9 Best Surround Sound Amplifiers (2021)

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Getting the right surround sound amplifier for your home theater system is the key to achieving the best possible surround sound experience. Finding that one perfect amplifier for your speakers is a tricky thing but we are here to make it easy. The purpose of this article is to clarify all the ambiguities related to surround sound amplifiers and make these complicated devices a bit less scary. We will discuss the connections, video codecs/formats/standards, surround sound audio formats, prices, and all the additional features an amplifier should have. Finally, we will present to you our selection of 9 best surround sound amplifiers.

The Role of a Surround Sound Amplifier in a Home Theater System

Surround sound amplifier is the heart of every surround sound and home theater system. It’s in charge of all the audio/video signal processing and it’s also responsible for providing the necessary power to all the speakers in your surround sound system. So, they’re the same thing as AV receivers, you may say. Well, yes and no. 

The terms AV receiver and surround sound amp are often used interchangeably because there’re only a few real surround sound amplifiers. The definition given above actually refers to AV receivers. A true surround sound amplifier does only one part of the job described above – it only supplies an amplified audio signal to the speakers (it drives the speakers) and doesn’t have to deal with the signal processing. All the processing is done by a dedicated unit called AV preamp. In short, every AV receiver is also an amplifier (it’s basically an integrated surround sound amplifier) and that’s why we use the terms AV receiver and surround sound amp interchangeably.

If you’re interested in true surround sound amplifiers, check out Yamaha’s Aventage MX-A5200BL, Monolith’s 5X, or Outlaw 5000. Our article about best surround sound amplifiers deals mostly with the best integrated surround sound amplifiers (or best AV receivers, if you want).

Most Important Features to Look for

So, what to look for when it comes to features and specs? First, try to find something that matches your speaker configuration and has enough power to drive all those speakers. Second, look for an AV receiver that has enough audio and video inputs to connect all the video sources (players, gaming consoles, cable boxes, etc.) and audio sources (CD players, record players, etc.). Third, check if the AV receiver you want to purchase supports all the audio formats you’ll be using and all the latest video standards. Finally, look for the additional features you find important (multiroom support, wireless connectivity, Airplay/Chromecast support, AM/FM tuners, etc.). For a more detailed explanation of the most important characteristics, check out our short buyer’s guide at the end of this article.

Our Top Picks

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

ProductPriceOverall RatingReview
Yamaha RX-V385Check Price on Amazon4.6Read Review
Sony STR-DH590Check Price on Amazon4.5Read Review
Denon AVR-S540BTCheck Price on Amazon4.5Read Review
Sony STR-DN1080Check Price on Amazon4.5Read Review
Yamaha RX-V685Check Price on Amazon4.6Read Review
Denon AVR-X3600HCheck Price on Amazon4.6Read Review
Marantz SR5014Check Price on Amazon4.0Read Review
Marantz SR8012Check Price on Amazon4.6Read Review
Denon AVR-X8500HCheck Price on Amazon3.9Read Review

Now that you’re aware of the basics, check out our selection of 9 best surround sound amplifiers and find the one that’s perfect for your speaker system. All the amplifiers are divided into 3 groups and the main criterion was the price range. So, if you have some budget limitations, you don’t have to read all the reviews – just read the section that matches your limit. If you don’t really have a limit and you just want the best, most versatile, and most powerful amp, you can skip the first two sections.

BEST SURROUND SOUND AMPLIFIERS UNDER $500

Affordable surround sound amplifiers support the most basic home theater setups (either 5.1 or 5.2) and have a limited number of additional features. Bluetooth connectivity is pretty much a standard feature, while the wi-fi connectivity, multiroom capabilities, and multi-zone support are reserved for more expensive amps.


Best 5.1 Surround Sound Amp Under $300 – Yamaha RX-V385

Yamaha RX-V385

Editor’s Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

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Impressions

RX-V385 is one of the cheapest 5.1 surround sound amps on the market. It’s easy to set up and requires YPAO auto-calibration for the best results. 

The unit has 4 HDMI inputs (+ two component video inputs), which should be enough for most people and most sources in your home. For example, you can connect your Blu-ray player, your cable box, gaming console, and Roku stick. There’s also one HDMI ARC port for your TV (in case your TV has HDMI ARC IN). 

