If you’re looking to add some power to your home stereo system, then it’s time to start shopping for a stereo amplifier. Stereo amplifiers, otherwise known as receivers, are a great way to give your home speakers that extra kick. But with so many options to choose from, it’s hard to know which stereo amplifier to buy. That comes especially true when it comes to finding budget options, so we’ve created a list of the best stereo amplifiers under $200.
The Five Best Stereo Amplifiers Under $200
When looking for the five best stereo amplifiers under $200, we found the following options:
- Sony STRDH190 2-CH Home Stereo Receiver – The Best Overall
- Fosi Audio DA2120C Bluetooth Amplifier – Great Flexibility
- AduioSource Digital Amplifier – Great Sound Quality
- Lavaudio HiFi Bluetooth 5.0 Music Receiver – For Long-Range Bluetooth Needs
- Dual Electronics DBTMA100 – The Best Budget Option
Sony STRDH190 2-CH Home Stereo Receiver – The Best Overall
|Integrates well with old stereo systems||This unit isn’t for bass fiends|
|Has Bluetooth for people who love wireless||It doesn’t accommodate for amplified FM antennas|
|It has a built-in FM Radio||A two-channel system is somewhat dated|
|Great high-quality sound with a trusted brand|
As one of the few devices that still support old-fashioned FM and phonos connections, it is the best of both worlds. That means you can feasibly listen to retro cassettes and switch to listening to podcasts on your phone through Bluetooth.
The various input features support a wide range of modern to classic devices. The result is a thoughtful design that comes from Sony, one of the kings of audio. The two-channel stereo amplifier option is old by today’s standards.
Bluetooth functionality brings this one over the top, the result being the ability to connect wireless headphones. The upfront controls allow you to switch between different volumes easily. While 100 watts won’t cause this to rock your floorboards, the low-profile design and volume make this a solid overall budget option.
Fosi Audio DA2120C Bluetooth Amplifier – Flexibility in Many Audio Types
|Bluetooth 5.0 amplifier makes for a powerful connection||The remote control feels pretty low quality|
|Incredibly small and easy to fit anywhere||The Bluetooth connection has lower sound quality|
|It has a pretty powerful base given the price point||The display is a bit too small for some eyes|
|It has PC-USB to enhance computer audio||It has no speaker wire connections (has banana plugs)|
The Fosi Audio DA2120C Bluetooth Amplifier is excellent for those who seek flexibility. At about the size of a meaty hardcover book, this takes a small amount of space and supports a wide range of options. Take a return to your classic phono input while also setting support for PC-USB.
It includes output to subwoofers and speakers but does not and has support for classic speaker wire setups. It has excellent flexibility, but the small display can make it hard to read current settings. The IR codes may not make this compatible with some home theater systems.
Despite this, the digital input allowed provides an ample amount of power output for bass systems. The support is also granted to everything from AV receivers to coaxial options, making it solid for those looking for an amplifier that you will move around a lot.
If you have as many audio devices in your house as I do, this is an excellent option for you.
AduioSource Digital Amplifier – Great Sound Quality
|It has a balance adjustment for control of various volume levels||The power button is small and easy to miss.|
|This option is excellent for people who have a thin amount of vertical space.||It doesn’t have any Bluetooth features, making it unsuitable for mobile devices.|
|LED lights indicate the display of active speakers|
|An excellent build for people looking for surround sound|
For the music lover seeking a powerful sound, AudioSource knows what it is doing. With a variety of analog inputs and outputs, it has a high allowance for surround sound capability. It’s one of those “you want your room to feel like a movie theater” sort of devices.
What it has in sound quality, it loses in additional features. It does not support Bluetooth, which is a surprising oversight when it comes to digital connections. Given that Bluetooth is a standard among audio control, this decision is a significant oversight.
For those who prefer the classics, this is a great overall option. The audio control allows for qualities ranging from 4-ohm to 8-ohm speakers. The device also has an auto-off function just in case you are forgetful. There’s a lot of conveniences here, provided you are willing to sacrifice Bluetooth.
