Table of Contents
- Best Home Stereo Systems – Comparison Table
- 7 Best Home Stereo System in 2021
- 1. Best Multi-CD Home Stereo System – Sharp XL-BH250
- 2. Most Advanced Home Stereo System – Bose Wave SoundTouch IV
- 3. KEiiD Compact CD/MP3 Player
- 4. Most User-Friendly Stereo System – Onkyo CS-265 Home Audio System
- 5. Most Compact Home Stereo System – Yamaha MCR-B020BL
- 6. Best Bang for The Buck – Sony MHC-EC619iP
- 7. Best Budget – Jensen JBS-200
Home stereo systems may not be as popular as they used to be 10 or 20 years ago but they are still here and the market has a lot to offer. Today’s home stereo systems have all the features you would expect from a modern audio device. They have Bluetooth, USB ports for music playback, AM and FM radio tuners, CD players. Some of them even support Wi-Fi connectivity and other smart functions.
The choice is not exactly limitless but there are still numerous options to choose from. Finding the right stereo system for your needs is not an easy task and it can take quite some time. That’s why you have us. Our article on 7 best home stereo systems in 2021 is here to narrow your search down and make it easier. We will offer you some great choices and give you a few tips on what to look for when buying a home stereo system.
Best Home Stereo Systems – Comparison Table
|Home Stereo Systems||Rating||Price||Review|
|Sharp XL-BH250||4.2||Check Amazon|
|Bose Wave SoundTouch IV||4.5||Check Amazon|
|KEiiD Compact CD/MP3 Player||4.3||Check Amazon||Read Review|
|Onkyo CS-265||4.3||Check Amazon|
|Yamaha MCR-B020BL||4.5||Check Amazon|
|Sony MHC-EC619iP||4.2||Check Amazon|
|Jensen JBS-200||4.0||Check Amazon|
For the purposes of this article, we’ve tested more than 30 popular home stereo systems, compared their performances and features, and picked out our favorites. Whether you are looking for a compact or a large and powerful stereo system, you should be able to find something nice on our list of 7 best home stereo systems in 2021. These are our top picks.
7 Best Home Stereo System in 2021
1. Best Multi-CD Home Stereo System – Sharp XL-BH250
Sharp is probably better known for its TVs but they also make some pretty good home stereo systems. XL-BH250 is one of the best-looking systems on the market. It’s quite versatile, easy to use, and it sounds great. The system consists of the main unit (XL-BH250) and two passive 2-way speakers (CP-BH250). It’s priced under $200.
Things we like
Sharp XL-BH250 comes with a power cable, AM loop antenna, external FM antenna, and a fully-featured remote.
The speakers are separated from the main unit so the system is not that small, but it’s not too large and you should be able to find the right spot for it easily.
The main unit is completely black. It looks very elegant, very stylish. All the controls and most inputs are on the front panel. The unit houses 5 trays for CDs (they all support CD, CD-RW, and mp3 CDs). There’s also a USB input, one AUX input, and a headphone output. Under the disc trays, there’s a large display with all the necessary track info and clock. Below the display, you will see all the control buttons (playback controls, tuning controls, volume controls, input selectors, etc.). On the back of the main unit, there are AM and FM antenna inputs, speaker terminals, and power input.
The speakers are also black and are a perfect match for the main unit (in terms of size and color). They come with removable grilles and, in our opinion, they look much better without them. Each speaker houses two drivers – one 4in woofer and one 2in tweeter.
One of the greatest qualities of this home stereo system is its versatility. Aside from all the disc trays (there are 5 of them), you have Bluetooth connectivity (with NFC support), AM and FM tuners, USB input, and one analog audio input (3.5mm audio input).
Bluetooth connection offers mediocre performance. The range is below-average but it works fine if you stay within the 15ft range. XL-BH250 works fine with both Apple and Android devices.
AM and FM receptions are both excellent. The main unit allows you to memorize up to 40 stations.
The system has some nice additional features like the sleep timer, Extra Bass (bass boost), bass and treble adjustments, clock, etc.
