Our Top 10 Stereo Receivers under $200 Budget in 2017

Many experienced music enthusiasts on a budget have realised that finding a quality stereo receiver under $200 can be a chore. Most high-quality stereo receivers are above $300, let alone $200. However, we have found the top 10 stereo receivers that can nicely fit within your budget. Despite their affordability, these receivers do not compromise on quality and important features.

AM/FM Stations

Most stereo receivers in this price range have pre-set stations. Some receivers do not have network features such as wireless connectivity. Thus, if your receiver does not have internet radio, you can at least use the pre-set AM/FM channels. Ideally, the sound from these stations should be clean and clear, as well as free of unnecessary static noise.

Digital Audio Connections

Digital audio connections are very important and should be used whenever possible. You can use coaxial or optical digital audio cables to connect DVD players, game consoles, DSS receivers, or any source that has a digital audio output.

One of the benefits of using digital connections is that the signals are much less prone to electrical interference than analog signals. Furthermore, digital inputs are also required to get digital surround-sound formats, such as Dolby Digital and DTS, into your receiver.

If you plan on creating a home theatre system, you should ensure that you have enough of the right inputs on the back of your receiver. For example, the HDMI connection is very common in DVD players and even in game consoles such as the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. If you use HDMI to connect these devices to your home theatre receiver, you will not need a separate digital audio connection as the audio and video are both carried over the HDMI connection.

Other Important Features

Aside from the all-important digital inputs, it would be good if your receiver has a phono preamp input and USB input. With a built-in phono preamp input, you can easily connect your receiver to your beloved turntable. This would please any music enthusiast.

It would be great if your receiver also has a USB input in the front panel. With a USB input, you can easily stream music from your portable devices while also charging your device. This is a great feature especially if your receiver lacks network features such as wireless connectivity.

If you are aiming to produce your stereo system’s lowest bass frequencies, you should invest in a receiver that can be connected to a subwoofer. It is a bonus if the back panel of your receiver also features a connection guide. This is especially useful for newer users as a connection guide enables each user an easier way to set-up your multiple connections.

Our Top 10 Picks under $200

  1. Yamaha R-S202BL Stereo Receiver
  2. Sherwood RX4208 200W AM/FM Stereo Receiver
  3. Sherwood RX4508 200W AM/FM Stereo Receiver with Bluetooth
  4. Pioneer VSX-530-K 5.1 Channel A/V Receiver with Dolby True HD & Built-In Bluetooth Wireless Technology
  5. Pioneer VSX-531 1-Channel A/V Receiver with Built-in Bluetooth
  6. Onkyo TX-SR353 1-Channel A/V Receiver
  7. Onkyo TX-8020 Stereo Receiver
  8. Yamaha RX-V377 1-Channel A/V Home Theatre Receiver
  9. Sony STRDH130 2 Channel Stereo Receiver (Black)
  10. Sony STRDH550 5.2 Channel 4K A/V Receiver

Yamaha R-S202BL: Warm and rich sound, little distortion, built-in Bluetooth
Yamaha R-S202BL

What was great:

  • Warm and rich sound
  • Little distortion at higher volumes
  • Built-in Bluetooth
  • Speaker terminals for two systems available
  • Simple remote-control layout
  • Simple and sophisticated design

In terms of sound quality, the receiver’s music was warm and rich. The sound also had a very good bass and treble while the midrange was full without over emphasis. Users can enjoy listening to the music for hours on end and at higher volumes, without the receiver heating up. At a small price, this receiver is loaded with excellent features. There is built-in Bluetooth which enables you to stream music services. The controls and remote are simple while the receiver was a breeze to set-up. The receiver is also equipped with a headphone terminal and speaker terminals for two systems. This lets you connect two sets of speakers. You can also test out the 40 FM/AM pre-set tuning stations, which users found pleasantly clear.

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What could be improved:

  • Poor radio reception
  • Quality control issues

While there are 40 AM/FM stations for users to enjoy, some users were unimpressed with the poor radio reception. Instead, they expected better FM reception and clearer transmission. In some models, there were obvious quality control issues. While some models worked perfectly, there were a few receivers which were fundamentally flawed. In the sub-par receivers, users experienced loud popping and cracking sounds, low volume, overheating and the receiver shutting down.

