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In this article, we look at the 10 best home stereo systems available with recommendations based on features, price range, size, and application. When it comes to home stereo systems, you want to stick to the name brands. We’ve found the cheap no-name brands are built poorly, fall apart, and sound awful. If you’re spending anything less than $120, be warned you won’t be getting a quality system.
Make sure to check out our buyer’s guide at the end of this article for stereo system recommendations based on your needs. We have also included an FAQ section based on questions we’ve found on the internet when people are searching for the best stereo system.
Best Overall Home Stereo System
Packed with features in a compact futuristic design, the Bose Wave SoundTouch gets our nod for the best home stereo system. While it doesn’t sport the traditional stereo system look, and the speakers cannot be moved apart for a better stereo sound effect the sound is as good as you’d expect from BOSE.
Best Bass Home Stereo System
If you consider yourself to be a bit of a bass head then the LG CK43 is going to be your best bet. The LG CK43 delivers an impressive 300W of sound with 5.25” low-frequency drivers pushing out some serious bass. This is a serious party speaker with features like JUKEBOX mode and AUTO DJ to keep your party going all night. At under $150 the LG CK43 is extremely well priced for the sound and features that come with this powerful home stereo system.
Budget Home Stereo System
If you’re basing your decision on cost, then the cheapest home stereo system we reviewed for this article is the JENSEN JTA-475B at under $130. The JENSEN is also the only home stereo system with a built-in turntable. At 18W the JTA-475B is a little underpowered so if you’re looking for a stereo with more power, then the 300W LG CK43 is only $20 more and comes with loads of modern features.
Here are all the home stereo systems ranked in order of price with the cheapest at the top and most expensive at the bottom:
|Under $130||JENSEN JTA-475B|
|Under $150||Sony LG CK43|
|Under $200||Sony CMT-SBT100|
|Under $300||Yamaha MCR-232|
|Under $400||Sony MHCEC619iP|
|Under $600||Bose Wave SoundTouch|
Most Compact Home Stereo System
If you’re looking for something small, then the Onkyo CS-265 is an excellent ultra-compact mini stereo system. While most of the home stereo systems we reviewed for this article are small, the Onkyo CS-265 receiver is one of the smallest and the speakers are nice and compact too. As a single unit, the Bose Wave SoundTouch would take up slightly less room but it comes in at $540 which is more than most would want to spend on a home stereo system.
Alexa Compatible Home Stereo System
If you’re looking for an Alexa compatible home stereo system then your best bet is going to be the Bose Wave SoundTouch. In fact, the Bose Wave SoundTouch is the only home stereo system we came across with WiFi capability. While the Wave SoundTouch is expensive, it’s an excellent home stereo system with the most advanced and up-to-date features.
What is a Stereo System?
Stereo sound systems produce a different audio signal for left and right speakers. The word stereo refers to sound played through two or more speakers, hence the name stereo system. A stereo system is essentially a HiFi where the speakers are either connected or separate from the receiver.
Stereo systems become really popular in the ‘90s with the arrival of CDs. Manufacturers found ways to make HiFi’s affordable and there were a lot of brands releasing stereo systems. Back then, stereos typically had a cassette player, CD player, and in some cases a turntable too. Nowadays systems have a CD player and Bluetooth as standard with many incorporating USB, ⅛-inch AUX, and/or RCA. In some cases, models will have a turntable although this is now rare. Vinyl is making a comeback and if you are looking for a stereo for playing vinyl, it’s best to purchase a turntable separately and then a stereo system with RCA inputs for your turntable.
Stereo System vs Bluetooth Speaker – Which to Choose
It can be confusing choosing between a stereo system and a Bluetooth speaker. Bluetooth speakers are so advanced nowadays it’s hard to see why you would still want to choose a stereo system over a Bluetooth speaker. There are two key factors to consider when choosing between whether you need a stereo system or a Bluetooth speaker. The first is sound quality and the second is the application or where you intend to use the system.
