Stereo receivers are an essential core that connects all the elements of your home entertainment system, facilitating the components to work together like a well-oiled machine. With the best stereo receiver, you can power up your surround sound speakers and easily switch signals between your Hi-Fi and TV to deliver an immersive entertainment experience of sound and hi-tech visual effects.
While stereo receivers serve a simple function, consumers are spoilt for choice with the availability of a wide variety of receivers. In this article, we provide you with a comprehensive guide on what you should specifically look for when shopping for the best stereo receiver. We also review some of the most popular receivers out on the market right now.
Without further ado, here are the best stereo receivers available today!
Top 8 Stereo Receivers – Our Picks
This fully kitted out receiver from Denon has all the features that a receiver needs to become a conductor in the great orchestra of an all-encompassing home theatre entertainment system. It comes with in-built WiFi and Bluetooth, which allows you to wirelessly connect it to mobile devices to stream and enjoy high-res music and videos from online sources like Spotify and Pandora. It also enables you to enjoy lifelike visuals and vivid color through the 4K, Ultra HD and 3D pass-through features. You can also switch between different picture modes and tweak the sound compression to either Home Theatre quality, or lower it a bit to enjoy an average movie viewing experience.
Although it features 9.2 channels, this receiver has HEOS technology, which allows it to process up to 11.2 channels. Each channel can deliver up to 125 watts worth of sound power. In addition to increasing sound output capacity, you can use the HEOS technology feature to create a multi-room network through which to enjoy music streaming from anywhere in your home. HEOS technology, when coupled with AirPlay, allows you to access and stream music directly from your PC or Mac throughout your home network. And just by downloading the Denon AVR Remote App, you can simply control the receiver’s functions from the connected mobile device of your choice, whether it’s a tablet or a smartphone.
The sound delivered through this receiver is pure and crisp, thanks to features like low impedance drive, which gives it the capacity to clearly process sound from 4-ohm speakers. Additionally, each of the 9 amplifier channels features sound processing proficiencies such as 20Hz~20kHz and .05%THD. As if that weren’t impressive enough, this receiver also features a whopping total of 8 HDMI inputs and outputs, which are all compatible with HDCP 2.2 and HDMI 2.0a. Environmentally conscious consumers will like the Eco Mode section of the receiver. The feature automatically alters or reduces the unit’s power output depending on the signal level displayed on the unit. The interactive interface allows you to view the transition so that you get an idea of how much power the receiver is using at any given time.
Lastly, audio-video device novices will be happy to know that this receiver comes with a Quick Guide, which allows them to easily set up the receiver upon arrival. In fact, the setup on this is so easy that anyone can do it, and it enables them to instantly enjoy all the amazing entertainment value provided by the receiver. Also, the speaker terminals are color-coded with accompanying speaker labels to ensure accurate placement. The multi-way connectors make it even easier to connect and start using this system.
All of that makes it easy to see why we’re choosing this device as the overall best stereo receiver.
Another quality offering from Denon, this 7.2 channel receiver boasts a maximum of 150-watt sound power capacity. It has wireless HEOS multi-room connectivity technology and a full-rate passthrough that includes 4: 4: 4 power resolution, 4K visual processing, and Dolby Vision and Atmos. Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity allows you to wirelessly operate the settings on the receiver from any location in your house.
It’s also compatible with Apple Airplay to connect with and play content from mobile devices like iPhones and iPads. From here, you can stream music content from streaming sites and apps like SoundCloud, Tidal, Napster and Deezer, as well as from online radio streaming sites and apps.
Other features include 8 HDMI dual inputs and outputs, HDCP 2.2 support and High Dynamic Range compatibility. All these features enable you to enjoy a private home theatre-quality film-watching experience in the comfort of your living room.
This receiver is also quick and easy to set up and can be effortlessly operated, even by the most inexperienced user. The Auto Eco feature on this alerts you to the power level, which is automatically altered according to the volume level as well as the power consumption. But rest assured, this won’t affect the viewing quality. You can also use the Audyssey MultEQ XT room acoustic measurement system feature to determine the volume output and clarity of each speaker and tweak it to achieve seamless integration and balanced sound.
All of that makes this fine device one of the best stereo receivers you can get today.
Audiophiles probably know that Onkyo is one of the most prestigious names in audio equipment manufacturing. With this receiver, the company has managed to reinvent itself to meet modern technology standards. It sports a unit that features improvements like better 4K and Ultra HD compatibility, wireless streaming through Bluetooth and WiFi and built-in Chromecast. It also features AirPlay to directly stream audio and video content from your Apple mobile device through iTunes.