Sherwood RX4208: Clean and tight audio, fully-functional remote with in-depth functions, bass and treble controls

Sherwood RX4208

What was great:

  • Extremely clean and tight audio
  • Remote performs nicely and has in-depth controls
  • 3 Audio Inputs, 2 Audio Outputs and a Phono Input
  • AM/FM Tuner Tone Direct, Bass and Treble Controls
  • 30 station pre-sets

The RX4208 delivers impressive performance for a very affordable price. The sound is tight and has good clarity. The receiver comes with a well-functioning remote control which has a range of functions and in-depth controls. The RX-4208 is equipped with Quartz PLL Synthesized Digital Tuning and functions to auto scan with 30 station pre-sets. Thus, you can easily find and save your favourite radio stations in the receiver’s memory. The RX-4208 also has bass and treble controls so that you can customize the balance of your music. Sherwood has designed the RX-4208 with stereo 100W high-power output, and discrete amplifier stage (DAS). The receiver’s build uses a three-blocked design which gives the model a high-end look and feel.

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What could be improved:

  • Insufficient features

One criticism of this receiver is its lack of features. Sherwood’s simplistic design has omitted certain features from the receiver. Most of the receiver’s functions can be controlled from the remote control. However, if the remote control is faulty, users will have to replace it which can be a hassle. Furthermore, this receiver precludes a Bluetooth feature. Users who favour receivers with a built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi for streaming music may want to look elsewhere for another receiver.

Sherwood RX4508: Powerful sound, clear radio reception, built-in Bluetooth

Sherwood RX4508

What was great:

  • Powerful and clean sound
  • Clear sound from AM/FM
  • Built-in phono preamp input
  • Built-in Bluetooth
  • Simple, easy-to-use remote

In terms of sound quality, most users praised the powerful and detailed sound. When using AM/FM radio, the signal was strong while the sound was clear. The sound quality and power is certainly above par at this price range. Unlike the Sherwood RX4208, the RX4508 has Bluetooth which is a significant upgrade. The Bluetooth feature is very easy to use.  You can switch to the Bluetooth input using either the front panel button or remote control. Once connected the signal is very stable and there isn’t any noticeable lag-time. The receiver is also easy to set-up and simple to use. Any music lover will enjoy this receiver’s built-in phono preamp input as you can easily connect this receiver to your turntable.

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What could be improved:

  • No digital input
  • Problems with tone control

One important omission from this receiver is the absence of a digital input. If you heavily rely on digital inputs, this receiver will leave you disappointed. Additionally, some users cautioned that you should not adjust the tone controls on the remote-control, otherwise you might disrupt the sound’s balance. For example, using adding treble, the midrange was too heavy and the bass was obscured.  Thus, if you are not sure about properly adjusting bass and treble, you might want to avoid using the tone controls.

Pioneer VSX-530-K: Clear sound, Surround Sound, Built-in Bluetooth

Pioneer VSX-530-K

What was great:

  • Clear and consistent sound
  • Surround Sound
  • Built-in Bluetooth
  • Front USB terminal input
  • 140 Watts per channel

With the latest technology included in its design, this receiver achieves splendid performance at a good price. This receiver has built-in Bluetooth with aptX. This allows you to easily stream music wirelessly from an iPhone, Android, PC, laptop or any other A2DP profile Bluetooth-enabled sources. The VSX-530-K offers a powerful performance with 140 watts per channel. The VSX-530-K is also designed with a powerful 5-channel discrete amplifier design and Pioneer’s Phase Control technology. These features prevent phase lag and improves multi-channel sound without additional calibration. Additionally, the VSX-530-K supports the latest high-definition audio formats like Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus which enables surround sound and an excellent listening experience.

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What could be improved:

  • No automatic speaker set-up

In this receiver, Pioneer’s MCACC automatic speaker setup system is not included. Some users had trouble in setting up the receiver as speaker distances, levels, and crossovers all need to be setup through the Pioneer’s setup menu. Therefore, inexperienced users spent additional time in adjusting the receiver to get optimum performance. In the long run, some users commented that they rather spend a few extra bucks more on a receiver with auto-calibration.