In case you want to connect more audio sources, you have one optical and two coaxial inputs. On the front, you have one AUX input and one headphone output, and that’s pretty much it when it comes to analog inputs/outputs.

RX-385 also has built-in AM and FM tuners, it features Bluetooth connectivity, and has a USB port on the front (allows you to play audio files from a USB drive).

The unit has five speaker terminals (compatible with banana plugs) and one subwoofer pre-output.

To control the playback, select inputs, or adjust advanced settings, you can use the control panel on the front side of the unit or the included remote.

The unit’s power output is rated at 70 Watts (with 2 8Ω channels driven, 0.08% distortion). 

RX-385 doesn’t feature wi-fi. It doesn’t support multiroom playback or multizone feature. Due to the lack of height channels, it also doesn’t support Dolby Atmos or DTS:X.

Advantages

  • Compact 
  • Easy to set up (YPAO calibration) and use
  • 4 HDMI IN/1 HDMI ARC OUT
  • 4K/60Hz pass-through, HDCP 2.2 compliance, HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision, BT.2020
  • Max supported speaker layout – 5.1
  • RMS Power Output – 70W x2 (into 8Ω channels, 0.09% THD)
  • Dolby and DTS surround sound support (up to Dolby True HD and DTS HD Master Audio)
  • Additional audio inputs – optical x1, coaxial x2
  • Built-in AM/FM tuners
  • Bluetooth connectivity

Disadvantages

  • Doesn’t feature wi-fi connectivity or multiroom support
  • Doesn’t support Dolby Atmos and DTS:X
  • Doesn’t have any preamp outputs for powered channels (only one subwoofer pre-out)

Sony STR-DH590

Sony STR-DH590

Editor’s Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

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Impressions

Sony STR-DH590 has a very similar feature set as the previously reviewed RX-385. It has a bit ‘cleaner’ control panel design and a few additional inputs, but other than that, RX-385 and STR-DH590 both deliver similar performance.

STR-DH590 has 4 HDMI input ports and 1 ARC output, just like RX-385. All these ports are compliant with HDCP 2.2 and support 4K/60Hz pass-through. The receiver also has optical and coaxial inputs, 4 RCA inputs, and one headphone output.

To control the unit and playback, use the buttons on the front panel or the remote.

STR-HD590 has 5 powered speaker terminals and two subwoofer pre-outputs. Out of those 5 terminals, two are 5-way binding posts (they accept banana plugs) while the other 3 are spring-clip type terminals (not compatible with banana plugs). The receiver’s power output is rated at 90W (at 6Ω, 2ch driven, 0.09% distortion).

Apart from physical connections, the unit also supports Bluetooth connectivity and has an FM tuner.

STRHD590 doesn’t have an AM tuner, it doesn’t support wi-fi connectivity, it doesn’t have multiroom capabilities, and there are no dedicated ports for Zone 2 speakers.

Advantages

  • D.C.A.C. auto-calibration
  • Intuitive and easy-to-use controls
  • 4 HDMI IN/1 HDMI ARC OUT
  • 4K/60Hz pass-through, HDCP 2.2 compliance, HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision
  • Max supported speaker layout – 5.2
  • Dolby and DTS surround sound support (up to Dolby True HD and DTS HD Master Audio)
  • RMS Power Output – 90W x2 (into 6Ω channels with 0.09% distortion)
  • Compatible with 6-16Ω speakers
  • Additional audio inputs – optical x1, coax x1, RCA x4
  • FM tuner built-in
  • Bluetooth connectivity 

Disadvantages

  • Lacks Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support
  • Lacks wi-fi connectivity, multiroom capability, and multizone support
  • Lacks preamp outputs for powered channels (only two subwoofer preamp outputs)
  • Lacks phono inputs

Best Surround Sound Amp Under $500 – Denon AVR-S540BT

Denon AVR-S540BT

Editor’s Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars (4.6 / 5)

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Impressions

AVR-S540BT is our top choice in this category and it’s one of the best and most versatile surround sound amplifiers in its class. The biggest advantage over the previous two amps is much better versatility (more audio/video inputs). In terms of power output and overall performance, it’s just slightly better than RX-385 and STRDH590 (similar power output but slightly lower distortion).

