In this review we feature the best stereo receivers for serious audiophiles and those who want to take their music listening experience to the next level. Stereo receivers are best suited for those who just want to listen to music and do not need a full 5.1 or 7.1 home theater receiver system. These receivers are designed to drive high end speaker systems to create a superior soundstage and overall listening experience. Stereo receivers incorporate only two built-in amplifiers and are suitable for two-channel speaker configurations; they do not provide the necessary decoding for surround sound or a cinematic home theater experience. If you are looking for some of the best stereo receivers that will deliver exceptional power for your 2.1 speaker system, be sure to check out our top picks below!
How We Choose
We choose the best stereo receivers based on a combination of factors including the number of watts per channel, sound quality, ease of control and overall design. We look for receivers that can deliver pure audio quality and drive high-end speakers for incredibly detailed sound performance with great stereo imaging and soundstage. Our editors have tested dozens of stereo receivers to determine which ones are the best and represent a great value investment for the discerning audiophile. These stereo receivers are designed to deliver superb sound performance with virtually no audible distortion, and some of these receivers also come with phono mm inputs for vinyl recordings for extremely detailed sound performance. Be sure to check out our top picks for the best stereo receivers below!
#1 Best Overall: Yamaha R-S202BL Stereo Receiver
The Yamaha R-S202BL is hands down one of the best stereo receivers you can find in terms of quality and are exceptionally value for money. This stereo receiver features Bluetooth connectivity for easy music streaming, 40-station FM/AM preset tuning and features speaker selector and terminals for two systems. The receiver has two channels of 100-watt high power output that works together with a high-quality sound design which minimizes the length of signal routes and optimizes the circuit layout. The power transformer is positioned near the amplifier circuit to reduce power loss and improve peak power supply capacity for high volume output. The signal ground and power supply ground are connected to a single point which eliminates mutual interference to achieve a higher S/N radio for better sound clarity. The Yamaha receiver features a very sleek and modern looking design with a brush aluminium finish that blends in with other audio equipment and speakers. It also comes with an ice simple remote control and headphone terminal for convenience. If you are looking for one of the best stereo receivers that deliver exceptional value, the Yamaha R-S202BLs are definitely the ones to get.
The Yamaha R-S202BL works like a charm when connected to the speaker system – the receiver does pump out a lot of power and can drive up to 100 watts RMS per channel. It also comes with nice A/B channels to hook up two separate speaker systems in different rooms if required. You can also hook up this amplifier to your TV for a 2-way channel sound and it works well with bookshelf or floor standing speakers. They have enough power to crank up the volume really loud without producing any distortion. When paired together with these speakers, our stereo setup produced very crisp and clear full range sound with distinct stereo separation in the left and right channels.
The Bluetooth connection is also very easy to setup and versatile; you can stream music from your smartphone to the receiver and directly into your speakers which is really convenient. The Bluetooth connectivity works really well at a distance without any dips or sudden lags in the connection – we did not experience any drops in sound quality while playing music from our smartphone. We also liked the fact that you can adjust the volume, bass and treble outputs straight on the receiver or from the remote control which makes this system really easy to control.
The Yamaha stereo receiver is equipped with A/B speaker terminals for two systems; it allows you to connect two sets of speakers which you can place in different rooms. It also comes with a speaker selector which makes it easy to switch between outputs, allowing you to hear the sound from one speaker system (A/B) or both (A+B). The receiver also comes with integrated power management functionality which automatically switches to standby mode after a period of inactivity. It can be set to two, four, eight or twelve hours or turned off; the power consumption during standby mode is only 0.5W which helps to save energy efficiently. The receiver also comes with a simple remote control which works really well and practically has all the functionality you need to operate the receiver and adjust the sound performance or output channels.
The Verdict? The Yamaha R-S202BL is a cost effective solution to a superb stereo listening experience in your home. They are some of the best stereo receivers we have tested that are capable of delivering 100 watts RMS per channel with full range sound. The Bluetooth connectivity on this receiver works like a charm; the connection signal is strong and does not diminish the sound quality over the Bluetooth transmission. The receiver also comes with 40-station FM/AM preset tuning which is great if you want to listening to radio with your speakers. The receiver comes with A/B terminals to connect two sets of speaker systems with left and right channel speakers; this can be pretty useful if you want to hook up different systems for another room. It’s also possible to connect a subwoofer to this receiver using the standard speaker output terminal. Overall, the R-S202BL are some of the best stereo receivers that deliver a solid sound signal amplification and great volume and we highly recommend them.
#2 Best Performance: Sony STRDH130 2-Channel Stereo Receiver
The Sony STRDH130 2-Channel receiver is one of the best stereo receivers you can find at a very good price point that delivers phenomenal sound amplification and performance. This stereo amplifier features a total power output of 270 watts with dual 135 watts RMS per channel at 8 ohms. It is a 2-channel hi-fi receiver with 5 analog audio inputs, 1 audio mini jack for smartphones, 2 analog audio output and headphone out connections. The receiver is equipped with connections for smartphone or portable music players; it comes with a stereo mini-plug which supports all smartphones for instant playback. It also features an FM/AM tuner which you can use to program your favorite local stations with 30 presents available. The Sony receiver comes equipped with an auto-standby mode which enables the receiver to automatically switch to standby mode if it is not in use or no audio signal is sent after 30 minutes. It’s one of the best stereo receivers you can find that has virtually everything you need to a power a high-end 2.1 channel system for quality music and we highly recommend them.
The sound quality of the Sony STRDH130 is excellent, with 135 watts per channel at 8 ohm, at 1kHz with a total harmonic distortion of 0.05%. The receiver works really well in driving high end two way speakers with great detailed separation between the left and right channels. When paired with good two-way channel speaker system, you will be able to get a greater sense of soundstage with this receiver and speaker working in tandem. Music performances were reproduced with pristine accuracy, with the sound really sounding natural and lifelike when played directly from the audio source or TV. You can also crank up the volume on your speakers with this receiver and it will definitely get loud enough to annoy your neighbors. The transmission signal is smooth without any static interference or distortion at high volumes. The sound quality that you get with the Sony STRDH130 receiver is truly exceptional and a definite upgrade over its predecessor models. If you are an instrumental music lover with a stereo-only CD collection, you will definitely love the STRHD130s as part of your home audio setup.
The Sony STRDH130 has plenty of features and connection inputs which make it really versatile. They are made especially for pure stereo only sound amplification and come with two speaker zones (A+B) which you can use to connect two separate speaker systems in different rooms. They also come with 5 RCA input pairs and a 3.5mm stereo input jack which gives you plenty of options to connect different music sources to the receiver. It also doubles as a nice AM/FM receiver which is great if you want to listen to radio using your receiver. We liked the fact that the Sony amplifier also comes with a nice remote control which you can use to adjust the input selection and volume controls. That being said, do note that the Sony STRDH130 is designed purely for stereo sound and does not come with Bluetooth, subwoofer output or Dolby sound decoding. If you are looking for a good-old fashioned stereo receiver that will deliver pure sound, this stereo receiver definitely punches above the rest.
The Verdict? The Sony STRDH130s are some of the best stereo receivers you can find that deliver phenomenal sound quality at a very good price. They are designed to deliver up to 135 watts RMS per channel at 8 ohms with a total harmonic distortion at 0.05% which is really incredible. The sound performance of the STRDH130s when hooked up to our stereo speakers was very smooth and crisp, with great soundstage and separation between the left and right channels. It also comes with 5 audio analog inputs which is really convenient if you need to connect multiple music sources to the receiver; it also features two speaker zones (A+B) which is very useful if you want to connect another speaker system to the same receiver. We also liked the fact that the receiver doubles as an FM/AM tuner which is great if you want to listen to radio on your stereo setup. The Sony STRDH130s come with a nice remote control which you can use to adjust the volume and sound settings, as well as auto-standby mode for efficient power consumption. It’s one of the best stereo receivers you can find with all the features you need for a great stereo listening experience and we highly recommend them.
#3 Best Value: Onkyo A-9010 Stereo Receiver
The Onkyo A-9010 is undoubtedly one of the best stereo receivers that are highly value for moneyand deliver incredible sound performance. It is equipped with a high-quality Wolfson WM8718 DAC unit which decodes PCM signals to 192 kHz and 24-bit resolution to create spacious and airy analog sound from digital music sources. The receiver features a 192 kHz/24-bit capable coaxial and 96kHz/24-bit optical inputs which accept hi-resolution, lossless or compressed audio signals from digital music sources and media players. It also comes with a built-in MM phono equalizer, Phono Overload 94 m V, and a powerful independent headphone amplifier for clear and detailed sound. The receiver delivers a nice 44 watt RMS per channel at 8 ohms with 0.08% total harmonic distortion. If you are looking for a very cost-effective receiver that will deliver very good and detailed sound quality, the Onkyo A-9010 is definitely one of the best stereo receivers that you can find.
The Onkyo A-9010 delivers very detailed sound performance when paired with a decent stereo of stereo speakers or floor standing speakers next to the TV. The receiver produces a naturally bright sound with a nice low end response; it adds a level of detail and complexity to the music which makes it sound really enjoyable to listen to. The highs and midrange with this receiver are crisp and well defined, and definitely pack a very good punch at low or high volumes. Vocal performances sound nice and clean with a good deal of soundstage projected on the left and right channel speakers; the receivers do a very nice job in reproducing subtle details in the music which feed through to your speakers – you may hear details in the music which you might not have noticed before. The receiver really does the job of pushing through clear and responsive sound to the speakers from your audio sources. That being said, do note that the Onkyo A-9010 delivers 44 watts RMS per channel which may not be suitable for a more high-end setup that requires more power. If you are using the Onkyo A-9010 for casual listening, they will work magic with your stereo setup and you can crank up the volume on your speakers without getting any or little distortion with this receiver.
