Best Stereo Receiver for Music: Buying and Set-up Guide

The best stereo receivers are essential to complete any home theater or surround sound speaker system and heighten the audio experience. This article will discuss the things you should consider before getting a stereo receiver and it will guide you to getting one of the top seven stereo receivers of the year.

Things to consider before getting a stereo receiver

Getting a stereo receiver is not as easy as it sounds. There are so many technicalities that you have to take care of before you can make your decision. Here are some of the things should you consider before getting the perfect stereo receiver.

Power handling

The power handling determines the stereo receiver’s capacity to deliver detailed and dynamic audio. The higher the power rating, the better is the audio output.


It is important to note what type and number of input and output terminals your stereo receiver has.


You should ask yourself the following questions: What audio formats does your stereo receiver support? Is it compatible with streaming services? Does it have built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi?

Stereo receiver and AV receiver- what is the difference?

Home theaters are serviced by two types of devices: the stereo receiver and AV receiver. Whilst the two terms-stereo receiver and AV receiver can seem quite similar, they are in fact quite different. Often times we make the mistake of using these terms interchangeably when we are not aware of their true meaning. Let’s break these two words down to find the differences.

Receivers all look quite similar- they are tiny black boxes with a knob, an illuminating screen and various inputs at the back. The main concept of receivers is that they are devices which take separate audio or video sources, amplify their signals and send them out to the speakers.

A stereo receiver is a component of the audio system that is used to amplify audio signals. The stereo receiver is connected to an audio source such as a CD player with the help of a cable which sends the signal to the amplifier. An AV receiver, audio video receiver in full form, can receive both audio and video signals from different sources such as DVD players, video game consoles and so on. After receiving the signal from these sources, the AV receiver routes these signals to their respective outputs.

The table below shows all the differences between stereo receivers and AV receivers for your convenience:

Stereo receiverAV receiver
Stereo receiver receives soundAV receiver receivers both video and sound
The volume that the stereo receiver produces depends on the powerThe output of the AV receiver does not depend on power
Since stereo receiver only plays music, its audio quality is better than AV receiverAV receiver focus on both audio and visuals hence a balance is made between the two
Stereo receiver is made up of two built-in amplifiers.AV receiver includes five built-in amplifiers.
Stereo receivers do not support surround sound technology.AV receivers support surround sound technology.

Who is a stereo receiver for?

Stereo receivers should be used by those users who are only looking for audio and not focusing on visuals. Audiophiles who are interested in setting up a vinyl-based stereo sound system that delivers detailed sound with high power handling capacity should be getting stereo receivers. It is important to consider technical factors such as impedance matching and the assembling of components in the system; hence experienced audiophiles are more suited to get stereo receivers.

Who is an AV receiver for?

If you are someone who is looking for an all-in-one solution for visuals and audio, then an AV receiver would be the right choice for you. With AV receivers, you can enjoy streaming Blu-ray movies at ease. In a nutshell, an AV receiver would be best suitable for amateurs who lack the technical knowledge but want the best of audio and video interfacing technologies to complement their home theater with limited space.

The top seven best stereo receivers of 2021

With so many options of stereo receivers in the market, it can be quite overwhelming to pick the correct one. Without further ado, here are our top seven picks of best stereo receivers for this year.

