The 9 Best Stereo Receivers to Buy in 2018

Get the best sound out of your audio system with these stereo receivers

A stereo receiver – sometimes referred to as an AV receiver or surround sound receiver, depending on capabilities – is one piece of equipment that can wear a variety of hats. Much can be expected of stereo receivers with respect to creating a complete audio or audio-visual systems, given how they tend to serve as the central connecting hub for components.

When purchasing a stereo receiver, you should choose based on the system you plan to have. This allows you to easily add and upgrade components as your system evolves, all without the need of having to purchase a new receiver later on down the line. Think of the stereo receiver as the headquarters of your home theater system. We've put together a list of some of the best stereo receivers available in 2018, each featuring the ability to play Hi-Fi sound through a slew of connectivity options.

Best Overall: Denon AVRX6400H 11.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Receiver

The Denon AVRX6400H wireless AV receiver offers 3D surround sound from formats such as Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and Auro-3D. You can expect to enjoy an expanded soundstage and listen to sounds delivered with pinpoint sonic accuracy.

Built-in WiFi and Bluetooth allow you to wirelessly stream music from any compatible mobile device or via popular services such as Spotify Connect, Pandora and SiriusXM. You’ll have access to thousands of Internet radio stations, an AM-FM tuner, and HD radio. Dual diversity antennas allow for optimal transmission and reception, even in congested RF environments.

The Denon AVRX6400H's powerful 11.2-channel amplifier block features high current transistors that can drive low impedance on four-ohm speakers, with a per-channel rating of 140 W. Room acoustics and speakers are optimized via advanced Audyssey Platinum DSP processing technology. Denon Link HD technology creates accurate digital audio data transfers, and AL24+DSP processing delivers the high-res audio formats with the purest sound possible.

The remote control features four quick select functions buttons, as does the front panel, allowing you to choose your favorite sources with ease. Preferred sound settings are also stored for each source.

If you’re a novice audiophile, there are no worries with this receiver. There’s an intuitive on-screen setup assistant that lets you fully configure your system with minimal effort and know-how. Connections are color coded for the correct hookup.

Best Compact: Yamaha RX-S601BL Receiver

The Yamaha RX-S601BL slimline receiver offers Bluetooth and WiFi built-in compatibility, high-resolution audio playback, and 4K Ultra HD pass-through compatibility with HDCP 2.2 and MusicCast wireless multi-room audio. The design is slim and compact for easy installation, particularly for places where space may be tight. While the unit size may be minimal, it doesn't skimp on quality or high-power output.

The RX-S601BL's compressed music enhancer optimizes the sound quality of digital streaming audio from Bluetooth-compatible mobile devices, as well as from sources such as Spotify or Pandora. You can connect your iPod, iPhone, or iPad via AirPlay. You’ll get Dolby Audio and DTS-HD audio support. The Yamaha RX-S601BL features ‘Virtual Cinema Front,’ which creates a virtual five-channel surround sound with all speakers placed in the front of the room. A ‘Zone 2 Audio with Party Mode’ allows two-channel stereo to be sent to a second zone via a different source, which means while some enjoy football in the family room, others can stream music to the backyard while enjoying a cookout. The Yamaha Parametric Acoustic Optimizer analyzes speakers and room acoustics and calibration parameters for optimal sound. 

This receiver supports the most current HDMI standards via transmission of 4K video at 60 frames per second (pass-through only). You’ll enjoy HD video quality of 4K with no degradation. There’s also HDCP 2.2 support, so you can fully comply with the latest copyright protection standard for 4K video.

The sound quality of the Yamaha is full, rich and clear, and video capabilities are of the highest standards – all in one compact, slim package just 4 and 3/8 inches high.

Check out our other reviews of the best two-channel stereo receivers available on the market today.

Best Internet Compatibility: Onkyo TX-8160 Network Stereo Receiver

Look to this receiver for extremely accurate and dynamic sound. It is the cornerstone of Onkyo’s Wide Range Amplification Technology system, with an audio image that is well-focused and realistic.

AirPlay, WiFi, and Bluetooth technologies are built in, putting a wide range of streaming options at your fingertips. Stream from any streaming service or Bluetooth-compatible device. The Onkyo is pre-loaded with Spotify, Pandora, SiriusXM, Internet Radio, Slacker, and TuneIn, all of which may be accessed via Onkyo’s remote app (available for iOS and Android).

A digital to analog converter (DAC) unlocks any audio format and plays it back with minimal distortion. There are four presets, zone two compatibility, high-resolution clarity and detail, and high-current amplification, all designed to get the best sound quality out of vinyl.

There are six audio inputs and one output, two digital audio in inputs and one output, a subwoofer pre-out, USB input, and speaker A/+B connectors.

If you love to stream radio or music from the Internet, mobile devices or other digital sources, but don’t need video support, this receiver offers compatibility with nearly every source and maintains high quality sound that is realistic, with minimal loss of quality.

Best Value: Yamaha R-S700BL

The Yamaha R-S700BL receiver offers 100 W per channel of clean, pure power, continuously-variable loudness control, 40 AM/FM presets, zone two support, a built in port for an iPod dock, and automatic power management.

ToP-ART technology is used to eliminate virtually all resonance by protecting the signal from noise and vibration, and Pure Direct gives clean amplification. You can access Sirius radio, bring your own music via the iPod dock or stream from any Bluetooth compatible source.

There are six audio in and two audio out connectors and one subwoofer out. Zone two support allows you to stream into two different rooms from two different sources. The continuously-variable loudness control enhances sound at low volumes, allowing you to enjoy richness of detail even when you want to keep the sound on the quiet side.