Speaker RMS power output is rated at 25W per channel. The sound is balanced. There’s a decent amount of punch but don’t’ expect mind-blowing bass. You can’t get those crazy deep, earth-shaking low notes from a 4in woofer but you will get more than you expect. The midrange is dynamic and accurate. The treble lacks a little bit of detail and brightness but it’s not bad.
Things we don’t like
The system features Bluetooth 2.1, which is an outdated version and it’s not on par, in terms of performance, with the latest Bluetooth versions. Sharp really needs to update the Bluetooth chip.
2. Most Advanced Home Stereo System – Bose Wave SoundTouch IV
Wave SoundTouch IV is probably one of the most advanced and most attractive home stereo systems on the market. Naturally, it’s also one of the most expensive systems – the price varies between $600 and $850.
Things we like
The speaker (aka Wave) comes with a SoundTouch pedestal (necessary for wi-fi connectivity), power cable, and a simple remote. The pedestal is separate from the speaker and you are supposed to place the speaker on it to get the wi-fi connection.
The whole system is very compact and will match any interior. The appearance is very elegant.
On the front, you have two built-in speakers (on the left and right ends). There are a large display and a CD tray in the middle. On the top, right above the display, there’s a simple touch-sensitive panel with no visible buttons. Placing your hand on the top will turn on/off the system, snooze the alarm, or reset the alarm for the next day.
On the back of the speaker, you will see the connector for the external FM antenna, Bose Link input for connecting the pedestal, and two 3.5mm ports (one input and one headphone output). On the back of the pedestal, there are the wi-fi button, wi-fi indicator, Ethernet port, micro USB port (for service purposes), USB Type-A port (for ‘’future’’ purposes), and Bose Link cable.
To control the system, you can use the included remote and the SoundTouch app (for Android or iOS). The remote can do a lot of things but the app can do even more. You need the app to set up the wi-fi network. The app also allows you to integrate all your music apps and streaming services with it. The app is also necessary if you want to set up a multiroom system. We didn’t have any problems with the app – it’s perfectly responsive, stable, and user-friendly. Bose did a great job there.
Wave SoundTouch IV is a versatile system – it plays CDs (CD-R, RW, and mp3), it supports Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, it has both AM and FM tuners, and it has a standard AUX input for connecting analog audio sources. It’s also compatible with Amazon Alexa so you can use any Alexa-enabled speaker to control the Wave SoundTouch.
Along with all these interesting features, you can also pair this stereo system with other SoundTouch speakers and play the music across your entire home (multiroom capabilities).
SoundTouch IV delivers pretty good sonic performance, but not as good as the price implies. The emphasis is on the midrange and treble clarity. The mids and highs are perfectly balanced and detailed. We have absolutely no complaints about that. However, we have expected more bass at this price point. The bass is not completely absent, but it’s lacking.
Things we don’t like
When playing CDs or radio, the speaker won’t stream it to other SoundTouch speakers grouped in a multiroom system. Multiroom works only when streaming audio through the app.
We don’t quite understand the purpose of the touch-sensitive panel on the top. Sure, it’s a cool feature but you don’t really need it that much. After all, you have the remote and the app.
3. KEiiD Compact CD/MP3 Player
KEiiD Compact is, as the name implies, a compact and slim home stereo system, perfect for small rooms. It has a very attractive wooden enclosure, it’s very versatile, and it’s priced under $250.
Things we like
KEiiD Compact comes with a power cable, RCA to AUX cable, and a simple remote. The enclosure is made of wood and the whole appearance is very eye-catching. The CD/radio unit with all the controls was dismounted from VW original cars (the manufacturer claims that they take these units from the new cars).
On the front, you have four drivers arranged into two channels (two 4in woofers and two 2in tweeters). The drivers are protected with a vintage fabric grille. In the middle, there’s a large control panel with a 5in LCD display and all the playback, volume, and input controls. There’s also a CD slot, AUX input, micro SD card slot, and a USB port.
On the back, there’s a retractable FM antenna, RCA inputs, power input, and ON/OFF switch.