Lavaudio HiFi Bluetooth 5.0 Music Receiver – For Long-Range Bluetooth Needs
|Sleek and straightforward design only has an on-button on the front||Limited audio options for wireless needs.|
|Considered to be a HiFi Bluetooth Receiver for wireless needs||Minimal wired options|
|Up to 127 dB, giving this impressive audio output|
|It has excellent quality of audio for a wireless system.|
If you are looking for something that reminds you of your wireless router, Lavaudio has something for you. The modern, sleek design is something to behold, but the large antenna upfront somewhat dwarfs it. Design is not where this device shines overall.
Among wireless options, this has the greatest long-range available. With the most advanced (at the time of this writing) Bluetooth settings, it can reach far at high quality. It is genuinely wireless audio for audiophiles.
The type of audiophile this appeals to doesn’t come from the past decades. With its purely wireless connections, it only has a single set of two-channel audio connectors in the back. While that allows this to keep a small footprint, the speaker selection is minimal.
Don’t expect this to be the center of your home entertainment system. Instead, expect this to be the center of your wireless audio setup.
Dual Electronics DBTMA100 – The Best Budget Option
|The least expensive option.||It announces when it’s disconnecting and connecting very loudly|
|Incredibly sleek looking with blue and red lights||Require skinny wire to connect|
|Bluetooth functionality works at a decent range||The auto-shutoff feature is inconvenient for people who like background audio.|
If your budget for a new speaker is minimal, Dual electronics has something that works for you. The DBTMA100 has 100 watts of power with 100 feet of wireless Bluetooth range. The rear panel has support for two different classic wired speaker outputs.
The design is also enhanced (depending on your opinion) with LEDs along the top. The plastic on top doesn’t appear to serve many other purposes, meaning that this potentially could have been a smaller unit. The smaller plug-in speaker wire sections in the back will also require incredibly fragile bitts of speaker wire.
It also doesn’t use the most advanced Bluetooth tech (4.2), which you expect with a lower price. Despite that, Dual Electronics appears to have some confidence in this unit, as they have a one-year warranty. The design makes it suitable for use in both indoor and outdoor environments.
The Five Best Stereo Amplifiers Under $200: What You Need To Know Before Buying A Stereo Amplifier
If you still aren’t specific with the terminology used above, we plan on explaining it with the section below. By the end of this section, you will know what to look for in a good stereo amplifier.
What Wattage Should I Look for in an Amplifier?
When looking for a good amplifier or AV receiver, you need to have an amplifier rated to handle the speakers you connect to. For example, a 100-watt receiver will only take a pair of speakers that matches (or is under) that number.
Your owner’s manual will detail the watts per channel. Otherwise, you can assume to split the total wattage between all available speaker terminals. If you can only find voltage and amps on your speaker’s owner’s manual, remember the following:
This logic only applies to speakers who you will plug directly into the unit. If you want to avoid this issue, you can purchase wireless speakers like the LU43PB from Dual Electronics. If you do that, you are underutilizing your speaker’s wired capabilities.
What Frequency Should I Look for in A Stereo Amplifier?
Frequency dictates audio quality through the allowance of a more dynamic range of tones. People who have audio equipment with a substantial-frequency response have multiple speakers who provide a drastic frequency.
Simply put, you are looking for something that can give a consistent frequency response that is unchanged from the other side, HiFi (High Fidelity) audio is an excellent example of this in action. High fidelity audio has almost no frequency change from the source to the receiver, and eventually, the speakers.
Ideally speaking, you should be looking for a good frequency response around 20-20 kHz (kilohertz). You will see this measured alongside +/- around 2 or 3 dB (decibels), which indicates its frequency range.
What Bluetooth Version Should I Look for in Stereo Amplifiers?
At the time of this writing, the current version of Bluetooth is 5.0. This version is part of sets of speakers, power amplifiers, and AV receivers. You see it most often as part of wireless headphone technology; you can also use it to tell your smart toaster to start toasting the bread you put into it the previous night.
Bluetooth 5.0 is an upgrade over 4.0 primarily in its low energy usage. All updates between the platform allow for more significant energy savings, which is excellent if you want to keep your footprint low. Bluetooth 4.2 is just as good for wireless tech with a direct power connection.
What Audio Channels Should I Look for in Good Stereo Amplifiers?
