ALLM, QFS, QMS). 

Besides HDMI video inputs, there’re 3 composite inputs, 2 composite OUT ports, 2 component inputs, and one component OUT.

When it comes to audio I/O ports, you have two optical and two coax inputs, one phono input, and 5 RCA analog inputs. 

The unit features 11 speaker terminals. Only 9 of those 11 can be powered at the same time. You also have two subwoofer pre-outputs and preamp outputs for all 11 channels + 4 preamp outputs for Zone-2 and Zone-3 speakers.

The largest surround system you can make without any additional equipment is 7.2.2 (or 5.2.4). The advertised power output with 2 8-Ohm channels driven is 125W per channel (0.05% THD).

As far as additional features are concerned, the list is pretty much standard – Bluetooth and wi-fi connectivity, AM/FM tuners, Airplay2, multiroom (HEOS), and multizone (Zone-2 and Zone-3) support, etc.

Advantages

  • Easy setup procedure – Audyssey MultEQ room calibration
  • Video inputs – HDMI x8, component x2, composite x3
  • Video outputs – HDMI eARC out, HDMI OUT x2, composite x2, component x1
  • 8K/60Hz and 4K/120Hz video pass-through via 2 HDMI ports
  • Audio inputs – optical x2, coaxial x2, phono x1, RCA x5, USB x1
  • Audio outputs – headphone x1
  • 11 speaker terminals (5-way binding posts) + two subwoofer preamp outputs + preamp outputs for each channel and two Zones
  • AM/FM tuners built-in
  • Bluetooth connectivity (Bluetooth transceiver)
  • Dual-band wi-fi
  • Airplay2 support
  • Multiroom capabilities (compatible with HEOS speakers)
  • Multizone support (Zone-2 and Zone-3 preamp outputs)
  • Compatible with Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri, and Josh.AI

Disadvantages

  • Doesn’t support 4K/120fps video pass-through from some media sources (Xbox Series X)
  • Only one HDMI IN and one eARC HDMI OUT port support 8K/60fps and 4K/120fps video pass-through

Most Powerful AV Receiver with HDMI 2.1 – Denon AVR-X6700H

Editor’s Rating: 4.9 out of 5 stars (4.9 / 5)

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Impressions

AVR-X6700H is the most versatile, most powerful, and most expensive AV receiver from Denon’s X series. In many ways, this unit is similar to the previous two so we are just going to discuss the differences. 

The number of HDMI IN/OUT connections remained the same as on X4700. Also, the number of inputs/outputs with 8K/60Hz and 4K/120Hz support is the same (one HDMI IN and one HDMI eARC OUT). 

The number of other video and audio inputs/outputs is slightly increased. There are 4 composite video inputs and two outputs, as well as two component inputs and one output. Furthermore, there’re two optical audio inputs, two coax audio inputs, one phono input, and 6 RCA inputs.

The unit has 13 speaker terminals. 11 channels can be powered at the same time. There’re two subwoofer pre-outputs.

Also, you have preamp outputs for all 13 channels and four more preamp outputs for Zone-2 and Zone-3 speakers.

The largest surround sound system you can make without additional equipment is 11.2 (7.2.4 or 5.2.6). The advertised power output with two 8-Ohm channels driven is 140W per channel (0.05% THD).  

Advantages

  • Easy setup procedure – Audyssey MultEQ room calibration
  • Video inputs – HDMI x8, component x2, composite x4
  • Video outputs – HDMI eARC out, HDMI OUT x2, composite x2, component x1
  • 8K/60Hz and 4K/120Hz video pass-through via 2 HDMI ports
  • Audio inputs – optical x2, coaxial x2, phono x1, RCA x6, USB x1
  • Audio outputs – headphone x1
  • 13 speaker terminals (5-way binding posts) + two subwoofer preamp outputs + preamp outputs for each channel and two Zones
  • AM/FM tuners built-in
  • Bluetooth connectivity (Bluetooth transceiver)
  • Dual-band wi-fi
  • Airplay2 support
  • Multiroom capabilities (compatible with HEOS speakers)
  • Multizone support (Zone-2 and Zone-3 preamp outputs)
  • Compatible with Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri, and Josh.AI

Disadvantages

  • Doesn’t support 4K/120fps video pass-through from some media sources (Xbox Series X)
  • Only one HDMI IN and one HDMI eARC OUT port support 8K pass-through

This is the end of our selection of the best AV receivers with HDMI 2.1. Hopefully, now you know everything about HDMI 2.1 and 8K AV receivers.

For additional tips on what to look for when buying AV receivers with HDMI 2.1, check out our Buyer’s Guide.


Buyer’s Guide – Most Important Features to Look for in AV Receivers with HDMI 2.1

Inputs

The key when looking for the right AV receiver is finding the one that allows you to connect all the sources you want and to use the best type of connection for every single source.

So, it doesn’t have to be the most versatile receiver with a huge number of ports – it just has to meet your needs. For all the video sources, the preferred connection type is HDMI. 

Speaker outputs and preamp outputs

Depending on the number of speakers you want to connect and on the size of your surround sound system, you will be looking for a receiver with a different number of speaker terminals.

The most basic (and cheapest) receivers have only 5 speaker terminals and one or two subwoofer pre-outputs. They are designed for the most common 5.1/5.2 surround systems.

If you want to connect more speakers and maybe even add a few height channels, look for a greater number of terminals. The most capable and most expensive receivers have up to 15 speaker terminals. 

Some receivers also have preamp outputs for some (usually front channels) or for each channel. These outputs allow you to use a separate amp (or amps) for some speakers.

For example, if you are using a pair of floorstanding speakers as your FL and FR channels and you feel like they are not getting enough power from your AV receiver, you can run the wires from FL and FR preamp outputs to a separate stereo amplifier that only powers those two speakers.

Power ratings

Power ratings are almost equally important as the number of available speaker outputs. The goal is to get the receiver that can drive all the speakers in your surround sound system smoothly and without getting too hot. 

The search for the right match requires a bit more effort. You have to go through your speakers’ specs and check their impedance and power ratings.

Some speaker manufacturers publish RMS, some publish peak power ratings, and some publish both. Have that in mind when looking for the right match. If you see only one power rating and you can’t determine if it’s an RMS or peak, you can assume that it’s a peak power rating.

After that, you have to go through the receiver’s specs and look for the power ratings for your speakers’ impedance.

It’s not enough to see the advertised power rating in the product description since you don’t know what kind of value is that.

You have to check the power rating for the specific impedance. If the given value is an RMS rating, compare it with your speakers’ RMS power rating.

If it’s peak power rating (dynamic power output), compare it with your speakers’ peak power rating.

If the receiver’s power output is equal or higher (up to twice as high) than your speakers’ power input, the receiver is a viable choice. If it’s lower, keep looking for something stronger. 

Additional features – Bluetooth, wi-fi, Chromecast, Airplay, AM.FM tuners, Multiroom, Multizone, etc.

Most of today’s AV receivers, especially AV receivers with HDMI 2.1 have a bunch of additional features.

They all support Bluetooth connectivity and most of them also support wi-fi connectivity. Some support Chromecast but Airplay/Airplay2 is a much more common feature.

A large number of receivers also support multizone feature. Cheaper units support only one zone while pricier ones have two or three zones.

Multiroom support is also a common feature these days. However, that doesn’t mean that you can use any wi-fi speaker with any receiver and make a multiroom system.

There are always some limitations and you can only use the speakers that are made by the same manufacturers as the receivers.

For example, you can use Yamaha receivers with MusicCast-compatible wireless speakers and soundbars, while you can use Denon and Marantz receivers with HEOS wireless speakers.

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