Best Stereo Receiver for Great Quality Sound
Directed at audiophiles who specifically want a superior home audio setup, stereo receivers are somewhat of a niche item due to their lack of video support. However, those who do not need or want an AV receiver will appreciate the ability to consolidate multiple audio devices, with many models including inputs ranging from iPods to phono inputs for turntables. Many modern stereo receivers have similar features to AV receivers, including support for Bluetooth and AirPlay. On the other hand, most stereo receivers do tend to be on the more basic side, with the focus being on discrete amplification for high-fidelity sound and flexible audio output options for expandability. We've compiled a list the best stereo receivers in 2021.
PYLE PT260A 200-Watt Digital AM/FM Stereo Receiver
Naim Audio NaimUniti 2
Integra DTM-40.4 Stereo Receiver
Marantz M-CR610 Wireless Network CD Receiver
Yamaha R-S700 Stereo Receiver
Marantz SR4023 Stereo Receiver
Sony 2 Channel Stereo Receiver
Comparing the Best Stereo Receivers for 2021
It would be unreasonable to expect audiophile-grade sound quality from a stereo receiver that can usually be had for around (and even under) $100. However, the Pyle PT260A can be a good way to get the utility of a stereo receiver for about the lowest price possible. Although this does mean giving up on some connectivity and features, and the receiver isn't likely to have as much longevity as more expensive options, there are always merits to an affordable entry-level system.
The PT260A offers 50 watts for each of its two channels while three analog inputs on the back and two quarter-inch mic jacks on the front round complete connectivity. Though there’s no headphone jack or phono input for playing vinyl records, connectivity is decent for the price. The PT260A has treble, bass, and balance controls, as well as a remote for ease-of-use. Although your expectations will decide whether this budget-friendly stereo receiver will satisfy you or not, individuals wanting basic functionality and solid sound output, this is one of the most affordable options out there.
Naim Audio NaimUniti 2 - Best High End Stereo Receiver
When a company such as Bentley chooses to use Naim components in their cars, you know you're dealing with some serious hardware. Naim Audio delivers audiophile-grade products for a premium price tag, with a no-compromise approach to build quality and the resulting performance. The original NaimUniti changed a lot for the company; although some purists disapproved of the all-in-one combination, it contributed to sales success in a portion of the market often ignored by high-end brands.
The new NaimUniti 2 doesn't get a lot of upgrades over the original, but is nonetheless an excellent choice for those coming from a different receiver or simply wanting the latest-and-greatest. This stereo receiver offers tank-like build quality, with the large power transformer contributing to a hefty weight. This has resulted in a rating of 70 watts per channel, delivering powerful and detailed sound output.
Connectivity is as good as expected, despite lacking in features such as AirPlay. The front panel has a USB port and a 3.5mm input supporting both digital and analog audio while the rear has four digital inputs (two optical, two coaxial), three analog stereo inputs, a pre-amp output, RCA line out, two mono subwoofer outs, and a phono input. Unlike the last model, there’s also a mini-USB socket on the rear for firmware updates.
A built-in iPod/iPhone/iPad dock is also included, as are a CD player and FM radio capability. A Burr-Brown PCM1793 digital-to-analog converter ensures there’s less distortion and better overall sound, regardless of format. Built-in WiFi is included although Naim does recommend sticking to Ethernet when possible for better stability.
When investing in a receiver such as this, it is important to ensure that your setup is up to par because cheaper speakers and other components won’t allow a high-end piece of equipment such as this to truly shine. Although the NaimUniti 2 offers far too much to list out here, it’s a powerhouse of a stereo receiver, delivering excellent design, engineering, and build quality. This results in a piece of audio equipment ensuring the best purity of sound possible…as long as you're willing to pay for it.
Integra DTM-40.4 Stereo Receiver - Best High End Stereo Receiver
Integra is Onkyo's boutique brand, offering products similar to the lower-priced Onkyo models, but generally with better quality parts, refined circuitry, and improved styling. Since Onkyo is already known for putting out high-quality products, this can only be a good thing. While expensive, high-end two-channel receivers are not exactly mainstream, the Integra DTM-40.4 serves its niche market very well. Discrete amplification and 80 watts per channel ensure excellent sound and power, while the thought-out connectivity delivers lots of versatility.