- Because stereo systems have separate speakers, they’re generally going to sound better than your typical Bluetooth speaker. Stereo speakers most often have large low-frequency drivers which means better bass and mid-range frequency response.
- If you’re looking for something portable, then a Bluetooth speaker is going to be your best bet. However, if you want to install a sound system in a specific living space, then I’d rather choose a stereo system over a Bluetooth speaker.
- If you’re really just looking for Bluetooth connectivity, you can also look at a Bluetooth stereo system.
Another thing a stereo has which a Bluetooth speaker doesn’t is a CD player. CDs have largely gone out of fashion although, there are some who still like to make “mixtapes” on CD. If you like playing CDs, then a stereo system is definitely the way to go. What’s good about modern home stereo systems is the CD players are able to play multiple audio codecs which means your stereo system will play MP3, WAV, etc.
If you’re looking for something ultra-compact and contemporary, then the Bose Wave SoundTouch Music System IV is just about the best option on the market. This mini home stereo system is packed full of modern functionality with futuristic design features. The Wave SoundTouch has a clean aesthetic with no buttons cluttering up the front panel and a large LCD display. While the Wave SoundTouch doesn’t have any buttons, you can tap the top of the stereo system to turn it on and off. Hence the name “SoundTouch”.
The Wave SoundTouch is a single unit with built-in speakers left and right of the large LCD display. Bose doesn’t specify the size or power output of the Wave SoundTouch but the system is surprisingly loud with exceptional audio quality. The Wave SoundTouch incorporates Bose ‘Waveguide’ speaker technology which enhances the audio to deliver big sound from compact speakers. I can’t say whether or not the technology actually works or, this is just marketing hype but, the Wave SoundTouch does sound incredible with a nice bassy punch and excellent clarity in the mid-range and high frequencies.
When it comes to inputs and audio playback, the Wave SoundTouch just about has it all including a built-in CD player and AM/FM radio. External inputs include ⅛-Inch AUX, USB, Bluetooth, and WiFi. The Wave SoundTouch is also compatible with Alexa devices like Amazon’s Echo range. The addition of WiFi also allows you to stream your favorite streaming services or internet radio stations to the Wave SoundTouch.
The Wave SoundTouch comes with a sophisticated mobile app for iOS and Android. Through the app, you can program 6 presets for podcasts, streaming services, or radio stations which can then be accessed via the app or Wave SoundTouch remote control.
As there are no buttons on the Wave SoundTouch, everything is controlled via either the remote or app. The remote allows you to control the usual play/pause, volume, track skip, etc for Bluetooth, WiFi, or CD player playback. A really cool feature is the ability to thumbs up or thumbs down tracks. If you are familiar with streaming services like Pandora, Spotify, Google Play, and others, you have the ability to like or dislike a track so the service and learn what your music tastes are and play similar music in the future.
Having this feature on a remote control is a nice added convenience and the first time I’ve seen this from a stereo system. So props to Bose for incorporating this feature into their system.
One of the coolest features in the Wave SoundTouch is the ability to set up two alarm clocks. If you’re married or live with your partner, you can set up different alarm clocks for each of you with different music, streaming, or radio stations to wake you up. Stopping the alarm is as easy as tapping the top of the Wave SoundTouch. You can also set up a sleep mode with a timer. So for example, you would like to fall asleep listening to music, you can set up the Wave SoundTouch to turn off after a certain time period. The alarms and sleep mode timer can be programmed via the remote control or Wave SoundTouch app.
If you’re a gadget fanatic who enjoys new features and technology, then the Bose Wave SoundTouch Music System IV is definitely one for you. The mini home stereo system is ultra-compact making it easy to set up anywhere in the house. With its alarm clocks and compact size, the Wave SoundTouch is going to be best suited as a bedside or bedroom stereo system. With all these modern features and exceptional audio quality, expect to pay a premium. At just under $600, the Wave SoundTouch isn’t cheap but certainly well worth the investment.
