Consider the best 10 affordable stereo receivers that cost less than $300

  1. Yamaha R-S300BL Stereo Receiver
  2. Yamaha R-N301BL Network Stereo Receiver
  3. Denon AVR-S510BT 5.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Receiver with Bluetooth
  4. Yamaha RX-V379BL 5.1-Channel A/V Receiver with Bluetooth
  5. Harman Kardon AVR 1510 5.1-Channel 75-Watt Networked Audio/Video Receiver
  6. Yamaha RX-V381BL Receiver
  7. Harman Kardon HK 3700 2-Channel Stereo Receiver with Network Connectivity
  8. Yamaha RX-V675 7.2 Channel Network AV Receiver with Airplay
  9. Harman Kardon Audiophile Performance Home Theatre Receiver (AVR 1710S)
  10. Onkyo A-9010 Integrated Stereo Amplifier

Tips for buying a Stereo Receiver within your Budget

Apple Air Play, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

Many modern stereo receivers feature wireless connectivity and Bluetooth. One of the benefits of Wi-Fi is that you can update the firmware and control your receiver via mobile devices. Wi-Fi also allows direct streaming of Internet music services like Pandora, Spotify, Rhapsody, and various internet radio aggregators.

In this new age of receiver technology, apps are frequently included with your purchased receiver. If you find the multiple buttons on the remote-control confusing, a mobile app would be a god-send. With an Apple iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, or an Android phone or tablet, you can download the free app for the receiver you’re considering and check it out in demo mode.

Bluetooth offers another quick way for you to wirelessly stream audio from your smartphone or tablet. Similarly, Apple Airplay in your receiver can play movies, music, photos and video from any Airplay equipped device or from iTunes on a network. It sounds amazing and is very easy to use. If you have a large digital collection and enjoy online music streaming, wireless connectivity is a must-have.

HDMI Connectivity

HDMI is a one-cable A/V solution. It can pass high-definition picture and sound between devices without the need for a mess of cables. All the new models support HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2, which means they’ll work with Ultra HD 4K displays and sources.

In terms of quantity, while having only three HDMI 2.0 inputs may seem sufficient now, you may need more in the future. Owning an Ultra HD Blu-ray player, media streamer, video game console, and cable or satellite box means that you will need more HDMI inputs. Therefore, we recommend choosing a receiver that has a few more HDMI inputs than you presently need so that you have room to expand your system.

Auto Set-up and Room Correction

Some budget stereo receivers feature automatic set-up and room calibration. These are highly convenient features, and are preferred by entry-level music listeners. With built-in room calibration, your receiver can automatically detect speaker types and distances. Additionally, these receivers apply equalization to achieve a more balanced sound across all the audible frequencies.

Most receivers use the 3rd party room correction solutions from Audyssey. However, some brands like Pioneer and Yamaha have their own room correction technology which can dramatically improve sound quality depending on your room. When selecting room correction technology, avoid lower-end models as they may offer low resolution and insufficient equalisation.

Once you have determined the features that matter to you, here are the best 10 affordable stereo receivers that we have curated for your consideration.

 

Yamaha R-S300BL: Clarity with no distortion, pronounced stereo separation, solid connections behind

Yamaha R-S300BL

What was good:
  • Clean and crisp sound with no distortion
  • Able to precisely tune the volume
  • Adjustments are at the front of the unit and easy-to-use
  • Pronounced stereo separation
  • Solid connections at the back
  • Easy-to-use remote control
  • Simple and stylish appearance

Many users were happy with the clarity of their receiver’s sound and did not notice sound distortions within the normal listening range. The receiver also delivers clear stereo separation which is a big plus point for both novices and audiophiles. In terms of volume control, users enjoyed the precision of the model’s sound adjustments. The most common adjustments could be easily accessed at the front of the receiver. Some reviewers were pleased with the connections at the back of the stereo receiver. The connections were surprisingly strong enough to handle a 14awg speaker wire. Aesthetically speaking, the model is minimalist and sleek. It will have no problems with fitting into your modern décor.

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What could have been improved:
  • Slightly lacking in bass
  • Falls on the lower end of the power scale
  • Dials look cheap

Users with a more refined ear found that the bass was slightly underwhelming. In comparison to other receivers, the R-S300BL’s bass is less full which may disappoint more experienced listeners. Furthermore, some felt this receiver was a tad too underpowered for their liking. Users who enjoy bass-heavy rock records and high-volume listening may prefer shopping for another receiver. While the model’s overall look is sleek, some customers were less than impressed with the cheap material of the dials. The dials are rather light and more sensitive than dials built with a sturdier material.