If you’re looking for a good sound system, don’t need video support, and don’t want to break the bank, you’ll get a clean, clear sound from a high quality receiver at a good price.

Best for Home Cinema: Cambridge CXR300

A complete home cinema hub, the Cambridge CXR300 brings together all the moving parts for a powerful and immersive home cinema experience that is almost unrivaled. It is designed from the ground up and is intended to be the heart of your digital setup. Audiophiles, Hi-Fi lovers, movie buffs, and digital music streamers should definitely pay attention to this one.

Top-notch sound is at the core of the CXR300’s design. Class AB amplification delivers extremely low noise and distortion at 200 W in stereo mode and 120 W with all seven channels driven. The sound is smooth and seamless with incredible precision.

The StreamMagic streaming platform brings NAS drive and UPnP playback. You can stream Spotify Connect, thousands of Internet radio stations, and play nearly any file (from a basic MP3 to 24-bit/192 kHz hi-res files) via wired, wireless, or USB connection. Direct Stream Digital allows you to play back CDs from a universal device. There’s a Cambridge Connect App for iOS or Android that allows you build playlists as well as browse and navigate all of your music. Additionally, the app can be used to turn power on/off, select source, and adjust volume.

This Cambridge receiver includes eight HDMI connectors, two of which support MHL (one front and one back), making it easy to stream from your phone. There’s a USB port, MP3 aux-in, two coaxial digital connectors and four optical ports. There are four line level inputs, and one recording output for analog. You can use 7.1 or 7.2 channel setups, thanks to twin subwoofers. There’s a zone two feature that allows streaming from different sources in two different areas. Sound quality is auto-calibrated. You can drive two displays at once with the Cambridge, and it’s equipped with to handle HDCP 2.2, 4K, 3D and next-generation sources.

Powerful, exceptional, future proof and tons of connectivity – everything you might need to drive an immersive home theater experience for years to come. The price tag on this may make it seem like a bit of a gamble, but it’s one that pays off.

Read more reviews of the best high-end home theater receivers available to purchase online.

Best For Families: Yamaha RX-V481

This mid-level receiver from Yamaha brings high quality 5.1 channel surround sound and a host of connectivity options that are easy to use for the whole family. The receiver includes a USB input, but what everyone will really be excited for are the pain-free connectivity options. Stream music or audio over Bluetooth, WiFi, Airplay, Spotify, and Pandora. If you are setup correctly, you can even cast music to different rooms in the house that are connected to “Zone B” in the receiver.

The receiver itself is sure to please those with a more discerning grasp of audio, thanks to 4K Ultra HD pass-through and high resolution audio support for a variety of file types, including DSD, WAV, FLAC, AIFF and ALAC. The unit has 145 output wattage and plays surround on five channels. 

Best Under $1,000: Yamaha RX-A860

Yamaha recently updated its AVENTAGE line of high-performance receivers to support Dolby Atmos and DTS:X and add support for latest WiFi streaming services. The result is surround sound realism with incredible fidelity for the $1,000 price range.

This is a 7.2 channel receiver with the ability to add front presence and height speakers, so it can be 9.2 channels. It is also a multi-zone unit so you can split sound into a second room or area with MusicCast. In addition to supporting 4K HD video transmission, DTS:X surround sound and codec support for high-resolution audio files, the unit uses YPAO-R.S.C to analyze the room acoustics and calibrate to optimum sound from eight different listening positions. 

Interested in reading more reviews? Take a look at our selection of the best budget stereo receivers.

Best Vintage: Cambridge Audio Topaz SR20

This is the most powerful receiver in Cambridge’s Topaz line, offering 100 W per channel, a dedicated subwoofer output, two sets of speaker outputs, analog inputs, digital inputs, a phono stage, FM receiver and an MP3 input. This receiver will play virtually anything you throw at it.

The onboard Wolfson DAC allows for input from a variety of digital sources, including streaming music services and devices, and plays the audio back with incredible depth and detail. A low resonance acoustically dampened metal chassis eliminates vibration for the highest possible sound quality from every source.

This receiver uses a toroidal transformer, which is far superior to the cheaper transformers used by many manufacturers today. This transformer allows for high quality power output to amplification speakers with no clipping, buzz, or hum. Speakers can be driven at high volume with exceptional bass performance. Power reserves allow for high peaks in volume when needed, and the unit is shielded from electrical interference to maintain the quality of the power and signal.

If you’re looking for a solid stereo receiver that delivers only the highest quality music, don’t need the video components to work with the receiver, and want a system that understands the value of a top of the line transformer, then this is your best choice. While the toroidal transformer used in this receiver is not the cheapest, you simply won’t find better. 

Best Features: Pioneer VSX-1131

The Pioneer VSX-1131 is a 7.2-channel receiver delivering up to 170 watts/channel and features Dolby Atmos and DTS:X audio formats for top-notch sound. According to Pioneer, by using object-based data as opposed to traditional channel-based data, Dolby Atmos and DTS:X deliver “a three dimensional sphere of sound from all directions – including overhead – to create a truly immersive experience.” Translation: It’s sound is remarkable.

But what we really love about it is the fact that it has features galore: It has AirPlay, Bluetooth, Spotify Connect, Dolby Atmos, Google Cast for Audio and integrated Wi-Fi support. It will also analog video signal to HDMI, meaning you can get by with running a single cable to your TV. And of its seven HDMI inputs, three support HDCP 2.2, which let you connect Ultra HD devices. Pioneer's MCACC (Multi-Channel Acoustic Calibration System) claims it can fine-tune sound to your specific room using a custom microphone to equalize differences in speaker size, level and distance. As far as features go, there’s not much the VSX-1131 doesn’t deliver.


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