The Best Two-Channel Stereo Receivers To Buy in 2018

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You have a great home theater system, but you also enjoy listening to music-only programming, such as the radio, CD, or Vinyl in other rooms of the house. You don't want to settle for a "cheap" minisystem or boombox in the bedroom, dining room, recreation room, or den. The solution: A good basic two-channel stereo receiver that can handle your needs with a minimum of cost and a maximum of value. Check out some of my favorites in the stereo receiver product category.

Note: For more details on what the stated amplifier power ratings mentioned mentioned in this article mean with respect to real-world conditions, refer to: Understanding Amplifier Power Output Specifications.

Best Overall - Onkyo TX-8270 Network Stereo Receiver

If you are looking for a top-of-the-line 2-channel stereo receiver - then check out the Onkyo TX-8270.

At its core, the TX-8270 has everything you need to satisfy your traditional stereo receiver craving for playing vinyl records and CDs, with a full-bodied design that houses 2 powerful amps (about 100 watts per channel when driving standard 8-ohm speakers).

Connectivity support includes abundant analog audio inputs (including a dedicated phono/turntable input), as well as 2 digital optical and 1 digital coaxial input (2 channel PCM support only - no Dolby or DTS).

However, the 8270 provides additional connectivity commonly found on home theater receivers, but not normally found on a two-channel stereo receiver: 4 HDMI inputs and 1 output. The HDMI connections provide pass-through-only support for video resolutions up to 4K as well as wide color gamut, HDR, and Dolby Vision. HDMI audio features include Audio Return Channel, 2-Channel PCM, and 2-channel SACD/DSD support (no Dolby/DTS).

Due to the fact that the 8270 is not a home theater receiver, no surround sound decoding or processing is provided, and there are no provisions for connecting center channel, surround, or height channel speakers (two sets of parallel A/B front left and right channel speakers only). On the other hand, since it does provide HDMI pass-through, you can use it as part of a 2.1 channel setup that includes an HD or 4K Ultra HD TV.

However, the TX-8270 does provide 2 subwoofer preamp outputs, as well as one set of Zone 2 preamp outputs, which allows you to set up an additional second source 2-channel stereo system in another room (external amplifier required).

For even more flexibility, the TX-8270 also includes Ethernet and Wifi connectivity, which provides access to several internet music streaming services (TIDAL, Deezer, Pandora, TuneIn). Also, Hi-Res audio files can be accessed via your home network or USB. The TX-8270 also includes Airplay, Bluetooth, and Chromecast for Audio support, and is also multi-room wireless audio capable via DTS Play-Fi and FireConnect (FireConnect requires future firmware update).

The TX-8720 can be controlled via provided remote control or via compatible smartphones using the Onkyo Controller App.

If you are a fan of traditional two-channel stereo, the 8270 will breathe new life into your vinyl records and CDs. However, the 8270 also provides access to the latest two-channel digital and wireless streaming and multi-room audio platforms. If you are a music fan, definitely consider the Onkyo TX-8270.

Most Affordable With Bluetooth: Yamaha R-S202BL

When working in my office, I listen to music on a 40-year old Yamaha CR220 stereo receiver that is going strong. The Yamaha R-S202BL definitely harkens back to the features and quality of that old receiver.

Featuring sturdy construction, the R-S202 incorporates a two-channel amp that is rated at 100 wpc, with very low distortion levels. In terms of physical connectivity, this receiver is an analog-only affair with three sets of traditional red/white RCA analog output inputs, and one set of analog audio outputs that can be used for recording or to supply signals to an external amplifier(s).

Spring-loaded clip terminals are provided for connection of both an A and B speaker sets, as well as 1/4-inch headphone jack provided on the front panel for private listening.

If you listen to terrestrial radio broadcasts, the R-S202 includes an AM/FM tuner, with the option of choosing up to 40 presets.

However, although this receiver sticks to the basics, one modern perk that is included is Bluetooth - which allows direct streaming from compatible smartphones.

If my 40-year old Yamaha stereo receiver wasn't still pumping out the sound, I would definitely consider this one for my office.

Best Overall Runner-Up: Onkyo TX-8260 Network Stereo Receiver

If you are a music lover, then you need a receiver that is optimized for the music listening experience. One choice is the Onkyo TX-8260

This modern stereo receiver is rated at 80 watts-per-channel into 2 channels with a .08 THD (measured from 20Hz to 20kHz). supported by the Onkyo's WRAT (Wide Range Amplifier Technology).

