Isn't that great to have a home theater at home? But the first issue that comes to our mind is how to get the characteristic stereo sound. And that is when the best stereo receiver will come in handy.
However, how to make the right choice? Does it worth breaking a bank and purchase the most expensive model that claims to be the best one? Or should you pick an affordable one that features mediocre or just fewer features? At this moment, buyers can be mistaken because price doesn't always mean quality. Cheaper electronics can have almost all features without compromising sound quality.
That's why we decided to take a test and help buyers that are in doubt make a win-win deal. Here we selected one of the best stereo receivers that can boast a wide range of functions no matter how much they cost. Indeed, dual-channel stereo receivers are able to provide stunning sound with clear highs and lows filling all the room. And multiply connections (inputs and outputs) allow hooking up different devices to experiment with a sound.
Nevertheless, keep in mind that the budget device doesn't mean a poor-quality unit but rather a regular device with fewer features, which perform their main function at a high level. But don't neglect pricey models because they may have additional features to boost general sounding.
So discover all the reviews below, take special note of the advantages and shortcomings of these devices, and find the best receiver for yourself.
With this receiver, Yamaha has implemented what it’s appreciated for: the simplicity of setup and design, and the full stereo sound. It also added the features making the device versatile and more up-to-date. Bluetooth is a nice touch, and direct FM/AM antenna connection lets hear to the radio without medium gadgets, in high sound quality.
The Yamaha R-S202BL stereo receiver has five RCA sets (four in, one out) to connect multiple sources. There’s a separate input for a CD player, the Line in connections. All of these can connect the vinyl record player as well. There are also spring-loaded terminals for speaker wiring with A/B separation. It should be noted that the recommended impedance of speakers shouldn’t be less than 8 Ohms. The A/B selector buttons are situated on the front of the receiver, next to the headphones jack. The speaker set can also be changed via the remote. The device supports the A or B, and A B mode. Still, the wattage (maximum 100W per channel) and Ohms should be calculated precisely to avoid burn up or sound quality decrease.
The device works well in various music genres. It provides lively dynamics and full midrange without much accentuation or coloring. The bass is tight and strong with a clear main line. The highs feel open and clean up to the extreme pitch. Even with the entry-level speaker system, the receiver creates a deep and substantial soundstage.
100W of power per channel, multiple stereo RCA inputs, minimalist yet handy design, and certainly, the signature Sony sound with precise frequency response do earn the title of the best 2-channel stereo receiver. Still, the absence of the AM port and limited Bluetooth functionality (no BT headphones can be paired) might become deal breakers for some music lovers.
The circuitry and the inner construction of this unit are as solid as it looks. It has a rigid chassis and a large thoroughly fixed heat sink that help stabilize the signal transmission and avoid vibration and ensuing interference. The result is a clear sound output that feels consistent within any range of frequencies. The sound is well balanced, with a wide soundstage and good imaging. The midrange has a touch of warmth but the overall sound is nice. The treble might seem a bit harsh at a pitch while the lows are solid and produce a good thump.
The setup is quite straightforward. There are four sets of stereo RCA jacks on the back to connect various analog and digital sources (like a CD player, TV, etc.). A great addition for vinyl lovers, this Sony stereo receiver has a separate RCA set for a turntable with the ground post next to it. Above, there’s the FM antenna port and the USB service input.
The controls are minimalist and comprehensive. Two large dials (for input switching and volume regulation) with navigation buttons on the front. Simple yet easy-to-find remote buttons layout. The inputs can be renamed via the remote.
In the absence of Bluetooth or sub-out port, this receiver performs well for what it’s designed for — a stereo sound. It brings a flat frequency response, revealing the lifelike sound and boosting it enough to relay the character. It plays well in multiple music genres I tried: classic opera plays, hard rock and jazz tunes, and it never failed in dynamics and the fullness of sound.
