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Home Theater & A/V

Best Stereo Receiver

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.

Onkyo TX-8020 Stereo Receiver

Onkyo's TX-8020 is an excellent choice, whether you're a budget-conscious shopper or not. This versatile stereo receiver costs around $160 and offers several features more commonly seen on higher-end models. These include a phono input, which allows for hooking up a turntable and an A/B speaker switching for further expandability. Although a lack of digital inputs hampers modern connectivity, there is the option for adding on an AirPlay dock, as well as simply using a cable to connect to your Apple devices.

Connectivity is good for the price, with five analog audio inputs and a single output. A rating of 50 watts per channel offers a good amount of power and sound can be adjusted with control knobs on the front panel. While the TX-8020 is a simple receiver, for those who want an analog amplifier which excels at its core music playing function, this is an excellent choice for the price.

Yamaha R-S201 Natural Sound Stereo Receiver

Yamaha's R-S201 is a great choice for those wanting a very simple entry-level receiver. While it won't likely satisfy those with audiophile-like expectations of performance, this affordable receiver delivers powerful and rich sound for the price. A rating of 100 watts per channel is quite a bit for this price range, although it is worth noting that loudness doesn't always equal good quality sound.

The R-S201 is very basic in terms of connectivity, lacking features such as a USB port, digital inputs, or a subwoofer out. However, the four analog audio ins and single audio out should be sufficient for basic use, especially with the aid of the A/B speaker switching capability. Beyond AM/FM and a power-saving sleep timer feature, the Yamaha R-S201 is very basic but delivers good, clean sound for the money.

Sony STRDH130 2 Channel Stereo Receiver

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.

Insignia NS-R2001 200W 2.0 Channel Stereo Receiver

Insignia NS-R2001 200W 2.0 Channel Stereo Receiver

Insignia is a Best Buy-exclusive brand, so you're not likely to find the NS-R2001 at many other retailers. Although many people tend to avoid in-house brands like this (fearing poor quality and performance), this is not always the case. The Insignia NS-R2001 certainly isn’t  fancy, and won’t  meet more demanding home theater needs, but it offers an affordable way to acquire a stereo receiver for basic use.

The NS-R2001 is rated at 100 watts for each of its two channels, and delivers good sound for the price. Connectivity is lacking a subwoofer out or anything digital, but the three analog audio inputs, two analog audio outputs, single phono input, and RF antenna input are decent for the money. Basic bass, treble, and balance controls are included, as well as A/B speaker switching capability. Although this receiver is clearly an entry-level offering, it delivers a solid combination of performance and price.

PYLE PT260A 200-Watt Digital AM/FM Stereo Receiver

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

Naim Audio NaimUniti 2

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.

McIntosh MAC6700 Stereo Receiver

McIntosh MAC6700 Stereo Receiver

The McIntosh brand is all about purity of sound, achieved by top-notch internals and construction while keeping everything as analog as possible. Although some people say McIntosh products are overpriced, these hand-built products are undoubtedly some of the highest-end audio equipment you can buy. The McIntosh MAC6700 is a North America-only model, and delivers an excellent blend of quality and performance - though you'll certainly need to pay a premium price tag.

The MAC6700 offers a total of eleven inputs in the preamp section, including three digital inputs, two dedicated phono sections (both moving magnet and moving coil), a headphone output, USB input, and home theater pass through for integration into your existing setup. Six analog audio ins total, three analog outputs, and one optical digital in and coaxial digital in deliver excellent connectivity, providing the flexibility needed for an extensive home theater setup.

While an AM/FM tuner and HD Radio are included, there is nothing such as internet radio or iPod/iPhone connectivity. McIntosh tends to focus solely on performance, and often lacks somewhat when it comes to all the latest technology and features. However, this focus pays off with the top-notch internals and excellent construction resulting in a stereo receiver offering high-end performance and longevity.

Rated at 200 watts per channel, the MAC6700 has lots of power, and an abundance of controls to go with - such as bass, treble, and balance controls, as well as a mono switch and output meters. While it’s impossible to list all the aspects that make the MAC6700 excellent in a short review, these stereo receivers are well worth the premium price tag, delivering build quality, unique aesthetics, and superior performance. As always, be sure that your speakers and setup are at a level sufficient to bring out the strengths of a high-end stereo receiver of this caliber.

Integra DTM-40.4  Stereo Receiver

Integra DTM-40.4 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 M-CR610 Wireless Network CD Receiver

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 R-S700 Stereo Receiver

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 SR4023 Stereo Receiver

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.

Harman Kardon HK 3770 2-Channel Stereo Receiver

Harman Kardon's HK 3770 is the follow-up model to the popular HK 3490. While some users find the build quality and overall performance a step down from the previous model, the HK 3770 does offer a good blend of analog connectivity and digital convenience. This 2-channel, 240-watt stereo receiver features good network connectivity, with built-in Bluetooth, DLNA, and iOS compatibility with an included digital-to-analog converter for better sound quality. Connectivity is decent, with a subwoofer output allowing for more bass and phono input for hooking up a turntable- although some potential buyers might be turned away by the lack of a main-in/pre-out for expandability. However, the Harman Kardon offers plenty of power and high quality sound output for around $450.

Yamaha R-S700 Stereo Receiver

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.

Yamaha R-S300BL Stereo Receiver

The Yamaha R-S300 has classic design on the outside while making the most of modern, digital technology on the inside. This two channel stereo receiver offers 50 watts per channel, and continuously variable loudness control so you don't need to sacrifice any sound quality at lower volumes.

Although the R-S300 places emphasis on clean and crisp sound output, its features include an iPod dock and auto power off. A subwoofer output is included, along with five audio inputs and two outputs. The Yamaha R-S300 is a basic and affordable way to improve the sound quality in your home - this stereo receiver produces excellent audio performance while costing only around $250.

Sony STRDH130 2 Channel Stereo Receiver

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.

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