Apart from these bells and whistles, this unit delivers some pretty solid features, including 8 HDMI input and 2 HDMI output capacities, with channels that can handle powerful sound for up to 200 watts. Other features are Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD, LipSync, Multichannel PCM and Deep Color TM for improved color quality and vibrancy.
There is also the AccuEQ feature, which you can use to balance the sound and properly calibrate the speakers, while the Multi-Zone feature enables you to distribute the speakers throughout your home while seamlessly operating them wirelessly. The built-in Multi-Room Wireless technology setup is a convenient way to remotely control your system using your mobile device and takes away the need to use the device’s actual remote, which may not be on hand with you everywhere. Plus, with the Whole House Mode, you can choose to play music in all areas of the house to create a seamless ambiance that permeates throughout your home.
High Dynamic Range and HDCP 2.2 provide a next-level viewing experience next to no other. Meanwhile, THX certification conveys high-quality audio with low impedance, low distortion, and sparkling clarity. This feature also boosts the range, precision, and detail to deliver a truly dynamic sound and a stimulating viewing experience. When paired with DTS:X, the Dolby Atmos feature can clearly convey the tiniest detail in sound from the silent purr of a flowing stream to a high-pitched bird call. It’s a totally realistic experience.
This is the best stereo receiver for sophisticated users and an excellent example of a product built with the utmost attention to detail. Some of the most notable features include the 6.1 channels that have 200 watt sound power-processing capacity through 8-ohm speakers. It also comes with Dolby Atmos and is DTS:X enabled to deliver surround sound-quality audio to accompany the Ultra HD passthrough, which includes 4K, 4:4:4, Dolby Vision and 24bit compatibility with HDCP 2.2 support.
To synchronize the sound in multiple speakers across different rooms, you can use the MCACC Auto room tuning with phase control, which also creates awesome recording studio-quality acoustics experience in your living room.
The Bluetooth and WiFi allow you to wirelessly stream audio and video files from mobile devices like smartphones, tablets, and laptops, regardless of whether it is offline or online. Online streaming includes radio tuning and access to streaming services like Tidal, Spotify, and Deezer. Chromecast and AutoConnect are also great features to centrally operate the settings on the receiver to manipulate different speakers in multiple locations across the house.
Another nifty feature is the Reflex Optimizer, which navigates the sound emanating from the speakers according to the direction, leading to a more comfortable sounding audio. Lastly, the Phase Control further synchronizes the sound to better manage the bass and control the sound as it travels between speakers. This leads to well-composed and seamless sound quality.
This Yamaha receiver delivers epic surround sound quality through features like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. It’s fully compatible with 4K and Ultra HD passthrough so that you can enjoy the best that these technologies can offer. You can play music on your favorite streaming services, like Tidal and Spotify, through WiFi, or opt for offline mobile streaming through Bluetooth, AirPlay and the AV Controller App. If you’re concerned about quality and clarity, then you’ll be glad to know that it also comes fully equipped with sound-balancing features like Volume Equalizer, hi-res audio support, and Compressed Music Enhancer for that pleasant studio-quality sound.
Not only does it feature 7.1 channels, but it also offers the option to spread the sound and distribute it across multiple speakers in different rooms. To control audio in the consecutive rooms, there’s a dedicated Zone 2 Audio feature that comes with extra bass, volume equalizer, and main zone sync, which you can use to coordinate the sound from the main receiver to the speakers peppered around the house.
It also comes with 6 HDMI inputs and one output, which comes with HDR video, BT.2020, and HDCP 2.2 support. There’s even a Phono input that you can use to connect a turntable to play your vinyl and a Party Mode setting which has been configured to deliver a sound that really brings the house down (in a good way, of course).
This Yamaha AV receiver sounds great with any speaker combination and comes with digital inputs that can process and deliver an immaculate and dynamic sound. It comes with an MM phono cartridge that allows you to connect a turntable and enjoy both analog and digital vinyl, and a USB connector on the front panel to connect mobile devices and USB thumb drives.
The digital inputs are compatible with both Blu-ray and TV outputs, while the solid quality promised by this receiver is backed up by technology features like 5.6 MHz DSD, AIFF and hi-res audio processing through Burr-Brown 192 kHz / 24-bit DAC. You can spread out the music audio experience throughout your house using the MusicCast feature and a few extra speakers or soundbars.
Other awesome features on this receiver include unlimited streaming through WiFi, Bluetooth and Wireless Direct, 80 watts by 80 watt sound power capacity with low distortion, low impedance (ToP-ART), and the capacity to handle 8ohms speakers. This review would be amiss if we didn’t’ mention the stunning design of this spectacular machine, with its super interactive interface, silver hairline textured surface and smooth control knobs with a sleek finish.