 

Yamaha R-N301BL: Good definition of tones, powerful bass, convenient streaming

Yamaha R-N301BL
What was good:
  • Good definition of tones
  • Warm, gentle sound
  • Powerful and clearly-defined bass
  • Automatically turns on/off
  • Very convenient streaming
  • Front-panel rotary volume knob and push-button bass and treble controls
  • 40 AM/FM pre-sets

In terms of sound quality, the R-N301BL delivers in both clarity and definition. Instead of sharp and neutral sounds, the receiver produces a warm sound. The receiver shines in the high frequencies and bass.  This is partly due to the receiver’s high-quality components which are sourced from different manufacturers such as Texas Instruments and STMicroelectronics. On the left side of the front panel, there is the standby, speaker selection (A / B / A + B) and a 6.35-mm headphone output. The right side has two controls knobs to adjust the volume and navigate through the menus. Yamaha also provides a free Network Player Controller app, which allows users to control the receiver with their smartphone or tablet. With 40 AM/FM pre-sets and streaming capabilities, users have a range of options to listen to.

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What could have been improved:
  • Lowest frequencies lack some depth
  • Does not support over-the-air broadcasts

Some users observed that the receiver’s lowest frequencies were not as deep as they had hoped. Consequently, the receiver did not possess a subsonic kick. However, this is understandable as this “kick” is usually heard and felt in more expensive receivers. Thus, given its price, this is not a large setback. Despite all its excellent features, this model does not support the digital audio out format (usually Dolby 5.1) of most over-the-air broadcasts on a modern TV. If you value this feature, you might feel disappointed.

 

Denon AVR-S510BT: Clean sound, built-in Bluetooth, fast set-up

Denon AVR-S510BT
What was good:
  • Clean sound with no distortion
  • Built-in wireless Bluetooth for streaming
  • Free app and remote control
  • Easy to set-up
  • Two outputs for subwoofers

Some users praise the receiver’s clean sound and zero distortion at all volume levels. Additionally, the receiver features an array of convenient features. There is USB port on the front panel to stream your favourite tracks and charge your portable device. The receiver can play back MP3, WMA, FLAC and MPEG-4/AAC tracks. The Denon 500 Series Remote App lets you control the unit via your Bluetooth device. Sound and image quality is even better with a direct connection. The AVR-S510BT can remember up to 8 paired Bluetooth devices. In terms of the ease of set-up, the calibration of the receiver is made easy with Denon’s Setup Assistant Sound Optimization program. The AVR-S510BT features two subwoofer outputs. With dual subwoofers, you can achieve a smoother and more detailed deep bass. Two subwoofers also eliminate any room-induced acoustical interference.

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What could have been improved:
  • Quality control issues

While some of this model’s receivers were amazing, other receivers were of inferior quality. Some users noticed significant feedback noise through the speakers as well as hissing and popping noises. In other cases, the Bluetooth stopped connecting to any devices 1 to 3 months later. The front panel’s USB output did not connect at times which was disappointing. You should be wary of buying used AVR-S510BT receivers, as these receivers are more prone to becoming faulty.

 

 

Yamaha RX-V379BL: Rich, balanced sound, plays well at high volumes, built-in Bluetooth

Yamaha RX-V379BL

What was good:
  • Richer bass and balanced sound
  • Plays well at high volumes
  • Good detail in the sound
  • Built-in Bluetooth
  • Simplified remote control

The receiver features a low-range enhancement technology which delivers a richer bass and sound balance. If you add a subwoofer, the volume of the system’s entire low range will be enhanced. Uses were also pleased that there was little distortion at high volumes. This newer version also boasts a simplified and easy-to-use remote control.  The Yamaha RX-V379 also has features such as 4K and 3D pass-through, 100 watts per channel, Bluetooth, four HDMI inputs, and auto-speaker setup and calibration, all for an affordable price. The auto-speaker set-up further enhances convenience and ease-of-use.

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What could have been improved:
  • Problems with quality control
  • Removed component connections and USB ports

Some users had poor experiences with their receiver. One of the reasons is insufficient quality control. For example, some receivers broke down after a few months and produced hissing and cracking sounds. Additionally, Yamaha dropped a few component connections and USB ports in this receiver. If you value these connections and ports, you might prefer finding another receiver. Also, the small spring clip openings also made it difficult to connect a thicker gauge speaker wire, which may disappoint some users.