If you prefer the “classic stereo HiFi” aesthetic then you’ll love the Sony CMT-SBT100 Micro Music System. While the CMT-SBT100 may have the classic HiFi look, the home stereo system is packed with modern functionality and design features.
The CMT-SBT100 comes as a 3-piece home stereo system with two speakers and a receiver. This means you can place the receiver on your shelf or cabinet and the speakers in a left/right configuration of your choice.
The CMT-SBT100 has various options when it comes to inputs and playback. Inputs include a ⅛-inch AUX, USB, and Bluetooth. There is even an NFC sensor for quick pairing to your NFC enabled devices. The USB input can be used for charging, playback or even both at the same time. Built-in to the CMT-SBT100 is a CD player and AM/FM radio.
The CMT-SBT100 features two 4-inch speakers with 1½-inch tweeters each producing 25W RMS to give you a total of 50W RMS. As to be expected from Sony, the sound quality is really good. The low-end doesn’t get into the sub-bass frequency range but is well defined and punchy. The mids and highs are clear and overall the speakers deliver excellent intelligibility for all sorts of audio including listening to the radio or podcasts. The CMT-SBT100 is only 50W and therefore not very loud. The home stereo system will comfortably fill a small living space but you might find the CMT-SBT100 struggle in bigger rooms.
Each CMT-SBT100 speaker comes with a cable that connects to the rear of the receiver. Sony has done an excellent job of keeping the rear panel clean and well labeled so installation is a breeze. You can be up and running with the CMT-SBT100 home stereo system in a matter of minutes from unboxing. Sony also supplies you with an AM/FM antenna which also plugs into the rear of the receiver. Lastly, there is a ⅛-inch AUX input on the rear panel for non-Bluetooth devices.
The front panel layout of the CMT-SBT100 receiver is neatly laid out with clean flush-mounted buttons that are well labeled and easy to locate and operate. There is a Function button for switching between inputs Bluetooth Pairing, play/pause, stop, skip next, skip previous, and an eject button for the CD player. The skip buttons also double as frequency tuning for the built-in AM/FM radio.
Additionally, there is an EQ and Bass Boost button for making adjustments to your audio profile. The Bass Boost button delivers a decent boost to the low-end which is great when listening to urban and dance music genres.
The supplied remote for the CMT-SBT100 allows you to adjust all of the above controls as well as independent EQ adjustment for the bass and treble. You can visually see your adjustments and function changes on the CMT-SBT100 receiver’s LCD display which makes it easy to see exactly what’s going on.
If you’re looking for the best mini home stereo system, the Sony CMT-SBT100 will certainly be one to consider. Although small, the CMT-SBT100 comes packed with features, playback options, and inputs for just about every conceivable audio application. You could even use the CMT-SBT100 as a home stereo system and TV speakers. A TV can be connected via the ⅛-inch AUX input on the rear of the CMT-SBT100.
One thing to keep in mind is the CMT-SBT100 is not a big sound system, it’s perfect for background music, listening to the radio or podcasts but is not suited as a “party stereo system”. In a small room or dorm, you might find the CMT-SBT100 produces a decent amount of sound to fill the room but, for larger rooms, the CMT-SBT100 just isn’t powerful enough. If you’re looking for quality on every level, the Sony CMT-SBT100 Micro Music System certainly delivers.
If you consider yourself to be a bit of a vinyl junkie and like to play LPs, then the JENSEN JTA-475B 3-Speed Stereo Turntable with CD System might be just what you’re looking for. JENSEN has thrown it back to the old school with the JTA-475B resembling something out of the ’90s and even has a tape cassette player (when last did you play off of a cassette, if ever!).
The JTA-475B is a 3-piece home stereo system with a large receiver and two compact speakers. The speakers deliver a combined 18W RMS which is only really going to be effective in small rooms. The JTA-475B simply doesn’t have enough power for medium to larger sized rooms and you will find yourself pushing the JTA-475B to its absolute limit.
