CelsusSound AV receivers Best 2-Channel Receiver Reviews

Best 2-Channel Receiver Reviews

If you’re on the lookout for the best stereo receivers, you’ve come to the right place. Stereo receivers have long been a cornerstone of audio systems, providing a central hub for connecting various audio sources and delivering high-quality sound to speakers. Today, I will explore the finest ones, catering to vinyl enthusiasts and those seeking superior sound quality over all-in-one wireless speakers.

Our pick
Denon DRA-800H
Denon DRA-800H
Best stereo receiver
The Denon DRA-800H is a two-channel Hi-Fi network receiver that supports Hi-Res audio, wireless music streaming, voice control, and 4K UHD on 5 HDMI inputs. Read the full review.
Here you can check the best av receiver under $500.

Stereo receivers comparison table

Name Channels Power output HDMI in/out Bluetooth/Wi-Fi Review
Denon DRA-800H best overall 2.2 100W/8 Ohm, 120W/6 Ohm 5/1 yes/yes Review
Marantz Stereo 70s also great 2.1 75W/8 Ohm, 100W/6 Ohm 6/3 yes/yes Review
Sony STR-DH190 budget 2.0 90W/8 Ohm 0/0 yes/no Review

Denon DRA-800H – best overall

Denon DRA-800H features

The Denon DRA-800H belongs to the updated lineup of receivers by Denon, a brand known for its commitment to delivering exceptional audio quality and innovative features. In terms of design, the Denon DRA-800H exhibits a typical box with no special aesthetic features. Yet, I love that it incorporates premium materials in its construction.

The Denon DRA-800H is a 2-channel stereo receiver with a power output of 100W for 8 Ohm speakers. The receiver incorporates a high-quality 8-channel DAC that faithfully converts digital audio signals into analog, preserving the integrity of the sound.

Denon DRA-800H specifications

The Denon DRA-800H supports bi-amping. So, during the tests, I managed to dedicate separate amplifiers to handle the low-frequency and high-frequency drivers of compatible speakers. It allowed me to further enhance audio clarity and precision. Additionally, the receiver offers A/B switching.

The Denon DRA-800H features multiple HDMI input and output ports with 4K Ultra HD support, supporting the latest HDMI version and offering compatibility with HDMI ARC and HDMI CEC. It also has phono input, subwoofer output, and digital audio outputs. Typically, for its class, the receiver supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. On the multiroom side, I tested it with HEOS speakers, and it works fine, with no flaws. Yet, I prefer a wired connection.

Denon DRA-800H sound

During testing, the DRA-800H showcased its ability to reproduce the smallest nuances of instruments in instrumental tracks like Eric Johnson’s “Cliffs of Dover” and Ludovico Einaudi’s “Nuvole Bianche.” Pop songs like Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” and Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy” offered vibrant vocals and dynamic soundscapes.

When tackling hard rock and heavy metal, the receiver excelled with tracks from bands like Metallica and AC/DC, delivering tight bass, razor-sharp guitar riffs, and thunderous drums.

Considering its exceptional audio performance, innovative features, and overall quality, the Denon DRA-800H stands out as the best 2-channel receiver in its class.

Key specs

  • Channels: 2.2.
  • Power output: 100W/8 Ohm, 120W/6 Ohm.
  • HDMI inputs/outputs: 5/1.
  • Video functions: 4K/60Hz.
  • Bluetooth/Wi-Fi: yes/yes.
  • Streaming services: Airplay 2, Pandora, Spotify, Napster, SiriusXM, TIDAL, Deezer, Qobuz, Amazon Music.
  • Supports: ARC, HDR, HLG.


  • An immersive and captivating sound that literary enlivens the music.
  • The DRA-800H excels in wireless connectivity, offering Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support.
  • The receiver also features a full-fledged graphical user interface, making it easy to navigate.


  • The DRA-800H does not provide extensive zone control capabilities.
  • The receiver’s app ecosystem is relatively limited compared to some other brands.