The TX-8260 provides all the connections you need, including  6 analog stereo inputs and 1 set of line outputs (which can be used for audio recording), a dedicated phono input, 2 digital optical and 2 digital coaxial audio inputs (PCM-only). The TX-8260 also provides a subwoofer preamp output.

The 8260 also includes Zone 2 line output that can send both digital and analog sources to a second external amplifier in another location.

Additional connections include a front mounted USB port for direct connection of compatible USB devices (such as flash drives).

Bluetooth and  Apple Airplay, and built-in Chromecast for audio are included, as well as Ethernet port and built-in Wifi for access to several internet radio services, as well as audio content (including hi-res audio files) from DLNA compatible devices.

An added bonus is that the TX-8260 also includes the ability to integrate into a DTS-Play-Fi wireless multi-room audio system.

In addition to the provided standard remote, some features can be controlled by Google Assistant through Google Home smart speakers and Onkyo also provides access to a free Remote Control App for both iOS and Android.

Best For Multi-Room Use: Yamaha R-N602 Stereo Receiver with MusicCast

 Product Profile

Although home theater receivers are used for both movie and music listening in most homes, there are a lot of consumers that prefer a dedicated two-channel stereo receiver for serious music listening, and the Yamaha R-N602 is one to consider.

Yamaha R-N602 is rated at 80 watts-per-channel into 2 channels with a .04 THD (measured from 40Hz to 20kHz).

Connectivity includes three sets of a analog stereo inputs and two sets of line outputs (which can be used for audio recording), a dedicated phono input, two digital optical and two digital coaxial audio inputs (note: the digital optical/coaxial inputs only accept two-channel PCM - they are not Dolby Digital or DTS Digital Surround enabled).

NOTE: The R-N602 does not provide any video inputs.

Added features include a front mounted USB port for direct connection of compatible USB devices (such as flash drives), as well as an Ethernet and Wifi for access to internet radio (Pandora, Rhapsody, Sirius/XM Spotify) as well as audio content from DLNA compatible devices.

The R-N602 even includes built-in Bluetooth, Apple Airplay, and compatibility with the Yamaha MusicCast multi-room audio system platform.

Best For Small Spaces: Pioneer Elite SX-S30

In terms of stereo receivers, the Pioneer Elite SX-S30 veers from what traditional stereo receivers offer. First off, the SX-S30 features a stylish, slim profile design and houses a modestly powered two-channel amplifier (about 40 watts per channel when driving standard 8-ohm speakers).

However, where it breaks from tradition is that, in addition to two-channel analog and digital audio inputs, it also includes 4 HDMI inputs and 1 output. The HDMI connections provide pass-through for video resolutions up to 4K as well as Audio Return Channel and 2-Channel PCM audio support.

Since the SX-S30 only has a two-channel amplifier and there are no provisions to connect more than two speakers, although a subwoofer preamp output is provided. This means that any detected Dolby/DTS and 5.1/7.1 PCM surround audio format signals are downmixed to two channels and processed in a "virtual surround" mode that produces a wider front sound field using the two available speakers.

The SX-S30 also incorporates network connectivity via Ethernet or Wifi, providing access to several streaming music services, as well as access to hi-res audio files via local network and USB. The SX-S30 also includes Airplay and Bluetooth support.

As an added convenience, the SX-30 can also be controlled via Pioneer's downloadable remote app.

If you looking for a two-channel stereo receiver for a small room has some home theater receiver like features without all the bulk or need for lots of speakers, the Pioneer Elite SX-S30 might be a good choice.

Most Flexible With Subwoofers: Pioneer Elite SX-N30-K Network Stereo Receiver

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Pioneer updates the traditional stereo receiver with its SX-N30-K.

To start, this receiver incorporates the features you would expect in a stereo receiver, such as a powerful two-channel amplifier, two sets of speaker connections that allow an A/B speaker configuration, all the analog audio inputs you need (6 total), and a dedicated phono/turntable input.

However, in a twist, the SX-N30-K also includes two digital optical and two digital coaxial audio inputs. However, these inputs only accept two-channel PCM (such as from a CD player) - they are not Dolby Digital or DTS Digital Surround enabled).

Another added connection option is the inclusion of two subwoofer preamp outputs, as well as Zone 2 preamp.