Although the DTM-40.4 is not quite as expensive as some of its high-end competition, it does offer video connectivity as well as audio - something that many receivers both above and below it lack. This connectivity comes in the form of four composite video inputs and two outputs, six analog audio inputs with two outputs, a single phono input, and both subwoofer pre-outs and outputs. On top of this is DLNA capability, as well as iPod/iPhone connectivity-readiness.
Perhaps one of the biggest factors contributing to the flexibility of this receiver is its three programmable 12-volt triggers, allowing for easy on/off powering of external components. The DTM-40.4 is also HD Radio-ready, as well as including internet radio, AM/FM, and WiFi when using the optional adapter. Although many of the higher-priced receivers are more focused than the Integra DTM-40.4, this stereo receiver offers excellent sound, control, and flexibility thus making it an outstanding overall choice for the money.
Marantz has put versatility and sound quality as top priority with their M-CR610 stereo receiver. This two-channel receiver delivers 60 watts per channel, and bi-amping 30 watts x four channels. While there are receivers costing less and delivering more watts per channel, the M-CR610 focuses on quality over loudness, with clean and clear sound.
Connectivity is excellent with the M-CR610, with front and rear USB ports that can be used for hooking up an iPhone/iPod, or for USB playback. iPhone/iPod and Android products can also be used with the Marantz Remote App. The M-CR610 offers DLNA and AirPlay capability, built-in WiFi, and the ability to stream music files and internet radio. There is a digital optical input for TV, a subwoofer output, and two analog audio inputs.
Unfortunately, there are no HDMI connections or an optical digital out and the lack of video capability does make this receiver seem rather pricey. However, audio options are excellent, with an included CD player, AM/FM tuner, and plenty of audio control. The M-CR610 is easy to set up and use while performing very well for its intended purpose - top-notch sound output. Its lack of video capability and the high price of around $700 makes this receiver best suited for more specialized applications, but it’s overall an excellent pick thanks to connectivity, sound quality, and ease of use.
Yamaha's R-S700 stereo receiver places focus on basic functionality without the added complication of too many extra bells & whistles. This 2-channel receiver delivers 100 watts per channel, and a clean and natural sound with very little noise or distortion. Connectivity is very good, with 6 audio inputs and 2 outputs, including a dedicated subwoofer output for adding more bass. Main-in/pre-out terminals are included, as is a phono input for attaching older equipment such as a turntable.
Features are sparse, but include an iPod dock station and support for SIRIUS Satellite Radio, should you choose to expand into those sources. The R-S700 features a design meant to resemble that of vintage receivers, giving a more classic/retro look while having insides that are purely modern technology. At around $500, the R-S700 is well-suited for those preferring Yamaha's sound quality, and want an excellent-performing stereo receiver without too many added frills.
Marantz's ability to produce excellent-performing audio equipment without the large price tag is further confirmed with the SR4023. This 2-channel stereo receiver features high quality components and discrete amplification for clean, accurate sound reproduction, while 80 watts per channel delivers plenty of power.
The SR4023 has very good connectivity, and well-suited to custom installations requiring some flexibility. Main-in/pre-out terminals are included, a phono preamp, speaker A/B switching capability, and much more. Even with all of this performance, the SR4023 is simple to use. Its excellent blend of user-friendliness and performance make this stereo receiver one of the best currently available, and easily justify price tag around $450.
This very basic stereo receiver offers excellent sound quality for around $150. The Sony STR-DH130 might be bare-bones, but its combined 270 watts across two channels offers plenty of power. For those who don't want to spend a lot of money on a complicated stereo receiver, the STR-DH130 offers true plug-and-play capability - without all the features and settings to set up. An auto standby feature allows the receiver to fade into the background when not in use.
This receiver features speaker A/B switching, and has good basic connectivity with five analog audio inputs, two audio outputs, and a single audio mini jack for smartphones. Overall, the Sony STR-DH130 delivers excellent sound quality in an affordable and user-friendly package.
Buying the Best Stereo Receiver: What Factors Should You Consider?
If you're a passionate music lover and a budding audiophile, a stereo receiver will prove a terrific upgrade for your home entertainment. However, if you're not aware of the specifications and technologies, choosing between the best stereo receivers will be tricky.
You see, stereo receivers come in a variety of models and designs. While some pack up cool modern upgrades like Spotify and voice control, others will have you tripping over dozens of cables. We advise taking the time to learn about features and designs before you jump headfirst into the buying process.