With 5 channels processing 50 watts of power each, it’s safe to say that this is a rather modest unit. But it packs a punch when it comes to the quality as it delivers a low-impedance sound with 4-ohm speakers. For example, it has full-rate 4K/ 60 Hz passthrough, super clear and vibrant 4:4:4 color resolution, and HDR and BT.2020 support.
Apart from the mentioned inputs, it also comes with 6 HDMI inputs, with one being placed on the front and Dolby TrueHD for an unmatched cinematic experience. There’s also built-in WiFi and Bluetooth, as well as HEOS integration to calibrate the sound and create a synchronized and seamless audio and video viewing opportunity.
You can also stream music from your private library using Bluetooth and AirPlay. Other features include high-resolution surround sound, DTS-HD Master Audio, and the Marantz 2016 AVR Remote app, which you can download and use to remotely control the receiver’s settings from anywhere in your house using your mobile device.
Ending our best stereo receiver guide with the YAMAHA R-S700BL stereo receiver.
With only two 100-watt channels, this powerful receiver from Yamaha comes with subwoofer support and Yamaha’s signature design. This includes super low distortion and automatic frequency level adjustment to balance out the sound throughout different volume levels. Hook-up conduits include a phono input, 6 RCA inputs, and a CD player to enjoy a variety of audio entertainment.
You can expand the sound onto a second room using the Dual-zone support feature, which is great for when you’re having friends over for a get-together and you want everyone to enjoy the same music quality throughout the house.
Setup is super simple thanks to gold plated jacks, and it also comes with Sirius XM radio built-in and with over 40 stations to choose from. If you’re on a budget, this is one of the best stereo receivers you can get today.
Choosing the Best Stereo Receiver – Buying Guide
Home Stereo receivers are fairly simple devices that serve a straightforward purpose, but they’re available in such a wide variety that it can be hard to distinguish the best stereo receivers from the multifarious options. Luckily, there are a few key features that come with each receiver, the availability of which you can use to distinguish between the best receivers and the average ones.
The best stereo receiver acts as the primary center of the entire home theatre system. It connects speakers to video and audio components while delivering surround sound quality and tuning radio stations. With a superior receiver, you can enjoy all the features that come with that Ultra-HD TV, super speakers and other awesome devices and equipment that you have.
Although they possess similar features, receivers differ when it comes to quality, and some definitely offer more than others. Consider the following features before purchasing a receiver and you should be able to select the right one for your particular system and its needs:
Some of the main features that you should look for when checking the best stereo receivers include:
This is an essential feature to consider when looking for the best stereo receiver. The power capacity of a receiver determines its ability to deliver voluminous sound with clarity and little or no distortion. A receiver with a high wattage rating will typically offer a powerful sound that remains balanced across low, medium and maximum notes.
Ensure that the receiver you purchase can handle not only the powerful sound capacity of the speakers but can also clearly convey the sound throughout the room in which it is housed. Generally, large spaces require a more powerful receiver to deliver a more powerful sound.
Connectivity of the Best Stereo Receiver
The best stereo receiver should have several inputs and outputs to accommodate a variety of equipment and devices. It should allow you to connect to several components at once, from TVs to speakers, mobile devices and gaming systems. There should also be extra inputs and outputs just in case you choose to add more devices to your system later.
Also, ensure that you get a receiver with the right type of inputs for the equipment that you currently have in your home entertainment system. There’s no use getting a high-end receiver if it doesn’t connect all your devices. Another important point to note is that a receiver with digital connections is more able to deliver quality audio and video than the legacy analog versions. Again, an HDMI connection is a must-have if you really want to reap the benefits of all your high-end HD and 4K enabled technology.
Having a user-friendly interface is one of the most important elements of the best stereo receiver. The setup and operation of the best stereo receiver should be simple and straightforward, with easy to understand and clearly defined controls, and a visible display that you can easily navigate. A graphical interface is great, but what’s even better is a receiver that comes pre-programmed with different display options for information like a music playlist, movie information and album art to name but a few.
As mentioned, Airplay compatibility allows the best stereo receiver to wirelessly process content from apps and services that are accessed through mobile devices. This means you can choose between streaming music from your iPad or directly from streaming apps like Spotify and Pandora. Therefore, the Airplay feature is a must-have for music aficionados who enjoy storing and playing music from these digital platforms.
Best Stereo Receiver: Easy Setup
The best stereo receiver should be relatively easy to set up, even for the most inexperienced user. Some models come with automatic speaker calibration, which is the ability to instantly fine-tune and balance the sound once speakers have been connected. By examining the spatial relationship of the speakers to the surrounding environment, the receiver self-corrects to eliminate any kinks in performance. This ensures that all the connected devices are operating to their ultimate potential. If any of the components are not connected, you’ll be able to tell, as the receiver will either eliminate its participation or alert you. This makes for incredible ease of use and works equally well for modern surround sound systems as well as more antiquated home entertainment systems.
