Denon AVR-S500BT review: Good sound and great features for the price

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
MSRP: $299.99

The Good The Denon AVR-S500BT is an economical AV receiver with solid sound quality. The included Bluetooth capability is unusual at this price, and the five HDMI inputs with 4K compatibility offer some degree of future proofing. Quick-select buttons take the pain out of selecting a source from the front of the unit.

The Bad Better sound can be had for $100 more; no HDMI ARC means connecting an optical cable to your TVs for smart TV sound; utilizes speaker clips inside of binding posts.

The Bottom Line While the AVR-S500BT is one of Denon's least expensive receivers, its features lineup is surprisingly generous, and movie and music sound quality is up to snuff for the price.

Visit for details.

7.8 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Ecosystem 7
  • Features 7
  • Performance 7
  • Value 9

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.

Sarah Tew/CNET

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.

Sarah Tew/CNET

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.

Sarah Tew/CNET

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 Logitech Harmony Home Control .


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).

Best AV Receivers for 2020

All best av receivers
  • Onkyo TX-NR585

    The Onkyo TX-NR585 combines newbie-friendly ease of use with the advanced decoding and...

  • Sony STR-DN1080

    Starting at: $598.00

    The Sony STR-DN1080 is fully featured, easy to use, and it sounds great, making it one...

  • Denon AVR-S750H

    Starting at: $499.00

    The Denon AVR-S750H offers everything an AV enthusiast needs, from generous sound quality...

  • Yamaha RX-V485

    Starting at: $399.95

    The Yamaha RX-V485 offers high-quality sound at an affordable price, but some users may...

More Best Products

All best products