The Onkyo A-9010 comes in a very sleek and modern looking design with a nice aluminium finish. It blends in really well when placed next to a TV set or stereo setup. The volume knob is nicely located at the center of the receiver, together with bass, treble and balance knobs on the side. It also comes with multiple RCA input sources for you to connect different music sources to the receiver at the same time. It also comes with a nice optical cable which does give a nice improvement in the overall sound quality when connected. We liked the fact that the receiver also comes with a remote control which you can use to adjust the volume and other simple controls, although you might have to adjust the bass and treble controls manually. We also liked the nice LED lights on the receiver which indicates the currently signal input and power. Our overall thoughts on the Onkyo A-9010 is that it is a very nice and sleek stereo receiver that works really well and looks great in a stereo setup.
The Verdict? The Onkyo A-9010 is one of the best stereo receivers you can find that delivers exceptional value for money and great sound. When we hooked up the Onkyo A-9010 to our stereo setup, we were quite impressed with the clean and distortion-free sound that we got from the receiver. It also powers most stereo speakers comfortably with 44 watts RMS per channel at 8 ohms. The A-9010 has a very sleek and modern looking appearance that looks really nice next to the stereo setup; it comes with a full aluminium finish which gives it a really polished look. We also liked the fact that this receiver comes with an independent headphone amplifier and built-in MM phono equalizer for better sound performance. The coaxial and optical inputs also support high resolution lossless music files which are great if you want to listen to high quality music straight from your music device. It also comes with a basic remote control which you can use to control the volume and power settings. We have no doubt that the A-9010s are some of the best stereo receivers you can find now selling at a good discounted price, so don’t forget to check them out!
#4 Best Bluetooth: Sherwood RX4508 200W Stereo Receiver
The Sherwood RX4508 is one of the best stereo receivers you can find at a very good price with incredible Bluetooth streaming quality. It is hands down one of the best two-way channel receivers you can find that will not blow your budget. The receiver is equipped with Quartz PPL synthesized digital tuning and functions to auto scan, preset scan for quick searching and features AM/FM with 30 station presets. The entire receiver includes 3 audio inputs, 2 audio outputs and a phono input. It also comes with aptX audio codec for Bluetooth wireless music streaming. The high powered amplifier produces excellent stereo with 100 watts output per channel and a discrete amplifier stage for clear sound performance. The receiver features a solid block pattern design shaped for high fidelity sound and quality internal components. The receiver has a dual 100 watt RMS per channel output at 8 ohms with a frequency range of 40 to 20kHz, and supports A2DP, aptX Bluetooth 3.0 streaming. If you are looking for a high quality receiver with superb Bluetooth streaming and 100 watt per channel outputs, the Sherwood RX4508 is one of the best stereo receivers you can find.
When paired with a decent set of stereo speakers, the Sherwood RX4508 performs phenomenally well. The sound signature of the RX4508 is more open and dynamic, and sounds really rich and full range. It really provides great sound amplification with virtually zero distortion at high volumes; you can pick up every single detail in the music with the receiver with great clarity. The Bluetooth functionality on the receiver works like a charm – it pairs easily to your Bluetooth music device with great range and delivers flawless music streaming without any hint of deterioration in the sound quality. The receiver pumps out way better sound than what you can expect of a conventional stereo amplifier – it has plenty of wattage and great sound output to get the job done. The power to the stereo speakers was excellent and they sound very detailed and pristine; we also did not have any issues connecting the receiver to the TV via the RCA inputs. While the RX4508 is not intended for use for home theater or surround sound speakers, they do produce very crisp stereo sound when paired with a great speaker and definitely adds a nice “push” to the volume.
The receiver comes with a nice A/B connection zone for you to connect up to two stereo speaker systems to the receiver at the same time. It also comes with versatile CD, auxiliary and phono inputs for versatility. The controls are nicely located at the front of the receiver with a good volume knob that looks classic. The entire receiver has a very sleek and elegant old-school receiver design with a brushed metal case cover that blends in well with the TV set or stereo speakers. The receiver definitely looks larger and feels heavier to lift, which indicates that it is made of good quality components inside. The RX4058s also come with a nice remote control which you can use to adjust the volume settings and receiver controls. We liked the fact that the receiver includes aptX audio codec support for lossless music streaming, A2DP Bluetooth streaming and CSR8645. It also comes with other useful features such as a headphone output jack, digital encoder volume control, fluorescent display, system illumination control and sleep timer.
The Verdict? The Sherwood RX4508 is hands down one of the best stereo receivers you can find with superb Bluetooth streaming and aptX audio codec for high quality sound. The receiver delivers an excellent 100 watts RMS per channel with 8 ohm impedance and comes with an integrated high powered amplifier. The receiver features a versatile design with 3 audio inputs, 2 audio outputs and a phono input. The sound quality on the RX4508 is excellent, and produces very crisp and clean volume when connected to a decent set of stereo speakers. The receiver really takes the music files and amplifies it with great clarity without any loss or dips in sound quality. The Bluetooth streaming functionality also works like a charm; we did not encounter any sudden dips in sound performance or loss in sound quality while streaming music from our smartphone. The receiver also has a pretty nice classic design that looks really sleek with a metallic casing finish. It’s one of the best stereo receivers you can find that delivers great value for what you pay for and we highly recommend them.
#5 Best Wifi: Pioneer Elite SX-N30 Network Stereo Receiver
The Pioneer Elite SX-N30 is one of the best stereo receivers primarily designed for network streaming with built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, and is one of the more versatile receivers on the market. The stereo receiver has the capability to connect to a variety of network sources with its built-in Wi-Fi (2.4 GHz) and built-in Bluetooth wireless streaming with A2DP codec. It also has a very good range of other inputs including phono inputs which have good sound quality. It also comes with Spotify integration, an AM/FM Tuner with 40 station presets and is ControlApp ready. The receiver also features a nice headphone output with plenty of power to push headphones with higher impedance of more than 400 ohms. Furthermore, the SX-N30 comes with many inputs which support both analog and digital input signals and can play media from external hard drives formatted in either FAT32 or NTFS formats which is really versatile. If you are looking for one of the best stereo receivers to play music over the internet or directly from your smartphone through Spotify, the Pioneer Elite SX-N30 truly shines.
The sound performance of the Pioneer Elite SX-N30 is very clean, natural with a good deal of soundstage and warm sound signature. The bass on the receiver is excellent, and adds a great punch to your music at up to 10db at 100hz. The bass feels smooth, natural and impactful without muddying into the midrange or overwhelm the other frequencies. We liked the fact that there are actually two subwoofer outputs which can be used – the SXN30 does produce very strong bass signal out of the subwoofer port and is great for bass lovers. The highs and midrange on the stereo speakers sounded very crisp and clear with a great deal of volume and clarity. The SX-N30 does recreate some serious soundstage when playing classical or instrumental music through the speakers – you get a sense of where the instruments are placed and can hear distinct tunes and notes separated throughout the listening space. In short, the SX-N30 does provide very good amplification with good spatial imaging. We also liked the fact that the SX-N30 does provide a lot of power so you can crank up your speakers to maximum volume without getting any distortion.
Where the SX-N30 receiver shines is that it provides an excellent connection to internet radio or Youtube without any drop-offs or lags in sound performance. You can also play FLAC or other media files from a USB thumb-drive and even fast-forward or rewind the soundtracks using the buttons on the remote control which is really good. The receiver comes with many inputs which also support analog and digital input signals, and supports Bluetooth streaming with A2DP codec which streams music directly from your smartphone device. The SX-N30 also features a very sleek and modern looking design with a polished aluminium finish. It also comes with A/B zones which you can use to connect up to two stereo speaker systems at the same time if you require. The receiver also comes with a nice remote control which you can use to control the volume and signal input settings. The only downside on the SX-N30 is that we found that the power supply transformer does make a little noise when running although this does not affect the sound quality. Apart from this, the Pioneer SX-N30 is a great stereo receiver that delivers excellent power and sound performance.
The Verdict? The Pioneer SX-N30 is one of the best stereo receivers you can find with full Wi-Fi and Bluetooth streaming functionality that supports Spotify integration. It’s a highly versatile receiver that supports a variety of network sources and features both analog and digital inputs, together with USB media audio playback. We also liked the fact that the receiver comes with a nice headphone input jack which provides plenty of power to drive higher impedance headphones. The sound performance of the SX-N30 is very clean and natural, and produces very nice spatial imaging with great attention to detail. It does the job of amplifying the sound without any frills – the sound feels clear and natural. We liked the fact that the SX-N30 also comes with two subwoofer outputs and produces very good bass when connected to a dedicated subwoofer – it has enough power to drive them and you can adjust the bass output up to 10db at 100 hz for a greater low-end thump. The sound performance is excellent and we did not experience any drop offs in sound quality while streaming internet video to the receiver. If you are looking for one of the best stereo receivers on the market with great wireless versatility, the Pioneer SX-N30 definitely is the one you should consider.
