Today I am kicking things up a notch as I am trying to figure out what is the best stereo receiver between $300 to $500. At this kind of money, we are starting to move up a little bit and just dipping our toes in what could be considered the high end of sound quality. This is no small amount of money to drop, but if you want to make sure your music sounds the best it can, I am sure that one of these high quality stereo receivers will be perfect for you. I was sent five to test out and put through their paces and I wanted to share my thoughts with you guys.
What Are Some Of Them Called A Home Theatre Receiver?
Here is the thing, at this price range, you will actually struggle to find what is just classed as a dedicated stereo receiver. Many companies feel that when someone is spending this kind of cash that they want more for their money. That is why receivers that cost this kind of money are designed for not just a stereo, but for a Blu-Ray player, game console and anything else that needs the sound kicking up a notch.
Just because you buy a home theater receiver, does not mean you have to use it as such and it will still work very well as a stereo receiver, as a matter of fact, everyone I have looked at has a stereo mode! I just wanted to say this so you are not confused by some being called a home theatre receiver.
Do Your Homework
Ok, so my wife says that when it comes to stereo equipment I am a little obsessive. But one of my prized positions is my large vinyl collection and I want to experience that in the best quality possible. The point I am trying to make here is that when you are looking for the best stereo receiver between $300 to $500, you will notice that they all have their own special features, quirks, and effects that the manufacturer adds to make theirs stand out.
So while many of these are quite similar, they do all have their own special design or feature that makes them unique in their own way. Also, make sure that the one you are looking at has all the cables you need or at the least, you have some spare speaker cable or AUX cables laying around.
The 8 Best Stereo Receiver Between $300 to $500
- Pioneer Elite SX-N30 Network Stereo Receiver
- Yamaha R-N303BL Stereo Receiver
- Onkyo TX-8160 2 channel Network Stereo Receiver
- Yamaha RX-V681BL 7.2-Channel MusicCast AV Receiver with Bluetooth
- Yamaha R-S500BL Natural Sound Stereo Receiver
- Denon AVRS730H 7.2 Channel AV Receiver with Built-in HEOS wireless technology
- Denon AVRS530BT 5.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Receiver
- Sony STRDN1080 7.2 Channel Dolby Atmos Home Theater AV Receiver
Here we have eight of the best stereo receivers at this price range. Now the first five of these I actually tested out (which I am very grateful for) and I played a ton of music through them so I am able to give my honest thoughts. I have also picked three that I feel seem very interesting and we will be taking a look at those, even though I have not actually tested them.
1.Pioneer Elite SX-N30 Network Stereo Receiver
- Very cool and high end design
- I love the wooden effect
- You can connect a ton of devices to this
- Very easy to set up
- The sound is great right out of the box!
First up we have this fantastic piece of kit from Pioneer. At a little under 400 bucks, the price is just right. Pioneer has always made really classy looking stereo equipment and that is the case here. It is dark black and the wooden effect that it has is really cool and makes it blend into your entertainment center. While this has that A/B set up which means you can connect four speakers if you want, but for me, I was happy with standard stereo.
The setup was very easy and it is Bluetooth so you can connect it to your devices that way if you wish, which is actually very easy to do. While this is a stereo receiver, you can also connect other devices, it actually allows you to connect up to 7 devices directly and it even has a USB slot, Wi-Fi, and a digital radio so as far as connections go, it is stacked!
I connected my turntable to this and the first album I tried was Iron Maiden: Seventh Son of a Seventh Son and as soon as that guitar rift started I was impressed. Most of the features of this stereo receiver are located on the remote and I actually prefer that as it means the front of the receiver is not too covered with buttons or dials. I am used to having to tinker with the bass, treble and other effects to get the best sound.
While there was a bit of fine tuning, for the most part, it sounded great out of the box and I am sure most people will connect it up, fire up some music and be happy with the way that it sounds. Pioneer has done a great job with this, my only real gripe is that the display on the front could be a little brighter and clearer, but to be fair it could be my old eyes are just not what they used to be.
- Some may not want to pay nearly $400
- Display could be a bit better
If a solid stereo receiver is what you want and you have no need for the ability to connect 7 speakers, this is for you.
2. Yamaha R-N303BL Stereo Receiver
- Very quick and easy to set up
- Bluetooth finds devices quickly
- Sound is very good
- Lots of sound tinkering options
- Fantastic price
At just a hair under $300, this one from Yamaha is certainly a fantastic deal. When I pulled this out of the box, I was very impressed with the design. It has a sleek, black look which fits in with my turntable very well so I was more than pleased with that. This is a proper stereo receiver and if you want to kick it up a notch, 4 speakers can be connected to it.
Speaking of which, I was very impressed with how easy this was to set up. It has all the inputs you need, although not as many as the Pioneer, it more than gets the job done for those of us looking for something that is going to let us rock out a little better.