SpecificationAmazon Echo Link Amp
Cambridge Audio AXA35
Integra DTM-40.4 Stereo Receiver Marantz M-CR610 Wireless Network CD ReceiverNaim Audio NaimUniti 2 Sony STR-DH190 Yamaha R-S202BL
BrandAmazonCambridge AudioIntegraMarantzNaim AudioSonyYamaha
Weight8 pounds15.43 pounds19.84 pounds9.5 pounds11.7 kg17.1 pounds14.8 pounds
Dimensions8.5 x 9.5 x 3.4 in15.75 x 20.87 x 5.51 inches17.1 x 5.88 x 12.9 inches11.9 x 11.5 x 4.4 inche3.4 x 17 x 12.4 inches11 x 17 x 5.2 inches12.63 x 17.13 x 5.5 inches
Power handling60W x 2 channel35 watts x 2 channel80 watts x 4 channel60 W x 2 channels70 W x 2 channel100 W x 2 channel100 Watt x 2 channel
Frequency Response20Hz - 20kHz +0/-1dB
5Hz - 22kHz +0/-3dB
20Hz - 20kHz
5Hz - 50kHz
5 Hz–100 kHz/+1 dB, -3 dB5 – 22000 Hz10Hz - 20kHz, +0.1/-0.5dB20-20k Hz10 Hz – 100 kHz (0 ± 0.5 dB / 0 ± 3.0 dB)
Audio inputsAnalog (1 x L/R RCA), Digital (1 x Coaxial RCA, 1 x Optical Toslink)4x RCA, 1x Phono,
1 x 3.5mm Aux input (front panel)
2 x USB (5 V / 1 A)
1 x Digital optical
2 x Stereo RCA audio
1 x 4-pin DIN, 3 x RCA pair, 1 x front panel 3.5mm jack (combined optical)Phono input, 4 stereo RCA audio inputs, 3.5mm input4 RCA
Audio outputsAnalog (1 x L/R RCA, 1 x Subwoofer RCA), Digital (1 x Coaxial RCA, 1 x Optical Toslink), L/R Speaker Binding PostsSpeakers, Rec Out, USB 5V power1 x RCA subwoofer
1 x Stereo RCA audio
1 x 1/8" (3.5 mm) headphones
1 x 3.5mm jack , 2 x RCA (mono),
1 x RCA pair
stereo RCA output1 RCA
CompatibilityWi-Fi, Bluetooth, Alexa appGoogle Chromecast AudioAirplay, WiFi, Bluetooth,Spotify, Pandora, SiriusXM Internet Radio, Deezer, TuneIn, Slacker,AirPlay, Internet Radio, Spotify, Pandora, SiriusXM Internet RadioBluetooth aptX, DAB+/DAB/FM radio module, Spotify connectBluetooth, FM radioMusicCast Multi-room, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Ethernet

Amazon Echo Link Amp Review:

Amazon’s Echo Link is a beautiful sleek-looking stereo receiver that has great stereo imaging and vocal clarity. They are quite easy to set up and use, they are stylish for your sound system and also are quite affordable compared to their competitors.

Reasons to buyReasons to avoid
· The stereo amplifier has an aesthetic and minimal design
· The device is quite easy to set up
· It is Alexa enabled
· It does not support Bluetooth aptX
· The power might not be enough for some listeners

Design and setup

The beauty of these stereo receivers lies in their minimalist look. At first sight, it is difficult to identify the product since there isn’t any logo on its smooth surface. The build quality of the Amazon Echo Link Amp is quite impressive. The rolled-up edges give it a slick look whilst the perforated top panel serves the purpose of letting air escape. With dimensions of 8.6 cm x 25cm, these audio power boxes are compact enough to fit easily under your television.

The simple knob positioned on the matte black exterior is made to pop out with striking white LED lights that encircle it. These ten white LED lights are an indicator of the level of volume of the stereo receiver. An offset 3.5 mm headphone jack is also present at the front.

The back of the stereo receiver holds all the ports required for connecting the device. This part holds the binding posts which can support both banana plugs and bare wires. It also includes coaxial and optical digital inputs, stereo analog phono inputs and subwoofer output. However, it should be kept in mind that the Echo Link supports only one component at a time.

The setup of the Echo Link Amp is quite similar to the setup of other Amazon devices. Although the plug-and-play setup is convenient for users, there seems to be a lack of remote control with the stereo amplifier.  However, the device is controlled with smart functions. Once connected to the internet, a smartphone or Alexa app can be used to set up the device. Since the device doesn’t have a built-in microphone, it needs to be paired up with an app for voice commands.


The audio performance of the Amazon Echo Link Amp is quite great for audiophiles looking to upgrade their sound system.