#6 Most Compact: Crown XLS1502 525 Watt Stereo Receiver
The Crown XLS1502 is one of the most compact and powerful stereo amplifiers you can find that delivers a whopping 525 watts of pure power at 4 ohms. The Crown receiver is equipped with a Class D amplifier with Crown’s ultra-efficient Drive Core technology which weighs less than 1.1 lbs. The amplifier provides higher DSP capabilities with more control and band pass filer per channel, providing a pure and powerful sound experience. It also features selectable input sensitivity with 1.4V RMS and 0.775V RMS options for the amplifier to be driven at full power. The receiver also comes with a nice LED display which you can toggle on or off to reduce distraction in dark spaces. You can also set a sleep mode after a specified time to avoid the hassle of turning on and off the receiver. Overall, the Crown XLS1502 is one of the best stereo receivers we have ever come across that is both compact and powerful and we highly recommend them.
The sound quality coming from the Crown XLS1502 is excellent and delivers very clean and powerful sound. The receiver works straight out of the box and is literally plug and play – simply connect your stereo speakers to this receiver and they will pump out incredible stereo sound. The receiver provides more than enough power to drive high-end stereo speakers and produces clean controlled power at every volume level. The amount of clarity that you get with this receiver is very impressive – music performances came across as crisp and crystal clear, with great attention to detail and sound effects. The two-way channel system gives a good deal of stereo imaging between the left and right speakers; this creates a very nice soundstage which makes you feel as though you are sitting in a live concert hall. Vocal performances were articulate and very detailed and sounded natural with lifelike effects. Instrumental music was crisp and clear and you can also tell where the instrumental sounds are coming from just from the excellent stereo separation. We have no doubt that the Crown XLS1502 is one of the best stereo receivers you can find that is so compact and yet delivers phenomenal sound.
The Crown XLS1502 has all the benefits of a switching mode power supply – it is compact, relatively lightweight and energy efficient with great audio fidelity. It also comes with a nice remote control for convenience to adjust the volume and sound quality settings. The receiver itself is 2 ohm capable and bridgeable, and comes with a built-in configurable hi/low/band pass crossover network. It also supports 1.4V and 0.7V line level sensitives which allow the amplifier to be driven at maximum power. The receiver also comes with a nice LED display which you can use to adjust the output settings; you can also pre-program sleep mode after a specified time to save energy while not in use. The Crown XLS1502 has a simple and minimalist design that looks and feels compact; the entire receiver weighs just less than 11 lbs which makes it very lightweight and portable.
The Verdict? The Crown XLS1502 is one of the best stereo receivers you can find that delivers extremely good sound in a compact and small package. It is an extremely powerful receiver that delivers a whopping 525 watts of pure power at 4 ohms and can power most high-end stereo speakers. The receiver is equipped with a Class D amplifier with Crown’s Driven Core technology for higher DSP capabilities for a much more detailed and smoother sound performance. It also comes with 1.4V and 0.7V line sensitivities for the receiver to be driven to full power. You can crank up your speakers to maximum volume with this receiver without any signal issues – they have plenty of wattage to drive your stereo speakers without causing any distortion. Music performances on the Crown XLS1502 sounded really well defined with crisp highs and good midrange; the bass response is decent but anything below 20 hz starts to fizzle out with this receiver. If you are looking for one of the best stereo receivers for your 2-way speakers that is both powerful and compact at the same time, the Crown XLS1502 is definitely an incredible option.
#7 Most Versatile: Onkyo TX-8140 2 Channel Stereo Receiver
The Onkyo TX-8140 is one of the best stereo receivers that delivers incredible versatility and a wide array of functions for high quality stereo listening. The receiver delivers 80 watts per channel at 8 ohms with a frequency range of 20 Hz to 20 kHz with 0.1% total harmonic distortion. It is also equipped with built-in Bluetooth and Wi-fi, and supports music listening with Pandora, Spotify and Sirius XM. The faceplate preset buttons on the receiver store four FM/AM and internet radio stations; you can simply push one button to power up the receiver and start listening straight away. The Onkyo receiver also comes equipped with a 384 kHz/32-bit Hi-Grade DAC for realistic and clean audio reproduction; it is specially designed for high-resolution audio playback. The receiver can play compressed, lossless, Hi-Res audio via local network connection and supports multiple types of music files including WMA lossless and FLAC formats. If you are looking for one of the best stereo receivers that can deliver superb stereo power with great versatility, the Onkyo TX-8140 is definitely the one to get.
The sound quality of the Onkyo TX-8140 is excellent and represents a great investment if you are looking to power your stereo speakers in a small to medium sized room. The receiver is intended to provide clean distortion-free sound for those who want to listen closely to the details in their music. It delivers a good 80 watts RMS per channel which is good enough to power most energy efficient stereo or hi-fi speakers. The tonal quality from this receiver is impeccably smooth and clean – vocal performances sounded natural and lifelike, and you really get the sense that you are sitting in a real life concert hall. The receiver also provides great power without any distortion; you can crank up the volume on your speakers without getting any distortion. One key advantage of the TX-8160 is that they can handle hi-resolution audio playback for super high bitrate audio files. If you are into hi-resolution music, the TX-8160 will be able to handle whatever audio files you can throw at it. It also has the capability to play gapless audio files which is a good added plus.
In many ways, the Onkyo TX-8140 represents a great upgrade from its predecessor the TX-8050. It delivers 80 watt per channel of high-current power from a fully discrete low-impedance amplification system to deliver high quality audio performance. The connectivity and versatility on the TX-8140 is very good – you can route TV sound via coaxial/optical inputs, stream music from mobile or PC over Wi-Fi, and comes with built-in support for Spotify Connect and Pandora. It also supports playing mp3 files from flash drive via USB, or pair and stream audio from any device using Bluetooth connectivity. The faceplate preset buttons store four FM/AM and internet radio stations which is convenient if you want to listen to radio sources. There is also a phono equalizer input for turntable playback, and six analog audio inputs for CD players. The TX-8140 also features a very sleek and modern looking design with a rigid oval floor-chassis and nice input, balance, tone and volume controls. The receiver is also equipped with an Asahi Kasei AK4452 digital-to-analog converter for low-distortion filtering.
The Verdict? The Onkyo TX-8140 is one of the best stereo receivers you can find that is highly cost effective and is designed for universal hi-resolution compatibility. The TX-8140 supports almost all hi-resolution audio files including gapless audio files; it also comes with a remote app to select 192/24 or 5.6 MHz DSD files on PC or NAS for extra detail and clarity. The hi-current amplification also allows the receiver to produce very good quality sound and reproduce vinyl recordings with great precision. The receiver produces a good 80 watts RMS per channel and supports 384 kHz/32-bit hi-grade DAC for realistic and natural audio reproduction. We also liked the fact that the TX-8140 comes with built-in Bluetooth and Wi-fi, with Pandora, Spotify, and Sirius XM support, and supports FM/AM radio listening with preset buttons. On the whole, the TX-8140 is well and truly one of the best stereo receivers you can find for the price and we highly recommend them if you are looking for a low-cost amplifier to drive your speakers in a small or medium sized room.
#8 Most Well-Balanced: Cambridge Audio Topaz AM10 Stereo Receiver
The Cambridge Audio Topaz AM10 is one of the best stereo speakers you can find that delivers extremely well-balanced and crisp sound performance. The AM10 is primarily designed as a high performance amplifier, and features a front facing 3.5mm jack input, an integrated phono stage for turntable connections and has 35 watts of power per channel. It’s suited for those who want to drive energy efficient stereo speakers in a small-sized room. The receiver also comes with 5 rear inputs and 1 record output to support a variety of external music sources. The front panel mp3 input can also be used with a headphone or line-level output. The great thing about the AM10 is that it makes use of toroidal transformers to provide extra power through each channel and provide greater balanced sound with more control. The AM10 also comes in a nice metallic casing which looks sleek and well-designed when placed next to a stereo speaker system. Overall, the Cambridge Audio AM10 is one of the best stereo receivers you can find that delivers incredibly balanced sound performance and we highly recommend them.
The sound quality from the Cambridge Audio AM10 is excellent – you get very clean sound with great articulation. It delivers a nice 35 watts of power per channel which is great if you need to drive less energy consuming speakers – the great thing about this receiver is that there is absolutely no buzz emanating from the transformer which can get pretty annoying. The AM10 sounds well balanced and full; the bass feels solid and punchy, while the midrange and highs are crisp and clear with no noticeable gaps or artificial emphasis in the audio spectrum. Vocal performances sounded clean and clear, with distinct sound separation between the left and right channels. Listening to music and instrumental performances on the AM10 was a particularly enjoyable experience, with great attention to detail and spatial imaging which gives you to sense as though you are sitting in a real live orchestra performance. The attention to detail on the AM10 is simply stunning – you can hear almost every single note and subtle instrument in the music with pristine clarity. If you are looking for a very clean sounding receiver with no tone controls, the AM10 will work wonders with your stereo speakers.
In terms of design, the Cambridge Audio AM10 has an uncluttered user interface with a minimalist appearance. It also comes with input ports for you to hook up your iPod or iPhone to the receiver easily. The receiver does not produce any buzz or hissing noise when not in use which is really good – you will not hear any static on your speakers when connected to this receiver. The AM10 also features a 3.5mm jack input and an integrated phono stage for turntable connection. We liked the sleek and modern looking design of the AM10 with its nice metal casing finish. It also comes with 5 rear inputs and 1 record output to support a wide range of external music sources. Overall, the AM10 is a no frills, stereo receiver that delivers superb amplification with great attention to detail without any hissing or static noise; it delivers great functionality and performance in a simple package.