AVR-S540BT has 5 HDMI input ports and one HDMI ARC output. Out of those 5 HDMI inputs, only three support 4K pass-through and HDCP 2.2, which is something you should have in mind when connecting video sources. If the sources are important to you and are used often, connect them to one of these three inputs. If the sources are not used often or if they don’t support 4K, use the first two HDMI inputs. For additional video sources, you can use two composite video inputs.

When it comes to audio inputs, you have two TOSLINK inputs, one coaxial, and two RCA analog inputs. On the front panel, you have one headphone output and a USB port (you can play audio files from a USB drive connected to this port). 

AVR—S540BT also has AM and FM tuners built-in and it supports Bluetooth connectivity.

The unit has 5 powered speaker terminals (spring-clip terminals, not compatible with banana plugs) and two subwoofer pre-outputs. The power output is rated at 70W per channel (rated with two 8Ω channels and 0.08% distortion).

For all the adjustments and playback control, you can use the buttons on the control panel or the included remote. 

Like all the other AV receivers in this price range, AVR-S540BT doesn’t feature wi-fi connectivity, it doesn’t support multiroom and multi-zone features, and doesn’t support object-based audio formats (Atmos and DTS:X).

Advantages

  • Easy setup and calibration with the Denon Setup Assistant
  • Intuitive and easy-to-use controls
  • 5 HDMI IN/1 HDMI ARC OUT
  • 4K/60Hz pass-through, HDCP 2.2 compliance, HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision (applies to HDMI inputs 3,4, and 5 as well as HDMI ARC OUT)
  • Max supported speaker layout – 5.2
  • Dolby and DTS surround sound support (up to Dolby True HD and DTS HD Master Audio)
  • RMS Power Output – 70W x2 (into two 8Ω channels with 0.08% distortion)
  • Compatible with 6-16Ω speakers
  • Additional audio inputs – optical x1, coax x1, RCA x4
  • Additional video inputs/outputs – composite IN x2, composite OUT x1
  • AM/FM tuners built-in
  • Bluetooth connectivity 
  • Compatible with Denon HEOS link

Disadvantages

  • Lacks phono inputs
  • Lacks wi-fi connectivity and multiroom support
  • Doesn’t support Dolby Atmos and DTS:X
  • Lacks preamp outputs for the powered channels (it has only two subwoofer pre-outputs)

BEST SURROUND SOUND AMPLIFIERS UNDER $1,000

If you’re prepared to pay more (up to $1,000), you will get more HDMI inputs, various additional video and audio inputs, more speaker outputs, higher power outputs, and more additional features (wi-fi, Airplay2, Chromecast, multiroom, multi-zone, etc.). In our opinion, AV receivers in this price range ($500-$1000) will give you the best bang for your buck. So, unless you’re building a high-end home theater system with numerous and very demanding speakers, an AV receiver that costs around $1000 will cover all your needs. These are our top recommendations.


Best Surround Sound Amp Under $600 – Sony STR-DN1080

Sony STR-DN1080

Editor’s Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

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Impressions

Like all the other Sony AV receivers from the STR line, STR-DN1080 features the same kind of clean, aesthetically pleasing design with an intuitive control scheme. You will also get a nice and responsive remote.

The difference between the first Sony AV receiver on our list of best surround sound amplifiers and STR-DN1080 is in the number of connections, number of speaker terminals, power output, and additional features. STR-DN1080 is not crazy expensive and offers quite an amazing feature set and performance for the price.

The unit has 6 HDMI input ports and 2 HDMI outputs. They all support HDCP 2.2 and all the latest video standards and audio formats (including object-based audio formats). STR-DN1080 has two additional composite video inputs and one composite output. As far as audio inputs are concerned, you have TOSLINK, coaxial, and 4 RCA inputs. 

STR-DN1080 has 9 pairs of speaker terminals, and 7 of those 9 are powered at the same time. The receiver has a pair of dedicated Zone 2 terminals and one pair of assignable rear surround speaker terminals (they can be used as height channels or for bi-amping the FL and FR speakers). The unit has Zone 2 preamp outputs and two subwoofer pre-outs.

