The 6 Best Budget-Friendly Stereo Receivers of 2021

Upgrade your sound on a budget

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The best budget-friendly receivers shouldn't require sacrificing on audio quality to fall within your price range. As any audio aficionado can attest, it’s easy to spend a whole bunch of money in search of epic sound quality. Budget stereo receivers are a good option for anyone who wants better sound, but isn't a hardcore audiophile looking to spend thousands on their setup.

Keep in mind, stereo receivers are usually for audio-only, while home theater receivers offer full features, with surround sound and video connectivity options for your TV, console, or BluRay player. 

If you want a home theater receiver, check out our guide on the best home theater receivers under $400, and if you need a little help figuring out what all of those ports and connections on the back of your receiver are for (and which are best), don’t miss our guide: Home Theater Receiver Connections Explained

Otherwise, read on to see the best budget-friendly stereo receivers.

The Rundown
Best Overall:
Sony STR-DH190 at Amazon
For the average buyer who wants to snag a stellar stereo system for $150 or less, the Sony STRDH190 is a steal.
It serves as an affordable way to add hi-fi sound without taking up too much space.
Yamaha's R-S202BL receiver has a sleek design and conserves energy by automatically kicking into standby mode.
Best Connectivity:
Yamaha R-N303BL at Amazon
Link it to your Wi-Fi network and you’ll gain access to Amazon’s Alexa, which lets you select songs with voice controls and stream music.
It's a versatile device with Bluetooth wireless connectivity for your smartphone or tablet, plus SD card and USB stick support.
Best Budget:
Moukey MAMP1 at Amazon
Although this is a budget unit that comes in at less than $75, you can use it for a variety of purposes from music to desktop audio.

Best Overall: Sony STR-DH190 Stereo Receiver

Sony STRDH190 Stereo Receiver
What We Like
  • Excellent value

  • Great performance

  • Clean design

What We Don't Like
  • Limited connectivity

If you have relatively straightforward needs when it comes to a stereo receiver and don’t want to spend a bundle, it’s hard to do much better than Sony’s STRDH190 Stereo Receiver. It lacks frills such as Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity, or any voice assistant integration, but it nails the basics and does so at a stellar price. It has plentiful ports, as well as Bluetooth for wirelessly streaming music from an MP3 player, smartphone, or computer.

As our reviewer Jonno Hill noted, the ultra-minimal design somehow makes it look more expensive than it actually is, while the 100W per channel stereo sound is excellent. There are some creature comforts here that serious users may miss, and the more technical A/V aficionados may want to look elsewhere (and spend more). But for the average buyer who wants to snag a stellar stereo system for $150 or less, the STRDH190 is a steal.

Wattage: 200W (100W x 2) | Inputs: Stereo RCA (4), 3.5mm Headphone Jack | Outputs: Stereo RCA (1), Speaker Wire (4) | Dimensions: 11 x 17 x 5.2 inches

"One handy feature that the receiver has is the ability to turn on from a paired Bluetooth device, like your phone, even if the receiver is in standby mode." — Jonno Hill, Product Tester

Sony STR-DH190

Lifewire / Jonno Hill

Best Compact: Fosi Audio BT10A

What We Like
  • Palm sized

  • Very affordable

  • Bluetooth capable

What We Don't Like
  • Low power output

A tiny two-channel amp that fits in the palm of your hand, the Fosi Audio BT10A is an ideal choice for those who want to upgrade the audio on their laptop, tablet, phone, or stereo system. It has Bluetooth connectivity with a range of 50 feet, so you can wirelessly stream music from your device. There’s also an AUX input if you want a wired connection.

This is a simple unit, with a few dials on the front to control the volume, bass, and treble, and it has only 50W of power per channel. However, for a device that costs well under $100, it serves as an affordable way to add hi-fi sound without taking up too much space. 

Wattage: 300W | Inputs: Stereo RCA (2) | Outputs: Stereo RCA (2), Speaker Wire (4) | Dimensions: 16.9 x 12.2 x 4.7 inches

Most Popular: Yamaha R-S202BL Stereo Receiver

Yamaha R-S202BL Stereo Receiver
What We Like
  • Excellent stereo sound

  • Bluetooth connectivity

  • Lots of helpful features

What We Don't Like
  • Runs warm

Coming in at 17 ⅛ x 5 ½ inches and a pretty light 14.8 pounds, Yamaha’s affordable R-S202BL receiver has a sleek design and conserves energy by automatically kicking into standby mode, which uses up just 0.5W of power.

The R-S202BL has FM/AM preset tuning for up to 40 stations, 100W output per channel, and Bluetooth compatibility to wirelessly stream music from a smartphone, tablet, or other device. You can connect this receiver to two separate sets of speakers, if desired, and easily switch between the outputs thanks to the helpful selector that lets you pick from either or both at the same time.

Wattage: 200W (100W x 2) | Inputs: Stereo RCA (4) | Outputs: Stereo RCA (1), Speaker Wire (4) | Dimensions: 12.63 x 17.13 x 5.5 inches

Best Connectivity: Yamaha R-N303BL Stereo Receiver

Yamaha R-N303 Network Stereo Receiver
What We Like
  • Wi-Fi support

  • Alexa voice controls

  • MusicCast app is handy

What We Don't Like
  • Limited inputs

Wi-Fi connectivity isn’t on the top of the list for many affordable stereo receivers, but it’s one thing that helps set the Yamaha R-N303BL Stereo Receiver apart. Link it to your Wi-Fi network and you’ll gain access to Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant, which can let you select songs with voice controls and access music from Pandora, Spotify, Tidal, and SiriusXM. Additionally, a MusicCast app can connect to both those services and your computer’s audio library, and lets you play music in up to nine additional rooms. You also get AirPlay support for easy connectivity to Apple devices.