The Verdict? If you are looking for one of the best stereo receivers that is incredibly well balanced and without any frills, the Cambridge Audio AM10 is definitely your ideal choice. While the receiver delivers only 35 watts RMS per channel, the sound performance is very well balanced and crisp with great attention to detail. Listening to music with the AM10 gives you a nice sense of spatial imaging and stereo separation with great music quality; listening to instrumental music with the AM10 feels like sitting in a real life orchestra. It also comes with multiple input ports at the rear which allows you to connect to a variety of music sources including your mp3 player and iPhone. The power amplification is nice and smooth; we did not experience any distortion from the stereo speakers when we cranked up the volume on the receiver. It’s one of the best stereo receivers you can find that delivers quality sound performance and is extremely easy to set up straight out of the box.
#9 Best Audiophile Entry-Level: Sherwood RX4208 200W Stereo Receiver
The Sherwood RX4208 is one of the best stereo receivers you can find that delivers very good stereo sound for an audiophile entry-level receiver. The RX-4208 is equipped with a high-powered amplifier and discrete amplifier stage that is capable of producing up to 100 watts RMS per channel of pure power at 8 ohms with a frequency range of 40 to 20kHz. It also comes with Quartz PLL synthesized digital tuning and functions to auto scan radio stations, with 30 station presets. The receiver is equipped with 3 audio inputs, 2 audio outputs, a phono input, AM/FM tuner and tonal bass and treble controls to customize the balance of your music. This means that you can hook up multiple devices to the Sherwood receiver including Blu-Ray players, DVD, CD players, laptops, mobile devices and gaming consoles. You can also easily switch between inputs and encoding formats to produce high-fidelity sound. It also features a solid block pattern design with a unique three-block design that looks really stunning when placed next to stereo speakers. Overall, the Sherwood RX4208 is one of the best stereo receivers you can find that delivers excellent stereo sound at a great price point.
The sound performance of the RX4208 is very good and produces amazing sound quality when connected to a decent set of stereo speakers. The sound quality that you get with this receiver is crystal clear, with beautifully crisp highs and smooth bass response. The midrange sounds detailed and clear, and you also have the added option of adjusting the tonal settings to get crisper sound. We thoroughly enjoyed listening to jazz and rock music with the receiver; the sound came across as well amplified and depending on the source material, you can experience hi-fidelity music sound on par with higher end receivers. We really liked the spatial imaging and stereo separation that the RX4208 portrays – listening to vocal performances felt as though we were sitting in a real life concert with the singer right in front of us. The Sherwood RX4208 is a really clean low-noise amplifier that does the job of amplifying the sound without any frills or distortion. If you are looking for a very good stereo receiver that can produce very clean sound at a budget price, the RX4208 might just be your best bet.
The RX4208 has a very economic and simplistic design that blends in easily into modern home décor. The entire receiver has a nice black metallic finish which looks really nice and clean. The volume knob is large and feels sensitive when adjusting the volume of the soundtracks – the dampening on the volume knob is excellent. The tonal quality of the receiver is great and comes with treble and bass controls to adjust the sound output according to your preferences. The AM/FM radio function works well and you can set up to 30 station presets which is really convenient if you want to listen to multiple radio stations. It also comes with virtually all the inputs you need for vinyl, CD or Blu-ray discs; it also comes together with a dedicated phono input. The receiver also comes with a nice remote control with plenty of options which is really convenient if you need to adjust the sound output on the go. The receiver does not produce any noise or static when no music source is playing which is great.
The Verdict? The Sherwood RX4208 is one of the best stereo receivers you can find if you are looking for an entry-level audiophile receiver. It is a no frills receiver that is very easy to setup and connect; the sound quality that you get from this receiver is very clean and sharp. Music performances from the RX4208 sounded very crisp and clean, with very good attention to detail. The receiver produces very good stereo imaging that gives you a real sense of space; vocal performances sounded like we were sitting in a real life concert hall. The receiver also delivers 100 watts RMS per channel at 8 ohms which is good enough for most bookshelf and stereo speakers. It also comes with convenient tonal bass and treble controls, together with 3 audio inputs and 2 audio outputs. The RX4208 also has FM/AM radio auto scanning with 30 station presets, and comes with a nice remote control which you can use to adjust the volume and music settings. It’s one of the best stereo receivers you can find that delivers great value for money and we highly recommend them.
#10 Best Stereo Sound: Harman Kardon HK 3700 Stereo Receiver
The Harman Kardon is one of the best stereo receivers you can find that can pump out incredible stereo sound through its hi-resolution amplifier. The receiver comes with a two-channel 85 watt ultra-wide bandwidth amplifier for high fidelity sound, and comes with complete connectivity which supports phono input, FM/AM radio, home network DLNA, vTuner Internet radio, iOS Direct with built-in DAC and USB connection. This is great if you intend to connect a variety of music sources to the HK 3700 including vinyl through the analog phono input. The entire receiver can deliver a whopping 170 watts of ultra-low distortion power and includes a built-in, 192 kHz/24-bit DAC to provide clear audio sound. The high-resolution DAC is especially useful if you receive music in either analog or digital form and the HK 3700 receiver easily supports both formats. We also liked the fact that the HK 3700 comes with a remote app which allows you to control the receiver from your iOS or Android device. On the whole, the HK 3700 is one of the best stereo receivers you can find that delivers phenomenal stereo sound and we highly recommend them.
We were quite surprised at how good the sound from the HK 3700 was. When paired with a good set of stereo speakers, the HK 3700 will provide you will very rich and clean room-filling sound. The receiver provides a good 85 watts per channel amplification which is relatively decent for most stereo speakers in the mid-range category. The power from the HK 3700 is pretty clean with a 0.07% total harmonic distortion rating which is really good. The sound from the HK 3700 is very crisp and clear; vocal performances sounded extremely lifelike and realistic. Listening to instrumental music with this receiver will make you feel as though you are sitting in a concert hall with great sound placement. You can get a sense of where each instrument is located – the receiver will also pick up the subtle details in the music which is really good. If you listen to old audio tracks using this receiver, you may even pick up details in the sound which you never thought were there before. It’s the perfect receiver which you can use to literally rediscover your entire albums and soundtracks especially with vinyl recordings. The stereo sound quality that you get with the Harman Kardon HK 3700 is simply top-notch.
To top it off, the HK 3700 receiver looks gorgeous from every angle with a nice sleek black design with good digital readouts. The receiver has a very modern and chic design that blends in easily on a TV desk or next to floor standing speakers. The HK 3700 inputs and outputs are clearly demarcated which makes setting up the receiver really easy. We also liked the fact that the receiver has a dedicated subwoofer output which is great. It also comes with a record player input and network connection input via Ethernet cable. The one downside of the HK3700 is that it does not come with tonal balance controls on the receiver or remote – this may be rather limiting especially if you need to adjust the bass or treble settings. That being said, the sound quality of the HK3700 is still top-notch and very good; we have no doubt that the HK 3700 is one of the best stereo receivers you can find that delivers high quality sound and no frills amplification. The entire package comes with the receiver, a programmable remote control, 1 FM radio antenna, 1 AM antenna loop, a 6” IEC power cord and a quick start guide for easy reference.
The Verdict? The Harman Kardon HK3700 is without a doubt one of the best stereo receivers you can find that delivers beautiful and crisp sound. It’s also one of the best looking receivers we have come across with a very sleek and elegant appearance with a nice metallic finish. The receiver provides 85 watts RMS per channel together with a high-resolution DAC with 24-bit/192kHz sampling rate for high quality sound transmission. It also comes with a subwoofer output and internet connection via Ethernet cable for internet radio. We liked the fact that the receiver supports many input sources and comes with a Harman Kardon remote app which you can use for volume control and input selection. While the receiver lacks tonal balance controls, the sound quality that you get with the receiver is simply amazing with great attention to detail and without any audible distortion. It’s one of the best stereo receivers you can find that delivers incredible sound and is definitely worth the investment.
#11 Best Natural Sound: Yamaha R-S500BL Stereo Receiver
The Yamaha R-S500BL is hands down one of the best stereo receivers you can find that produces distinctly clear natural stereo sound. The receiver is built to deliver 75 watts RMS per channel in a traditional two-channel design. It comes with Yamaha’s signature ToP-ART (Total Purity Audio Reproduction Technology) technology which eliminates all resonance and reduces vibrations, while the Pure Direct design uses the shortest signal route for higher sound quality without any noise or transmission losses. The receiver has 40-station AM/FM preset tuning capabilities and supports an iPod dock port with video out connection to a TV. The R-S500 provides Zone 2 audio output which makes it easy to connect another music system in another room; it also comes with A/B speaker selection switches for you to put a pair of speakers in a third room. The receiver is also equipped with Yamaha’s continuously variable loudness control which enhances stereo listening at low volumes for you to listen to your music at any volume level without compromising sound performance. It’s one of the best stereo receivers you can find that delivers superb sound at a value price point.
The sound performance of the R-S500BL is clean and crisp with no distortion at loud volumes – the volume controls on this receiver allow for very precise tuning which is excellent. The sound quality remains consistent at any volume level without any distortion or static noise. The receiver is built for high-fidelity listening and delivers sound quality on point across the audio spectrum. It pumps out more than enough power to drive most stereo speakers and bookshelf speakers. Music performances sounded very crisp with great highs and detailed midrange. It also has good bass depth which makes listening to rock and pop music quite an enjoyable experience. Vocal performances sounded natural and lifelike, with crisp and clear audio reproduction that felt very natural. The R-S500BL has very good spatial imaging which makes it feel as though you are sitting in a real life concert hall – you get a very distinct sense of where each instrument is coming from very quickly. Overall, the R-S500BL produces some of the most natural and crisp sounding notes we ever heard from a 2-channel stereo amp.