Marantz Stereo 70s – also great

Marantz Stereo 70s features

The Marantz Stereo 70s was released in 2023 and was actually a replacement for the Marantz NR1200 model. By the way, the number “70” in the model name symbolizes 70 years since the creation of the Marantz company. So, I was expecting something special from this device and was not wrong in my predictions.

I was very pleased with the design. As always, there is nothing extra, only convenience and minimalism. With its typical Marantz circular display on the front panel and the controls below it, the shape of this receiver expresses the optimum combination of balance and symmetry.

Marantz Stereo 70s specifications

The Marantz Stereo 70s is a stereo network receiver that is aimed not only at music enthusiasts but also at movie buffs. Its fully discrete Class A/B amplifier provides Power Output (8 Ohms, 20 Hz – 20 kHz, 0.08% 2ch Drive). This receiver is also equipped with HDAM (Hyper Dynamic Amplifier Modules) modules, designed to significantly improve sound quality over traditional integrated operational amplifiers used in conventional audio devices. In addition, you have the option to connect two subwoofers and utilize the amplifier outputs for future system expansions with external power amplifiers.

With four speaker outputs, the Stereo 70s allows you to power two pairs of speakers independently. Additionally, with the amplified outputs in a 2.2 configuration, you can expand your sound system to other zones using wires. Still, you can also use multi-room technology and HEOS streaming to expand wirelessly with compatible devices. Doesn’t that sound good?

Marantz Stereo 70s sound

And now for the versatility I mentioned at the beginning. A variety of connectivity options make this stereo receiver a versatile entertainment center. With three analog RCA inputs, plus an additional input for connecting a vinyl turntable, digital optical, and coaxial inputs, you have absolute freedom to connect various audio components. You can also use the USB A input, Bluetooth, and network playback via Ethernet or Wi-Fi.

And there’s one more nice thing about it. Stereo 70s is equipped with six HDMI inputs, including three with support for 8K video. Agree that this is another serious argument in favor of this model.

So, what you have in front of you is not an ordinary stereo receiver but a real multimedia center focused on high-quality sound. A perfect choice for music lovers and movie buffs!

Key specs

  • Channels: 2.1.
  • Power output: 75W/8 Ohm, 100W/6 Ohm.
  • HDMI inputs/outputs: 6/3.
  • Video functions: 8K/60Hz, 4K/120Hz, 4K/60Hz pass-through, video upconversion (up to 1080p and 8K) for analog and HDMI sources.
  • Bluetooth/Wi-Fi: yes/yes.
  • Streaming services: Airplay 2, Pandora, Spotify, Napster, SiriusXM, TIDAL, Deezer, Qobuz, Amazon Music.
  • Supports: HDMI ARC, HDMI CEC, HDCP2.3, HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision.


  • 8K, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision support.
  • A fully discrete Class A/B amplifier and two subwoofer outputs that deliver clear, natural sound and deep bass.
  • Advanced integration with music services, including Tidal, Spotify Connect, and AirPlay 2.
  • HEOS availability.


  • The least powerful of all the ones on the list.
  • The front USB port looks vulnerable to constant use.

Sony STR-DH190 – budget

Sony STR-DH190 features

Sony, one of the largest brands in the audio industry, introduces the STR-DH190 as part of its receiver lineup. This unit drew my attention for its typical Sony design with moved to the side control knows, quality materials, and attention to detail.

The Sony STR-DH190 is a two-channel receiver with a power output of 100W for 8 Ohm speakers. Sony focuses on implementing high-quality components in the amplifier design, even in the budget segment. The receiver features a built-in DAC. I also was surprised to find Sony brand capacitors inside the unit. So, they definitely didn’t try to save money on the components. It can be the reason why Sony STR-DH190 does not support bi-amping or A/B switching.

Sony STR-DH190 specifications

The Sony STR-DH190 features several analog audio inputs, including a dedicated phono input for connecting a turntable. While the receiver does not provide HDMI connectivity, it compensates with other connections. So, there is nothing special about it. It also doesn’t have Wi-Fi but features Bluetooth connectivity.

