The basis of a good home audio system is clean and crisp sound. The main component of obtaining high-quality sound is an AV receiver. I had an opportunity to make a comparison of the best stereo receivers under 200. I just want to note that you shouldn’t expect miraculous sound from such receivers. These devices are developed only for playing music or FM radio, which will be enough for an average user. All the devices below are affordable models with a limited number of functions and average characteristics.
Read our review of the best AV receivers.
However, despite this, models up to $200 can satisfy the owner's requirements for several years. In combination with proper use and proper connection to the home audio system, receivers of this price segment will be able to provide great sound. Also, in terms of software, all modern receivers support all current formats and codecs, and some manufacturers provide long-term technical support for their products in terms of firmware updates. We tested several models of the best 2-channel stereo receivers with support for wireless music playback via Bluetooth. The purpose of this review is to help the reader choose the best model up to $200 based on a small set of requirements.
This is a good 2-channel receiver from Sony with an amplifier power of 100 watts/channel. Due to that, it is able to produce a clear sound picture of your favorite recordings. The Sony STRDH190 has a sturdy design and looks quite presentable as the best stereo receiver under 200. The receiver is rather thin and is made in a dark color. The controls are on the front panel. There are a volume knob and an input selector, a set of buttons for tuning, and a power button. Above the controls, there is a small display for only the necessary information. The rear panel is occupied by audio inputs, terminals for the speakers, and the FM antenna connector. The sound is clean and well-balanced for a classic receiver. The Bluetooth connection is strong. The receiver can connect to the mobile device if you want to activate that feature, which keeps the receiver in standby mode.
The Yamaha R-S202BL is a budget 2-channel receiver with the power of 100 Watts/channel. There is a remote control in the kit with the receiver. It is convenient and has the necessary set of buttons for control. The appearance of the device is minimalistic but attractive. The receiver body is made of black matte metal as it should be in the best stereo receiver under 200 dollars. The manufacturing quality is high, and in general, the Yamaha R-S202 gives the impression of a competently crafted device. The rear panel of the receiver has a minimum set of required connectors: analog audio inputs, speaker terminals, and FM/AM antenna connectors. On the front panel, there are controls and a small display. The receiver connects to the home audio system very simply. For its power, the Yamaha R-S202 has good and high-quality sound; paired with good speakers, this receiver can become a valuable purchase for a home audio system.
This budget model from Pioneer has a strict design. The receiver is made of black matte metal. The front panel is occupied by control and display buttons. It is worth noting that, unlike other receivers, all its buttons are made round and some are slightly recessed into the panel. On the rear panel, there are terminals for the speakers and analog inputs. The feature of this receiver is the presence of a line output and pre-subwoofer out. The 2-channel receiver has a power of 100 watts / channel. This is the level that you expect from the best home stereo receiver under 200 and it is quite enough for an average home audio system. The Pioneer SX-10AE delivers quality and clean sound at the level of more expensive models. The connection to the system is very easy and intuitive, similar to any receiver in this price category.
The Sony STRDH130 is an entry-level 2-channel AV receiver. Its design combines plastic and matte metal surfaces. Numerous control buttons occupy the entire front panel, as there are two controls, an input for headphones, and a small display. The quality of manufacturing is high. On the rear panel of the receiver, there is a wide range of analog inputs, the AM/FM tuner, 2 audio outputs, and speaker terminals. The STRDH130 has good amplifier power as a home stereo receiver – 100 Watts/channel. It can produce very pleasant sound with no discernible interference, no distortion at pick volume, and the receiver is capable of driving balanced power to the speakers.
The Sherwood RX4508 is a 2-channel model with a powerful amplifier that produces 200 Watts/channel. The receiver is made in a minimalist style and provides high-quality sound. The front panel is highlighted by a minimal set of controllers: only 6 small buttons and a volume control. A little higher, there is the glossy panel with the display. A set of connectors is located on the rear panel: terminals for the speakers, audio inputs, and the phono output. The RX4508 creates a tangible sound pressure in the room, but what else can you expect from the best stereo receiver under 200 dollars? The volume and tone of low frequencies and high frequencies are adjusted via digital control, and switching is done by an electronic selector. The speakers are simply excellent. The device delivers clear bass and supports the sound range from the lowest fundamental frequencies. Along with the FM/AM tuner with 30 stations memory, the receiver has a built-in radio module that allows connecting any gadget via Bluetooth. The quality of the connection also promises to be high because the wireless module supports both lossless data transfer profiles and the advanced AptX protocol.