We liked the fact that the R-S500BL has a very sensitive FM section which pulls in a lot of stations – this is especially good if you want to listen to FM radio through this receiver. Setting this receiver is very easy and the input and output ports are all very clearly demarcated for easy reference. The receiver comes with some pretty good features such as dual aluminium-extruded heat sinks which ensure effective heat dissipation, together with gold-plated speaker terminals and RCA in/out jacks which are durable and provide great quality connections. We also liked the fact that the R-S500 supports SIRIUS Satellite Radio and connectivity for mp3 music devices with built-in power management for power efficiency. It also comes with nice tonal balance controls with bass and treble controls together with a nice remote control to adjust the sound settings. The receiver has a very sleek and modern looking appearance with a nice metallic aluminium finish.
The Verdict? The Yamaha R-S500BL is one of the best stereo receivers you can find that delivers extremely pure natural sound. It is designed to deliver a good 75 watts RMS per channel and comes with over 40 FM/AM station presets for easy listening. It also features plenty of audio input ports including a Zone 2 audio output to connect a set of stereo speakers to another room. The volume control on the receiver is very precise which is great and the overall sound quality is excellent. The receiver does not produce any static noise when no input source is playing which is great. It also comes with a nice iPod dock and video out connection to a TV. If you are looking for one of the best stereo receivers that delivers sublime natural sound performance, you should definitely consider the Yamaha R-S500BL.
#12 Best Amp-Only Receiver: Onkyo M-5010 Stereo Receiver
The Onkyo M-5010 is primarily designed to be an amp-only stereo receiver with no tonal controls – it offers amazing sound amplification if you are looking for a simplistic setup for your stereo speakers. The M-5010 features two 75 watt RMS channels at 8 ohms with 0.08% total harmonic distortion. This stereo receiver features Onkyo’s three-stage inverted Darlington Circuitry which makes it well suited to handle fast-changing dynamics in movie soundtracks while retaining good audio sensitivity to deliver nuanced and musical performances. It is capable of supporting multi-zone audio with other Onkyo A/V receivers with the ability to daisy-chain with additional M-5010s for bi-amping or multi-zone audio. The receiver comes with an impedance selector switch (4-8 ohms and 8-16 ohms) which is useful depending on the stereo speaker impedance rating. The entire receiver is built around a thick anti-resonant metal chassis with aluminium faceplate for extra vibration resistance. It’s one of the best stereo receivers you can find if you are looking for a simplistic setup without any tonal or balance controls and we highly recommend them.
The sound performance of the Onkyo M-5010 is sublime and runs quietly when turned on. The receiver does not produce any distortion at all and we did not experience any signal distortion while playing music through the receiver. The volume on the M-5010 can get extremely loud – you get plenty of volume with this receiver just by turning the knob to the halfway point. The sound accuracy that you get with the M-5010 is incredible – the attention to detail in every soundtrack is just amazing. It also has a great sound response to it – the receiver adds a nice punchy low end with crisp highs with a full midrange that sounds sublime. Jazz performances sounded natural and lifelike, with great spatial imaging and stereo separation between the left and right channels. The M-5010 excels in delivery superb audio clarity and no-frills sound amplification. You can also pair setup this with your home theater system with the M-5010 connected to your front channel speakers for extra power. Our overall assessment is that the M-5010 does provide very good power and sound quality with very clean amplification.
The Onkyo M-5010 features a very sleek and minimalist design that blends well with modern home décor. It looks great when placed next to a TV or stereo system. The blue LED indicator light at the front center of the receiver looks great and indicates when the receiver is turned on or off. The M-5010 also comes with a great many features including an aluminium heat sink, large 10,000 uF capacitators, and quality copper bus bars for superior grounding. The receiver comes with all the features you need for improved responsiveness and sound clarity including a 12V trigger switch, banana-plug compatible speaker binding posts and multi-zone audio connections. This is especially useful if you need to connect multiple stereo speakers to the M-5010 for multiple rooms. We also liked the fact that you can daisy chain additional M-5010s for bi-amping or multi-zone audio if you want sound in multiple rooms.
The Verdict? The Onkyo M-5010 is a highly value for money amp-only receiver that delivers excellent sound performance. The receiver delivers a nice 75 watts RMS per channel at 8 ohms impedance with a 0.08% total harmonic distortion rating which is really good – you get virtually distortion-free clean sound with this receiver. The volume control is sensitive and can get really loud – it has plenty of power to go around and can easily drive mid-tier stereo speakers to produce rich room-filling sound. We also liked the fact that the M-5010 supports multi-zone audio with daisy-chain capabilities which is great if you want to connect multiple stereo speakers for multi-room listening. The receiver features a very sleek and cool design with an aluminium heat sink and large capacitators for improved sound clarity. Music performances on the M-5010 sounded extremely crisp and clear, with great depth and nice stereo imaging. It’s one of the best stereo receivers you can find if you want no-frills sound amplification without any tonal or balance controls and just want pure volume to go with your stereo setup.
#13 Best Budget: AVX Audio BTA-2000 Stereo Receiver
The AVX Audio BTA-2000 receiver is one of the best stereo receivers you can find on a budget with virtually all the functionality that you need including Bluetooth streaming and Phono inputs. It has a output power of 100 watts RMS per channel at 8 ohms impedance or 140 watts RMS per channel at 4 ohms. The AVX receiver is designed with Bluetooth 4.0 streaming, Phono inputs and FM Tuner, with two Analog RCA inputs with a dedicated subwoofer output. It also supports USB input, SD input, dual A+B speaker inputs, headphone input which makes it highly versatile at this price range. The wireless music streaming supports Spotify, Pandora, iTunes and other internet radio stations. The dual A+B speaker inputs allow two pairs of stereo speakers to be connected simultaneously for multi-room listening if required. The receiver comes with a built-in high current class D amplifier, toroidal transformer, 5 way binding posts and CSR Bluetooth chips. The front panel controls allow input selection, play/pause, tone adjustment and repeat track functions. If you are looking for one of the best stereo receivers on a budget, the AVX Audio receiver could be just your best bet.
The AVX Audio receiver has a great frequency response of 30 Hz to 20kHz which is pretty wide across the audio spectrum and suitable for most music genres. The sound performance of the AVX receiver is nice and clean, with crisp highs, detailed midrange and pretty decent bass response. The receiver pumps out very clean audio without any signal interference or static noise; it does not produce any distortion when cranked up to maximum volume. The receiver has enough power to drive mid-tier stereo speakers at 100 watts RMS per channel at 8 ohms impedance which is really not bad at all for a receiver at this budget price. Music performances on the AVX sounded refined and clear, with good spatial imaging and nice balance. The Bluetooth streaming works pretty well and we did not experience any dips in sound quality while streaming from our mobile device. That being said, the AVX receiver is pretty sensitive to the audio music source so be sure to get high quality audio files with this receiver. The amplifier picks up minute details in the music and plays them nice and clear so you can hear virtually all the details in the music.
We liked the fact that the BTA-2000 receiver allows smartphones and tablets to easily connect to the receiver and stream music wirelessly. You can also connect this receiver to your outdoor speakers and stream music to your speakers wirelessly or indoors which is a pretty useful function. Of course, where this receiver really shines is the versatile connectivity it offers with an array of input options – you can connect a CD player or mp3 player via the 2 sets of RCA inputs, or play music directly from an SD card or USB flash drive from the front panel. You can also connect a turntable to the built-in Phono stage for vinyl music sources which great. The BTA-2000 is built flexibly and can connect two sets of speakers to be run individually or simultaneously. It also comes with a convenient remote control which you can use to control the receiver and adjust the volume and input selection.
The Verdict? The AVX Audio BTA-2000 is one of the best stereo receivers you can find on a budget that has excellent sound and complete versatility. The receiver supports multiple RCA inputs with dual A+B speaker inputs for multiple stereo speaker connections. It also supports Bluetooth streaming and Phono stage input for vinyl recordings which is really good. The receiver is powered by a high current Class D amplifier that provides a good 100 watts RMS per channel at 8 ohms and can easily drive most stereo speakers. The sound quality that you get with this receiver is clean and detailed with virtually no distortion at high volumes; we really liked how sensitive the volume knob is which makes adjusting the sound really convenient. It also easily connects to your Bluetooth smartphone and is compatible Spotify, iTunes and Pandora for quick and easy listening. On the whole, the BTA-2000s are some of the best stereo receivers you can find that delivers superb sound performance at a budget price and we highly recommend them if you are looking for a much cheaper option.
#14 Best Hybrid: Pyle PT272AUBT Stereo Receiver
The Pyle PT272AUBT is a hybrid amplifier receiver that delivers great audio performance at a value price point. The receiver is designed with built-in Bluetooth for wireless music streaming and comes an AM/FM radio tuner for easy radio listening. It also comes with digital audio file support and supports USB flash and SD memory cards with RCA input and output connections. The Pyle receiver comes with AM/FM radio with LCD display together with binding post speaker output jacks. It also features two ¼” microphone inputs. The front panel button control center allows you to control the echo, bass, treble, subwoofer and microphone volume. The entire setup also comes with a nice remote control and power cable for easy handling. The receiver also comes with a nice built-in fan which is quiet and keeps the receiver from heating. If you are looking for a much cheaper option, the Pyle PT272AUBT is easily one of the best stereo receivers you can find.