 

 

Harman Kardon AVR 1510: Dynamic sound, precise bass, all important parts included

Harman Kardon AVR 1510

What was good:
  • Dynamic and detailed sound
  • Very balanced sound with a precise and deep bass
  • Clean mid and high frequencies
  • All the important components included
  • Integrated vTuner service
  • Easy set-up

Although there is no automatic calibration set-up, the manual is detailed and provides step by step instructions. The receiver also features all the necessary connections such as four 3D-ready HDMI inputs, HDMI output, coaxial and optical digital inputs, two inputs for analogue audio, inputs for AM and FM antenna, two composite video inputs and a pre-out for a subwoofer. This includes a USB port and a 6.3mm headphone jack. Any audiophile would be impressed with such a wide range of features. The receiver has an integrated vTuner service which automatically connects to the AV receiver. Conventional FM or AM radio stations can also be stored and played on the AVR 1510.

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What could have been improved:
  • Low powered channel
  • Problems with the remote control
  • Incompatibility with certain devices

Some users faced significant problems in operating the remote control. The remote was less than user-friendly as it was either unresponsive or inconsistent in its performance. This problem meant that users often had to restart their receivers. In the more serious cases, the receiver had to be entirely replaced which irked some customers. Users with faulty products were disappointed as they expected better quality for the price they paid.

 

Yamaha RX-V381BL: Clean sound, built-in Bluetooth, power-saving technology

Yamaha RX-V381BL

What was good:
  • Clean and crisp sound
  • Good for surround sound
  • Built-in wireless Bluetooth
  • Extra Bass setting
  • Eco mode and auto power standby
  • Easy to set-up

This receiver is equipped with Bluetooth functionality for easy wireless music playback from smartphones and other devices. The Compressed Music Enhancer is optimized for Bluetooth audio transmissions for a dynamic and rich sound. The extra bass setting enables greater and deeper bass output from smaller speakers. The virtual surround sound enables virtual 5-channel surround sound with all the speakers placed in the front of the room. This is ideal for customers without any space at the back of their room. When the Eco mode is turned on, it can reduce power consumption by about 20 percent. The auto power standby also automatically turns off the receiver’s power after a specified length of time. Most users felt that the set-up was quite easy with the help of the built-in Yamaha YPAO.  Furthermore, all the connected devices can be auto-detected and does not require any fiddling with the speaker settings.

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What could have been improved:
  • AM/FM tuners degrades over time
  • Less detail in the midrange
  • Fewer features than its rivals

A few users were surprised by how quickly the AM/FM tuners wore down and eventually broke down. Other users also criticised the lack of clarity in the midrange. When it came to female vocals and piano notes, the receiver produced a harsher and less detailed sound. While the receiver has some admirable features, it has fewer functions than its rivals. Ideally, you should compare this receiver against its rivals for a better picture.

 

Harman Kardon HK 3700: Full midrange and bass, built-in Wi-Fi and energy-efficient power supply

Harman Kardon HK 3700

What was good:
  • Crisp vocal reproduction
  • Full midrange and bass
  • Built-in Wi-Fi and network streaming
  • Built-in AM/FM radio and phono input
  • Energy-efficient, lightweight digital power supply

Users praise the receiver’s sound effects. The HK 3700 delivers a powerful, clean and solid performance. Dialogue was noticeably cleaner while the sound was fuller. Additionally, the quick start guide offers a fast and convenient set-up. The receiver features the latest technology such as built-in Wi-Fi and network streaming through both DLNA and Air Play. You can connect to your home network via Ethernet and play all your local content over DLNA 1.5. The receiver’s front-panel features a USB port for connecting an iPhone, iPad, iPod, or thumb drive (WAV, MP3, WMA). The receiver’s Green Edge technology is energy-efficient and offers maximum performance.

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What could have been improved:
  • Sluggish operation when streaming
  • Most features are in the remote control

Some users noticed that the receiver was slower while streaming. Users who prefer faster connection and streaming capabilities may find this receiver unsuitable. The receiver’s minimalist style means that only the most rudimentary functions are on the receiver. Some users were disappointed that the remote control must be used to gain access to most of the features in this receiver.  Users who enjoy fiddling with their receiver would be disappointed with this receiver’s set-up. However, these are minor issues and still does not diminish the receiver’s great value-for-money.