Here's everything you need to know to bring home the best stereo receiver.
Do you like tuning into the radio to explore new music or enjoy the news while doing odd jobs around the house? Many people love listening to the radio, and most stereo receivers come with AM/FM tuners that allow you to find the right channel within seconds. These are an excellent choice for city-dwellers and suburban residents.
If you experience signal disturbances in your arena, consider buying a stereo receiver with a sturdy AM/FM antenna.
Do you want to experience the nostalgia of playing your dusty old cassettes and mixtapes after years of tossing them in the attic? Or perhaps, you'd like to start listening to music from your grand collection of CDs? Stereo RCA connectors are a great choice if you want to connect turntables, CD players, and even cassette decks.
Many high-end and sophisticated stereo receivers come with an outboard unit, but you can also explore options with a built-in phono preamp. It's also wise to pick a unit that supports XLR cables so you can enjoy the music in the dining room without any noise or loss of signal.
Visual & Digital Inputs
Many of the best stereo receivers come with various digital features and visual inputs. You can use these inputs to enhance the digital audio from your gaming console or the TV. A stereo receiver can work wonders at enhancing the music and sound effects for a visually immersive and interactive experience. The receiver will truly bring out the best in your speakers!
The device should have USB ports that are compatible with the devices you typically use. Keep in mind that receivers come with various USB jacks, so be sure to do your homework thoroughly. For instance, if you want to connect your laptop, you'll need a Type-B USB jack. Likewise, a flash drive requires a Type-A USB input.
Receivers that come with an Ethernet port are terrific for streaming your favorite TV shows. Some other must-have features include HDR computability, HDMI inputs, and 4K video quality.
Speaker Terminals & other Enhancements
Speaker terminals are a must-have output feature that comes with gold-plated binding posts in most receivers and clip connectors in cheaper models. These enhancements serve the purpose of enhancing speaker connections to deliver an outstanding audio experience.
There's a wide variety to explore in output features and upgrades. For instance, line-level RCA outputs will help you set up stereo speakers in the basement to create another zone to enjoy your musical musings in a private setting.
Most people believe that one pair of speaker terminals is enough, but luckily, most designs come with two sets of terminals. Imagine setting up a second zone on the deck, or your bedroom perhaps. However, you won't be able to play different devices/media on both locations.
Do you want to add a powered subwoofer to pump up the bass? Look for an RCA output carrying the SUB label to enjoy those deep notes of bass-powered music that you love. If you usually tune into your headphones while binge-watching Netflix at night, be sure to check your chosen receiver for a headphone jack.
Wi-Fi & Bluetooth
Modern stereo receivers feature Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to enable connectivity with all mainstream household devices and gadgets. However, you must find these features in a receiver that aligns with your budget and other preferences. We strongly recommend buying a stereo receiver with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to make the most of this worthwhile upgrade.
Imagine using your receiver to enjoy all the popular streaming sites, such as Netflix, Spotify, TuneIn, and others. You can also connect your smartphone wirelessly with the receiver to stream your favorites. Do you have wireless speakers? The right stereo receiver will allow you to create a spectacular audio system spanning multiple living spaces.
Many popular brands power their Wi-Fi-enabled stereo receivers with built-in technologies and apps to make streaming more straightforward and fun.
There's much to consider and explore before you dive into buying the best stereo receiver that money can buy. If you're working with a small budget, you may have to settle for a receiver that doesn't support modern upgrades. But luckily, you don't have to break the bank to bring home the best stereo receiver that supports wireless devices and streaming. It all boils down to doing your research and, more importantly, understanding your own preferences.
1. How much does the best stereo receiver cost?
The cost of a stereo receiver ranges from less than $200 to more than $2000 and above. You can explore budgeted models and high-end receivers, depending on the features you seek. Sony is always a wise choice in budgeted receivers, but if you want to splurge, Yamaha is a very reliable manufacturer.
2. What is the best stereo receiver for wireless streaming in multiple rooms?
It depends entirely on how much you're willing to explore. For instance, you can explore high-end models from Yamaha, Marantz, and Apple or search for a budget device. Manufacturers are churning out great variety, and many new brands have entered the market with excellent features in affordable wireless audio systems.
3. Do stereo receivers support voice control?
They most certainly do, as many manufacturers are powering their stereo receivers with voice control compatibility. You can also invest in an adapter like the Google Home Mini to enjoy this upgrade.