Besides the standard features like the CD playback capabilities and built-in FM tuner (with 12 presets), this stereo system can play audio files from a USB or from a micro SD card. You can also connect two analog audio sources to it (via RCA and AUX inputs). The system is Bluetooth-enabled so you can stream music wirelessly. You can also answer calls hands-free thanks to the built-in mic. This is one of only a few stereo systems with a built-in mic.
The sound reproduction is quite refined with a nice punch, balanced and dynamic mids, and accurate treble. The system allows you to play with EQ settings (separate bass, mid, and treble adjustments). There are also 5 EQ presets – pop, rock, jazz, classical, and speech.
Things we don’t like
KEiiD Compact doesn’t have the AM tuner, only FM. If you need something with AM reception, look elsewhere.
4. Most User-Friendly Stereo System – Onkyo CS-265 Home Audio System
Onkyo CS-265 is another small and compact system. Unlike the previous two, this one is not an all-in-one system – there are the main unit and two speakers. CS-265 plays CDs, it has AM/FM tuners, it can play files from a USB flash drive, and it’s Bluetooth-enabled. The system is priced under $250.
Things we like
The packaging includes the main unit, two 2-way speakers (D-T25), remote, and AM and FM antennas.
All the units are black. They all have nice rounded edges and look very elegant. The front of the main unit is reserved for a long LCD display. Below the display, there’s a disc tray. At the bottom, there are AUX input and a USB port (for music playback and for charging).
On the top panel, there’s an array of control buttons that you can use to control the playback, search for radio stations, select input, etc. Right above the buttons, there’s the NFC tag for quick pairing.
On the rear panel, you have AM and FM antenna inputs, RCA inputs, and speaker terminals.
The speakers are made of plastic and have very interesting metal grilles with two bulges where the drivers are.
Aside from the CD playback capabilities (regular audio CDs and mp3 CDs) and AM/FM tuners (with 30 radio presets), Onkyo CS-265 can play audio from a USB flash drive. You can also connect your phone and charge it while playing audio from it. Thanks to the AUX and RCA inputs, you can connect external analog audio sources.
The system supports Bluetooth connectivity, too. It features Bluetooth 4.0 with a standard range and stable wireless connection. The system supports NFC quick pairing so if you have some NFC compatible device, you can just tap that NFC tag on the top.
Each speaker has two drivers – one 4in woofer and one 2in tweeter. The power output is rated at 20W RMS per channel. Onkyo CS-265 doesn’t sound like a $1,000 system but it does a pretty good job for the price. The bass is not very deep, but it’s fast, accurate, and effective. The mids are sweet and dynamic. The highs are consistent. They may lack a little bit of detail but are still very engaging. There are two super-bass modes (bass enhancement) but, to be honest, the system sounds better without the bass boost.
Things we don’t like
AM and FM receptions are below-average. They are not awful, but we’ve seen quite a few systems with a better reception at this price point.
The system is Bluetooth-enabled but doesn’t support the multipoint pairing. It also doesn’t support aptX and other advanced codecs (only SBC).
Some may consider Bluetooth 4.0 a bit outdated but we’ve seen so many systems featuring Bluetooth 2.1 and we can’t really say that using Bluetooth 4.0 instead of Bluetooth 5.0 is a flaw. After all, the Bluetooth connection works as advertised.
5. Most Compact Home Stereo System – Yamaha MCR-B020BL
The next home stereo system comes from Yamaha’s Micro series. It’s tiny but powerful. It’s also easy to use and fairly versatile. MCR-B020BL can easily fit all kinds of environments and can be yours for less than $200.
Things we like
The system comes with two sets of speaker wire, a simple remote, and FM and AM antennas.
The whole system is angled upward. It’s all-black and looks very stylish. Due to its small size, it can fit just any place – you can place it on a bookshelf, in your kitchen, living room, bedroom, etc.
Unlike some previous units, Yamaha MCR-B020BL features a very clean design with just a few buttons on the main unit. On the front panel, you have a CD tray, volume dial, and an LCD display. The display shows the info about the track, radio frequency, selected source, etc.
On the top, there are the playback, tuning, and input controls. You will also see the USB port (for music playback and charging) and headphone output.
On the back, you have one AUX input, AM and FM inputs (for the antennas), speaker terminals, and power input.