The power output makes 100W per channel at 20Hz – 20KHz range, which provides for a confident sound, with solid low-end and distinct highs. The mids are pleasantly detailed and clear. The imaging stayed exact with both the tower speakers and the bookshelf ones I hooked up to test this unit. It handled the 6-Ohm and 8-Ohm speakers equally well, without dropping the volume or catching the interference.
The Sony STRDH130 2-channel stereo receiver offers five dual RCA connection sets for input and two pairs for output. It can be hooked up to various devices including a CD or DVD player, a TV, gaming console, etc. It also has the FM / AM antenna inputs, manual and preset station search modes. The recall of the stations is immediate through the remote; yet, the procedure of creating the presets is a bit complicated. The stations should be searched for in the manual mode and then be saved to presets. Upon that, the receiver should be switched to the presets mode to use them.
Solid build and sound supported by the several high-class features (like the sub out port and the AirPlay dock connections) put the TX-8020 among the best stereo receivers. While its power specs show 50W per channel for the audible range of 20Hz – 20KHz, the total output makes 300W ensuring the high clarity and consistency of the sound throughout the frequency scale.
The setup is straightforward but might require some time tuning the speakers’ output. The bass and treble can be tweaked both with the sturdy dials on the front panel and via the remote control buttons (two sets of arrows). There’s also the balance dial on board bringing further one speaker and hushing the second one.
The receiver ensures the rich detailed sound within any modification I tried (towers, bookshelf speakers small sub). The bass is concentrated and has lively dynamics, the mids reveal a lot of detail. Highs are crisp up to the upper limit and don’t get shrieky even at the maximum volume. Overall, the sound is neutral and fills the small room efficiently.
The Onkyo TX-8020 stereo receiver offers six RCA connection sets for various audio equipment. This includes the stand-alone turntable set with the ground post, the ports for a CD player, the ones for Blu-ray and DVD player, the tape recorder, and the TV. There’s also the “dock in” connection designed to hook up the Apple gadgets. The speaker terminals are represented by the sturdy binding posts. Next to them, there’s a subwoofer out port. There are also the FM and AM antenna connections, and the ¼-inch headphone jack on the front panel.
The first impression from this stereo receiver does it justice — it does feel and sound solid. The construction features three separate blocks that are stabilized to produce the distortion-free signal output. The discrete circuitry provides for the high signal-to-noise ratio of 93dB. The THD makes 1% at 8-Ohm resistance and 40Hz – 20 kHZ frequency range. The amplifier is a high-power type ensuring the 100W output per channel.
The back panel has the antenna (AM / FM) inputs, the dedicated phono connections (with the ground post), two sets of RCA inputs and outputs. There are two sets of speaker binding posts accepting banana plugs. On the front, the receiver has a ¼-inch headphone jack.
The controls are minimal including the large volume dial and small buttons for input selection, navigation, radio station presets, and powering on/off. The remote is more diverse and includes the buttons for each input, bass and treble regulation, etc.
The FM/AM section has the memory capacity for up to thirty presets, and advanced functionality for station search. The receiver can automatically scan the frequencies and form the presets, make a quick search through the presets list, and recall the needed station within a moment. The playback of the radio frequencies is clean and detailed.
The sound of RX4208 has good balance and transparency. The receiver produces accurate highs with a lot of air and detail. The midrange is vast and melodic, and the bass is fairly punchy and dynamic. Apart from the small number of inputs, this unit can be called the best home stereo receiver.
With multiple analog and digital inputs, as well as versatile wireless functionality, this receiver looks like the best budget stereo receiver. While the sound clarity and detail is high, this model has its downsides as well. It gets hot quickly, especially when several channels are activated, and there’s no way to tweak the volume of the line output to the user's liking.
The receiver features the DAA technology and boosts 80W per channel ensuring the high quality of the sound signal and the minimum to zero interference. It can handle both the hi-res digital audio and the analog signal. The digital formats include the Dolby TrueHD, DSD (11.2 MHz), 192/24 PCM. It supports the Lossless and compressed audio files providing Hi-Fi playback. The unit supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, DLNA protocol for wireless streaming, and has built-in Sirius, TuneIn, Spotify, and other apps.
