The 5 Best Stereo Receivers of 2023

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

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The best stereo receivers are the hub of your home entertainment setup and the core sound device you need for any home theater configuration. They're necessary for any surround sound speaker setup and the best path for integrating smart home functionality into your entertainment system.

Anyone assembling a home theater or looking to add next-level sound and immersion to their existing setup needs a great receiver to anchor the entire project.

Best Overall

Yamaha R-S202BL Stereo Receiver

YAMAHA R-S202BL Stereo Receiver


What We Like
  • Decent power output

  • Bluetooth and eco modes

  • Reasonably priced

What We Don't Like
  • A bit bulky

  • No subwoofer or surround support

Yamaha provides consumers with an excellent middle ground for stereo receivers—with enough power to drive your speaker setup and enough features to give you options—and the R-S202BL earns our top spot here because it does this all well. The best thing about the 202BL is that you get a 100W/channel stereo receiver with just enough features to feel premium at a very non-premium price without any of the flashiness that can drive the cost of your receiver way up.

To be clear, this unit is a true stereo receiver, not offering anything like surround sound outputs or HDMI pass-through. It is an amp that will power up to two pairs of passive speakers at 8 ohms for up to 100W handling. It's a good fit for a record player setup and a basic TV entertainment setup. There are 4 RCA-level inputs and 1 RCA output to extend your system to a separate receiver if you need more channels. It also has a radio receiver on board to allow for 40 stations of AM/FM tuning.

Plus, Yamaha has included two interesting wildcard features: Bluetooth connectivity for easily connecting to your wireless-enabled devices and an eco-mode that aims to save power while playing media for longer hours. Finally, while not exactly compact, the look of the unit manages to tread a fine line between substantial and sleek. In short, the thing will look pretty classy in your setup.

Best for Amazon Echo Users

Amazon Echo Link Amp

Echo Link Amp - Stream and amplify hi-fi music to your speakers


What We Like
  • Alexa-enabled control

  • Sleek, no-nonsense design

  • Easy to set up

What We Don't Like
  • Slightly limited power output

  • A little pricey

Amazon’s Echo Link line of products aims to give you a bridge between your traditional audio-video equipment and Amazon’s tried-and-true Alexa voice control, essentially turning your stereo system into a smart stereo receiver.

The Echo Link Amp is a true standalone receiver, allowing you to power your passive speakers and drive a complete AV system. The I/O is standard, giving you RCA, coaxial, and digital optical ins and outs. You can easily feed your media into the receiver and pass it through to another device. There’s also an ethernet port for connecting to the Internet—an essential step for bringing in the Echo functionality. Finally, two speaker outputs (an L and an R) drive 60W of power to your passive bookshelf or stereo speakers and a subwoofer for including a sub in your system. 

Once you connect the device to the Internet, you’ll then use your smartphone and Alexa app to set up the device—after which the Echo Link acts like any other product on your network. You can control the amp with your voice or the Alexa app, and you can even set up the system for whole-home audio—telling your system to play one thing in the bedroom and another in your living room entertainment setup. Though the price is a bit steep for the power handling, it might be worth it if you have an Alexa-based home.

Best Budget

Sony STR-DH190 Stereo Receiver

Sony STRDH190 2-ch Home Stereo Receiver


What We Like
  • Reasonably priced

  • Solid input selection

  • Good power output

What We Don't Like
  • No subwoofer support

  • Bulky, heavy design

Sony’s STR-DH190 is about as barebones as you can get for a true stereo receiver and amplifier. With the requisite giant knobs on the front and the LED, text-based display, you aren’t getting anything that looks particularly futuristic. The 100W of RMS handling is also very basic, powering most speaker setups with enough volume to enjoy TV shows and music. Along with four audio inputs via RCA, there’s an additional RCA phono-specific input for connecting a record player. This feature, paired with the stereo outputs, makes this an ideal choice for record lovers. 

But, if you want some modern functionality, Bluetooth connectivity is available for playing music from your phone, tablet, or computer. The Bluetooth protocol isn’t the main focus here, so don’t expect modern codecs like aptX or anything. Instead, you’re getting a middle-of-the-road receiver that will power your speaker setup, all for a great price.

Your trade-offs come in the lack of a subwoofer, surround-sound support, and the fact that it’s about 15 pounds and pretty bulky. You must look elsewhere if you want something sleeker, louder, or more versatile. But from a features-to-price standpoint, this is a good option.