The sound performance of the Pyle stereo receiver is decent and we did not experience any static hiss or noise coming from this receiver. The sound is good for the price, and does produce pretty crisp highs and nice midrange. The Bluetooth functionality on this receiver is a great plus and you can stream music directly from your smartphone which is a really convenient add-on. The sound quality is very good but nothing sort of the audiophile standard – you can plenty of good soundstage with crisp highs, and the sound does feel very clean and well defined. That being said, we felt that the sound felt a little artificially enhanced especially if you tweak the treble and bass settings. The Bluetooth signal inputs also tend to fuzzy a little if you crank up the volume to its maximum setting. The Pyle receiver has plenty of power with a maximum output of 300 watts which is really good – it can drive most mid-tier speakers and get out plenty of volume without sounding harsh. The bass response is decent although this will depend on whether you choose to connect a dedicated subwoofer – it’s a great receiver to have especially if you want to complement your home theater setup.
The great plus point of the Pyle stereo receiver is that is supports flash drive, iPod and memory card functions which adds plenty of versatility to the receiver. The FM/AM controls work fine and you can scan through the radio stations just by a push of a button on the remote; it also allows you to save station presets. The volume, treble, bass controls and microphone inputs work well without any issues. The receiver is by default programmed to be used as a home theater receiver with the DVD set as the default input at each start up, so you will need to adjust the input settings if you want to stream music via Bluetooth or USB. The front LCD display is pretty nice and easy to read which makes adjusting the controls on the receiver very intuitive. The entire receiver has a nice sleek design to it which makes it look clean and neat. On the whole, it’s a fully versatile and functional stereo receiver that pumps out plenty of volume with a good deal of versatility.
The Verdict? The Pyle PT272AUBT is one of the best stereo receivers you can find that delivers great volume and sound at a very good price point. It’s a fully versatile hybrid receiver that is compatible with home theater and accepts DVD as the default input. The receiver also supports Bluetooth connectivity and has digital audio file support for USB flash and SD memory card inputs. We liked the fact that the receiver also comes with echo, bass, treble and subwoofer adjustment controls which makes it really versatile to use. The sound performance on the PT272AUBT is decent and pumps out pretty good volume with a maximum power output of 300 watts. The highs and midrange on the receiver is crisp and clean; we did not experience any distortion when cranking the volume up to maximum although we did experience some signal fuzz when streaming music via Bluetooth. The built-in fan works well in cooling the receiver and is quiet which is really good. All in all, the Pyle PT272AUBT is arguably one of the best stereo receivers that is highly value for money and delivers great sound quality for the price.
#15 Best Design: Pioneer Elite A-20 Stereo Receiver
The Pioneer Elite A-20 is one of the best stereo receivers that features an extremely sleek and elegant design. The Elite A-20 packs a good 50 watts RMS per channel which work well with lower-efficiency speakers to fill your room with distortion free sound. The receiver features a direct energy design that makes it energy efficient and has a symmetrical power amp for clean distribution. The A-20 also features a clean ground construction design with isolated power supply. It features source direct modes and auto power down modes to conserve energy. The great thing about this receiver is that it comes with A/B and A+B speaker switching and can make a nice addition to an Elite multi-zone AV receiver for home audio distribution across multiple rooms. There are also RCA inputs at the back together with SACD, tuner, tape recorder, auxiliary and a moving magnet phono stage for vinyl music sources. You can also pair the Elite A-20 with the Elite N-30 or N-50 network audio players to stream high resolution uncompressed music files. If you are looking for a no-frills stereo receiver to drive your speakers with an elegant looking design, the Pioneer Elite A-20 is definitely one of the best stereo receivers you can get at a great price point.
The sound performance of the Pioneer Elite A-20 is surprisingly good at 50 watts RMS per channel. The receiver is capable of filling the entire room with great sound clarity with dynamic and spectral balance and without any audible distortion. The soundstage that we got with the A-20 was surprisingly wide with good spatial imaging – you really feel as though you are sitting in a real life concert hall while connected to this receiver. The receiver does produce a lot of power and turning the volume knob to its half-way mark is enough to make your speakers vibrate on the ground. The bass and treble controls on the receiver work perfectly and sound smooth and balanced; they do not sound overly harsh or muddy into the midrange which is nice. Our overall assessment of the Pioneer Elite A-20 is that it delivers as much quality and sound performance that matches higher-end receivers and represent a great value investment for a decent stereo setup – the ability to deliver the clarity and dynamic power with 4 to 8 ohms speakers is simply unmatched with the A-20.
The Pioneer Elite A-20 features a very sleek and modern looking appearance which blends in very well with modern home décor. It looks just stunning when placed next to your stereo speakers with its sleek metallic finish and smooth buttons. The volume control on this receiver is highly sensitive which is excellent from a listening standpoint. It also comes with bass, treble and balance controls which work extremely well and do not artificially enhance the sound performance – we did not experience any harshness or distortion in the sound performance of the Elite A-20. The A-20 has a wide frequency range of 20 Hz to 20kHz with 0.1% total harmonic distortion at 4 ohms (50 watts RMS per channel). Do note that this receiver is 50 watts per channel which means that you should base your expectations on this value. That being said, we were surprised at how good the Elite A-20 sounded and it really does outshine the other receivers at a similar price point in terms of both sound quality and design. The entire package comes with a nice remote control to adjust the volume and input settings which is a nice added plus.
The Verdict? The Pioneer Elite A-20 is definitely one of the best stereo receivers you can find with an incredibly stunning design and amazing sound performance. We can safely say that the sound performance of the Elite A-20 is really much better than what you can expect from a 50 watt per channel stereo receiver – the highs and midrange are crisp and clear, with phenomenal soundstage and very good spatial imaging. Listening to the Elite A-20 feels like listening to a premium high-end stereo receiver. It also has plenty of power to drive mid-tier stereo speakers up to 50 watts RMS at 4 ohms which is decent enough for most applications. We also liked the fact that the Elite A-20 came with all the functionality and button controls that you need – it also has A/B and A+B input selectors which is convenient if you intend to connect more than one stereo system to the receiver. The A-20 has a very sleek and stunning looking design that just looks incredible on almost any table surface or next to your stereo speakers. It’s one of the very best stereo speakers we have come across that represents great value for money and we highly recommend them.
#16 Best for Music Streaming: Grace Digital GDI-BTAR252 Stereo Receiver
The Grace Digital GDI-BTAR252 is one of the best stereo receivers you can find for Bluetooth and wireless streaming. The receiver allows you to stream music through any Bluetooth enabled device including smartphones, PCs or Macbooks with its built-in Bluetooth 4.0 or play music from the auxiliary input jack. The receiver is equipped with a 50 watt Class D digital amplifier which is good enough to power most standard bookshelf and stereo speakers. You can also stream Pandora, Sirius XM, and Internet radio or iTunes music directly from your smartphone to this receiver which is pretty convenient. The Bluetooth streaming range with this receiver is a good 36 feet although the actual distance may be affected by environmental conditions. It also comes with enhanced noise filtering to minimize noise and signal interference from Bluetooth sources. It’s one of the best stereo receivers to get if you are simply looking to stream stereo music through your Bluetooth device to your speakers and is really easy to setup.
The sound performance of the GDI-BTAR252 receiver is surprisingly good – you get really punchy sound that feels very musical. The bass response on this receiver feels full with great texture; you can also hear the highs and midrange with good accuracy. The background details in the soundtracks are reproduced with pristine clarity and you can also hear subtle details in the music which you may not have heard before. The receiver has a really good sounding Bluetooth receiver and preamp and is quite dynamic sounding with no signal noise. Vocal performances sounded crisp, well defined and lifelike with a good sense of spatial imaging. Instrumental music came across as crystal clear and very refined – the sound performance is detailed and clean. We did not experience any dips in sound performance while streaming music from the Bluetooth smartphone which is great. The receiver does deliver pretty punchy and impactful bass with plenty of texture; this makes listening to rock and pop music over the receiver quite an enjoyable experience. It works great particularly if you want to stream music to your outdoor speakers by the patio or backyard.
The GDI-BTAR252 has a very simplistic no-frills design that works like a charm – it is simply plug and play without the need for complicated setup adjustments. It also comes with an auxiliary input jack in case you need to connect non-wireless music sources; do note that there can be a little signal interference if you transmit music via the auxiliary input. The Bluetooth connection works flawlessly and does not produce any static noise while streaming music from the smartphone device. It receiver has a pretty classy looking appearance and looks great when placed on a bookshelf or next to TV. We also liked the fact that the receiver does not produce any noise – it powers on and off smoothly without creating any noise which is great. The Bluetooth range works a good 30 feet away from the music source and the receiver pairs well with stereo or bookshelf speakers. All in all, the GDI-BTAR252 is a very clean receiver that provides great sound amplification through wireless music sources.