The analog inputs are marked in accordance with their specification and include the phono set, CD, Blu-ray, and DVD inputs, the tape recorder port, PC connections, the gaming console, and CBL/SAT ports. The speakers can be hooked up through the binding posts.
The sound produced by this home stereo receiver is concentrated and crisp. It fills the mid-sized room immediately and pictures the deep and immersive soundstage. The imaging is exact, and all the frequencies are balanced with precision. The highs are rich and mellow, mids reveal a lot of nuances, and the bass is thumpy and solid.
The variety of options offered by this receiver make it stand out among other stereo receivers. It doesn’t have the cluttered back panel; yet it has analog, digital, and wireless connectivity an audiophile would ask for (except the subwoofer output).
The unit produces solid 100W output per channel for the range of 40Hz – 20 kHz and has a low THD parameter of 0.2%. It plays the files of different formats and from various sources with high fidelity and precision. The analog sources sound warm and melodic while the digital ones provide the high clarity of signal and sensitivity.
Connections include the phono jacks (ground post included), the CD ports, two Line in ports, and the Line out. The digital ports are represented by the coaxial and optical jacks. There are also Ethernet and AM/FM hookup terminals and speaker binding posts. The headphones jack is located on the front of the receiver. Wireless protocols include Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, DLNA network connection, Airplay streaming, and MusicCast functionality. The unit has built-in streaming apps: Pandora, SiriusXM, Spotify, Deezer, and Tidal.
The sound of this versatile Yamaha stereo receiver can be characterized as transparent and powerful. It features good dynamics with distinct peaks and accurate frequency response without roll-offs. It sounds deep and enveloping in the classical genres and blues but can burst out with bass in the hard rock style.
Setting up this Denon stereo receiver took me considerable time due to the variety of functions it supports. It features multiple physical ports (both digital and analog), supports wireless connectivity, and voice control. Besides, it can work as the AVR thanks to the HDMI inputs.
The double differential digital signal circuits and the separate analog audio amplification mechanism provide for the steady signal and the low noise for most sources connected. The powerful amplifier ensures 100W per channel output and the clean stereo separation. The highs, mids, and lows sound balanced and clear, featuring distinct harmonics and sensitive dynamics.
The back panel of this stereo receiver with HDMI houses several sets of ports. There are five HDMI inputs and a single output with ARC functionality. All ports are HDCP 2.3-compatible. The analog connections include the phono inputs and two sets for CD and CBL / SAT connection. There are two pre-outs (for zone 1 and 2 accordingly). The mirroring digital ports (coaxial for CBL/SAT and optical for CD / TV) make the receiver fit any home theater setup.
The wireless connectivity ensures playback through the streaming apps including Tidal, Amazon Prime Music, and Pandora. The voice control functionality is wide including the playback and volume controls and inputs management.
Though priced as a cheap stereo receiver, the 3770 model from Harman Kardon features wide functionality and quality playback. It integrates a high-current amplifier powering two channels and the sub out at 120W. There’s also the 192/24Hz DAC ensuring the solid signal output through the connected subwoofer.
The device comprises the majority of physical port types. There are six sets of analog connections including the one for moving-magnet phonos, two optical and one coaxial input, the speaker binding posts (A/B), the radio tuner (FM/AM), the LAN port, triggered sub out. The wireless options include Bluetooth and DLNA network integration. The headphones can be hooked up via the front jack covered with the small panel.
The USB port accepts the flash drives for media files playback and can serve as the medium for Apple devices connection and streaming. This 2-channel stereo receiver also features the vTuner functionality to play the radio stations directly from the Internet.
The sound of this receiver is warm and accurate. It provides wide open highs and a solid base. The soundstage is dynamic; still, it might feel a bit shallow at peaks. The mids tend to merge with the mid-lows while the bass is strong and punchy.