Sony STR-DH190 sound

The Sony STR-DH190 delivers a well-rounded audio experience, excelling in music reproduction across different genres. I used approximately the same list of songs as with the Denon DRA-800H. Instrumental tracks sound with clarity and precision, allowing the intricate details of each instrument to shine. It also worked great with pop songs and heavy metal. I especially enjoyed the low distortion with the latter.

Overall, the Sony STR-DH190 impresses with its sound reproduction capabilities. Yes, it is not a high-end stereo receiver, but it is a suitable choice for music enthusiasts seeking an affordable and reliable stereo receiver.

Key specs

  • Channels: 2.0.
  • Power output: 90W/8 Ohm.
  • HDMI inputs/outputs: 0/0.
  • Video functions: has not.
  • Bluetooth/Wi-Fi: yes/no.
  • Streaming services: has not.


  • Excellent Bluetooth signal range, outputs precise and natural sound even from greater distances.
  • Once the grounding wire is securely fastened, there is no buzzing present in the phono.
  • Bluetooth connection works seamlessly with no delays and covers a great range.


  • The volume button is a bit stiff to operate.

Cambridge Audio AXR100

Cambridge Audio AXR100 features

Cambridge Audio is a reputable brand famous for its commitment to delivering high-fidelity audio products. The AXR100 is part of their attempt to create a new lineup that would be a remarkable combination of performance and versatility. AXR100 comes in a futuristic design. The manufacturer used premium materials to ensure both aesthetic appeal and durability.

The Cambridge Audio AXR100 is a 2-channel stereo receiver that packs a punch in terms of power. This unit also surpasses Marantz NR1200 in terms of power and delivers 100w of power output. The AXR100 supports bi-amping. Unlike Sony, this manufacturer uses circuit components from other brands, but nowhere this means that they use cheap ones.

Cambridge Audio AXR100 specifications

The unit comes with a complete range of connectors and ports. Just like previous units from Denon and Marantz, the unit offers HDMI ARC and CEC. It also allows easy control of audio transmission between the devices. Coaxial, phono, subwoofer outputs, and optical ports strongly reminded me of Marantz NR1200.

The AXR100 additionally features built-in Wi-Fi allowing you to use Spotify and Apple Music. The receiver supports Bluetooth with support for multiple codecs, including AAC, AptX, and LDAC. It unites it with Marantz NR1200 and Denon DRA-800H. HEOS-compatible speakers also show no problems, except for rare delays.

Cambridge Audio AXR100 sound

The Cambridge Audio AXR100 delivers a captivating and immersive sound experience, particularly in music. I enjoyed its ability to reproduce instrumental tracks with exceptional clarity, offering a lifelike and engaging soundstage. When testing the AXR100 with pop songs, the receiver shines in rendering dynamic vocals and energetic soundscapes with vibrancy and excitement. In the realm of movies, the AXR100 showcases its ability to handle powerful and fierce sound.

Overall, the Cambridge Audio AXR100, by right, belongs to top-rated stereo receivers, as it managed to impress me with its powerful performance, versatile connectivity options, and remarkable sound reproduction, making it an excellent choice for music enthusiasts seeking a high-quality stereo receiver.

Key specs

  • Channels: 2.1.
  • Power output: 100W/8 Ohm.
  • HDMI inputs/outputs: 0/0.
  • Video functions: has not.
  • Bluetooth/Wi-Fi: yes/no.
  • Streaming services: has not.


  • The sound clarity and volume levels are truly astonishing.
  • The receiver exudes exceptional sturdiness and boasts a robust build quality, providing a reassuring tactile experience.


  • The remote control falls short in terms of quality and functionality, leaving room for improvement.
  • The initial setup process may be a bit daunting.

Yamaha R-S202

Yamaha R-S202 features

Finally, we came to the closing part of this review. I decided to keep Yamaha till the end because this brand knows its way into the AV receiver industry. Exceptional performance, quality built, new technologies, and fresh design solutions are only a few of the compliments you may hear to be given to this company.

Yamaha R-S202 is a standout model that combines affordability with impressive features. Despite being cheaper than Denon and Marantz’s solutions listed in this review, the R-S202 shares the same 100W of power per channel.