For even more added flexibility, in addition to a traditional AM/FM tuner, the SX-NX30-K also incorporates internet streaming capability via Ethernet or Wifi, as well as direct streaming from Android and iPhones via built-in Bluetooth and Apple Airplay.

Solid Basics: Onkyo TX-8220

If you are looking for a modest traditional two-channel stereo receiver, the Onkyo TX-8220 may be your ticket.

The TX-8220 starts with a two-channel amplifier that provides a continuous power output capability of about 45wpc and also incorporates an AM/FM Tuner, CD input, and phono input. There are also one digital optical and one digital coaxial digital inputs provided. In addition, analog audio outputs are provided for connection to a CD or Audio Cassette recorder, and a preamp output is provided for connection to a powered subwoofer.

For private listening, a standard 1/4-inch headphone jack is included on the front panel.

The front panel also features large, easy-to-read status display and large master volume control.

Unfortunately, although Bluetooth support is included, advanced features, such as Ethernet/WFfi, internet streaming, or wireless multi-room audio support are not provided. However, if you still have a large CD and/or vinyl record collection, and still listen to AM/FM radio, the Onkyo TX-8220 provides the solid performance you need for $199 or less.

Best Bang For The Buck: Yamaha R-N303

If you are looking for a feature-laden stereo receiver, but don't want to dig in too deep into your wallet, then check out the Yamaha R-N303.

The front panel is well laid out with a large status display, easy to use switch-style function access, and large rotary volume knob.

Physical connectivity includes analog (including a phono input), digital optical/coaxial, as well as built-in Ethernet and Wifi for access to internet streaming (Pandora, Sirius/XM, Spotify, TIDAL, Deezer, Napster), and local network music sources. The R-N303 is also Hi-res audio compatible.

However, there is more. The R-N303 also includes built-in Bluetooth, Apple Airplay, and compatibility with the Yamaha MusicCast multi-room audio system platform.

The R-N303 can output 100 watts-per-channel. Control options include the easy-to-use front panel controls, the provided wireless remote, or via compatible smartphones and tablets via the Yamaha MusicCast Controller App.

Whether you just want to listen to those classic vinyl records, music CDs, or stream music from your smartphone or the internet, the Yamaha R-N303 might be your ticket.

Best From The U.K.: Cambridge Audio Topaz SR20

Onkyo, Pioneer, Sony, and Yamaha are very recognizable brand names in the U.S., but they aren't the only ones that make great stereo receivers. U.K.-based Cambridge Audio offers up a quality two-channel stereo receiver for you to consider.

The Topaz SR20 feature powerful 100-watt-per-channel amps supported by high-quality for Wolfson digital-to-analog converters for digital audio sources and clean sound for analog sources.

Connectivity includes a front-mounted connection for portable players, including iPods and iPhones, as well as abundant rear inputs, including 3 set of analog audio inputs, 2 digital optical, 1 digital coaxial, and 1 dedicated phono/turntable input. There are also connections for two sets of left/right channel stereo speakers, with an additional subwoofer preamp output, as well as standard front-mounted headphone jack.

No internet streaming is provided, but a there is an AM/FM tuner.

NOTE: The power supply is switchable for 230 and 110-volt use.

Best For Limited Budgets: Sony STRDH130

If you are on a very limited budget, consider the Sony STR-DH130.

Just as with all stereo receivers, the STR-DH130 houses a two-channel amplifier, in the case of this one, provides a lot of power output for the price. Additional features include an AM/FM Tuner and 5 analog audio inputs for connecting CD/SACD players, Audio Cassette Decks, and audio outputs from VCRs.

Also, if your DVD and Blu-ray Disc player have two-channel analog audio outputs, you can connect those also. In addition, the STR-DH130 also provides a stereo mini-jack input for connection of compatible portable media players and smartphones. However, keep in mind that, like most stereo receivers, no video inputs are provided.

In addition, unlike most stereo receivers, there is no dedicated phono/turntable input. If you want to connect a turntable you need to either connect an external phono preamp between the turntable and the receiver or purchase a turntable that already has a preamp built-in. There is also no subwoofer output provided.

On the front panel, a standard headphone jack is provided, as well as an easy-to-read status display and other needed controls.

If you are looking for the bare basics at a low price, the Sony STR-HD130 may be a good choice - great for an office or bedroom setting.