The power output is rated at 100W per channel (measured with two 6Ω channels, 0.09% distortion).

When it comes to additional features, you have wi-fi and Bluetooth connectivity, Chromecast built-in, multizone and multiroom capabilities.

The receiver doesn’t have phono inputs, it doesn’t support Airplay/Airplay 2, and lacks an AM tuner.

Advantages

  • D.C.A.C. auto-calibration
  • Intuitive control panel and easy-to-use remote
  • 6 HDMI IN/2 HDMI OUT (one ARC OUT and one Zone 2 OUT)
  • 4K/60Hz pass-through, HDCP 2.2 compliance, HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision (applies to all HDMI ports)
  • 9 sets of 5-way binding posts (but only 7 powered)
  • Max supported speaker layout – 7.2 (or 5.2.2)
  • Dolby and DTS surround sound support (including Dolby Atmos and DTS:X – when using 5.1.2 configuration)
  • RMS Power Output – 100W x2 (into two 6Ω channels with 0.09% THD)
  • Compatible with 6-16Ω speakers
  • Additional audio inputs – optical x1, coax x1, RCA x4
  • Additional video inputs/outputs – composite IN x2, composite OUT x1
  • Wi-Fi connectivity
  • Multizone compatible (dedicated set of speaker terminals for Zone 2)
  • Built-in Chromecast, compatible with Google Home
  • Bluetooth connectivity with LDAC support and NFC quick pairing

Disadvantages

  • Lacks phono inputs
  • Lacks AM tuner
  • Lacks front HDMI input
  • The navigation menu is a little bit slow

The Highest Power Output Under $600 – Yamaha RX-V685

Yamaha RX-V685

Editor’s Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

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Impressions

The same (or similarly) priced Yamaha and Sony receivers have fairly similar features, connections, and power outputs. That’s the case with Yamaha’s RX-V685 and Sony’s STR-DN1080. They both have the same number of speaker terminals but STR-DN1080 has more HDMI inputs (6 VS 5), and RX-V685 has more optical inputs, more coax inputs, it has dedicated phono inputs, and it has an AM tuner. 

So, to begin with, RX-V685 houses 5 HDMI input ports and 2 HDMI outputs (ARC OUT and Zone 2 OUT). All the ports are HDCP 2.2 compliant (HDCP 2.3 compliant after firmware update). They all support 4K/60Hz and all the latest image and audio standards. All the common surround sound formats are supported (DTS:X and Dolby Atmos included).

The unit also has one additional composite and one additional component input. When it comes to audio inputs, there’re two optical, two coaxial, 3 RCA, one phono input, and an AUX input (on the front).

RX-V685 has 9 sets of speaker terminals. Seven sets can be powered at the same time and used for home theater purposes. The remaining two sets of binding posts are reserved for the Zone 2 speakers. The surround rear speaker terminals are assignable – you can assign them some other function and use them as height channels or for bi-amping the FL and FR speakers. The receiver also has preamp outputs for FL and FR channels, Zone 2 pre-outputs, and two subwoofer pre-outputs. 

This unit has a higher power output than most other receivers under $600. It can push 90W RMS per channel (measured with two 8Ω channels with 0.08% distortion).

RX-V685 features wi-fi and Bluetooth connectivity, it supports Airplay2 as well as multi-zone and multiroom features.

Advantages

  • YPAO calibration
  • Intuitive controls
  • 5 HDMI IN/2 HDMI OUT (one eARC OUT and one Zone 2 OUT)
  • 4K/60Hz pass-through, HDCP 2.3 compliance, HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision (applies to all HDMI ports)
  • 9 sets of 5-way binding terminals (7 channels are powered simultaneously)
  • Assignable surround back and Zone 2 speaker channels
  • Max supported speaker layout – 7.2 (or 5.2.2)
  • Dolby and DTS surround sound support (including Dolby Atmos and DTS:X – when using 5.1.2 configuration)
  • RMS Power Output – 90W x2 (into two 8Ω channels with 0.06% THD)
  • Compatible with 6-16Ω speakers
  • Additional audio inputs – optical x2, coax x2, RCA x3, phono inputs
  • Additional video inputs/outputs – composite IN x1, component IN x1
  • Wi-Fi connectivity (2.4 and 5GHz)
  • Multizone compatible (one set of speaker terminals for Zone 2)
  • Preamp outputs for FR, FL, and Zone 2 speakers
  • Airplay2 support
  • Compatible with MusicCast wireless speakers (you can use them as surround speakers)
  • Compatible with Alexa
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • AM/FM transmitters built-in