Pioneer VSX-531: Great clarity, full and rich bass and built-in Bluetooth

Pioneer VSX-531

What was great:

  • Clean, clear audio
  • Impressive bass
  • AM/FM Tuner 30 pre-sets
  • Built-in Bluetooth
  • Multiple connections available
  • Excellent Sound Retriever

In terms of sound performance, the VSX-531 does an excellent job, even with the action-heavy sound tracks. The surround channels are impressive and sound smoothly and easily transitions from the surround channels. The receiver produces a great amount of bass despite its small size. The receiver also features multiple inputs such as four HDMI, additional optical and coaxial digital inputs and a convenient USB input. You can plug in a thumb drive into the front panel USB port and instantly playback all your favourite MP3, WMA and AAC music files. Additionally, Pioneer’s Sound Retriever improves the sound quality of compressed music files such as MP3 files. Your compressed music will sound fuller with a better mid-range and detailed vocals.

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What could be improved:

  • No auto-calibration system
  • Quality control problems

An auto-calibration system adjusts each speaker’s virtual size, level, distance, and response to precision-tune the system to your room. Without this system, you may encounter significant obstacles in setting up your receiver attaining optimum performance. This is especially problematic in large, spacious rooms. According to reviews on Amazon, some users received faulty receivers were still unable to resolve the issues even after re-setting the receiver. For example, some receivers broke down after a few weeks or sound quality waned after a while.

Onkyo TX-SR353: Detailed sound, built-in Bluetooth, auto-room calibration system

Onkyo TX-SR353

What was great:

  • High definition and detailed sound
  • Discrete amplifiers for more accurate audio reproduction
  • Built-in Bluetooth
  • Easy Connection Guide on Back Panel
  • AccuEQ Auto Room Calibration

The TX-SR353 can decode Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio, thus, offering high-definition sound that is clean and detailed. With Bluetooth connectivity, you can easily stream music from your portable devices. The TX-SR353 is also equipped with four HDMI inputs and one HDMI output. The HDMI output supports ARC for the reproduction of TV-based audio, such as your TV’s built-in Netflix or Hulu apps. In addition, the back panel of your receiver features a detailed connection guide. This makes connections to speakers and external source devices must easier to do. Furthermore, the AccuEQ auto-room calibration system measures and corrects speaker distances, output levels, crossover frequencies, and frequency response to ensure clear and balanced surround-sound.

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What could be improved:

  • Required accessories are sold separately
  • Need a subwoofer

You will need to purchase the cables separately. For example, you need to find HDMI cables to connect the receiver to your TV and a speaker wire for connecting the receiver to your speakers. You may also require optical or coaxial cables for digital audio and RCA cables for connecting older devices and equipment. Unfortunately, when it comes to lower bass frequencies, you will need a subwoofer for the best performance. Lastly, in terms of price, the cost of owning this receiver varies according to its condition. Thus, be mindful of models that have been used or refurbished as they could possess underlying problems.

Onkyo TX-8020: Sweet midrange, accurate playback, wireless streaming

Onkyo TX-8020

What was great:

  • Sweet and natural mid-range
  • Accurate timing and playback
  • Wireless audio and video streaming
  • Discrete amplifier design with quality parts
  • Simple set-up
  • Fully-accessible bass, treble, and balance controls
  • Easy, interactive remote

The Onkyo TX-8020 is an unusually inexpensive stereo amplifier, with many great features. The receiver is compatible with the DS-A5 Air Play RI Dock which allows you to stream music from your iPod/iPhone/iPad. The speaker only takes a few minutes to set-up. The remote is easier to operate than a typical A/V receiver remote. There is no hassle with navigating through onscreen menus, radio stations and using the tone controls. The TX-8020 has bass, treble, and balance controls as well as speaker A/B posts for multi-room setups. With these features, you can adjust for room acoustics and frequency response curves according to your preferences. Furthermore, the unit is only 17 inches wide, and thus it can fit into even narrow stereo cabinets.

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What could be improved:

  • Small buttons
  • Volume control knob requires many turns

The buttons for speaker selection are quite small and difficult to see for some users. In addition, users noted that they had to turn the volume control knob multiple rounds before reaching their desired volume level. Although, this means that the power is released in finer increments which is not necessarily a problem, Also, users who enjoy fiddling won’t mind this. Overall, these are a few small inconveniences and do not affect the overall quality of the receiver’s sound.