Elsewhere, this 17.12 x 5.5 x 13.4-inch stereo receiver has a traditional black box design like most of its competitors and provides two channels of 100W output a piece. Limited inputs might put a hamper on surround sound playback, however, but the optical input makes TV hook-ups a breeze.

Wattage: 200W (100W x 2) | Inputs: Stereo RCA (4) | Outputs: Stereo RCA (1), Speaker Wire (4), Optical (1), Coaxial (1) | Dimensions: 13.38 x 17.18 x 5.5 inches

Best Value: Pyle PT390BTU Bluetooth Amplifier System

What We Like
  • Bluetooth compatibility

  • Very affordable

  • USB + SD support

What We Don't Like
  • Not a very attractive design

If cost is your biggest driver in choosing a stereo receiver and you can deal without high-end output or sophisticated design, the Pyle PT390BTU Bluetooth Amplifier System might be a solid pick. Available for less than $100, this four-channel stereo receiver tops out at 300W of output, which isn’t bad for a four-channel receiver in this price range.

Likewise, while many receivers opt for a minimal, boxy design, this Pyle model looks more akin to a super-sized, standalone car stereo, complete with a bright, glowing screen. Still, it’s a versatile device with Bluetooth wireless connectivity for your smartphone or tablet, along with support for SD cards and USB sticks. The PT390BTU could do well as an entry-level pick.

Wattage: 300W | Inputs: Stereo RCA (2) | Outputs: Stereo RCA (2), Speaker Wire (4) | Dimensions: 16.9 x 12.2 x 4.7 inches

Best Budget: Moukey MAMP1 Bluetooth 5.0 Power Home Audio Amplifier

What We Like
  • Bluetooth compatiblity

  • Extremely affordable

  • Compact size

What We Don't Like
  • Busy design

A dual-channel amplifier with 220W of peak power, the Moukey Bluetooth Amplifier offers Bluetooth streaming from a device that’s only 10 inches wide, 4 inches tall, and 8 inches in depth. The compact device has several ports, including two RCA inputs, two 2.5-inch microphone inputs, a headphone jack, a USB port, an SD card slot, a 3.5mm AUX IN port, and an FM radio antenna. 

On the front of the Moukey Amp, there are dials for adjusting the microphone volume, as well as the echo, treble, bass, and balance, making this an ideal device for karaoke. Although this is a budget unit that comes in at less than $75, you can use it for a variety of purposes from music to desktop audio.

Wattage: 220W | Inputs: Stereo RCA (2) | Outputs: Stereo RCA (1), Speaker Wire (4) | Dimensions: 10 x 8 x 4 inches

Final Verdict

Sony’s affordable and stylish STRDH190 Bluetooth Stereo Receiver (view at Amazon) is our pick for the best budget-friendly receiver, as it’s a reliable model with a clean design and Bluetooth connectivity. For an ultra-affordable compact option, we like Fosi Audio’s BT10A (view at Amazon), as it’s a simple Bluetooth receiver that’s small enough to fit in your palm.

About Our Trusted Experts

Erika Rawes has been writing professionally for more than a decade, and she’s spent the last five years writing about consumer technology, such as budget stereo receivers. Erika has reviewed roughly 150 gadgets, including computers, peripherals, audiovisual equipment, mobile devices, and smart home gadgets. Erika currently writes for Digital Trends and Lifewire.

Jonno Hill has been writing for Lifewire since 2019. Previously, he's been published in PCMag and AskMen, where he's covered a variety of topics including everything from video equipment to home theater setups, and men's fashion. He praised the Sony STRDH190 for its solid audio quality and lack of unnecessary frills.

FAQs

What’s the difference between a stereo receiver and a home theater receiver?
Stereo receivers are designed for music and audio, while home theater receivers are designed to serve as a hub for all of your A/V equipment (including your video equipment). A home theater receiver will often have more channels to support surround sound, it will typically have HDMI inputs and at least one HDMI output, and it’ll be optimized with both audio and video features like 4K passthrough and Dolby audio. Check out our guide to learn more about the differences between stereo and home theater receivers.

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 (view at Amazon). Plug it into your receiver and you'll instantly be able to stream audio from any Bluetooth-enabled device.

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, which can especially be 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 Budget-Friendly Stereo Receiver

Connectivity

How are you going to get your music into the stereo receiver? These days, many people opt for Bluetooth pairing with a smartphone, tablet, or laptop for convenient access to streaming services, although some receivers have Wi-Fi support to cut out the middleman. If there’s no wireless connectivity, make sure the receiver has the ports you need for your audio equipment.

Sony STR-DH190

Lifewire / Jonno Hill

Sound Quality

Why even buy a stereo receiver if you’re going to settle for so-so sound? While it’s important to find a stereo that delivers stellar sound (no matter your budget), note that you’ll probably see more quality variance in your speaker selection—so splurge there if you can.

"Avoid stereo systems that don't have speaker grills, even for just one of the speakers." — Jeremy Bongiorno, Studio Frequencies

Design

Most stereo receivers are hulking black boxes, but even then, there are differences. Some are ultra-minimal while others are busier-looking, and then some go in other directions—like slim units ideal for rack setups, for example. Consider the space you have.

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