Surround Sound Capacity
This is yet another essential feature to consider when looking into the best stereo receivers because having a home entertainment system that incorporates surround sound is an ideal way to enjoy a realistic sound and movie-theatre like experience from the comfort of your home. Surround sound systems offer a wide range of sound possibilities which you can choose according to your preferences.
There’s your average 5.1 and 6.1 speaker arrangement, which is what most living room setups opt for. Then there are more elaborate arrangements from 7.1 up to a whopping 11.1 speaker system. These would probably fit perfectly with a ‘fully-equipped’ home movie theatre room and certain Blu-ray movies that are pre-programmed to optimally operate on a 7.1 and higher setup.
In case you’re wondering, the .1 reflected in the description of these speaker systems refers to the subwoofer which usually comes with the speakers. The number of speakers themselves is provided as the value before the .1, i.e. 5.1 mean 5 speakers and 1 subwoofer, and so on. Although one subwoofer is sufficient to provide a decent heart-thumping bass, some sophisticated arrangements come with two subwoofers and are a favorite among serious audiophiles.
To realize true surround sound potential and get the most out of your favorite movie soundtracks, opt for a receiver that comes pre-programmed with Dolby Digital and DTS sound-processing capacity. To ensure that you get the benefit of all these surround sound features while eliminating the need to find a matching sound system, try and find a receiver that comes with its own set of speakers.
Another good tip when looking for the best stereo receiver is to purchase a surround sound system whose power complements the size of your room, keeping in mind that a powerful surround sound works well in a spacious area, while a modest system with moderate power is enough to cater to the average living room.
Inputs of the Best Stereo Receivers
The number of inputs you need your best stereo receiver to have depends on what you’ll be using it for. The more varied your entertainment needs are, the more inputs you’ll require. Since technology is always evolving, a general rule of thumb is to purchase a receiver with more inputs than you require to make room for the future expansion of your entertainment system.
The simplest way to figure out how many inputs you require is to list all the equipment that you’ll be connecting to the receiver, taking into consideration the fact that some of your equipment may require older inputs in order to operate. Some of the most common inputs include:
- 5 RCA plugs (for component audio and video)
- 3 RCA plugs in white, yellow and red (for composite audio and video)
- 2 RCA plugs (to process stereo audio)
TOSLINK Optical Audio
HDMI is an all-inclusive cable that can transfer audio and video signals from several devices such as computers and gaming consoles. It is often the only additional output you’ll need apart from the ones you’ll be using immediately. Some models even come with more than one HDMI output to enable easy adjustment between TV and projector. If being able to enjoy 3D entertainment is a priority for you, then be sure to buy a receiver with 3D signal processing capability.
4K Ultra HD and Upscaling
4K quality is the new trend when it comes to visual technology, and it’s not hard to see why, as it delivers high-definition visuals with lifelike detail. To ensure that your receiver is compatible with 4K technology, look out for the ‘4K passthrough’ output, which comes as a standard built-in feature for modern-day receivers. This matches with the 4K TV cable that comes with 4K TVs.
On the other hand, a receiver with upscaling makes it possible to upgrade video with lower resolution to high-quality 4K or 1080p.
Extra Attachments and Features in the Best Stereo Receiver
Modern-day receivers allow you to connect mobile devices, computers and more. To ensure that your receiver caters to these extra connections, look out for the distinguishing keywords:
- AirPlay – To transport audio and video signal from iPad and iPhone devices
- Wireless or Ethernet connectivity – To wirelessly connect mobile devices in order to transfer and view video, music and visual content
- Internet Radio – To stream music on services such as Spotify and Tidal
- DNLA (Digital Living Network Alliance) – To stream content like photos, videos, and music from the relevant sources
- Smartphone control – This feature allows you to control your receiver from a smartphone using a compatible Android or iOS app
These features are nice add-ons, but there’s really no need to pay extra just to have them in the best stereo receiver, as they’ll probably get passed out by more sophisticated technology in a few years. Additionally, HDMI is the only extra feature you really need in your best stereo receiver in order to adapt to the changing requirements of future entertainment systems.
Well, there you have it, a comprehensive guide to the best stereo receivers on the market. While the list has captured mostly innovative and high-tech equipment, we’ve also made sure to cater to old-school audiophiles with phono-compatible receivers with MP3 and CD player capability.
Go on then, fellow audiophiles; it’s time to pick the best stereo receiver and up your sound game!
- Our own experience