Despite the popularity of home theater, stereo receivers are still in demand. A budget stereo receiver is ideal for a modest music system, a bedroom system, a music system for a second home or for enthusiasts who prefer two-channel music without the bells and whistles of a full-blown multichannel home theater system. If you're looking for a bargain, here are the top stereo receivers that cost less than $300.
Teac, the company long known for its high-quality tape decks, computer drives and other electronics, offers the AG-790 stereo receiver rated at 100 watts per channel at 8 ohms. It features Speaker A/B switching for two pairs of speakers and has binding post speaker terminals. Its tuner has 30 AM and 30 FM station presets to store favorite radio stations and Manual/Auto tuning control. The AG-790A has four audio inputs, including phono, CD, Tape, a Video/Aux input and one audio output and two AC outlets on the rear panel (switched and unswitched). An infrared remote control is included.
Sherwood RX-4503 2.1-channel Stereo Receiver. It has 100 watts x 2 channels with a connection for a powered subwoofer and features Dolby Virtual Speaker and Dolby Headphone for creating a surround sound experience from two speakers or a pair of headphones. It also features a 6-channel analog input for connection to a Blu-ray player for high-definition 2.1 channel home theater sound. The RX-4503 includes Speaker A/B switching, AM and FM tuners, a front panel input for a portable music player and a plug-in for an optional Bluetooth receiver. The RX-4503 has a suggested retail price of $149.95.
Denon is recognized as a high-end brand, and DRA-297 is the first receiver in their product line. It has amplifiers with 50 watts x 2 that are rated for extended frequency response
from 10Hz to 100kHz. Its Speaker A-B feature allows two pairs of stereo speakers to be connected. Its AM/FM tuner features 56 station presets and is XM-Ready for addition of an satellite tuner and includes a port for an optional iPod docking station. The receiver has inputs for five audio and three video sources and a Pure Direct mode bypasses unnecessary circuits for sound purity.
The Harman Kardon name has been on the scene for over 50 years and remains a respected brand. They are known for their rugged amplifiers, and the HK3390 outputs 80 watts per channel, with both channels operating simultaneously, a rigorous method of rating an amplifier. The receiver also has a wide frequency range from 10Hz to 110kHz. It has three audio-video inputs and a phono input. It also features two subwoofer outputs with triggers that can activate the sub when the receiver is powered on. A remote control is included.
Onkyo is known for its Wide Range Amplifier Technology (WRAT), which has extended frequency response from 10Hz to 100kHz. The TX-8255 has power output of 50 watts per channel with Speaker A-B connections. The TX-8255 is an audio only receiver with six audio inputs and two outputs including a moving magnet phono input for a turntable. The TX-8522 has an AM/FM tuner with 40 station presets and is compatible with an iPod when used with the optional Onkyo IR Dock. A remote control is included.
Sony is a brand name that needs no introduction. The Sony STR-DH100 features five audio inputs, 2 audio outputs and a Digital Media Port for connecting media players via an optional cradle. It has 100 watts per channel and Speaker A-B connections. Its AM-FM tuner has 30 preset stations and includes a remote control. It's a good choice for a second room system or as a zone receiver. MSRP: $149.99.
With its heritage as a musical instrument manufacturer, Yamaha receivers are known for Natural Sound quality. The RX-397 outputs 50 watts per channel and offers extended frequency response from 10Hz to 50kHz for SACD
sources. A Pure Direct switch bypasses the tone and balance controls for the best sound quality. The receiver includes an AM-FM tuner with 40 preset stations. Two sets of stereo speakers can be connected with the Speaker A-B switch. The RX-397 has five audio inputs with a phono input for connecting a turntable. The receiver comes with a remote control.