The audio quality is good for a budget 18W home stereo system. The bass is present but not as punchy as premium stereo systems like the Sony or the Bose. Mid-range is a little muddy in the lower mids but clear enough for vocals. The highs are present but again not as crisp as the more premium stereo systems.
The JTA-475B is essentially an all-in-one home stereo system with a built-in turntable (33/45/78 RPM with a 45 adapter), CD player, tape cassette player, and AM/FM radio. There is, unfortunately, no Bluetooth and only one external input, a ⅛-inch AUX. The JTA-475B does, however, have a stereo RCA output as well as a ⅛-inch headphone out.
The nice thing about having a stereo RCA output is you can connect a pair of powered bookshelf speakers. If you like all the JTA-475B features but require more than the 18W RMS the speakers have to offer, then you have the option of connecting your own external powered speakers via the RCA output.
The JTA-475B has several buttons on the receiver to control all the built-in elements, switch between inputs and there’s even a bass boost feature. The JTA-475B comes with a remote but unfortunately, as the system is mostly analog, you are limited to what you can do with the remote. For example, you can’t switch between inputs as this is an analog switch which has to be adjusted on the receiver. You can, however, adjust the volume, play/pause/skip a CD and tune the AM/FM radio.
The JENSEN JTA-475B is an affordable home stereo system with all your favorite analog components built into one unit. This is not a modern HiFi unit by any means and would probably be best suited for those who don’t want Bluetooth or prefer an analog system over modern digital stereos. The JTA-475B will be perfect for the elderly or those with a bit of nostalgia who want something simple and easy to use with an analog interface. There are no menus or scrolling LCD screens which can be confusing to those who prefer analog systems.
If you’re looking for a quality ultra-compact home stereo system you might want to consider the Sony CMT-SBT20 Micro Hi-Fi System with Bluetooth. This neat little unit is small enough to fit just about anywhere included on your desk in the office or even on your bedside table. The CMT-SBT20 is actually the miniature version of the CMT-SBT100 which we also review in this article.
The CMT-SBT20 is a 3-piece mini stereo system with a receiver and two compact 6W speakers producing a combined 12W RMS. Like the CMT-SBT100, the CMT-SBT20 sounds really good. Obviously, due to its size, the CMT-SBT20 has less bass than the larger SBT100 but still manages to deliver a nice punchy low end. The mid-range and highs deliver excellent intelligibility which is great for both music, radio, and podcasts. Keep in mind this is a small system so would be best suited for close proximity listening.
I’d recommend this as a stereo system for an office desk, dorm room, kitchen, or on the bedside table next to your bed. If you sleep with a partner, you could place a speaker on either side of the bed. For larger open rooms, the CMT-SBT20 just isn’t powerful enough to fill the room.
The CMT-SBT20 has a nice clean front panel aesthetic with a single power button, large volume control, and USB input. The USB input also doubles as a USB charging port for mobile devices. There is also an LCD display so you can see what’s going on, which input is playing.
On top of the unit is the main control panel with Bluetooth pairing (with is also the function button for switching between inputs), play/pause, stop, skip forwards, skip previous and eject for the CD player. The skip buttons also function as tuning forwards and backward for the AM/FM radio. There is also an NFC sensor on top of the unit for pairing NFC devices.
The supplied remote allows you to control all of the above features as well as set up radio channel presets, system EQ, engage Sony Bass Boost, and more.
If you’re looking for something compact and affordable then the Sony CMT-SBT20 might just be for you. Usually, mini stereo systems are weak and underpowered but the CMT-SBT20 does a good job of producing a decent amount of sound with excellent audio quality. Having said that, this is not the best home stereo system where you won’t be listening in somewhat close proximity. At under $150, the Sony CMT-SBT20 is affordable with features to offer you good value for your money.
