Stereo Receiver Buying Guide

Stereo Receiver Buying Guide

Stereo Receiver Buying Guide:

Buying a stereo receiver can be a little complicated if you haven’t done it in a while or have never done it. Without getting too far into the semantics, I am going to help you make an educated decision. Let’s get into it.

The first thing to consider is what you want to hookup to this receiver. It is important to figure out what you need before looking. 

Record player-

If you plan on connecting a record player, make sure the receiver has a Phono and ground hookup. If your record player is internally grounded, it won’t work with the phono and it will need to be connected to any red and white analog input. If your record player has a ground connection or has an additional loose cable, that means it needs to be grounded.

CD player-

Just about any stereo receiver will be compatible with a CD player. If you want to connect your CD player with an optical digital audio cable, you will need to make sure you get a receiver with the optical digital audio connection.

Cassette Deck-

A cassette deck will be compatible with just about any receiver with analog input.

Blu-Ray or DVD Player-

You have a few options when it comes to connecting a Blu-Ray or DVD player. The best option is to connect the Blu-Ray or DVD player to the receiver with an HDMI cable. Another option is to use either component or composite cables, but the picture quality may not be as good as it could be. The next option is to run an audio cable from the player to the receiver if your Blu-Ray or DVD player is capable. The last option is to connect the Blu-Ray or DVD player to your TV like normal, then run an optical cable from your TV to the receiver.

VCR / VHS Player-

This will typically hookup to your receiver with a red white and yellow hookup. So make sure there is composite available on the receiver.


If you are going to connect a Bluetooth device, you need to either purchase a stereo receiver with built-in bluetooth or purchase a Bluetooth Receiver to connect to any stereo receiver.

How many speakers are you connecting?-

If you are connecting just 2 speakers, any receiver will do. If you are connecting a center channel speaker, you will need a center channel hookup. If you are connecting 2 sets of speakers for a and b switching, you should get a 4 channel system. If you are setting up for surround sound and have 5 or 7 speakers, be sure to get a 5 or 7 channel. You may have some outdoor speakers you want to power, if that is the case, the receiver will need a zone 2 speaker connection.

Speaker watts and ohms-

On the back of most speakers is an ohm and wattage rating. You want the ohms to match the system requirements and the wattage of the receiver should be a little bit lower than what the speaker can handle. A google search of the stereo model and the word watts should quickly tell you where your system rates.


If you are connecting a powered subwoofer, you will need a receiver that has a subwoofer connection. If you are connecting multiple subwoofers, you will need multiple connections. If your subwoofer has a right and left input, you should get a receiver that has 2 subwoofer outputs.

XM or AM FM radio-

If you listen to XM, AM or FM radio, make sure the receiver is compatible. Most but not all receivers will have a built-in AM FM tuner for receiving local channels. XM radio is far less common and often requires a special antenna to be purchased. You can also get an external tuner if there isn’t one built-in.

There are many more devices that we could go over, but they will all hook up to your receiver very similarly to the above components.

Condition of the item

If you want something new, high quality and loaded with features, plan to spend over $1200. I recommend buying something refurbished to save some money. Not only will you be saving money, but you will get something better. Older receivers tend to sound much much better than what is still being manufactured. You also get many more options to suit your preferences when you get something pre owned.


There are many different brands to choose from if you decide to get something refurbished, lets talk about a few of them.


Pioneer is great because it is typically affordable and reliable. They also tend to sound the best.


Yamaha is typically a really good option


Lots of people think Denon makes the best equipment, I would agree.


Sony has always made good affordable equipment, but I like their older stuff more.


If money isn’t an object, then it is probably safe option


Onkyo is a good brand, but their more recent offerings tend to develop problems.


If you want a product that will work for 1000 years and have great sound, technics is your best option. Technics is the most reliable brand.


Pyle is the only brand you need to avoid at all costs. All of their products are very low quality and designed to be replaced. The company name explains their products perfectly, pyles of poop.

Pro tip- Most TVs have an optical digital audio output. If you get an optical digital audio compatible receiver, you can connect a cable from the TV to the receiver and make it so any audio that goes to your TV speakers will also go to the receiver. This can make set up and operation a little more simple. This tip is especially useful if you have HDMI components but the receiver doesn’t have HDMI.

Stereo Receiver Vocabulary

What does 3.1, 5.1, 7.1, or 9.1 channel audio mean?

These numbers refer to the number of speakers that a receiver is capable of powering. A 5.1 Channel system powers 5 standard speakers and 1 subwoofer. A 7.2 system powers 7 standard speakers and 2 powered subwoofers.

What is a subwoofer?

A subwoofer is the bass module for a sound system. It is the speaker that makes the biggest boom boom. They are great for music and home theater systems.

How do I check the watts on a receiver?

To check the watts, either check the manual or do a google search of the model number and the word “watts”.

What is an amplifier? 

The amplifier provides power to the speakers. It is built-in to the receiver.

What is a 2-Way speaker?

A 2 way speaker is a speaker that has 2 speakers built. A 3 way speaker would have 3 speakers built-in.

Should I use Optical Digital Audio?

Yes, you should use optical, Optical Digital Audio is the best solution for an audio cable. 

What is Phono?

Phono is the connection used for a record player.

What is analog audio?

Analog audio is the red and white connections.

I hope that this basic overview helps you make your selection! Give us a call if you need further assistance. Shop our receivers at this link.

Previous article How To Connect a DVD Player To Your TV
Next article A Blu-Ray Player and a VHS Player in One Device! The rare Panasonic DMP-BD70V Blu-Ray VHS Combo

Leave a comment

Comments must be approved before appearing

* Required fields