This comes with a remote control which you can, of course, use to change the bass and treble effects to what suits you, but it also has little buttons on the front of the receiver. I really did not like these as they felt a little cheap. Now they do not look cheap, but when you press them they do.
Still, as I am only going to use the remote control it is not a big deal. I found this very easy to play around with and there are some cool sound effects that you can tinker with to get the right sound for you. In all, Yamaha has done a really good job with this, it can be connected to devices via Bluetooth or directly and I do not think you guys will have any problems doing so. Like before, the LCD display could be a bit better, but it gets the job done.
- Buttons on the receiver are not the best
- LCD could be brighter
For the price, this is a fantastic stereo receiver and for a guy who wants to listen to music in high quality, but stays way under that 500 bucks price tag, you really cannot go wrong.
3. Onkyo TX-8160 2 channel Network Stereo Receiver
- Sound is great
- No hassle to set up
- Can be connected to many different devices
- Remote is high quality
- Lots of different settings
Now this one here is available in a few different styles, but the one I checked out was their 400 bucks, which features Wi-Fi as well as Bluetooth connectivity. The fact it has Wi-Fil lets you take advantage of various digital music providers if that is your thing. I am more of a physical media kind of guy, but it is nice that it is there for the people that want it.
Style wise it is pretty cool, I actually like the design and at this point, it seems to me that at this price point, many of these manufacturers are going for a similar kind of look. You have all the dials and buttons you need on the front and in general they are not too large that they stick out like a sore thumb.
You can have 2 or 4 speakers connected to this and it has plenty of inputs if you have devices you want to connect directly to this. I have a second turntable that has Bluetooth and I actually tested that and it connected right away without any hassle. I love the remote, it has a nice strong build to it and as you would expect, it has all the different settings so that you can mess around with your sound without having to get your butt up off the couch.
This is one of the best reviewed stereo receivers online and I can see why. The sound it produces is very real and natural sounding and I was so impressed that I connected it to both my turntables, a CD player and even my iPhone just to play around with it.
- Display may not be the best
- Some might not like that price tag
No matter what I had connected to it, the sound was great. I know that $400 is a lot of money, but you are getting a very high quality stereo receiver for your money here.
4. Yamaha RX-V681BL 7.2-Channel MusicCast AV Receiver with Bluetooth
- Can have seven speakers connected to it
- Offers an insane amount of connectivity options
- Has Bluetooth
- Has a very solid feel to it
- Remote control is very well made and easy to use
Wow was what I said when I looked at the back of this thing! Yamaha has gone all out with this and with a price tag of just over 300 bucks, it is very impressive. First thing I want to talk about is the design. It is kind of odd and I cannot decide if I like it or not. It is almost like two different devices have been stuck to each other.
The area with the display on the top is a more shiny kind of black whereas the section on the bottom with the controls is more matte black. It is an interesting design choice for sure, but I personally would have preferred a more uniform look.
This is really a home theatre receiver, but I connected it to my turntable and was pleased with the sound, my all time favorite album, Appetite For Destruction did the honors. After tweaking the bass and treble to my liking the sound was great. I was happy with how loud it was and the music clarity, in general, was very good for this price point. What I feel is really going to make this a must have for many people is the connectivity.
It has ports on the back for five HDMI devices, component, composite and of course your standard audio devices, not to mention it can be paired with Bluetooth devices as well. Looking at the back of this for the first time is either going to put a huge smile on your face or scare the pants off you! If you have a home entertainment center and you are looking for more than just a stereo receiver, but you also want to have something to play your stereo through, this is for you.
- Maybe a little too much for some people
- Design is kind of odd
There is not a device on the planet you could not connect to this and at just other 300 bucks it is great value for money. You can actually connect 7 speakers to this as well so that is sure to be a bonus for some people.
5. Yamaha R-S500BL Natural Sound Stereo Receiver
- Sound is great
- Has a pretty neat look to it
- Could not be any easier to set up
- Remote is great for tinkering with the sound
- Strong build
The last one I got to test was also from the good folks at Yamaha. This one here is a full on stereo receiver so you do not have the crazy amount of connection “issues” that you would have had with the other one. It is priced currently at around 350 bucks and for the average joe that may seem a little steep considering the other model we looked at was cheaper and could be connected to a TV, Xbox and a million other things.
Still, I love the look of this. It is straight to the point and it has a similar design to the Yamaha R-S500BL that we talked about earlier. Think of this as a slightly more high end version of that and you will know what to expect. With that though comes some of the same problems such as those same rather awkward buttons and the dim display.
Setting this thing up was a breeze. I had a turntable and my 80’s style CD player connected to it in no time As far as the sound goes I do feel that this offers better sound than the Yamaha R-S500BL. However, I really had to play around with the different settings to notice this.