Yamaha R-S202 specifications

While the R-S202 does not support bi-amping or A/B switching, Yamaha’s emphasis on audio purity ensures a captivating listening experience, and they didn’t exaggerate this.

The Yamaha R-S202 excels in its diverse analog connectivity options, including a phono input for turntables. While lacking HDMI, it compensates with subwoofer output and coaxial/optical digital inputs. Sadly, this receiver doesn’t have Wi-Fi. Thus, it also doesn’t support streaming, but it offers Bluetooth, and I still managed to use Apple Music, but from my phone.

Yamaha R-S202 sound

The Yamaha R-S202 excels in delivering a rich and immersive sound experience across various music genres. Classical music showed how to cool the unit can reproduce instrumental tracks with exceptional clarity, capturing the subtleties and nuances of each instrument. In turn, rock ballads showed powerful vocals and dynamic guitar reefs with distinctive drums.

Overall, the Yamaha R-S202 impresses with its exceptional performance, affordability, and diverse analog connectivity options. While lacking Wi-Fi and streaming support, its Bluetooth capability allows for enjoyable music playback. With captivating sound reproduction and a sturdy build, this model is one of the most interesting stereo receivers with Bluetooth.

Key specs

  • Channels: 2.0.
  • Power output: 140W/8 Ohm.
  • HDMI inputs/outputs: 0/0.
  • Video functions: has not.
  • Bluetooth/Wi-Fi: yes/no.
  • Streaming services: has not.

Marantz NR1200

Marantz NR1200 features

Marantz is another highly regarded brand on this list. For me, they are special for their commitment to delivering premium audio products. It provides 75W, which is less even if compared to the budget Sony STR-DH190, but the receiver incorporates a high-quality AKM DAC. Just like the best home stereo receiver in the list – Denon DRA-800H, the Marantz NR1200 supports bi-amping. Similarly, both models offer A/B switching.

I had no problems accommodating all my audio and video devices for testing this unit. It features several HDMI ARC and HDMI CEC functionalities. Also, it has numerous phono, coaxial, digital, and optical connections.

Marantz NR1200 specifications

Marantz also filled their NR1200 with versatile wireless connectivity options, including Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. I also tested it with Apple Music and Spotify—both work seamlessly.

When it comes to music, I would like to highlight its ability to reproduce instrumental tracks with remarkable precision, bringing out the subtle nuances of each instrument. When testing the NR1200 with pop songs (Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” and Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy”), vibrant vocals, and dynamic soundscapes, creating an engaging and enjoyable listening experience.

Marantz NR1200 sound

In the realm of hard rock and heavy metal (Scorpions and Metallica), the NR1200 showcases its prowess in handling powerful and intense sound. Tracks like Rock You Like a Hurricane demonstrate the receiver’s capability to deliver tight and punchy bass, razor-sharp guitar riffs, and thunderous drumming, capturing the essence of these genres.

In this review, I often compared the Marantz NR1200 with Denon DRA-800H. The thing is that these two models are pretty close, and both have their company-special vibes and sounds.

While this unit may not be the best stereo receiver, Marantz NR1200 still impresses with its powerful performance, versatile connectivity options, and remarkable sound reproduction.

Key specs

  • Channels: 2.2.
  • Power output: 75W/8 Ohm, 100W/6 Ohm.
  • HDMI inputs/outputs: 5/1.
  • Video functions: 4K/60Hz.
  • Bluetooth/Wi-Fi: yes/yes.
  • Streaming services: Airplay 2, Pandora, Spotify, Napster, SiriusXM, TIDAL, Deezer, Qobuz, Amazon Music.
  • Supports: ARC, HDR, HLG.


  • An incredibly versatile array of features capable of catering to diverse needs.
  • Intuitively designed for seamless operation and effortless enjoyment.


  • Minor quirks don’t allow it to unleash the full potential of HEOS technology.
  • Delivers an impressive phono stage experience, though it falls just short of greatness.
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Stereo receivers buying guide

stereo receivers buying guide

Power rating

Probably when riding mine stereo receiver reviews, you have already seen that I always mentioned the power. It is measured in watts per channel and determines the maximum volume output of the receiver. Generally, the higher the wattage, the more powerful speakers the unit will drive.

