Luckily for everyone, home theater systems have evolved immensely over the past several years. What started with simple 5.1 setups has now grown into all inclusive devices that can do so much more than just allow you to enjoy your favorite movies with a better audio.
Compact modern 5.1 receivers are all about versatility. We have chosen 4 such receivers that we think are currently the some of the best you can get for a reasonable price. Each one of these was picked for their quality, features they offer, and the ability to meet certain standards such as 4K media playback and similar.
One of the factors we insisted on was a small footprint. We were looking for mini 5.1 receivers that didn’t compromise the functionality nor performance. This definitely reduced the choice, but we found what we were looking for. Let’s go over each individual model and see what they bring to the table. These are our recommendations for the 4 best small 5.1 receivers on the market.
Marantz NR1504 Slim Line
When it comes to compact form, Marantz NR1504 Slim Line definitely takes the cake. However, that’s not the only aspect it excels at. Marantz NR1504 Slim Line is a very simple and easy-to-use receiver. It comes packed with standard HDMI ports. There’s no 4K Ultra HD support, but that is one of the tradeoffs. The Slim Line (see full specs) compensated that with a whole array of great features.
You get 3D pass through, a bunch of supported streaming services including the SiriusXM, Pandora, Spotify and Apple AirPlay. Power output is limited to 60 Watts per channel. All in all, Marantz NR1504 Slim Line is a small and compact 5.1 receiver that features a stealthy profile. This makes it perfect for subtle home theater setups and a preferred sweet spot for those who have simple requirements in terms of performance.
Yamaha’s RX-V379 brings all the latest and greatest standards to the playing field. Not only does it support all the regular features, but it also comes with HDCP2.2 which is used to run 4K Ultra HD media. Some will argue that this is a double edged sword as HDCP2.2 is the next level above HDMI 2.0 and unfortunately lacks the backward compatibility with this widespread standard. However, the level of quality it delivers compensates for this temporary limiting nature.
This small 5.1 receiver comes with Bluetooth wireless music playback and Yamaha’s YPAO technology that adjusts the audio according to your room. Once fully calibrated, this feature gives you the optimal audio performance you can get in any given environment. Yamaha RX-V379BL is the entry level model in the RX series. The output is rated at 130 W at 1 kHz, 10% THD, 1-ch driven, 8 ohms, and 70 W at 20 Hz – 20 kHz, 0.09%, 2-ch driven, 8 ohms. For the price, this is more than a decent performance.
Pioneer’s entry level receivers were always interesting because of the features they offered. Same goes for Pioneer VSX-531-K. This somewhat basic 5.1 receiver actually brings a lot of flexibility. You get the same 4K Ultra HD pass-through HDCP2.2 we just talked about in the previous paragraph. In terms of power output, you can expect to see 140 watts per channel at 1 kHz, 1.0% THD at 6 Ohms, 1ch Driven FTC.
This receiver comes with Phase Control, which is Pioneer’s technology that works to improve the audio by calibrating each speaker for optimal performance. It comes with built-in Bluetooth wireless technology and supports Dolby True HD as well as DTS-HD Master Audio. For an entry-level, small 5.1 receiver, this Pioneer definitely goes above and beyond. Most importantly, it doesn’t try to gap the void between the next category of receivers. Instead, it offers consistent and reliable performance.
Compared to the previous two receivers, Onkyo HT-S3700 is a more standard package. It uses HDMI for most of the input needs, while the HDMI 2.0 takes care of 4K Ultra HD. While it’s slowly getting phased out, this kind of setup is still the optimal choice for a home theater, mostly due to the fact that a good majority of latest TVs still use HDMI and HDMI 2.0. Bluetooth comes standard, along with Dolby True HD and DTS-HD Master Audio. In terms of power output, Onkyo HT-S3700 delivers 110 Watts at 6 Ohms, 1 kHz, 1% THD, 1 Channel Driven, and 65 Watts at 8 Ohms, 20 Hz-20 kHz, 0.7% THD, 2 Channels Driven, FTC.
This slim 5.1 receiver (see full specs) comes with a very intuitive interface that is easy to use, and easy to setup. What really makes it the best value for the money option is the set of rather decent speakers that come with the receiver. For a very reasonable price, you can get a full home theater setup that will take care of all your needs until you find a better set of speakers if that’s what you want to do.
The Best Small 5.1 Receivers Conclusion
Choosing the right 5.1 receiver really comes down to what your needs and preferences. When it comes to mini 5.1 receivers, you will be limited in some aspects. Certain models will support certain features, which will differ from brand to brand. The ones we chose for this list represent a great cross section of what is currently available in this segment of the market. As you can see, these compact receivers are pretty capable.
We picked several that bring the latest 4K Ultra HD standards, and some that offer the standard performance we are still very much used to. The main requirement we had for this list was reliable performance. All of the receivers we listed meet and exceed this. If you are looking to enter the world of home theaters with a somewhat limited budget, you will be hard pressed to find better models than the ones we listed here. When bang for the buck is the name of the game, these receivers are what gets the job done properly. Thumbs up from here!