The stereo receiver has a wide frequency response of 20Hz – 20000 Hz and a dynamic range of 94 dB. The stereo amplifier offers a wide soundstage and great spatial imaging. When you play music connecting this device, you can individually identify the different instruments in the song. The two-channel amplifier has a 60 Watt power rating which is enough to keep your music alive and booming. Overall the performance of the stereo amplifier is more than satisfactory.


The Amazon Echo Link Amp stereo receiver has the following features that make it stand out from the other receivers:

  • Voice control music selection:

The Amazon Echo link Amp allows you to listen to music from anywhere anytime. The unique feature about these amplifiers is that you can pair them up with an Echo device to create voice-controlled music groups and stream music from anywhere at your home.

  • Versatile connectivity:

The Link Amp offers a great deal of connectivity options for both input and output connections. It has coaxial inputs as well as terminals for connecting passive speakers. It is compatible with Bluetooth 4.0 and supports a dual-band Wi-Fi connection. Lastly, the stereo amplifier supports music services such as Amazon Music Unlimited, Deezer, Apple Music and Spotify Premium.

Cambridge Audio AXA35 Review:

If you are an audiophile on budget who is looking for good-quality stereo receivers to pump up your home audio system, then you should definitely consider getting the Cambridge Audio AXA35. With a clean and natural tonal balance audio reproduction, these stereo receivers really stand out and are a great deal for their price.

Reasons to buyReasons to avoid
The device has an aesthetically pleasing design with clever engineering
It offers greatly detailed midrange
The stereo amplifier has excellent audio stereo imaging
The device does not support Bluetooth- a separate receiver is required for connection
The power rating could have been better

Design and setup

Cambridge Audio follows a great standard for build quality and the prime example of this is the AXA35 stereo amplifier. Although from the outside the stereo amplifier might look quite ordinary and simple, the workmanship behind the construction of the AXA35 is quite commendable.

The stereo receiver is ultra-thin and sleek, with a length of 3.3 inches and weight of over just 12 pounds. The solid exterior of the device is composed of strong and durable aluminum and it is coated with a silver-grey color that gives it a sophisticated look. The stark white display gives it a futuristic vibe that we absolutely love.

When you first stare at the stereo receiver, you might be tricked into thinking that it is floating. The design of the stereo amp has a thin plastic edge which runs along bottom of the device causing this illusion. The front surface has the display under which five separate buttons. At the top of one end rests the logo of the stereo receiver and at the other side is the rotatable dial for volume adjustments. Four buttons under the display corresponds to analog input on the rear. There are also 6.35 mm headphone output and 3.5 mm auxiliary input ports.

The back consists of numerous cable ports for connectivity. The stereo amplifier is easy to set up and it also comes with a perfectly functional remote control. With the number of ports at the front end, you can easily connect your CD player, streamer, TV, or game consoles to the device for an enjoyable audio experience.


The Cambridge Audio AXA35 appears to be very powerful and confident in terms of performance.

It offers 35 watts of power for each channel and a truly natural and balanced tone. The audio is not blurred at all-you-can easily hear each and every detail with clarity when you connect the device to your speakers. The stereo receiver also has a quite high-frequency response, rating at 5Hz – 50000 Hz. The mids, lows and highs are well balanced and perfectly received. Overall, the performance is not what you would expect for the price.


Here are some of the highlights of the stereo amplifier:

  • High-quality build with impressive engineering

The device not only looks good but is also built very strongly. The stereo amplifier has been engineered with short signal paths, a damped power supply and high spec heat sink for maximum efficiency in output.

  • Easy connectivity

The device features a USB port that can be connected to a separate Bluetooth receiver. You can also stream from Google Chromecast Audio for wireless and seamless sound.

Integra DTM-40.4 Review:

If you want a stereo receiver that offers excellent sound performance, has a versatile control and great range of connections and offers flexibility for user convenience, then the Integra DTM-40.4 should be the receiver that you need to look at.