Potential audio channels can fall into many different categories. If you are uncertain about your options, check out the below options:
- Bluetooth: Wireless connection through the patented Bluetooth system. It works with a vast range of compatible devices, including your smartphone and various wireless speaker.
- Speaker Wire: It is excellent for maintaining some of the highest-quality sounds but reliant on electronic limitations of audio inputs and outputs. Banana plugs act as an adapter for these.
- Phono Input. The input signal from phono plugs is some of the most classic. They are often used to maintain the audio quality on vinyl records. They are also known to have a weaker signal.
- Optical Input: Optical input uses laser light to transmit audio signals between connected devices. Toshiba initially made it back in the 90s, where it has undergone multiple upgrades.
- Coaxial Input: People initially used it to send and receive signals in old TV sets. Today, it works with phono inputs and HDMI cables for audio.
For anything we missed, we recommend checking the owner’s manual of your receiver.
What Ohms Should I Look for in A Good Stereo Amplifier?
Stereo amplifiers generally are built to work with speakers at four or eight ohms of resistance. Some work with up to 16 ohms, but four or eight is just as good for our needs.
There aren’t any “good” ohms to look for; you need to be sure that your amplifier can handle these. A good stereo amplifier typically holds both four and eight, so try and stick with those. If you have a more demanding system, expect your price range requirement to go higher.
What is the Best Amplifier Class?
There are many different classes of amplifiers available. The most common is class A, but we took a review of primarily Class D amplifiers. Here are types you should be aware of with your audio receiver:
- Class A: Class A amplifiers use a linear power model that is “on” continuously. More amplifier classes have been developed since the release of these, given how inefficient they are
- Class B: A class defined to solve the inefficiency and overheating problems of class B. They have an “on”, and an “off” function but have distortions for noise falling within a 0.7-volt window.
- Class AB: A compromise between Class A and B amplifiers.
- Class D: They supposedly can reach 100% efficiency, as the design makes it so waveforms and voltage overlap. That’s because this single unit has a single transistor to draw everything through.
There are many more we didn’t discuss here. But for our purposes (and most over-the-counter services), these work just fine.
The Five Best Stereo Amplifiers Under $200: Stereo Amplifier FAQs
If you are new to amplifiers (or don’t know what they d0) we have some FAQs. When looking for the five best stereo amplifiers under $200, these can help you out with the details.
What do you use a Stereo Amplifier for?
A stereo amplifier takes low voltage from your source equipment and amplifies that signal to use speaker power levels effectively. An amplifier ensures that your sound output levels are to your liking. Without an amplifier, you won’t receive some of the sound level and quality you might expect.
Can I Have a Speaker System Without an Amplifier?
Typically speaking, the answer is no. Most speakers do not have enough internal power to get the hi-res audio we’ve come to expect. An amp provides plenty of power needed to ensure you get the excellent stereo sound you are looking for.
Some speakers have internal power (an integrated amplifier). For example, the Edifier R1280T does not require an external amplifier to work.
Why are Old Amplifiers Better?
If you ask old-fashioned audiophiles, you may find that they universally say that manufacturers did it better in the past. You get the whole “back in my day” regarding their stereo input speakers of higher quality. The disturbing answer? They are mostly correct.
Going back to our earlier example, Class A amplifiers used direct transistors, which means that these speakers have full access to the power behind the amp. More power results in more overall sound quality. Even AB-style amplifiers have higher sound fidelity than D.
Class D amplifiers are newer, so they are high-efficiency. For a home theater or sound system, Class D speakers are better overall because of their low energy footprint. If you are seeking more sound or higher quality, look elsewhere.
Higher-efficiency models are more cost-effective, explaining why they are on the budget list.
The Five Best Stereo Amplifiers Under $200: Final Thoughts
As a reminder, the Sony amp we selected for this comparison provides the best combination of stellar sound in affordable stereo receivers. On a list of the five best stereo amplifiers under $200, you can’t go wrong with Sony. For the best combination of classic sound quality with modern speaker control, stick with the Sony STRDH190 2-CH Home Stereo Receiver.
If you are looking for a smaller model, stick with the AudioSource model of the Lavaudio model. You can also choose the Dual Electronics option for your limited budget needs.
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If you want to check out some other content, we have an interesting article on relating music and math.