The 9 Best Two-Channel Stereo Receivers of 2020

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 Wi-Fi 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.

Best Value: Yamaha R-N303BL Stereo Receiver

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 Wi-Fi 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.

Runner-Up, Best Value: Amazon Echo Link Amp

The Amazon Echo Link Amp lurks in the middle ground of price, quality, and power: small enough to put on a bookshelf and negates the need for a bulkier receiver. As a budget-friendly option, its sound might not reach the standards offered by more expensive models — and it lacks certain conveniences, like TV and video connections — but it's a strong introduction to amplifiers for those not wanting to spend a large amount of money. 

The built-in 60W x 2-channel amp gives your existing speakers, whether tower or in-wall, a boost, and lets you create voice-controlled music groups so you can stream music throughout your entire home. Its variety of digital and analog inputs and outputs promise compatibility with most of your equipment. On the go? The Echo Link Amp boosts the music played through your headphones. The device is compatible with services such as Amazon Music, Apple Music, Spotify, iHeart Radio, and Tidal.

Most Affordable With Bluetooth: Pioneer SX-10AE

If living somewhere between an analog and digital world is your sweet spot, the Pioneer SX-10AE is a fine choice. Analog in every way except one, the receiver adds Bluetooth 4.2. With Bluetooth compatibility, so it’s easy to stream music from a smartphone or tablet. Support for AAC and SBC codecs along with A2DP/AVRCP profiles means any type of music will stream.

Bluetooth isn’t the only feature on this receiver as four analog RCA inputs are also available. With labels for CD players, there’s also support for turntables with built-in phono. Once music is playing, you’ll find 100W per channel and added support for two sets of speakers (A, B or A+B) — anything above that is limited by the two-channel build.

The front of the receiver is decorated with an unusual 6.35mm stereo headphone output. Conforming to older standards, sound output is fantastic with the right headphones. For more modern playback, there are 6.35mm to 3.5mm adapters available everywhere. To round things off, the system adds 40 presets with its AM/FM tuner along with manual tuning. 

Best for 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 a reasonable price.

Runner-Up, Best for Solid Basics: 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 Wi-Fi 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

The R-N602 does not provide any video inputs.

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. The 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).

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 Wi-Fi 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 Elite Slim Receiver

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 Wi-Fi, 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: Sony STRDH190 Stereo Receiver

With a strong mix of features and sound quality, the Sony STRDH190 is a complete two-channel stereo receiver package. For audio listeners who want today’s sound, the NAD integrated amp sounds fantastic; pumping out 112 watts per channel, the Sony has enough power to push any subwoofer to its loudest volume. Digital connections on the rear of the receiver will help it connect quickly to an external subwoofer. Four analog inputs and one output connect to a CD player or other recording device. All totaled, the Sony can power up to two pairs of speakers.

For audio listeners who want to throw it back as well, this receiver can also accommodate such tastes. Phono input connects right to a turntable for breaking out vinyl hits from decades gone by. Once connected to a record player, the sound is as clear as ever. Fortunately, Phono input isn’t the only option as Bluetooth connectivity adds a bevy of additional options. Connect to a smartphone and play directly from the device or utilize Bluetooth standby. With the latter option, the receiver turns on from the paired device and starts playing.

What to Look for in a Two-Channel Stereo Receiver

Wattage - When purchasing your new receiver, check the supported wattage per channel on the device. This number will let you know what speakers are supported. When you select your speakers, make sure that their wattage is compatible with your receiver’s wattage.
- If you plan on playing your music through your new receiver, consider how you will get your tunes from your smartphone or tablet to your speakers. Purchasing a receiver with built-in Bluetooth or other streaming technologies makes it an easier endeavor.

HDMI - Will you be using your receiver just for music or also for your television setup? If you plan on watching movies with your speakers, ensuring that your receiver features HDMI pass-through ports will make for a more simplified watching experience and allow you to quickly switch between different TV devices.