Disadvantages

  • Issues with Alexa voice control
  • Lacks front HDMI input

Best Surround Sound Amp Under $1000 – Denon AVR-X3600H

Denon AVR-X3600H

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

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Impressions

Denon AVR-X3600H is one of the best AV receivers under $1000 on the market. It’s incredibly versatile, very powerful, and has a great number of additional features.

AVR-X3600H has more than enough audio and video connections for all the sources you may have. There’s no chance in the world that you will need more inputs than X3600H has to offer. For starters, you have 8 HDMI inputs and 3 outputs. All these inputs support 4K/60Hz, HDCP 2.3, and all the latest image standards (HDR10, Dolby Vision, IMAX Enhanced, etc.). Even without all the additional audio and video inputs and outputs, 8 HDMI ports should be enough for all of your video devices. But AVR-X3600H has numerous audio/video inputs, too. 

The unit has component and composite video inputs and outputs. It also has optical inputs (x2), coaxial inputs (x2), RCA analog inputs (x5), phono inputs (x1).

This incredible AV receiver also houses 11 sets of speaker terminals (banana plug compatible), 9 of which can be powered at the same time. Depending on the configuration, the receiver can play object-based surround sound formats. 4 of those 11 channels are assignable and you can use them as Zone 2 or if you want to bi-amp the front left and right speakers. The unit also has preamp outputs for all the surround channels and for the Zone 2 speakers.

The advertised power output is 105W per channel (when two 8Ω channels are driven, 0.08% distortion).

Like many other receivers in this price range, AVR-X3600H features Bluetooth and wi-fi connectivity, it supports Airplay, it has HEOS built-in, it’s compatible with Alexa, and supports the multi-zone feature.

The only feature that doesn’t work as advertised is the Denon AVR app. The concept is great and very convenient, but the app itself is not very stable.

Advantages

  • Denon Setup Assistant and auto-calibration
  • Intuitive control scheme
  • 8 HDMI IN (7 rear and 1 front)/3 HDMI OUT (one eARC OUT, one Zone 2 OUT, one Monitor OUT)
  • 4K/60Hz pass-through, HDCP 2.3 compliance, HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision, IMAX Enhanced (applies to all HDMI ports)
  • 11 sets of 5-way binding terminals (9 channels can be powered simultaneously)
  • Assignable Height 1 (L/R) and Height 2 (L/R) channels
  • Max supported speaker layout – 9.2 (or 7.2.2 or 5.2.4)
  • Dolby and DTS surround sound support (including Dolby Atmos and DTS:X – when using 7.1.2, 7.2.2, 5.1.4, or 5.2.4 configuration)
  • RMS Power Output – 105W per channel (into two 8Ω channels with 0.08% THD)
  • Compatible with 4-16Ω speakers
  • Additional audio inputs – optical x2, coax x2, RCA x5, phono inputs
  • Additional video inputs/outputs – composite IN x3, component IN x2, component OUT x1
  • Wi-Fi connectivity (2.4 and 5GHz)
  • Multizone compatible (one set of speaker terminals for Zone 2)
  • Preamp outputs for all the channels
  • Airplay2 support
  • HEOS built-in
  • Compatible with Alexa
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • AM/FM tuners built-in

Disadvantages

  • Denon AVR app is buggy and doesn’t perform flawlessly

Marantz SR5014

Marantz SR5014

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

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Impressions 

If you’re a Marantz fan, you will love this receiver. It’s just as versatile as the previous Denon receiver. It only has fewer speaker terminals (7 instead of 11) and slightly lower power output. For most users, Marantz SR5014 is just as good choice as Denon AVR-X3600H.

SR5014 has 8 HDMI input ports and two HDMI outputs (ARC OUT and Monitor OUT). Like that’s not enough, you also have component and composite inputs/outputs. It also has a bunch of audio inputs – TOSLINK (x2), coaxial (x2), RCA (x4), and phono inputs.