The Verdict? The Grace Digital GDI-BTAR252 is one of the best stereo receivers we have encounteredthat is designed primarily for wireless music streaming. It delivers great sound via Bluetooth and wireless streaming without any issues – we did not experience any dips in sound quality or static noise. The receiver has a very clean and no-frills design and is extremely easy to setup without any complicated wiring. It also does not produce any noise when powered up which is excellent. The sound performance of the GDI-BTAR252 is surprisingly good, with great bass response that has a nice texture and impact, crisp highs and pretty decent midrange. Listening to rock and bass-heavy music through this receiver was a very enjoyable experience with good quality sound reproduction. The receiver also does give a sense of stereo imaging which is pretty good for classical and jazz music; it will also pick up the subtle details in the music which make them come across as crystal clear. We were very surprised that such a compact receiver could deliver such quality sound and we definitely highly recommend them if you are looking for a no-frills stereo receiver with wireless streaming.
#17 Best Mid-Tier: Yamaha A-S301BL Stereo Receiver
The Yamaha A-S301BL is one of the best stereo receivers you can find in the mid-tier range that delivers very good sound performance. The receiver is equipped with dual channels at 60 watts RMS per channel with a total harmonic distortion rating of 0.019% which is pretty decent. The receiver has a wide frequency range of 20 Hz to 20kHz which is great for most music genres. The A-301BL is equipped with digital audio inputs with an optical and digital coaxial input terminal – this makes it suitable to connect your TV or Blu-ray disc player to the receiver. The audio also stays in digital format to give you much better sound quality. Furthermore, the receiver features Yamaha’s Total Purity Audio Reproduction Technology which features an input to output with a direct symmetrical design to provide optimal sound when processing and transmitting the audio signal. The signal is simple and direct and has less noise and distortion. The A-301BL also features a solid bottom chassis with a center bar to provide high rigidity support and dampers vibrations which help improve audio clarity. If you are looking for the best stereo receiver in the mid-tier range, the Yamaha A-S301BL could be your best bet.
The sound quality from the A-301BL is nothing short of excellent. We were quite surprised at how full sounding the music was with the receiver straight out of the box. The sound quality drastically increases when you put in uncompressed media files such as FLAC into the receiver. The built-in DAC and high frequency and bitrate processing capabilities of this receiver is just amazing – you can really hear the difference in the music when connected to this stereo receiver. The sound gets super detailed, with every single subtle note clearly audible. Playing classical or instrumental music through this receiver felt like sitting in a real life orchestra hall – perhaps even better. The receiver also works very well with Blu-ray and produces full bass and nice midrange with great sound effects. The receiver really does give your sound a good sense of stereo imaging and separation. Vinyl recordings sounded exceptionally clear and refined – the bass sounds very solid, with smooth mids and highs that feel natural and organic. The 60 watt per channel rating is adequate enough to drive most stereo speakers to very loud volumes without compromising sound quality. Of course, the sound from the A-301BL remained distortion-free throughout while connected to the speakers via the RCA terminals.
The A-301BL has a very sleek and stunning appearance, with a nice solid brushed aluminium face plate. The knobs are nice to touch and feel but they are made of plastic material. The layout of the receiver is very nice with dual heatsinks and built-in heavy components. The receiver also features a nice set of binding post connectors for both an A and B set of speakers; the power cord, impedance switch and energy saving mode switches are located at the rear of the receiver. It also has a Phono input which is suitable for MM cartridges to play vinyl recordings. It also comes with an included remote control which you can use to adjust the volume and music settings. We also liked the fact that a terminal for connecting a subwoofer is provided which allows you to increase the bass output of your entire system. The receiver also comes with Yamaha’s continuously variable loudness control which helps you to adjust the loudness of the music while providing consistent tonal controls at the low and high frequency ranges at any volume. The end result is that the sound quality remains unaffected at low or higher volumes when playing music through the receiver.
The Verdict? The Yamaha A-S301 is simply one of the best stereo receivers you can find in the mid-tier range that offers very good sound. The receiver delivers very crisp sound performance with plenty of power, great connectivity and comes with a nice build quality with a brushed aluminium finish. It looks very sleek and modern when placed on a bookshelf or next to a TV set. The receiver also comes with built-in phono stage and DAC which work really well especially if you want to listen to vinyl recordings. Although the receiver is rated at 60 watts per channel, they do provide adequate power to drive most stereo speakers up to high volumes without compromising sound quality. It also comes with other add-ons such as aluminium heat sinks, block capacitators and a custom made power transformer which makes it feel very high quality. Overall, it’s one of the best stereo receivers you can find that deliver quality sound performance for two channel audio and we highly recommend them.
#18 Best Slim Design: Pioneer SX-S30 Stereo Receiver
The Pioneer SX-S30 is one of the best stereo receivers with a very sleek and compact design and delivers great power output. The receiver pumps out a good 85 watts RMS per channel at 4 ohms with a total harmonic distortion of 1.0% – it is built as a 2 channel network receiver with Class D amplification. The SX-S30 comes with built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi (dual band 5 GHz/2.4 GHz) that supports Pandora, Spotify, Tidal, and Apple Airplay. It also supports HDMI (HDCP 2.2) with hi-resolution audio file playback via USB or network streaming, and even phono input (MM) for vinyl record players. This allows you to play up to 5.6 MHz Direct Stream Digital files and up to 192 kHz/24-bit WAV, FLAC, AIFF and Apple Lossless files from a USB device or via a wireless network. You can connect your SX-S30 to Airplay and Wifi using your home network. The SX-S30 also comes with Pioneer’s MCACC Auto Room Tuning which creates an optimal acoustic listening environment with the custom microphone and the system automatically compensates for speaker level and distance by equalizing the response.
The sound quality of the Pioneer SX-S30 is surprisingly good. The sound is clear with impressive soundstage that makes listening to classical and folk music really come to live with this setup. The Class D amplifier produces enough power (at 85 watts at 4ohms) to power most stereo speakers to high volumes without compromising on sound quality. Vocal performances sounded warm and crisp and very organic – you get a sense that the music coming through the receiver is very natural and not colored. The soundstage is very precise and you can get a very distinct sense of where the notes are coming from. Stereo imaging is also very good with a distinct sense of sound from the left and right speaker channels. The bass response is decent but not overwhelming and sounds pretty good to listen to. We particularly liked the fact that the SX-S30 comes with a phono-stage built into the receiver which you can use to play vinyl recordings. At this price range, we are confident that the SX-S30 is one of the few best stereo receivers in this range that can deliver superb sound performance together with phono inputs which is really a rarity for receivers in this price category. If you enjoy listening to classical and instrumental music the SX-S30 will impress you with its quality sound.
The Elite SX-S30 works well with many internet-based music providers and wireless streaming over the Wifi network was smooth without any issues. The FM tuner is very good and can pull in a lot of stations fast. The SX-S30 receiver has a particularly slim and unique design which makes it look really sleek with its nice polished aluminium finish. The receiver is compact enough to fit into smaller spaces on the bookshelf or TV table without taking up too much space. You can also play songs by plugging your music device to the receiver via the HDMI terminal which is great. The Class-D amplifier works like a charm and produces enough volume to cause your room to vibrate without any audible distortion. We liked the fact that the SX-S30 receiver works quietly in the background and does not cause any noise when starting up. The remote that came with the Pioneer Elite is basic and works well enough to control the volume and music settings.
The Verdict? The Pioneer Elite SX-S30 is one of the best stereo receivers that is highly value for money and comes with a unique slim design. The receiver is rated at 85 watts RMS per channel at 4 ohms and is powerful enough to drive most stereo speakers and bookshelf speakers with its Class D amplification. The receiver comes with built-in Bluetooth and Wifi and supports a variety of internet music streaming sources; it is also compatible with Pandora, Spotify, Tidal and Deezer music. You can also connect your device to this receiver via HDMI (HDCP 2.2) which is an added bonus. We particularly liked the fact that the SX-S30 comes with phono (MM) input for vinyl recording which is really a rarity for a receiver at this price point. The sound performance of the SX-S30 is very natural and smooth, and vocal performances sounded really lifelike and crisp. If you are looking for one of the best stereo receivers with an ultra-slim design and all the functionality that you need, the SX-S30 is definitely one of those receivers you should seriously consider.
#19 Best for Karaoke: Pyle PT390AU Stereo Receiver
The Pyle PT390AU is one of the best stereo receivers you can find at a budget price that works well as a 4 channel stereo receiver system with microphone inputs. The receiver comes with 4-channel stereo inputs which you can use to power up to 4 speakers with its 2 pair RCA left and right input and ouputs. It also includes AM/FM radio with 50 station memory presets, USB reader for mp3 digital audio file playback, auxiliary 3.5 input to connect external devices such as smartphones and PCs. The PT390AU also supports up to 2 ¼” microphone input jacks along with RCA audio inputs and outputs which is especially good if you want to connect several microphones for a karaoke party. You can also adjust the volume, balance, treble and bass on the master output to suit your music preferences. The receiver also comes with AM/FM antennas, remote control and audio connection cables for easy setup. If you are looking for a no-frills stereo receiver at a budget price, the PT390AU is a great choice.
The sound performance of the Pyle PT390AU receiver is decent but nothing to shout home about. The receiver does produce pretty clean and distortion-free sound that can get pretty loud if you crank up the volume. The great thing about this receiver is that it does not produce much noise when powering up so you don’t hear static interference on your speakers. The highs and midrange on the speakers sounded clean and clear and not harsh; the midrange feels smooth without being muddied. The bass response is fine but nothing exceptional – we hoped that the bass would have more detail and texture although this is mostly suitable for casual listening. The stereo imaging on the PT390AU was decent and you can hear quite a good distinction between the left and right channel speakers. The soundstage is not the best that we have heard but definitely present. The microphone inputs are an added bonus and you can connect up to 2 microphones for karaoke. It’s a low-cost receiver to have at home and is best for causal music listening or karaoke use.