 

Yamaha RX-V675: Great rhythm and bass, 17 pre-set sound processing modes, automatic room calibration

Yamaha RX-V675

What was good:
  • Great Rhythm and bass
  • Expansive sound field
  • Many pre-set sound processing modes
  • Remote and App included
  • Yamaha Parametric Room Acoustic Optimizer
  • Sturdy build and finish

In terms of sound quality, the music in stereo is powerful and energetic. Your rock and pop records will have great rhythm and a punchy bass. The vocals are detailed and easy on the ears. The receiver also comes with a calibration system, Yamaha Parametric Room Acoustic Optimizer, which allows the user to easily adjust and calibrate the speaker’s settings. Therefore, the set-up is straightforward and not time-consuming. The front part of the RX-V675 also features a port for an iPod and USB input which support WAV and FLAC files. Air Play support is also available, which works flawlessly in streaming your media from an iTunes account or Apple device directly onto the RX-V675. Users who enjoy fiddling with their receiver’s functions will enjoy the 17 pre-set sound processing modes. The receiver also offers a wide variety of internet radio stations for users to choose from.

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What could have been improved:
  • Discontinued by the manufacturer
  • Lack of Wi-Fi or Bluetooth

Unfortunately, this receiver has been discontinued by the manufacturer. However, you can still purchase this receiver from other sellers. At the same time, do be mindful of second-hand receivers which could be “lemons” in disguise. The absence of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth might be a problem since some of Yamaha’s competitors offers these features.

 

Harman Kardon (AVR 1710S): Accurate and dynamic sound, high-current capacity and auto-calibration

Harman Kardon (AVR 1710S)
What was good:
  • Accurate and dynamic sound at high frequencies
  • Has high-current capacity
  • EzSet/EQ III auto-calibration
  • Apple Air Play, Bluetooth and Spotify Connect
  • Two subwoofer outputs for greater low-frequency clarity
  • Lightweight, compact design

The receiver’s auto-calibration process provides wonderful convenience as it automatically adjusts the AVR 1710’s volume levels, delay-time setting and equalization according to your speaker system and room conditions. The easy-to-follow menu display and plug-in calibration microphone further makes this receiver a worthy competitor. When using Air Play, vTuner and Spotify Connect connections, you need a wired connection to a broadband network. The front panel has a USB port for you to directly connect your devices without an external adapter or wireless connection. This is a powerful receiver as it delivers 100 watts per channel to power a full seven-channel surround sound system. You have the additional option of connecting two powered subwoofers to further enhance your low-frequency performance.

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What could have been improved:
  • Problems with the remote control
  • Issue of sound failures

Some users received faulty remote controls. Consequently, they found it a hassle to use as it took a lot of pushing buttons at different angles to affect the receiver. One of the more common problems with this receiver is sound failure. Some customers noticed intermittent sound breaks after a few months. This posed an inconvenience as they often had to turn the receiver off and then back on to regain sound. In the more serious cases, the receiver refused to work entirely which has irritated some of the brand’s most loyal consumers.

 

Onkyo A-9010: Detailed sound, wide soundstage, multiple input options

Onkyo A-9010

What was good:
  • Warm and detailed sound
  • Deep and wide soundstage
  • Tight bass and smooth high frequencies
  • Offers multiple input options
  • 3mm headphone jack and 3.5mm mini-jack input
  • Fully-functional remote control

Despite its small price tag, this receiver delivers in the sound department. The sound produced is rich and refined while offering a warm and expressive sound. The receiver has a retro feel to it with its big, smooth-turning volume control centred on the front panel, an input selector, balance, bass and treble tone controls and a loudness button. Loudness is a useful feature that warms up the sound for quiet, late-night listening sessions. he black and grey buttons on a silver backing adds to the remote’s retro look. The thoughtful construction of the remote makes it easy-to-use and convenient. Additionally, the receiver features an array of useful features such as five stereo analogue inputs for CD, Blu-ray, games and so on, plus a moving-magnet phono (turntable) input, coaxial and optical digital inputs. Overall, it offers exceptional performance at an affordable price.

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What could have been improved:
  • No digital or wireless connectivity
  • Basic aesthetics

Unlike its rivals, this receiver does not feature any digital or wireless connectivity. This is a potential problem if you enjoy wireless streaming from your devices to your receiver. In addition, the sleek and minimalist style of the A-9010 is not suited for music enthusiasts who enjoy fiddling with their receivers. The aesthetics of the remote-control leaves room for improvement. Its plastic build betrays the remote’s budget price.

 

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