The receiver features 7 speaker terminals (compatible with banana plugs) and they are all powered at the same time. Two of those 7 channels (surround rear channels) are assignable and can be used as height channels or for bi-amping. There’re preamp outputs for all the channels as well as Zone 2 pre-outputs and two subwoofer pre-outputs.

SR5014 can output 100W continuously into two 8Ω channels (with 0.08% distortion). That should be more than enough for most speakers.

This receiver has numerous additional features and functionalities. It features wi-fi, Bluetooth, Airplay2, HEOS built-in, it supports multi-zone, it’s compatible with Alexa, and has built-in AM and FM tuners. 

Advantages

  • Marantz Setup Assistant and auto-calibration
  • Intuitive controls
  • 8 HDMI IN (7 rear and 1 front)/2 HDMI OUT (one eARC OUT, one Monitor2 OUT)
  • 4K/60Hz pass-through, HDCP 2.3 compliance, HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision (applies to all HDMI ports)
  • 7 sets of 5-way binding posts (all 7 channels powered simultaneously)
  • Assignable surround rear channels (can be used as height channels or Zone 2 channels)
  • Max supported speaker layout – 7.2 (or 5.2.2)
  • Dolby and DTS surround sound support (including Dolby Atmos and DTS:X – when using 5.1.2 or 5.2.2 configuration)
  • RMS Power Output – 100W (into two 8Ω channels with 0.08% THD)
  • Compatible with 4-16Ω speakers
  • Additional audio inputs – optical x2, coax x2, RCA x4, phono inputs
  • Additional video inputs/outputs – composite IN x3, composite OUT x1, component IN x2, component OUT x1
  • Wi-Fi connectivity (2.4 and 5GHz)
  • Multizone compatible (assignable terminals)
  • Preamp outputs for all the channels
  • Airplay2 support
  • HEOS built-in (you can use HEOS wireless speakers as surround channels or as part of a multiroom system)
  • Compatible with Alexa
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • AM/FM tuners built-in

Disadvantages

  • Unresponsive and buggy Marantz AVR app

BEST SURROUND SOUND AMPLIFIERS OVER $1000

Looking for the most capable, most versatile, most powerful amp for a large home theater system? The following two amps are, in our opinion, the best surround sound amplifiers for large home theaters and demanding speakers.

Best 11.2 Surround Sound Amplifier – Marantz SR8012

Marantz SR8012

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

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Impressions

Marantz SR8012 is a highly versatile 11.2 amp that will provide you with an incredibly immersive 7.2.4 surround sound listening experience.

Like most high-end AV receivers, SR8012 has 8 HDMI input ports and 3 HDMI outputs (all ports support 4K/60Hz, HDCP 2.2, and all the latest standards including IMAX Enhanced and Auro-3D). 

If, for any reason you want to use other inputs, you have 3 component video inputs and 4 composite video inputs. Moreover, you have numerous audio inputs – optical (x2), coaxial (x2), RCA (x6), phono (x1).

All 11 sets of speaker terminals are powered. 6 channels are assignable and can be used in different ways (as Zone 2 channels, Zone 3 channels, or for bi-amping). With two 8Ω channels driven, the receiver can push 140W per channel RMS (0.08% distortion).  

SR8012 has preamp outputs for all the channels. There’re also preamp outputs for Zone 2 and Zone 3 as well as two subwoofer preamp outputs.

Like all the advanced AV receivers, SR8012 supports wi-fi and Bluetooth connectivity, Airplay 2, multi-zone feature (Zone 2 and 3), and has HEOS built-in (it’s compatible with HEOS wireless speakers). 