If you’re looking for a home stereo system with some serious sound, then you’ll love the LG CK43. The LG CK43 is part of the CK Range from LG which is essentially the upgrade of the LG CM4350. The larger LG CK57 is the upgrade of the hugely popular (and now discontinued) LG CM4550. We preferred the LG CK43 as it’s more compact than the LG CK57 and more than half the price.
The first impression of the LG CK43 is that this is one badass system. Visually the LG CK43 looks like a beast. The stereo is black with red trim and red speaker cones which makes the LG CK43 look as intimidating as it sounds.
At first glance, the front panel can be overwhelming with the sheer amount of buttons and controls the LG CK43 has to offer. There are two large rotary controls, one for volume and the other for scrolling through tracks and folders for your USB or recordable CD.
In the center of the receiver is an array of buttons for the usual play/pause, stop, skip track, etc. Here you can also select between the various inputs. There are also buttons for bass boost, EQ, and few other features which we’ll cover in a bit.
The LG CK43 is a 3-piece stereo system with a receiver and two 5.25” speakers each producing an impressive 150W RMS for a combined 300W RMS of room-filling sound. The LG CK43 is seriously powerful with an awesome chunky bass sound. The mid-range and highs are crisp and detailed, great for both music and vocals. The LG CK43 is powerful enough to fill most living spaces with enough sound to get a party started for sure!
The LG CK43 has a built-in CD player and AM/FM radio. Additional external inputs include stereo RCA, 2 x USB, and Bluetooth. The LG CK43 also incorporates LG Sound Sync which allows you to wirelessly connect to an LG TV. In addition, you can connect to another LG speaker or system through the LG WIRELESS PARTY LINK. This allows you to connect to a second LG speaker with the same feature to essentially make more noise!
When it comes to features, the LG CK43 does not disappoint. If the above isn’t enough for you, the LG CK43 also has a built-in alarm, record audio to USB, JUKEBOX function for USB, and auto power on and off. We won’t go into all these features in this article but you can read more about them in the user manual.
One feature we will talk about is the Auto DJ function. When engaged, the LG CK43 will blend the end of one track into the next, just like a DJ would. This is an awesome feature for house parties where you want to build your own playlists with no gaps between the music. You can even shuffle the music so the system will play and mix songs at random -a really cool feature, well worth the money on its own.
If you’re looking for a party stereo system then the LG CK43 is designed specifically to make a noise and look cool. With 300W of sound, the LG CK43 can make enough noise for most living spaces. If you have a home entertainment or bar area, the LG CK43 will be a great addition to liven up the party.
With the Auto DJ feature, you can press play and let the LG CK43 seamlessly mix your tracks for an all-night house party. If you already own an LG TV, the LG Sound Sync is a great feature as you can wirelessly connect to your flat screen without needing to run cables. Just make sure your LG TV has the LG Sound Sync feature. At under $150, the LG CK43 packs some serious sound with an incredible array of features for an affordable price.
Now, something for all you Apple fans, more specifically those with newer iPhones, iPods, and iPads with the Apple Lightning connection. The Sony MHC-EC619iP is designed specifically for Apple users with the addition of a Lightning connector mounted on the top of the receiver. The Lightning connector is mounted vertically so your device stands upright when plugged in. This allows you to easily view and operate the device without having to pick it up.
The MHC-EC619iP is a 3-piece home stereo system with a receiver and two 60W speakers which combined deliver a cool 120W of sound. As you would expect from Sony, the MHC-EC619iP has a solid bass sound with an additional Bass Boost feature. When engaged, the MHC-EC619iP delivers a nice chunky bass sound which is great for urban and dance music genres. The mid-range and high frequencies deliver excellent clarity for both music and vocals. For its size, the MHC-EC619iP is really impressive when it comes to audio quality and volume.
In addition to the Apple Lightning input, the MHC-EC619iP features a USB input which can also be used to record the other inputs and charge mobile devices. The MHC-EC619iP also features a built-in AM/FM radio and CD player.