The design of the receiver is kept in the style of the RX line from Sherwood. Its black matte case seems big and heavy. On the front panel there are round controllers and a glossy panel with a display. The amplifier has a pair of analog line inputs and 2 stereo outputs. Additional devices can be connected to the receiver if needed. A well-developed system of inputs and switching capabilities will allow to lay all the connections once, and then forget about it, using only the remote control. The RX-4208 has the power of 100 Watts/channel , which is more than enough for a 2-channel receiver. Sound meets expectations, as it is clear, detailed, and carefully balanced. The Sherwood RX-4208 includes support for the Discrete Amplifier Stage technology, thanks to which developers have created a powerful class AB amplifier.
The high power output and total discrete configuration make the RX-4109 claim the name of the best stereo receiver under 200 dollars. It provides a pure balanced sound and can hook up to multiple analog and digital sources. The speaker A/B functionality adds versatility to the receiver.
The power output of this model makes 105W per channel, and there’s a separate amplifier assigned to each channel. This results in a true sound, with a deep soundstage and distinct imaging, clean representation of voices and instruments. The lows are vast and solid, there’s no muddiness up to the extra-low frequencies. The subwoofer sound is also clear, and the correlation and frequency distribution between the speakers are precise. The receiver produces confident well distinct mids and precisely shaped highs. They stay adequate (don’t go shrill) at high volume as well.
The ¼-inch jack on the front sends the sound to the connected headphones without compressing it. Other connections are grouped on the rear panel and include the antenna terminals for AM / FM hookup, a separate phono stage set of RCA ports with the ground port, and five dual RCA outlets for various sources. The phono connections are powered meaning you can connect the turntable directly, without a preamp mediator.
The design of this model is simple and functional. The front buttons activate relevant inputs, the A/B selector, and manage the AM / FM presets. The current input and playback status is shown on the medium-sized screen.
The RX-4105 is worth considering if you don’t need wireless or HDMI connections. This budget 2-channel receiver supplies 100W for each channel (or 50W in case of four speakers activated at once) and has the TDAS configuration. This brings the high transparency of the sound, deep and precisely drawn low-end, airy high-end, and solid and diverse midline. The sound output features a lot of strength and clarity, with a rich soundstage. The frequency response is distinct throughout the range of 20 – 20,000 Hz.
The speaker connections, as well as AM/FM ones, are represented with the spring-loaded terminals. The sources can be hooked up via six dual RCA ports and a ¼-inch headphone por. The front panel has a simple layout with big responsive buttons for each input and the “Tone direct” function. The latter puts the treble and bass to zero ensuring the flat response to the source signal. In case tone controls are needed, they can be reached through the smaller buttons on the right or via the dedicated controls on the remote. The speaker sets (A or B) are chosen via the small round buttons on the receiver.
The AM/FM section contains memory slots for 30 presets and lets search for the stations automatically. The signal level via FM broadcast is strong, and the sound quality is high. The presets can be changed easily via a simple interface. The screen is quite big and informative on different sources.
The total output of this receiver makes 400W, as it powers 100W to each of the four channels supported. As with many Sherwood units, the speaker controls let all the connected sets sound at once. Besides, the “Room 2” functionality lets choose the exact configuration needed. This means that any number and configuration of zones can be chosen to play at once.
The sound powered by this budget 2-channel receiver is fine, with the 20 – 20,000 Hz frequency range, decent bass, and detailed highs and mids. The low-end might lack the power a bit while keeping the main line precise. The highs tend to get a bit muffled at extreme points but generally sound diverse and solid. Mids have a wide scope and distinct character. The receiver’s output out from the box might seem a bit cool; still, the tone controls are responsive and let improve the sound considerably.
Unlike other Sherwood models, the RX5502 doesn’t have dedicated onboard buttons for each source. Instead, there are input selection buttons and the switch to Zone 2 speakers.
In search of the best stereo receiver under 200, keep in mind that the budget price didn’t affect the unit’s connections. All four dual speaker sets are represented by the heavy-duty posts. FM antenna also has the plug-in connection while the AM receiver is connected via the spring-loaded terminal. The vinyl record player can be hooked up to a special set of RCA ports with the ground post nearby.
Also, I would like to attach a comparison table of all these two-channel receivers. It describes the main characteristics for better visibility.