Advantages

  • Marantz Setup Assistant and Audyssey MultEQ auto-calibration
  • Intuitive controls
  • HDMI IN x8 (7 rear and 1 front)/HDMI OUT x3 (one eARC OUT, one Monitor2 OUT, one Zone2 OUT)
  • 4K/60Hz pass-through, HDCP 2.3 compliance, HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision, IMAX Enhanced, Auro-3D (applies to all HDMI ports)
  • 11 sets of 5-way binding posts (all 11 channels are powered)
  • Assignable Surround Rear, Height 1, and Height 2 channels – 6 channels in total (can be used as surround rear channels, height channels, or Zone 2 channels)
  • Max supported speaker layout – 11.2 (7.2.4 or 5.2.6)
  • Dolby and DTS surround sound support (including Dolby Atmos and DTS:X – when using speaker layouts with height channels)
  • RMS Power Output – 140W per channel (into two 8Ω channels with 0.08% distortion)
  • Compatible with 4-16Ω speakers
  • Additional audio inputs – optical x2, coax x2, RCA x5, phono inputs
  • Additional video inputs/outputs – composite IN x4, composite OUT x1, component IN x3, component OUT x1
  • Wi-Fi connectivity (2.4 and 5GHz)
  • Multizone compatible
  • Preamp outputs for all the channels
  • Airplay2 support
  • HEOS built-in (use HEOS wireless speakers as surround channels or use them in a multiroom setup)
  • Compatible with Alexa
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • AM/FM tuners built-in

Disadvantages

  • Unresponsive and buggy Marantz AVR app

Best 13.2 Surround Sound Amplifier – Denon AVR-X8500H

Denon AVR-X8500H

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

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Impressions

AVR-X8500H is the first 13.2 surround sound amplifier in the world. It’s incredibly versatile and has an amazing power output per channel (150W into 8Ω). It is a fantastic amp for all kinds of home theater setups and it’s our top choice over $1000. The only problem is the price – X8500H is priced around $4,000.

The receiver houses 11 HDMI ports (8IN and 3OUT). All these inputs are HDCP 2.2 compliant and support 4K/60Hz. Also, they all support all the latest image standards including HDR10, Dolby Vision, IMAX Enhanced, Auro-3D, etc. 

Aside from HDMI connections you have composite and component video connections. Like always, you also have a bunch of audio inputs – optical (x2), coaxial (x2), RCA (x6), and phono (x1).

This AV receiver has 15 sets of speaker terminals and 13 of those 15 are powered. 10 of 15 channels are assignable and can be used in different ways (surround rear channels, height channels, Zone channels, channels for bi-amping). Only the main 5 channels (FL, FR, C, SL, and SR) are not assignable and are used exclusively for 5 main home theater speakers.

X8500H has preamp outputs for all the channels, including two sets of preamp outputs for Zone 2 and 3, and two subwoofer preamp outputs.

Another special thing about X8500H is its power output. It can push 150W per channel RMS (measured with 2 8Ω channels, 0.04% distortion).

Finally, X8500H has all the additional features you can think of – Bluetooth and wi-fi connectivity, AM/FM tuners, multiroom and multi-zone, HEOS built-in, Alexa compatibility.

Denon AVR-X8500H delivers unbelievable performance and is perfectly reliable. The only thing that needs to be upgraded is the Bluetooth version. In all the other aspects, this unit is simply magnificent.

Advantages

  • Denon Setup Assistant and Audyssey MultEQ XT32 auto-calibration
  • Intuitive controls
  • 8 HDMI IN (7 rear and 1 front)/3 HDMI OUT (one eARC OUT, one Monitor2 OUT, one Zone2 OUT)
  • 4K/60Hz pass-through, HDCP 2.3 compliance, HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision, IMAX Enhanced, Auro-3D (applies to all HDMI ports) 
  • 15 sets of 5-way binding posts (13 of those 15 channels can be powered simultaneously)
  • 10 assignable channels (can be used as surround rear channels, height channels, Zone channels, or for bi-amping)
  • Max supported speaker layout – 13.2 (7.2.6 or 9.2.4)
  • Dolby and DTS surround sound support (including Dolby Atmos and DTS:X – when using speaker layouts with height channels)
  • RMS Power Output – 150W per channel (into 8Ω channels with 0.05% THD)
  • Compatible with 4-16Ω speakers
  • Additional audio inputs – optical x2, coax x2, RCA x6, phono inputs
  • Additional video inputs/outputs – composite IN x4, composite OUT x2, component IN x3, component OUT x1
  • Wi-Fi connectivity (2.4 and 5GHz)
  • Preamp outputs for all the channels
  • Multizone compatible
  • Airplay2 support
  • HEOS built-in (use HEOS wireless speakers as surround channels or use them in a multiroom setup)
  • Compatible with Alexa
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • AM/FM tuners built-in

Disadvantages

  • Outdated Bluetooth version (BT 3.0 + EDR)

This concludes our list of 9 best surround sound amplifiers. Hopefully, our selection helped you find the best one for your home theater. If you need more info about integrated surround sound amplifiers, read the following text. It will make things clearer and will help you understand what to look for.