Reasons to buyReasons to avoid
The DTM-40.4 offers great flexibility to its users
The receiver comes at a more affordable range than its competitors
The receiver is a little expensive

Design and setup

The two-channel stereo receivers look nothing out of the ordinary at first sight. Although the design of the Integra DTM-40.4 might not appear as appealing to the eyes, we must admit that the engineering on these stereo receivers is commendable.

The stereo receiver which is made of aluminum has a smooth and shiny texture. At the front, there is an illuminated display in the center. Just below the display lies the four buttons- input selector, bass control, treble control and balance control. At the right of the stereo receiver is the master volume control next to which is the tuning button. There are also memory and menu buttons. The front panel also includes USB and iPod ports.

At the back are all the important ports. The important ports include the remote control jack, Ethernet port, digital in coaxial and optical jacks, FM/AM antenna jack, phono in and GND terminal and so on.

The device comes with a very detailed and functional remote control which includes buttons for different functional modes. Connecting the receiver to the speaker is very easy ad takes little time. The receiver allows the user to connect to two speakers.


The receiver can deliver 80 watts per channel, meaning that its performance is quite powerful. The Integra DTM-40.4 uses filtering technology to ensure that the audio is enhanced and has low distortion. The high-resolution audio from speakers is produced with effortless clarity through these stereo receivers.


The stereo receiver has these features:

  • Purely customized audio experience

The receiver includes an output stage circuitry that involves high current power supply and custom-made current capacitors which helps it to provide low impedance and high current performance.

  • Variety of streaming services

The Integra DTM-40.4 includes built-in AirPlay, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Bluetooth technology. It comes with a wide variety of streaming services such as Spotify, Pandora, SiriusXM Internet Radio, Deezer, TuneIn and Slacker for your convenience.

Marantz M-CR610 Wireless Network CD Receiver Review

The Marantz M-CR610 Wireless Network CD Receiver offers a unique solution to audiophiles looking for a quality receiver with distinctive features.

Reasons to buyReasons to avoid
The stereo receivers are very convenient to use and setup
The receivers offer powerful and clean audio performance
The M-CR610 does not have Bluetooth built-in

Design and setup

The black stereo receiver looks a little bulky compared to other receivers in our review at first sight. The big and heavy box of music is made of plastic which gives it its shine.

The front of the stereo receiver is pretty basic. At the front of the stereo receiver includes the usual buttons, the logo and playback and volume adjustments. The Marantz M-CR610 also comes with a CD player. The OLED display is quite large and visible and just below the display is the power button.

Now at the back of the stereo receiver are a lot of different connection ports. It features two USB ports, S/PDIF optical input, RCA stereo analog inputs and FM and DAB (digital) radio connections. The device supports internet radio, Spotify and DLNA music servers. The device has a functional remote control with different options for adjustments.

The setup is quick and easy. All you have to do is press the input button on the front of the device or just use the remote control that it includes to set it up.


The Marantz M-CR610 Wireless Network CD Receiver offers smooth and seamless performance. The audio is very clean and powerful. The stereo receiver has an output wattage of 60 watts per channel which should be more than enough for powerful audio output. The vocals of the music are very direct thanks to the precise and clear audio reproduction.


The stereo receiver has some outstanding features:

  • Four 30-Watt Digital Amplifiers

The stereo receiver features four 30-watt digital amplifiers which provide excellent audio quality with minimum distortion. Two pairs of speakers can be connected simultaneously for a dynamic audio experience.

  • Wide Compatibility

The built-in CD player is compatible with various file formats. It supports WAV, MPEG-4 AAC, FLAC, and ALAC music file types. The receiver lets you stream from Pandora, Spotify, SiriusXM, iTunes and many more.

Naim Audio Naim Uniti 2 Review

The Naim Audio NaimUniti 2 is an audiophile’s all-in-one solution for a powered stereo receiver. These 70 W per channel stereo receiver offers high resolution streaming functionality with its unique features and impressive architecture.