The Sony MHC-EC619iP is visually appealing with the buttons and volume control forming part of the receiver’s unique design. The MHC-EC619iP features a trendy geometric triangle layout which gives the stereo system a futuristic aesthetic.
There are buttons for the usual play/pause, stop, skip forward/backward, and ejecting your CD player. There is a Bass Boost button as well as EQ which can be adjusted visually via the LCD display. You can also access your saved radio presets with an up and down button to scroll through each preset. There is even a ‘Record to USB’ button so you can instantly activate the record feature. All of these features and more can be accessed via the supplied remote control.
The MHC-EC619iP also comes with a couple of timer settings. The first is a standard alarm clock that you can program to wake up to CD, USB, radio, or even your Apple device through the Lightning connection. The Lightning connection also charges your device so you can put this in the holder to charge overnight and then wake up with your favorite music playing and your mobile fully charged. The MHC-EC619iP also has a sleep timer which is great if you like to listen to audio while falling asleep.
The Sony MHC-EC619iP is a great home stereo system for a multitude of uses. The stereo system is powerful enough to fill most living spaces but small enough that it won’t take up too much room. With the Lightning dock, it’s Apple users who will get the most from the MHC-EC619iP. At a little under $320, the MHC-EC619iP isn’t cheap but you certainly get your money’s worth with this awesome Sony Home Stereo System.
Onkyo is one of my favorite home audio brands. Their products are always well designed using high-quality parts and the most up to date features. The Onkyo CS-265 is a sleek, compact stereo system that, even though compact, packs a serious punch in terms of sound.
The CS-265 is a 3-piece mini stereo system with a receiver and two speakers. Each speaker features a 4” low-frequency driver with a ¾” tweeter delivering a combined 40W of power. Even though these are small speakers, the CS-265 delivers a surprising amount of bass with a nice punchy low-end kick. The mid-range frequencies are clear while the highs are crisp, delivering excellent clarity for both music and vocal listening.
There are two bass boost settings that enhance the bass nicely without muddying the rest of the frequency range. Even though the CS-265 is only 40W, the stereo system can easily fill a small to medium-sized room. As the CS-265 has digital amplifier circuitry, even at high volumes, there is little or no breakup or distortion from the speakers.
The CS-265 features a built-in CD player and AM/FM radio. Inputs include USB, RCA, and Bluetooth so you’re covered for every input on the market. You can even connect your TV via the RCA input on the CS-265. There is also an NFC sensor so you can instantly pair your NFC-enabled devices by tapping the sensor.
The CD player allows you to play regular CDs plus CD-R, CD-RW, and MP3-Encoded CDs. This is great if you like to rip audio off the net or copy from your mates. In addition, you have three playback modes for CD, disc, folder, or track. This means you can set up a recorded playlist on a folder on a CD and let the CS-265 do the work.
The front of the CS-265 is really clean with only the LCD display, CD eject button, and USB input. The main control panel is located on top of the receiver with separate buttons for power, input selection, Bluetooth pairing, skip forward, skip previous, stop, play/pause, and volume control. The front LCD display is nicely laid out with details for every input and function so you always know exactly what’s going on.
The remote allows you to adjust all of the controls mentioned above as well as the bass boost feature, alarm/clock set up, tone/EQ adjustment, and other control functions.
If you’re a fan of premium quality then the Onkyo CS-265 CD Hi-Fi Mini System is definitely one of the best home stereo systems on our list. Even though the CS-265 is a mini stereo system, it has some serious power and can easily fill most living spaces. By having the RCA inputs, you can essentially use the CS-265 as an all-in-one stereo home theater system.
The bass boost features will work great for movies and games with excellent intelligibility in the mid-range and highs for watching general TV and series too. The CS-265 home stereo system is neat and minimal so will look good and take up a minimal footprint in any room. At a little under $190, you’re getting a premium stereo system that could double as a stereo home theater system. Definitely good value for the money.
