How much are you looking to spend to upgrade your TV sound? If you say $300 to $400 then your money is probably best spent on a sound bar, but if you're spending a little more--about $500 or so--then a receiver and inexpensive 5.1 speaker set is capable of a much bigger sound.
At $250, the Denon AVR-S500BT is about as cheap as receivers get before they become disposable junk. While most models at this price are sorely lacking in features, the Denon offers a couple of things its competitors don't, namely Bluetooth connectivity and 4K compatibility.
The sound quality, meanwhile, is pretty good for the price, and certainly better than some receivers costing more. At the end of the day, the Denon AVR-S500BT offers a feature-rich package and a superb value that can form the backbone of a quality budget home theater system.
While some would commonly equate "budget" with "gaudy" -- especially when it comes to audio devices -- the Denon manages to look more expensive than it is while also adding several ease-of-use features uncommon at any price.
Most receivers feature a flip-down panel to conceal the buttons and ports on the unit's fascia. As an entry-level unit the AVR-S500BT lacks these accouterments but it looks fairly clean and the buttons are useful. In addition to the selector dial and volume control combination as seen on virtually every modern receiver, it also adds four Quick Select buttons for the most used inputs. If you've used the dial even once to scroll through a seemingly random list of inputs you'll know how useful button shortcuts can be.
The menu system is fairly rudimentary, just white text on a black background and a blue highlight, but at least things are relatively easy to find.
The remote control that comes with the Denon is pretty busy as these things go, but at least it's easy to use, with dedicated source buttons. As always, we think it's worth stepping up to a universal remote like the awesome.
The AVR-S500BT is a 5.2 channel receiver which delivers 70W per channel. It decodes most surround formats including DTS-HD and Dolby TrueHD. The front-mounted USB port will also decode MP3 and WMA audio tracks (but not FLAC or WAV files).