The system can play regular and mp3 audio CDs. It can also play some audio files (mp3 and WMA) from a USB flash drive. The USB port can be used for charging, too. If you have an analog source that you want to connect, you can use the AUX input on the rear panel. AM and FM tuners are very good and offer more than satisfying reception.
If you want to stream music wirelessly, there’s also Bluetooth connectivity. MB020BL features Bluetooth 4.0 with a standard 30ft range. It supports SBC audio codec only.
The system also has a clock, sleep timer, and alarm.
The speakers are kind of small. Each speaker houses one 4in full-range driver. The peak power output per channel is 15W. The bass response is not flawless and lacks depth and dynamism. Mids, on the other hand, are very accurate and detailed. The high end is articulate but lacks some detail. If you want to change the signature, you can try playing with the EQ adjustments (EQ LOW, EQ MID, and EQ HIGH).
Things we don’t like
The Bluetooth module supports only the SBC audio codec. AptX and other codecs from the aptX family are not supported. Also, NFC pairing and multipoint pairing are not supported.
6. Best Bang for The Buck – Sony MHC-EC619iP
Sony is an omnipresent brand. You can find a Sony product in almost every segment of the audio industry and home stereo systems are not different. The next one on our list of 7 best home stereo systems is Sony’s MHC-EC619iP. This one is maybe not as compact as the previous systems but it’s also more powerful and louder than others. It has all the standard features you would expect a stereo system to have, plus it has some advanced features (Bluetooth connectivity, recording to a USB, iPhone dock). The system is priced under $250. The performance is even better than the price implies.
Things we like
The system comes with a fully-featured remote, FM antenna, and all the necessary speaker wire.
MHC-EC619iP features quite a unique and recognizable design. It’s all-black. All the units, especially the main one, are very eye-catching.
All the controls are on the main unit’s front panel. CD tray and a USB port (for music playback and charging) are also located on the front. At the top, there’s a large LCD display.
On the top panel, there’s an 8-pin Lightning connector dock for iPhones/iPods. On the rear panel of the main unit, there are the speaker terminals, FM antenna input, and power input.
The system has one CD tray and plays regular and mp3 audio CDs. The USB port can be used for music playback (mp3 and WMA) and for charging other devices. You can also connect your phone to the system via USB cable and play music from the phone. The USB can also be used for recording any audio content from any CD (it will be saved in mp3 format).
MHC-EC619iP has a built-in FM tuner and comes with an FM antenna. The reception is very good and you can save up to 20 presets.
In the end, the system has a clock, sleep timer, and alarm.
Along with the main unit, you are getting two 2-way speakers. Each speaker has one 5.25in woofer and one 1.5in horn tweeter (similar to Klipsch speakers). The RMS power output per channel is rated at 60W (120W in total). The sound is powerful, punchy, and very loud. This system is, without a doubt, louder than any of the previously reviewed systems. It also delivers deeper bass. The mids are fairly detailed and articulate, while the highs are a little bit brighter. You can control the sound signature in so many ways. First, you have 8 different EQ presets. Second, you can press the bass boost button and get a stronger low end. Third, you can adjust the EQ curve manually.
Things we don’t like
Unlike many other systems on the market, Sony MHC-EC619iP doesn’t have a standard 3.5mm audio input. That makes us think that this stereo system is made for iOS users. Also, playing music through USB connection doesn’t work with Android devices.
The system doesn’t have the AM tuner, only FM.
7. Best Budget – Jensen JBS-200
Jensen JBS-200 is smaller than all the previous systems. It’s not as good-looking and not as versatile but it still offers pretty good performance and versatility. If you can’t spend more than $70, JBS-200 is a viable option.
Things we like
The packaging includes the main unit, two speakers (with a speaker wire), and a remote.
JBS-200 is the smallest and simplest system on our list of 7 best home stereo systems in 2021. It looks ordinary and boxy.
On the front panel of the main unit, there’s a tiny LCD screen and all the control buttons (power, input, playback controls, tuning controls, pairing button). At the bottom, there’s the AUX input. On the top, there’s a CD tray and the NFC quick pairing tag. On the back, you will find the FM antenna input, speaker connectors, headphone output, and power input.