The PT390AU has a very functional and simplistic appearance – the entire receiver has a nice aluminium casing to it which makes it look pretty durable. There are plenty of button controls of the receiver which you can use to adjust the bass, treble and balance settings as well as input selection. The LCD display works well and tells you exactly what you need to know when adjusting the music settings. There is also a nice LED lighting around the volume button which gives it a rather cool appearance. The USB and auxiliary input jacks are located conveniently at the front of the receiver for easy connectivity. At the rear of the receiver are the standard A/B speaker terminals and a voltage selector, together with the FM and antenna connectors. The receiver works well with TVs, CD/DVD players, USB/Mp3 players and smartphones via the 3.5mm auxiliary input function.
The Verdict? The Pyle PT390AU is one of the best stereo receivers you can find at an absolute low-cost budget price. It comes with a lot of functionality which you can use to connect multiple music sources and devices. The receiver also comes with nice microphone input terminals for karaoke which is pretty neat. The sound performance on the PT390AU is slightly above average, with good highs and nice midrange – the sound quality is good but nothing to shout home about. It also has decent stereo imaging and soundstage which is not bad considering the receiver’s price point. The remote control that came with the receiver is basic but works well to adjust the volume and sound settings. It also has a nice LCD display which displays the current settings. While the PT390AU is not the best stereo receiver you can find on the market, it’s definitely a great choice if you are running on a tight budget and delivers decent sound quality at this price point.
#20 Best for Bookshelves: Pyle PTAUWIFI46 Stereo Receiver
The Pyle PTAUWIFI46 is a 240 watt stereo receiver that is small and compact enough to fit on a bookshelf or small table. It comes equipped with multi-room wireless Wi-Fi technology, music storage and playback ability for you to connect multiple devices and speaker systems. It comes with a nice app which you can download to access your music library for iOS and Android devices. Furthermore, the PTAUWIFI46 is equipped with Bluetooth streaming for you to stream music directly from your smartphone device. It also comes with switchable pager and mixing modes for microphone or karaoke use. The receiver is designed to be highly compact and is perfect for home stereo use; it occupies less space which makes it great for bookshelves or small table-tops. The receiver can handle multi-voltage power supply and comes with a changeable 110V to 240V input with fuse for protection against surges and short circuits. It’s one of the best stereo receivers to get if you want no frills sound amplification with wireless streaming from a small and compact package.
The sound performance of the Pyle stereo receiver is surprisingly smooth and detailed. The receiver provides decent stereo imaging and sound separation, which gives you a good sense of where the music is coming from. Listening to jazz performances and instrumental music with this receiver was a pleasurable experience, with bright highs, crisp midranges and detailed low-end frequencies. It works well for streaming music via a smartphone or Bluetooth device and we did not experience any dips in sound performance or drops in sound quality. We liked the fact that the Pyle receiver is able to swtich between pager and mixing modes which allows you to override music playback or play music at the same time for karaoke. While the sound from the Pyle stereo receiver is not of audiophile quality, it certainly does pack and nice punch with good attention to detail. Instrumental music sounded fairly bright and smooth, with good emphasis on subtle notes and details. The receiver does the job of retaining audio fidelity pretty well; the music comes across as natural and lifelike which is pretty good.
The Pyle PTAUWIFI46 is designed to be small and compact which allows it to fit into smaller spaces such as a bookshelf or table. The receiver is much lighter than other receivers on the list and is built to be a pretty versatile amplifier system. The Wifi music storage and playback ability is definitely an added plus; you can also connect your smartphone device to this receiver via the free app. The receiver comes with one ¼” microphone input, ¼” headphone input, RCA audio inputs and outputs, speaker terminal connectors, auxiliary 3.5mm inputs with independent source selection. The receiver also comes with built-in overload and power protection. The front panel button control center is intuitive to use and comes with the standard volume, bass, treble and balance adjustment. The volume knob is also pretty sensitive which is great when adjusting the music volume.
The Verdict? The Pyle PTAUWIFI46 is one of the best stereo receivers you can find that is portable, lightweight and compact. It’s one of the best stereo receivers you can find that fits easily on a bookshelf. The receiver is built for wifi connectivity and Bluetooth streaming which makes the receiver really versatile. It is also equipped with switchable page and mixing modes for karaoke and microphone performances. The Bluetooth connectivity on this stereo receiver works reasonably well and we did not experience any dips in sound quality while streaming music from our mobile device. The sound performance of the PTAUWIFI46 receiver is surprisingly crisp, with good attention to detail and decent stereo imaging. We liked the fact that the receiver came with many controls at the front which you can use to adjust the volume, bass, treble and balance, together with multiple input selectors for versatility. It’s one of the best stereo receivers you can find that is available at a very good price point and we highly recommend them if you are looking for something more portable and versatile.
Frequently Asked Questions – Check out our top picks
- Home theater receiver vs stereo receiver
- What are A/B speaker connectors?
- What is impedance and watts per channel?
- What is a phono input for?
- What is total harmonic distortion?
Here in our FAQ section we answer some of the most commonly asked questions about stereo receivers, including the pros and cons of getting a stereo receiver over a home theater receiver. We look at various considerations that you should take into consideration before purchasing a home theater receiver and some of the key features of a stereo receiver that may seem perplexing to the uninitiated.
What is the difference between a home theater receiver and stereo receiver?
A stereo receiver, as the name suggests, is built primarily for stereo two-way channel speakers. This means that the receiver only provides two-channel speaker amplification with two built-in amplifiers. There is no surround sound decoding involved in the process or a built-in home theater codec for surround sound effects. By contrast, a full-fledged home theater receiver usually incorporates more than two built-in amplifiers to power a 5.1 or 7.1 speaker system.
If a stereo receiver only powers a 2.1 sound system (i.e., two-way channel speakers), why then should you get a stereo receiver over a home theater system? This is because a stereo receiver is dedicated to producing audio purity and amplification from high quality music sources that usually involves uncompressed audio files without cinematic effects or deep sound effects. It is built to replicate the conditions for natural and organic listening with clear soundstage – such as when you are sitting in a real life concert hall or in an orchestra. The left and right channel amplifiers replicate the sound exactly as how you would hear it in real life in front of you, with good stereo imaging between the left and right speaker channels to project a sound image of where the music is coming from. By contrast, a home theater receiver draws on the built-in home theater decoding technology to provide surround sound effects – this includes artificial enhancements to the sound which may affect audio fidelity. The end result is that music coming from a home theater receiver may feel more artificial and colored, and may not be the ideal choice if you solely want to listen to music.
In short, if you want sound amplification for the best possible audio clarity without connecting to your TV or home theater system, a stereo receiver is the one you should get. In fact, most audiophiles prefer to use stereo receivers over home theater receivers just to get the best sound quality and stereo imaging possible. If you want a receiver that can connect to your Blu-ray DVD player for movies, a home theater receiver which supports 5.1 or 7.1 channel outputs may be the one for you. If this is what you need you can check out our updated list for the best surround sound speakers in this category.
What are A/B speaker connectors?
While a stereo receiver only incorporates two amplifiers, they also incorporate A/B speaker connections or A/B zone connectors which allow you to connect another set of stereo speakers (for a total of up to 4 speakers). This setup does not produce surround sound as the “B” channel simply mirrors what the “A” channel is playing – in short, the power from the two amplifiers is split in half with one half to the A channel and the other half to the B channel. This option is useful if you want to listen to two sets of stereo speakers in different rooms or provide a larger listening field. It is not meant for surround sound as both sets of speakers will simply play the sound music at the same volume and music settings.
Whether you wish to get a stereo receiver with A/B speaker connections is entirely a personal choice as this will not affect the overall sound performance. Some stereo receivers allow you to play both A+B channels at the same time with the same soundtrack, while others only allow A/B which means that you may have to alternate between both channels and play one channel at a time. Most stereo receivers give you both the A+B and A/B option to choose from.
What is impedance and watts per channel?
Impedance generally refers to electrical resistance and is measured in ohms. The higher a speaker’s impedance, the more watts is required to drive it. A decent receiver usually provides around 100 watts RMS per channel at 8 ohms which means that they can power 8ohm speakers with wattage of 100 watts. Generally, the higher the wattage, the louder the stereo receiver can drive the speakers as it has more power. Do note that the wattage value may change depending on the speaker’s impedance – a receiver can deliver 100 watts RMS per channel at 8 ohms, but can deliver 140 watts RMS per channel if the speaker’s impedance is only at 4 ohms. Therefore, the lower the impedance, the more wattage a receiver can supply to the speaker and vice versa.
What is a phono mm input for?
Some stereo receivers support phono mm input which allows you to connect directly to a turntable to listen to vinyl recordings. The reason most audiophiles prefer vinyl recordings over other forms of digital media is that a vinyl can hold much more data and do not need to be compressed – the end result is that you get much more detail and clarity in the soundtracks that you are listening to without compromising on sound quality.
What is total harmonic distortion?
Total harmonic distortion or THD for short represents the total amount of distortion present in a music signal from a receiver. In audio terminology, the lower the sound distortion or THD means that the receiver will produce a more accurate audio recording. Sometimes, the sound from the speakers tends to distort when the volume is turned too loud, which is why a good stereo receiver should have enough power to drive the speakers at high volumes without any issues. If the stereo receiver does not have enough power, the speakers will usually distort at higher volumes with the resulting loss in audio clarity.