A stereo receiver is perhaps the most sophisticated and versatile component of a home audio system possible. We can say this is the very heart of the audio system. And the choice of such a device must be approached responsibly to get the best possible sound. Compare devices, look at value for money, read stereo receivers reviews, and you can choose the device that is right for you.
And to help in this troublesome matter, we present our review of several models that can be considered the best stereo receivers in terms of their characteristics.
Best Stereo Receiver Reviews
Yamaha R-N303 – best overall
The Yamaha R-N303 is a model offering output power up to 2x100W into 8 ohms. The receiver looks very laconic. The front panel has a standard set for controlling the receiver. There is also not much on the back panel: service micro-USB, RJ45 network port, tuner antenna inputs, digital optical and coaxial inputs, analog inputs: CD, 3 line inputs, and line output, and four pairs of screw terminals for connecting speakers.
However, the receiver is well configured, not only externally. Inside the Yamaha R-N303, it organizes all components according to the principle of low-impedance design: minimizing the audio signal path, placing the power transformer as close to the amplifier unit as possible.
This receiver sounds great. The sound is highlighted by deep and powerful bass to make the sound seem fundamental, while at the same time it has enough delicacy and rhythm for the melodies. Such a balanced sound stands out in this price category to find a more coherent and natural sound image, so we can safely name it the best home stereo receiver for music.
We were especially pleased with the possibilities of interaction of the receiver with other devices. With the proprietary MusicCast protocol, as many as 9 compatible devices (via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or AirPlay) can be connected to the Yamaha R-N303.
- Bluetooth connection is very stable and does not break even with an increase in distance and the appearance of physical obstacles
- The receiver is compatible with Amazon Echo or EchoDot, along with the ability to control the receiver by voice via Amazon Alexa
- Inconvenient remote control – narrow and long, with small buttons and small inscriptions and icons
Sony STR-DH190 – best under $200
The Sony STR-DH190 is the best budget stereo receiver in this review for building an entry-level high fidelity system without compromising on quality.
With its 5 analog audio inputs and a front mini-jack format, the Sony STR-DH190 is compatible with all your stereo sources: CD player, audio network player, audio DAC, vinyl turntable.
The receiver has 2 x 100 W amplification, which can drive two pairs of speakers thanks to terminals A and B. As it turned out, this receiver is the most comfortable to listen to rock and classical music, but the sound does not lose its sound in DVD and Blu-ray movie soundtracks completeness.
Among the comfort functions offered by this best stereo receiver under $200, we note the separate change of the bass and treble level, and radio stations, or even the adjustment of the backlight level of the display.
For greater ease of use, the AM/FM tuner offers automatic station search and offers a memory of 30 presets for each band. Finally, the complete remote control is pre-programmed to control several devices such as a television, a CD player, or even a DVD/Blu-ray player.
- The receiver is designed in such a way that the frame dampens vibrations to reduce the influence of sound pressure vibrations
- It has an integrated phono MM preamplifier
- It does not have a universal FM antenna input
Denon DRA-800H – best under $500
The Denon DRA-800H is a two-channel Hi-Fi receiver with advanced networking features and a high-current discrete amplifier with 100W per channel at 8 ohms.
The receiver circuits are symmetrical in design, guarantee the shortest signal paths and use carefully selected components. Custom resistors and capacitors designed specifically for audio. These are the characteristics of a truly superior device. The model has controls for balance and timbres, and also allows you to bypass them when you activate the Direct mode.
The best high end stereo receiver got 2-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth with the ability to broadcast audio to Bluetooth headphones (with the release of new firmware). The AirPlay 2 protocol is available, allowing users to organize a wireless multi-room system based on Apple devices.
To control the Denon DRA-800H, you can use not only the remote control or the application but also your voice thanks to the support of personal assistants Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple Siri, and the proprietary Setup Assistant program helps you quickly set up the receiver.
This stereo receiver has 5 HDMI input ports supporting 4K/60Hz resolution, the latest HDCP 2.3 protocol, and high dynamic range video standards. A full range of line and digital inputs are also provided onboard. To connect the speaker to the Denon DRA-800H, four pairs of screw terminals are used for the easy two-wire connection.