"Sure, I could talk about all the little things I wish it had, but it would be fairly unreasonable to do so. The STR-DH190 is a great deal for the amount that it costs, full stop." — Jonno Hill, Product Tester

Sony STR-DH190

Lifewire / Jonno Hill

Best Control and Connectivity

Marantz NR1200 AV Receiver

Marantz NR1200 AV Receiver, 2-Channel Home Theater Amp


What We Like
  • Smart, HEOS functionality

  • Tons of I/Os including HDMI and optical

  • Great slim design and plenty of power

What We Don't Like
  • Fairly expensive

  • Possibly overkill for basic setups

Marantz is an audio brand that always provides solid performance, but in recent years they have tried to bring that classic AV handling into the modern market with the Denon smart-connected HEOS app. The NR1200 stereo receiver comes with built-in HEOS capabilities. If you have other HEOS-enabled Marantz speakers, you can set up a whole-home audio system similar to Sonos. This app also allows you to connect to all the requisite streaming services, and it even unlocks voice control through Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant. The NR1200 is an intuitive, modern-feeling unit.

But it isn’t just the modern features at play that make this receiver worthwhile. The 75W of power handling for each channel means you can push a significant amount of power to your passive speaker setup. And because there are subwoofer and zone outputs, it will work as a surround-sound system and just a stereo setup.

There are optical ins and outs for digital audio support and HDMI inputs to use this unit as a fully controllable receiver for your whole entertainment system. And, of course, if you want to use it as a traditional stereo amp, it’ll do that well, too.

It isn’t cheap, but the versatility might make it a good bet if your specific AV needs allow you to take advantage of all the options here.

"I think it’s a great sounding receiver that largely gets out of its own way and delivers an enjoyable listening experience in a broad range of scenarios." — Jonno Hill, Product Tester

Marantz NR1200 AV Receiver

Lifewire / Jonno Hill

Best Low Profile

Cambridge Audio AXA35

Cambridge Audio Integrated Stereo Amplifier


What We Like
  • Beautiful, sleek design

  • Excellent, balanced audio handling

  • Great for turntable use

What We Don't Like
  • Slightly under-powered

  • Limited inputs and outputs

  • A bit pricey

Cambridge Audio has earned quite the rep for its consumer audio offering. Rather than loading up their speakers and receivers with flashy extras, they stay laser-focused on high-quality audio and impeccable design.

The AXA35 isn’t the most potent receiver and certainly doesn’t offer the I/O spread of more expensive units. But it provides 35W-per-channel of truly balanced sound, a moving magnet phono input that is extra friendly for record players, and some tone-shaping controls to give an impressive audio response. In short, it’s everything you’ll need to let your stereo speakers shine. 

Of course, we’re giving it the nod here because it sits at an ultra-thin 3.3 inches tall, and at just over 12 pounds, it’s one of the sleekest units out there that still offer sizable power. Its silver-gray design and stark white display give it a much more futuristic look than the tired, plain black used in most receiver systems.

At first glance, the price point might seem steep for only a few inputs and only 35W per channel of sound, but because of how well Cambridge Audio has handled that sound and because this thing looks so good, it’s worth the price for those who need something sleek and pro.

  • How can you add Bluetooth to a stereo receiver?

    Some budget receivers don't come with native Bluetooth connectivity, but luckily, adding it is fairly simple. It just involves purchasing a wireless Bluetooth adapter, like the Harmon Kardon BTA-10 over at Amazon. Plug it into your receiver and you'll instantly be able to stream audio to it from any Bluetooth-enabled device.

  • How do you connect a subwoofer to a stereo receiver?

    As our handy guide explains, it's easy to connect a subwoofer to your new receiver by way of RCA or LFE cables, or via the speaker output if your subwoofer features spring clips.

  • What's the best way to clean a stereo receiver?

    Like a lot of audio equipment, receivers can be sensitive to harsh chemicals and can get damaged when cleaned improperly. The best way to tidy up your receiver is using a can of compressed air to dispel dust on the surface and in the cavities, especially useful if you open up the chassis. It's also advisable to occasionally remove the knobs, faceplate, or switches, and clean any point of contact with contact cleaner, which is specially designed for cleaning electronics.

Sony STR-DH190

Lifewire / Jonno Hill

What to Look For in a Stereo Receiver


Stereo receivers can cost you a pretty penny, but you don’t have to spend much to get a decent one. While higher-end offerings will hover in the $2,000 range, if you’re on a tighter budget, you can expect to spend around $500.


For most setups these days, you’ll want built-in Wi-Fi. Bonus points if it includes both a 2.4GHz and a 5GHz band, plus Bluetooth connectivity — this will make it easy to stream music from your favorite services like Spotify or Apple Music. Make sure there are also ample HDMI inputs.

Marantz NR1200 AV Receiver

Lifewire / Jonno Hill

Sound Quality

Most brands will tout superior sound quality, but stereo receivers don’t differ as much in this respect. This might sound counterintuitive, given that your receiver is the hub of your home audio setup, but you’re likely better off investing in high-quality speakers.

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