Reasons to buyReasons to avoid
The stereo receiver offers crystal clear audio response
Naim Uniti 2 has a great built quality
The device does not support SACD playback or Spotify

Design and setup

The design of these stereo receivers looks a little different and gives off a utilitarian vibe, in my opinion. The best part of its design is the robustness with which the stereo receiver is built. It is so strong and durable that no force can cause a dent on the Naim Uniti 2. The stereo receiver is quite heavy, with much of the weight coming from the upgraded power transformer. Nevertheless, it is compact and can fit easily under your television.

The stereo receiver is composed of thick metal coated in the color black. At the center in the front of the receiver is the brightly illuminated logo of Naim Audio. At one end is the OLED display panel with some buttons which light up when the device is powered on. On the other end of the front panel is the CD tray which has to be manually functioned. There is also a rear USB port and a 3.5 mm input port which supports both digital and analog audio signals.

The rear end of the device includes two optical and two coaxial digital inputs, three analog stereo inputs, one RCA line output, four pin DIN pre-amplifier output, two mono subwoofer outputs and one DIN phono input. The back end also includes Ethernet port and input for FM aerial. The stereo amplifier is quite easy to set up and overall has a great build quality.


With the Naim Audio Naim Uniti 2, your audio experience will become crystal clear. The stereo receiver offers clear and detailed audio to be amplified from the speakers. The sound is not only crisp and clear, but it is also fast, dynamic and powerful. The vocal clarity in music is top-notch and the stereo separation can leave you by surprise. Overall, these receivers are quite a high-performing.


Here are some of the notable features of this stereo receiver:

  • Stream radio seamlessly

Naim Audio Naim Uniti 2 stereo receiver is UPnP-enabled for network streaming. The stereo receiver also uses vTuner 5 to deliver internet radio stations. With these stereo receivers, you will have to access to high-quality iRadio streams.

  • Bluetooth connectivity

The receiver features Bluetooth connectivity with aptX codec for quality audio playback.

  • Huge range of music formats

The Naim Uniti 2 supports a huge range of music formats such as WAV, FLAC, Apple Lossless, AIFF, AAC, Windows Media-formatted files, Ogg Vorbis and MP3.

Sony STR-DH190 Review

The Sony STR-DH190 is perfect for you if you are a vinyl lover and you want a stereo receiver to reflect your love for vinyl. These stereo receivers are a winning choice if you are on budget and want a user-friendly amp to go with your sound system.

Reasons to buyReasons to avoid
The stereo receiver have a clean looking design that ensures efficient performance
The receiver has many features that can tweak sound
Overall, it has great sound range and good equalization
It does not include HD Radio

Design and setup

The minimalist design of the Sony STR-DH190 stereo amplifier gives it a premium vibe and makes it appear to be expensive. The design is relatively simple and does not include an overwhelming number of buttons on its front panel. This makes it look much better in my opinion since it does not distract the user from the simple beauty of this stereo receiver. The texture on the body of these stereo receivers is beautiful and smooth to the touch. This unique and minimalistic design lets the compact device to blend in with your sound system quite easily.

At the right side of the front panel of the STR-DH190, you will find two dials- one slightly bigger than the other. The bigger dial is used for volume adjustment whereas the smaller one next to it has the function for input selection. On the left is a power button below which are two input ports- a 0.25-inch headphone jack and a 0.125-inch portable in port. The portable in port can be used to play audio from your phone, computers and other relevant device. There is also a toggle and Bluetooth button.

The top of the receiver is perforated. At the back, you will observe 4 analog audio inputs and one output. At the top, there is an FM antenna and a USB port. At the bottom are two phono in jacks.

The setup of the device is very simple. All you have to do is connect your speakers through the speaker terminals, connect your audio sources to the receiver and switch the power on. The stereo receiver also offers sophisticated Bluetooth connectivity with an additional Bluetooth standby mode with which you can switch the receiver on or off using a phone. You will also get a remote control with the device which has a Bluetooth button as well.