In simple terms, higher power means louder and more powerful sound. However, it’s important to note that wattage doesn’t always correlate with sound quality, as every receiver model is unique in this regard.

Receiver connections

Stereo receivers offer various connection options to accommodate different audio devices. The most common ports include HDMI, a phono input for turntables, subwoofer output, optical and coaxial digital input, and analog input for other audio sources. It is worth noting that while HDMI ports are essential for connecting devices like gaming consoles, Blu-ray players, and streaming devices, they can only be found on more expensive models with broad functionality.

The phono input is important for vinyl enthusiasts—while the subwoofer output enhances bass reproduction for a more immersive audio experience. Optical and coaxial digital inputs provide options for connecting digital audio sources. Analog input allows the connection of legacy audio devices, like cassette decks or CD players. Generally, a good stereo receiver should give you enough flexibility in terms of ports and connectors to let you connect every desired device.

Built-in Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and streaming services

Built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are essential features in modern stereo receivers. Stereo receivers with Bluetooth can offer wireless audio streaming from mobile devices even if they don’t have Wi-Fi. This wireless technology enables network connectivity and access to various streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, and Tidal. The ability to use Wi-Fi and streaming is what makes a good network stereo receiver. Some units also support streaming over AirPlay, Chromecast, and DTS Play-Fi. Streaming services make it convenient to listen to a vast library of music without the need for additional hardware.

Additional features

Some stereo receivers offer additional features that enhance the user experience. Speaker A/B switching allows for the connection of two sets of speakers and the option to switch between them or play them simultaneously. Multi-room audio support enables the use of multiple speakers in different rooms, often controlled through a mobile app or voice assistant. Other features may include AM/FM radio, equalizer settings, and remote control functionality.

If you want a truly immersive audio experience, consider my list of the top 7 channel receivers.


What is the difference between a stereo receiver and an AV receiver?

The main difference between a stereo receiver and an AV (audio/video) receiver is their functionality and intended use. A stereo receiver is designed for two-channel audio reproduction, emphasizing music listening with high-quality sound. In contrast, an AV receiver handles audio and video signals, supporting surround sound systems and home theater setups.

Can I use my home stereo receiver to power multiple sets of speakers?

Stereo receivers often have speaker A/B switching capability, enabling the use of multiple speaker sets. By connecting and controlling two sets of speakers independently, users can enjoy audio through either set or use them simultaneously. However, it’s crucial to consider speaker impedance and ensure compatibility with the receiver’s supported range (typically 4-16 ohms). Overloading the amplifier by connecting too many or incompatible speakers may affect performance, so it’s advisable to consult the receiver’s manual or specifications.

What is the lifespan of a stereo receiver?

The lifespan of a stereo receiver depends on factors like build quality, maintenance, and technological advancements. With proper care and maintenance, a well-built receiver can last for many years. However, evolving technology and audio standards may eventually necessitate an upgrade to access new features and formats.

How do I know if a stereo receiver is compatible with my speakers?

To determine compatibility between a stereo receiver and speakers, consider impedance and power handling. Match the receiver’s impedance range with the speaker’s impedance rating to ensure proper power distribution. Additionally, ensure the receiver’s power output per channel falls within the speaker’s recommended power range to avoid distortion or damage.

What are the benefits of using a stereo receiver compared to a soundbar or other audio equipment?

Using a stereo receiver offers several advantages over alternatives like soundbars or all-in-one systems. Stereo receivers prioritize sound quality with enhanced stereo imaging and separation, providing a more immersive experience. They offer expandability with multiple inputs and outputs, accommodating various audio sources and equipment. With higher power output and comprehensive control, stereo receivers deliver richer, dynamic sound and allow fine-tuning. Finally, their wide range of connectivity options and longevity make them the central hub of an audio system, facilitating easy upgrades as technology advances.
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About Heath Bray
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