Philips has long time been a name synonymous with consumer electronics. The company manufactures quality, competitively priced products with good after-sales service and support. The BTM2180/37 Micro Music System is a modern mini stereo system with minimalist design features taking up a small footprint.
The BTM2180/37 is a 3-piece home stereo system with a receiver and two 3.5” speakers. Even though these speakers are small, they produce an impressive combined power output of 70W. More than enough sound to fill most living spaces. The BTM2180/37 delivers an impressively balanced sound signature with a rich warm bass sound.
The BTM2180/37 comes with several audio EQ presets so you can adjust the audio settings to your preferred sound. Additionally, there is the Philips ‘Digital Sound Control’ which automatically adjusted the audio EQ based on the music playing.
The BTM2180/37 features a built-in radio and CD player with three external inputs including USB, ⅛-inch AUX and Bluetooth.
All the inputs can be controlled via the BTM2180/37 front panel buttons which are neatly laid out so they’re easy to see and operate. There is a Source button for switching between inputs and then the usual play/pause, stop, skip forward, skip previous and volume control. Next to the CD player is an eject button for loading CDs.
All of the above controls can be accessed via the supplied remote including additional functions like programming radio presets, setting the alarm/clock, changing audio presets, pairing a Bluetooth device, and even changing the LCD display brightness.
If you’re looking for a great sounding mini stereo system at an affordable price, then the Philips BTM2180/37 is definitely one to add to your shortlist. This seemingly unassuming BTM2180/37 might not look as fancy as some of the other units in our best stereo systems list but it’s definitely up there when it comes to audio quality. If you are someone who likes a true sounding speaker, then the BTM2180/37 offers a pleasant flat audio signature which is great for all genres of music and vocals. At under $170, the BTM2180/37 offers exceptional value with audio quality which is worth the price alone.
What would the best home stereo systems list without a product from Yamaha! The sleek Yamaha MCR-232 Micro Component System is a mini stereo system with some cool features and the ability to add a subwoofer for some serious sound. There is also a 32-pin Apple dock so if you have an older iPhone or iPod, you can mount this on the MCR-232 to play music and charge your device.
The MCR-232 is a 3-piece mini stereo system with a receiver and two 4½” speakers. Each speaker is capable of 20W of power output with a combined 40W. The 4½” speakers produce an excellent bass sound which doesn’t quite reach sub-bass response but delivers a decent low-end punch. The clarity in the mid-range and high frequencies is excellent with a good intelligibility for both music and spoken voice. Within the MCR-232 option menu, you have the ability to adjust bass and treble to suit your audio preference.
The MCR-232 features a built-in AM/FM radio and CD player with external inputs which include USB, ⅛-inch AUX, and Bluetooth. There is also a 32-pin Apple connector to dock your iPod or iPhone. Keep in mind the 32-pin is the old Apple connector so new devices with the Lightning connection will not work with the MCR-232. You can, however, plug newer devices into the MCR-232 via the USB input. Additionally, there is a ⅛-inch headphone output should you wish to listen using your cans.
There is also a pre-out to connect a subwoofer. The Yamaha NS-SW050BL Subwoofer is an excellent choice and pairs nicely with the MCR-232.
The front panel of the MCR-232 is nicely laid out on a trendy brushed metal finish. There are several buttons for operating the MCR-232 including power, CD player eject, input selection, play/pause, stop, skip/seek, and then a large rotary knob for volume control. There is a large LCD display so you can also keep track of what’s going on visually.
The supplied remote allows you to control all of the above as well as access folders on a USB or CD/R / CD/RW, adjust audio presets, set and change radio presets, and set up sleep/clock settings.
The Yamaha MCR-232 Micro Component System is a great mini stereo system with all the latest functions and features. The 32-pin Apple dock might seem a bit out of date but when you consider you can plug your newer Apple devices in via the USB, it actually makes sense why Yamaha hasn’t updated the 32-pin to a Lightning connector. Perhaps this will change in a future update.