Yamaha RX-V377: Powerful Bass, automatic speaker set-up, Surround Sound

Yamaha RX-V377

What was great:

  • Powerful bass
  • Discrete Amp Configuration for high sound quality
  • Front panel USB digital connection
  • YBA-11 Bluetooth Wireless Adapter
  • 5-channel powerful surround sound
  • YPAO sound optimization for automatic speaker set-up

Yamaha’s exclusive low-range enhancement technology delivers a richer bass while maintaining good localization and sound balance even with compact front speakers. The discrete amp configuration and low-jitter PLL circuit produces an exceptionally clear sound. A USB port on the front panel allows convenient connection of an iPod and iPhone, while also charging your connected device. The digital signal from your device will be transmitted directly to the AV receiver, with is no signal loss or interference. In addition, you can use the receiver’s remote-control to operate music playback functions. Additionally, this receiver with Yamaha’s own automatic room calibration system. It can analyse the room acoustics and adjusts various audio parameters for optimum sound in just a few minutes.

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What could be improved:

  • No built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
  • Insufficient volume

Unfortunately, this speaker does not have any network features. Thus, you cannot stream wirelessly as there is no DLNA, Air Play, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and internet radio. The Bluetooth is not built-in; thus, you will need to plug-in the YBA-11 Bluetooth wireless adaptor into the back panel. You also must spend extra to buy the adaptor which is an inconvenience to customers on a budget. Additionally, some users found the volume to be underwhelming and lacking some punch. Although, this is forgivable given this receiver’s price.

Sony STRDH130: Rich sound, powerful, auto-standby feature

Sony STRDH130

What was great:

  • Powerful and rich sound
  • 30 pre-sets available for both FM and AM stations
  • Connection for smartphone or portable music players
  • Total power of 270 Watts
  • Auto Standby

The clarity of the Sony STRDH130 was resounding. Users will enjoy listening to the FM and AM stations as they are very clear and free of any static. The receiver also has additional features which allow you to change the display using the remote control as well as rename the devices you connect to the receiver. With a total power of 270 watts, this receiver is powerful and can easily power 2 speakers. With 5 audio inputs and 2 audio outputs, you will have all the necessary connections. Additionally, it has auto shutoff if an input signal is not detected for 30 minutes, which a great power-saving feature.

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What could be improved:

  • No phono inputs
  • Less full bass

The receiver lacks a phono input which may irk some music lovers. Without a phono input, you cannot connect your receiver to a turntable. You would need to purchase a phono preamp if you really wish to connect the receiver to your turntable. Also, some users found that this receiver produced less bass than they had expected. In certain models, there were some sound distortions at the mid-volume range.

Sony STRDH550: Precise sound, multiple connections, easy to set-up

Sony STRDH550

What was great:

  • Clear and precise sound
  • Powerful multi-channel sound performance
  • Multiple connections
  • iPhone and iPod connectivity
  • Easy to set-up and use

Vocal performances on this receiver are clear and precise. Sony’s STR-DH550 does not miss a single detail. Each note was precisely reproduced without any coloration. The STRDH550 comes equipped with 4 HDMI 2.0 inputs. All 4 allow for 4K-Ultra HD pass through. The convenient front-mounted USB input even allows for easy connectivity and charging of compatible devices. The STRDH550 is also capable of decoding MP3, AAC, WAV and WMA files. Setting up this receiver will take little time. You can plug-in the supplied calibration microphone and use the simplified remote to follow the on-screen prompts. It then becomes very easy to set-up and use your receiver.

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What could be improved:

  • No Wi-Fi or Bluetooth
  • Reduced sound quality at higher volumes

This receiver focuses on creating amazing sound quality. However, to stay competitively priced, this receiver omits Wi-Fi and the streaming of music. If you value these features, you might want to look elsewhere for another receiver. When played at high volumes, the sound quality of the STRDH550 started to degrade. Consequently, this is not an ideal receiver for large rooms with power-intensive speakers. Ideally, this receiver should work fine in small to medium size rooms at normal listening levels. Overall, whether these shortcomings are deal-breakers is dependent on your music listening needs and preferences.

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