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Jensen JBS-200 has more features than you would expect at this price point. Aside from the CD playback capabilities (regular audio CDs and mp3 CDs) and AM/FM tuners, JBS-200 enables you to connect external audio sources (via AUX input) and to stream music wirelessly via Bluetooth. It even supports NFC pairing.
Like many other stereo systems, JBS-200 has a clock, sleep timer, and alarm.
Each speaker has one full-range 2W driver. The sound reproduction is not the best and the biggest flaw is the lack of bass. The mids are clear, detailed, and dynamic. The same goes for highs. There are 4 EQ presets – pop, rock, classic, and jazz.
Things we don’t like
The bass response is really poor and that’s the biggest downside.
The system has a built-in AM tuner, but the AM reception is simply awful.
This is the end of our list of 7 best home stereo systems in 2021. Hopefully, there was something that fits your budget and your needs. For the end, we have prepared a short FAQs section with some tips on what to look for when buying a home stereo system. If you have any additional questions or want to share your experience, feel free to comment.
Q: What is the best home stereo system to buy?
A: No one can give you a definite answer to that question. It all depends on your needs and budget. Do you need it to be small and compact or large and powerful? Do you want an advanced system with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity? Or do you want something cheap with basic features (CD player and AM/FM receivers)? Our list of 7 best home stereo systems in 2021 covers all these categories. You just have to set your priorities and find the best system for your needs.
Q: What is a good stereo system?
A: A good stereo system is the one that has all the features that you need. In my case, it would have to be a powerful system (but not too large). The speakers don’t have to offer an audiophile performance but the sound has to be clear and nicely balanced with powerful bass. Bluetooth connectivity is definitely a plus. Wi-Fi connectivity is great. However, you have to be aware that any additional feature increases the price, especially Wi-Fi connectivity, smart features, and multiroom capabilities.
Q: How much does a good home stereo system cost?
A: You can find a cheap and compact home stereo system for less than $100 (even less than $50 for generic brands). Our advice is to spend more. Some pretty good stereo systems are priced around $200, while the great ones are priced over $200 (sometimes even over $500).
Q: Do expensive speakers sound better?
A: The good-old rule that you get what you pay for applies to almost everything you buy. That includes speakers. Sure, you can always get a great deal and buy a great-sounding speaker with a performance that surpasses the price tag, but the general rule is – expensive speakers do sound better than the cheap speakers. Also, you should know that the difference between a $50 speaker and a $500 speaker is often much bigger than the difference between a $500 speaker and a $2,000 speaker.
Q: Should I get an all-in-one home stereo system or should I buy an amp and speakers separately?
A: If you ask audiophiles, you will always get the same answer – buy all your audio equipment separately. All-in-one stereo systems will never be as good as custom-made systems. And that’s absolutely true.
However, if you are a regular guy/girl looking for a clean, simple, and easy-to-use stereo system with a nice performance, an all-in-one home stereo system is not a bad choice. So, if you don’t want to spend a fortune on a stereo system or if you need something compact and simple, go for one of the products from our list of 7 best home stereo systems in 2021. You won’t regret it.
Hello, my name is James Longman.
I’m a writer and editor at AudioReputation. I disassembled my first portable AM/FM radio when I was only 8. At the age of 11, I burned the circuit board on my old boombox cassette player. I’m not going to explain how but it was reckless and stupid.
Since then, I have become much more careful around radios, boomboxes, and other audio devices (at least, I like to think so) but I have never lost the passion for audio equipment. Throughout 20 years of my professional career, I’ve been working for various audio equipment manufacturers and even started building speakers on my own in my little workshop.
I love the work we do here at AudioReputation. Testing, comparing, and evaluating all kinds of audio devices (speakers, soundbars, headphones, home theater systems, etc.) is something I truly enjoy. I try to be unbiased and give you my honest opinion on every piece of equipment I test. Still, you should take my reviews with a pinch of salt and always be just a little bit skeptical. The fact that I liked some speaker or soundbar doesn’t mean that you are going to love it. If you have the opportunity, you should test it/hear it before buying it.