Even though the MCR-232 is a 40W home stereo system, the speakers still pack a serious punch. The ability to add a subwoofer via the pre-out is a bonus for those who like some extra bass. At a little under $290, the MCR-232 is a little pricey but as this is a premium electronics product from a reputable brand like Yamaha, you’ll be making a worthwhile investment. The MCR-232 is definitely worth the price tag in audio quality and premium features.
Back in the ‘90s, Sharp dominated the home stereo system market with a wide range of single and multi-disc CD players. There is certainly nothing ‘90s about the sleek Sharp XL-BH250 Mirco Component System. The XL-BH250 comes in a trendy brushed metal matte black finish with cool gunmetal accents. This is one of the few 5-disc CD changes on the market and unlike the older Sharp models, the XL-BH250 has a separate tray for each CD making loading and unloading quick and easy to access.
The XL-BH250 is a 3-piece mini stereo with a receiver and two 4” speakers. Each speaker produces 25W peak power output for a combined 50W of power. More than enough to easily fill most living spaces. The XL-BH250 features 2” tweeters which produce an excellent, crisp high-frequency response. The mid-range is upfront and present sounding offering good clarity for vocals and instruments. The XL-BH250 also has an X-BASS feature which is essentially a bass boost as well as separate tone controls for bass and treble.
The front control panel is neatly laid out with buttons to control every aspect of the XL-BH250. There is a separate select button for each CD player tray with an eject button to release the selected tray. Below this is your standard play/pause, stop, skip/seek, on/off and function for changing inputs. Lastly, there is a large rotary control for volume.
Two of the XL-BH250 inputs, the USB and ⅛-inch AUX, also appear on the front of the XL-BH250. The XL-BH250 also takes Bluetooth with an NFC sensor for quickly pairing NFC devices.
The CD player can play a long list of audio codecs so, whether your CDs are originals or copies, they should play on the XL-BH250. Check the user manual to see if your preferred audio codec is covered by the XL-BH250.
The XL-BH250 remote control is very comprehensive allowing you to access all of the above controls and much more. You can set the tone and engage/dis-engage bass boost, set up the clock and alarm, pair Bluetooth devices, and a whole list of settings and options.
The XL-BH250 is packed full of features and preset options for the CD player and radio, too many to go into in this article, but really useful for customizing the mini stereo system to your exact requirements.
If you ever owned and loved a Sharp home stereo system back in the day, then you’ll love the XL-BH250. The stereo system is compact but still packs a serious about of power with bass boost and tone control features to get the exact sound you’re after. If you’re still into CDs, having the 5-disc changer is going to make life that much easier as you can load your favorite CDs and then switch between them without needing to load and unload. Although powerful, the XL-BH250 is compact enough to sit on a shelf or bedside table without taking up too much room. At under $180, the XL-BH250 will exceed your expectations with great sound and useful features.
Buying the Best Home Stereo System – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What Are Presets?
You’ll notice most of our home stereo system recommendations feature radio presets. This allows you to store radio stations in your stereo system so you can quickly access your favorite station without having to scan through the frequencies.
How Many Watts Do I Need?
This is one of the most common questions people ask when buying home stereo systems or any speaker for that matter. The wattage of a speaker determines how much power it produces. So, if you have a small room then up to about 20W will be sufficient, provided you’re only looking for a stereo system for background music.
For medium-sized rooms, you should consider systems between 20W to 100W while for larger rooms I wouldn’t use a speaker under 60W with between 100W to 200W being preferable.
If you’re after a stereo for making lots of noise and having a party, don’t go for anything under 100W as you’ll find yourself driving the speakers harder than you should which will lead to distortion and possibly damaging your speakers.
Why Do We Need USB?
USB is actually very useful. Not only can you use it to play audio straight from a USB drive but, you can also play music from your phone while charging the device at the same time. If you have a USB and ⅛-inch AUX, try using the USB over the AUX input as you’ll often find the sound quality is slightly better via the USB input.