- The HDMI output supports ARC, which is convenient when connected to a TV
- There is a Pre Out for a pair of powered subwoofers and a separate Pre Out for the second zone
- A strong clicking sound is heard in the speakers and headphones when the receiver is connected
Marantz NR1200 – best compact
The Marantz NR1200 is intended for those music lovers who would like to have a universal system for watching movies and listening to music at home.
The Marantz NR1200 has a housing that is half the size of AV devices, making it easy to fit into your home system. At the same time, the device has a recognizable corporate identity, and its design is highly reliable.
The Marantz NR1200 is built on a classic integrated amplifier circuit, using fully discrete circuits and selected components in the most important stages in terms of sound quality. It can produce up to 75W per channel. The output circuits in the stereo receiver have a symmetrical topology, and separate windings of the main transformers are used to power the different circuits of the device.
At the same time, the capabilities of the Marantz NR1200 go far beyond what we are used to seeing in the best 2 channel stereo receiver. The considered unit has 5 HDMI inputs and one output, with support for 4K video and Dolby Vision. Also in the NR1200, there are all modern streaming and wireless technologies, including the proprietary HEOS, AirPlay 2, Spotify, etc.
- Two pairs of speakers can be connected to the device
- It has the function of transmitting a signal via Bluetooth to wireless headphones
- The native application for Android does not work well: it freezes during work and closes
The Yamaha R-S202 Black is a high-quality stereo receiver designed for home listening with good resolution.
The R-S202 with a 2 x 100 W output, surpassing that of this class, has a carefully thought-out design with the shortest signal paths and optimized circuitry.
Due to the great design of the circuit, the receiver offers a very comfortable interpretation of musical material with a slight emphasis on the middle part of the sound range. The music scene is well echeloned – the solo parts of instruments and vocals are brought to the fore. Indeed, the sound quality is worthy of what would be called the best stereo receiver under $300. And besides, do not forget about the receiver’s good micro-dynamic abilities, which will allow you to relax in the evening listening to acoustic folk, low-composition jazz, light symphonic music, or meditative electronics.
Moreover, we should note that this is a receiver with Bluetooth. And it allows wireless music playback from smartphones and other devices. There is also wireless audio reception via Bluetooth from devices such as a smartphone or tablet. Additionally, the receiver is equipped with a built-in AM/FM tuner for listening to radio stations.
- Full control of the receiver can be carried out both from the front panel and from the remote control.
- The receiver is equipped with two sets of connectors for connecting two pairs of speakers.
- Loss of sound quality in the upper area of the working range.
What is the purpose of a stereo receiver?
Users often wonder what is the difference between an AV receiver and a stereo receiver. And the answer is really simple.
The AV receiver is a powerful multimedia device primarily aimed at home theater usage – the creation of volumetric sound and transmission of 4K or 8K images.
However, a stereo receiver is a musical device. It is bought mainly by those who want to enjoy real HI-FI sound by connecting a vinyl or CD player or simply listening to radio stations. In such devices, the entire structure was created to obtain the highest quality sound.
What is the difference between a stereo receiver and an amplifier?
And the next thing that naturally arises is the question of the difference between a stereo amplifier and such a receiver. And first of all, they focus on sound quality, trying to choose, for example, the best stereo receiver. And at this point, it should be noted that in terms of their capabilities, almost all modern models guarantee high sound quality.
The nuance is that stereo amplifiers are intended for a narrower circle of consumers, and more audiophiles than music lovers.
Stereo receivers, on the other hand, are certainly more functional and suitable for most consumers. In single budget groups, as a rule, the technical characteristics of amplifiers and receivers are practically the same, and therefore personal preferences of buyers, their ideas about the necessary functions of technology, and the shades of the sound of a particular device come to the fore when choosing.
Streaming music with a stereo receiver
Now online music services are very popular. And that’s understandable, thousands of songs are available on the click and without the need to download, and they are all already in excellent quality.
Besides, multi-platforms play a role. You can start listening to your favorite album on the road from your phone and continue listening to it from your home computer. It is very comfortable. Therefore, even on the very early models of receivers, music streaming capabilities began to appear. They are implemented differently. It can be a regular Bluetooth connection or AirPLay, or the receiver will have native access to streaming services such as Spotify, Deezer, Amazon Music, etc. Anyway, users access their audio library through their home media system.