For most people, they will just plug this in and leave the settings as they are so if that is you, you may not want to spend the extra fifty bucks on this. For me though, this is a great stereo receiver and the kind of thing that could easily have a long term home in my upstairs music room.
- Not really worth the extra money
- Buttons feel a little cheap
It is a hard one to review as on the surface it is not all that different from the others, but to a real audiophile, you will notice that extra bit of power and how it makes the sound feel more real.
6. Denon AVRS730H 7.2 Channel AV Receiver with Built-in HEOS Wireless Technology
- One of the coolest receivers
- Plenty of sound options to play around with
- 7.2 surround sound
- Uses wireless technology very well
- People seem to really like it
This one here I did not actually personally test, but I wanted to talk about it anyway. This is actually a home theatre receiver and at over 400 bucks it is not exactly cheap. I really like the design of this, it has a really high end look and Denon have really made sure that it is going to stand out in your entertainment center. It has plenty of inputs and allows for full surround sound.
It features a ton of connecting options for you to make use of including multiple HDMI ports. One thing that I felt was really cool and could be one of the reasons for that price tag is that on the front there is a special 4K HDMI port. Now I do wish this was on the back as well, but it is cool that it is there.
Now as I said this is a surround sound set up and can have seven speakers connected to it. People seem very happy with the surround sound that it produces for things like games and movies. But it does have a stereo setting if you just want those front and left speakers blasting out your Iron Maiden. In all, I find this one very interesting and would certainly love to get my hands on it.
- Price is a little on the high side
- 4K HDMI port should be on back
With that expensive price tag though and the vast connection options. It is clearly aimed at people with an entertainment center that is really full and needs one device to keep all their sound in check.
7. Denon AVRS530BT 5.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Receiver
- Price is very reasonable
- Plenty of connections
- Supports 4K devices
- Looks very easy to set up
- Design is very appealing
Ok so this is under the 300 bucks price tag, but I wanted to include a stereo receiver that would be good for those of you on a budget and this one has a ton of great reviews and is always heavily pushed by Amazon. Actually, this is a home theater receiver and it even supports 4K which is cool.
It has five HDMI ports, your classic connections and it even has Bluetooth so no matter if you just want to use it as a stereo receiver or if you want to hook up a cable box and a games console, this one has all you need to be the crown jewel in your entertainment center.
In reading the reviews, people seem to really like the sound quality. I have a feeling the reason for the lower price is that this is a 5.2 surround sound set up and most other ones have moved on to 7.2. But if you are just looking for something to give your records a bit more oomph and to make your movies sound better, 5.2 is more than good enough and at this price range, you really cannot argue with that.
- To get the best sound you will have to tweak settings
- May not be ideal for hardcore audiophiles
I like the look of the back of this receiver and I feel that it would be very easy to just ignore all the other connections and have this as a solid and reliable stereo receiver for your turntable or hi-fi. In all, I am pretty impressed and would like to get the chance to test this thing out.
8. Sony STRDN1080 7.2 Channel Dolby Atmos Home Theater AV Receiver
- Looks really cool
- Has that old school Sony design
- Offers a whole load of connection options
- Remote makes playing with settings easy
- Full 7.2 surround sound will make movies sound amazing
I have always been a sucker for Sony stereo equipment and actually, a Sony stereo receiver was what I used for many years. Anyway, at just under 450 bucks, this is one of the most high end home theatre receivers that you can get before you start spending crazy amounts of money like 700 to 1000 bucks!
I love the design, remember how I said the Yamaha RX-V681BL was like two devices had been stuck on top of each other? Well, that is kind of the same here, except this time they match perfectly. It looks to be a fairly large unit, but I really like some heft to my stereo equipment so that is cool with me.
With a 7.2 surround sound set up you, of course, can have your stereo sound, but it also means you movie lovers can have your full surround sound. It has eight HDMI ports along with older connections like composite so no matter what kind of device your entertainment setup has, this will be able to handle it. The remote control looks interesting in that it is not as button heavy as some of the other remotes I have seen, but from what the reviews say it makes changing devices, settings and just using it very easy.
- Price may be a little bit on the high side
- Not really ideal if you just want something for music
While I like my turntable and hi-fi to have their own dedicated stereo receiver. If I was looking for the full on home theater experience, I would certainly take a much closer look at this.
What Is The Best Stereo Receiver Between $300 to $500?
This is tough, like super tough! All five of the ones I tested did their job and they did it well. Honestly look at the prices of them and decide how much you are willing to pay and what features you really, really need for your setup and that is the way to go.
For me personally, if I had to absolutely choose one (which again is hard to do) it would be a coin toss over the Yamaha RX-V681BL due to the insane amount of connectivity options and the low price, even if the design is weird and the Pioneer Elite SX-N30 Network Stereo Receiver which to me does everything a stereo receiver does and it does it amazingly well. If you want something that is a home theater go for the Yamaha, but if you want something that is purely for music, go for the Pioneer.