The Best Two-Channel Stereo Receivers To Buy in 2017

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.

1
Best Overall: Onkyo TX-8160 Network Stereo Receiver

Onkyo TX-8160 Network Stereo Receiver
Onkyo TX-8160 Network Stereo Receiver. Image Provided by Onkyo USA

Product Profile

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-8160

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-8160 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-8160 also provides a subwoofer preamp output.

The 8160 also includes Zone 2 line output that can send both digital and analog sources to 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 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.

To make control everything easier, the Onkyo Remote Control App for iOS and Android is available for free download. Buy from Amazon »

2
Best For Multi-Room Use: Yamaha R-N602 Stereo Receiver with MusicCast

Yamaha's R-N602 Stereo Receiver
Yamaha's R-N602 Stereo Receiver. Image provided by Yamaha Electronics Coporation

 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. Buy from Amazon »

3
Best For Small Spaces - Pioneer Elite SX-S30

Pioneer Elite SX-S30 Slim Profile Network Stereo Receiver
Pioneer Elite SX-S30 Slim Profile Network Stereo Receiver. Images provided by Pioneer Eletronics

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 soundfield using the two available speakers.

The SX-S30 also incorporates network connectivity via Ethernet or Wifi, providing access to several internet music streaming 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. Buy from Amazon »

4
Most Flexible With Subwoofers: Pioneer Elite SX-N30-K Network Stereo Receiver

Pioneer Elite SX-N30 Two-Channel Network Stereo Receiver - Front and Rear Views
Pioneer Elite SX-N30 Two-Channel Network Stereo Receiver - Front and Rear Views. Images provided by Pioneer Electronics

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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. Buy from Amazon »

5
Cleanest Sound: Yamaha R-S700 Two-Channel Stereo Receiver

Yamaha R-S700 Stereo Receiver
Yamaha R-S700 Stereo Receiver.

Although home theater and surround sound have taken over the receiver market, there are still some great 2-channel stereo receivers available if you look around. The Yamaha R-S700 is great example of a traditional stereo receiver that adds some modern tweaks.

The R-S700 starts off with a great foundation of providing 100 wpc at an extremely low distortion level of .04 THD.

The additional features include Sirius Satellite/AM/FM Tuner, CD direct input, phono input, continuously variable loudness control, infrared input/output ports for custom installation requirements, second zone line outputs, and two remote controls provided for main and 2nd zones. There is even an iPod Dock port provided. Buy from Amazon »

6
Most Affordable With Internet Streaming: Onkyo TX-8050 Network Stereo Receiver

Onkyo TX-8050 Stereo Receiver
Onkyo TX-8050 Stereo Receiver. Image provided by Onkyo USA

The Onkyo TX-8050 takes the typical stereo receiver and takes it up a notch. The TX-8050 starts with a two channel amplifier that provides 80 wpc with a .08 THD (measured at half power from 20Hz to 20kHz), and also incorporates an AM/FM Tuner, CD input, phono input, two-channel digital optical/coaxial audio inputs, infrared input/output ports for custom installation requirements, second zone and subwoofer preamp outputs. A USB port is also provided for direct connection of iPods or flash drives.

However, an added bonus is the inclusion of an Ethernet port which provides network connectivity for access to internet radio (vTuner) and music streaming services (Pandora, Slacker, Spotify, Rhapsody, and more), as well as audio content from DLNA compatible devices.

The TX-8050 is also compatible with the Onkyo Remote 2 App for iPhone, Android, and Kindle Fire. If you are looking for two-channel receiver that has networking features that many home theater receivers offer, check out the Onkyo TX-8050 as a possible choice. Buy from Amazon »

7
Most Stylish: Outlaw Audio Model RR2150 Stereo Receiver

Outlaw Audio RR2150 Stereo Receiver
Outlaw Audio RR2150 Stereo Receiver. Image provided by Outlaw Audio

Here is a Stereo Receiver with a twist.

In addition to its stylish, yet functional exterior design, the RR2150 incorporates a high-power, low-distortion amplifier (100 WPC/.03% THD), along with some unique features, such as a dedicated subwoofer output with adjustable bass management, USB input for playback of audio files via flash drives, and a front panel speaker equalization control for optimum performance when using smaller speakers.

If you enjoy traditional 2-channel stereo music listening, but desire a stereo receiver with a little more flexibility, then check out the RR2150.
 

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