The Sony STR-DH190 offers a pure and detailed sound being amplified from your speakers.

The stereo amplifier can pump power of 100 watts per channel thanks to its large capacity transformer. The powerful sound also comes from the design of the reinforced chassis, which helps to reduce transmission vibration from speaker sound pressure. The optimal layout of the phono amplifier and transformer also adds to the clarity and accuracy of the audio response. The performance of the amplifier can be controlled using the independent bass and treble controls so that you can easily adjust the tonal quality of your connected speakers.


The best features of these stereo amplifiers are as follows:

  • Designed for perfection

The discrete stereo amplifier includes rigid construction with reinforced chassis, optimal layout and a large capacity power transformer which contributes to the clarity and detail in the performance.

  • Different modes for convenience

The stereo receiver has an IR remote control that offers wireless Bluetooth connectivity. The STR-DH190 also features a sleep timer and auto standby modes which helps to save energy consumption.

  • Built-in Bluetooth and FM-tuner

The device does not only include built-in Bluetooth but an FM tuner as well with 30 different digital presets.

Yamaha R-S202BL Review

Yamaha’s R-S202BL offers rich and detailed amplified music with lots of useful additional features. One of the best stereo receivers of this year, the R-S202BL should be at the top of the list thanks to its impeccable design and seamless performance.

Reasons to buyReasons to avoid
· The stereo amplifier has advanced circuitry design for efficient performance
· It offers 40 AM/FM presets
· The receiver offers Bluetooth connectivity
· It could have had more connectivity options

Design and setup

The Yamaha R-S202BL has a sleek and eye-catching design. Its outer casing is composed of high-quality metal and is furnished with a shiny and smooth brushed aluminum finish, giving it a luxurious touch. You can tell that Yamaha has put a lot of care in the construction of this stereo receiver just by looking at them. The design reflects the quality of the materials used in the construction of these stereo receivers and it leaves a great first impression.

The front panel of the device is made of plastic and it occupies the display, some buttons for functioning, input ports, the volume knob and the logo of Yamaha. The fluorescent display is positioned and the center with the big adjustable volume knob at its right. On the left side is the power button, next to which lies the headphone jack. The additional switches are A/B/A+B speaker switch and for Bluetooth audio streaming.

At the back of the stereo receiver is all of the analog input and output ports. The Yamaha R-S202 BL contains one RCA output and four RCA inputs in total. The receiver does not include Wi-Fi adapter or Ethernet port but it does include a Bluetooth adapter.  Yamaha also includes two sets of speaker terminals which means that the RS202 BL stereo amplifier can be used to power two separate systems.

The setup of the Yamaha R-S202 BL stereo receiver is relatively simple and it requires no more than two minutes. Connecting with Bluetooth is also very seamless and easy.


The Yamaha R-S202 BL offers a warm and smooth presentation in terms of audio performance. The device has a frequency range of around 10 Hz- 100000 Hz and has a power output of 100 Watts for each of the two channels.

Yamaha’s efficient design of positioning the power supply next to amp circuit ensures that peak power is received. When music is played with the stereo receiver connected to the speaker, you will hear the sound being reproduced without any interruptions in details. The midrange performs exceptionally well and the overall audio production is detailed with a wide soundstage.


Listed below are some of the features that we think are worth mentioning:

  • Effective design and premium construction

The R-S202BL is designed in such a way to maximize power and minimize interference. For instance, the power transformer of the device is positioned near the amp circuit for optimum power. For a higher S/N ratio, the signal ground and power supply ground connect at one point.

  • Bluetooth streaming

The Yamaha R-S202BL is equipped with Bluetooth adapter and is able to effortlessly achieve wireless connection to enjoy music from anywhere.

  • AM/FM presets

The stereo amplifier allows around 40 different AM/FM station presets so that you can never get bored.

  • ECO Mode

The ECO mode will allow you to save power as once turned on, it will drop power consumption to 0.5 W automatically.