Buyer’s Guide – Things to Look for in a Surround Sound Amplifier

If you are not that familiar with AV receivers and surround sound amplifiers, they can be quite confusing and intimidating, especially because of those crowded rear panels. But don’t worry – it’s going to get much easier once you read this short guide. 

Connections (Inputs/Outputs/Speaker Terminals)

So, the first important thing is the number (as well as type) of inputs and outputs. Every AV receiver (integrated surround sound amp) has a number of video inputs (mostly digital HDMI inputs but also Composite and Component video inputs). Even the cheapest amplifiers have at least 3 or 4 HDMI inputs and at least one HDMI ARC output (HDMI ARC ports are used for connecting the AV receiver to your TV/projector). More expensive ones have up to 8 HDMI inputs and even three HDMI outputs (although most people need only one HDMI ARC output).

Surround sound amplifiers also have numerous (analog and digital) audio inputs. Usually, you will find a couple of optical and coaxial inputs and at least a few pairs of analog RCA inputs. Some AV receivers also have phono inputs so you can connect your record player. 

Most amplifiers/receivers also have a headphone output and preamp outputs for at least two front speakers (front left, front right). More expensive amps have preamp outputs for all the channels.

Finally, every surround sound amp has a certain number of speaker terminals (speaker outputs). Some have only 5 powered channels and 1 or 2 subwoofer pre-outputs (they support 5.1 or 5.2 speaker layouts). Pricier surround sound amps have more powered channels (up to 13) and support much larger speaker layouts (up to 13.2, or 9.2.4 or 7.2.6). 

More expensive surround sound amps also have one, two, or multiple pairs of assignable speaker terminals. These terminals can be used in more than one way – you can assign them a function. They can, for example, drive your home theater speakers and you can decide whether you want to use them as surround or height channels. You can also use them to power speakers located in some other room (passive speakers that are not part of your home theater systems). This feature is called multizone. Finally, you can use those assignable channels to bi-amp your front left and front right speakers (in case they are too demanding and require higher power input to shine).

Power Output 

You need a surround sound amp that can supply enough power (per channel) to all of your passive speakers and can drive them with ease. So, it doesn’t have to be the most powerful amp on the market – it just has to meet the requirements of your speakers. 

What you need to do is check your speakers’ power requirements and compare them with your amplifier’s power output. Make sure that you’re looking at the right power output (power output for the right impedance). Some speaker manufacturers will also publish the recommended power output for the given speaker system, which makes things a bit easier.

Supported Video Standards

The majority of today’s AV receivers support at least 4K/30Hz pass-through. The cheapest ones support only 1080p video playback. Depending on the HDMI connection (HDMI 1.4 or HDMI 2.0) they will (or will not) be compliant with HDCP 2.2 (or HDCP 2.3). Most receivers support the latest picture standards including HDR, HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision, and others. 

Supported Surround Sound Formats

All surround sound amps support the most basic 5.1 formats (LPCM, Dolby Digital, DTS 5.1). More advanced AV receivers with more powered channels will support DD+, DTS HD, Dolby True HD, DTS HD Master Audio, etc. Surround sound amps with height channels will also support object-based formats (like DTS:X and Dolby Atmos). 

Other Features – AM/FM Tuners, Bluetooth Connectivity, Wi-Fi, Chromecast, Airplay, Multiroom Capabilities, etc.

We all have different needs when it comes to additional features. They are not essential for your surround sound experience but they are quite convenient. Expensive surround sound amps support all or at least most of these features. You can find quite a few on our list of 9 best surround sound amplifiers. Cheaper amps have only some of these additional features (usually AM/FM tuners and Bluetooth connectivity). As the price increases, the number of included features grows.

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