Best_Home_Stereo_System

The Best Home Stereo Systems

Home stereo systems are making a big comeback, with the ever-popular Bose Wave Music System and the Keiid Compact Stereo System being some of the most desired options on the market. We have updated this list to include all the models that fueled the comeback, along with the more recent releases. We ensured to only include the speakers that meet our standards of quality and performance.

Home Stereo System vs Bluetooth Speaker

Do you really need to understand the differences? Well, yes, you do. We want to help you fully understand which sound system is best for you and your lifestyle.

Portable Bluetooth Speakers 1

Bluetooth Speaker

Best_Home_Stereo_System

Home Stereo System

What Are the Differences?

Power Source and Portability

The first difference between the two is power source and portability. A home stereo system requires power from a socket to operate while a portable Bluetooth speaker can operate off its built-in battery. This means your Bluetooth speaker is going to be portable while the home stereo system is more of a fixed unit. If you want a speaker that you can take on the go, a home stereo speaker is not for you.

Control

The second difference is how you control the sound system. Almost all home stereo systems come with a remote control while portable Bluetooth speakers typically don’t. This is because Bluetooth speakers are mostly portable and any additional accessories would probably get lost. Nowadays Bluetooth speakers come with an app which means you can adjust settings using your phone. We’re also seeing more and more home stereo systems coming out with apps that allow you to control everything from audio to internal configurations.

AM / FM Radio

The last major difference is the AM/ FM radio feature. Most, if not all, home stereo systems come with AM/FM radio as standard while most Bluetooth speakers do not have this feature. To pick up AM/FM stations, you need an antenna. Having an antenna on a portable Bluetooth speaker just isn’t practical as it would make the device less portable. Home stereo systems are installed in the home and can, therefore, connect an antenna to pick up radio stations.

How Did We Select These Stereo Systems?

When reviewing this list of the best home stereo systems, we carefully went through numerous products and chose what we deem as the best. We have tried to include all the best stereo systems, if you feel we have left one out, let us know in the comment section!

With this article being an updated version of a previous list, we also had the opportunity to look at our own data to see which products you guys loved the most. We decided to keep four of the products from our original list.

When we go through the process of selecting our products, we consider multiple factors. We look at the price of the product, the number of reviews, what customers have said, the product specifications, the brand’s reputation, and their previous products.

Compact Stereo Systems

Compact stereo systems break away from the traditional configuration of two standalone speakers and a control element and incorporate all components into a single unit. These, of course, narrow the stereo field and occupy far less space than a full-on stereo system.

Due to their size, their ability to fill a room is somewhat limited. However, certain models are more than capable of producing loud, warm, and dynamic audio. If you’re looking for a more compact solution that you can situate virtually anywhere within your home, a compact stereo system is what you’re after.

Our Pick!

Bose Wave IV Compact Stereo

The Bose Wave IV has become a favorite with good reason. The sound quality offered by this compact and versatile home stereo system is tough to beat.

If you like quirky products, then you’ll love the KEiiD Compact. It is made from a VW stereo refit to combine two worlds to create a stylish and unique home stereo system with a modern retro aesthetic. The result is better than you would ever expect.

The Bose Wave Music System IV is arguably one of the best home stereo systems currently on the market. This dual speaker has advanced internal processing to deliver one of the best audio experiences for a system this size.

As this is a car stereo receiver, the KEiiD Compact has a built-in speakerphone. It allows you to make hands-free calls and to talk to Siri or Google. The system comes with a remote control that allows you to control all of the KEiiD Compact functions including the speakerphone.

Como’s Compact home stereo system comes fitted with all the modern features, housed in an elegant walnut or hickory wood enclosure. The speaker can read data from various mediums and includes several helpful features.

List of the Best Compact Home Stereos

1. Bose Wave IV Compact Stereo

The Bose Wave Music System IV is arguably one of the best home stereo systems currently on the market. This dual speaker has advanced internal processing to deliver one of the best audio experiences for a system this size. The bass response boosted while still retaining a good amount of definition. If you’re not fond of big bass, this can be adjusted on the internal EQ. Both the mid-range and treble are well balanced with a notable crisp high-frequency response adding to the speaker’s intelligibility and clarity.

There is no shortage of input options, these include ⅛-inch AUX, USB, Bluetooth, and WiFi. There is an Ethernet port if you prefer to connect to your home network using a cable. For fans of the old school, there is also a built-in AM/FM radio and CD player. A ⅛-inch headphone jack is also located on the rear of the Wave IV.

Using the WiFi connection, you can play audio from popular streaming services and internet radio stations like Sirius XM. Streaming is done through the app which even allows you to set up to six presets of your favorite stream service, playlist, podcast, or radio station. It is compatible with Alexa through an Amazon Echo device.

Fans of minimal design features will appreciate no buttons cluttering up the speaker. There is a large LCD display flanked by speakers left and right. To turn the device on and off you simply touch the top of the speaker. Controlling this system can be done using the supplied remote or via the app available for both iOS and Android.

With the Wave IV, you have the option of setting up two separate alarms. You also have the option of choosing the audio you wake up to be it a song, playlist, radio station, CD, podcast, etc. Stopping the alarm is as simple as tapping the top of the Wave IV, just like an old-school alarm clock. Alarms can be programmed using the remote or via the app. You can even snooze the alarm from across the room using the snooze button on the remote.

To read our full review on the Bose Wave Sound System click here.


2. Keiid Compact Stereo

Keiid Stereo

If you like quirky products, then you’ll love the KEiiD Compact. It is made from a VW stereo refit to combine two worlds to create a stylish and unique home stereo system with a modern retro aesthetic. The result is better than you would ever expect.

The single unit has a 2-way speaker system, left and right of the receiver. Each speaker features a 4” low-frequency driver with a 1” tweeter. KEiiD doesn’t specify the output of the system, however, I would put this at between 20W to 40W RMS. The wooden frame housing helps to produce a punchy low-end response. The mid-range and treble are clean with a nice high-frequency sizzle.

When it comes to inputs, the KEiiD Compact includes RCA, ⅛-inch AUX, USB, SD, and Bluetooth. The KEiiD Compact also features a built-in front loader-styled CD player and HD FM radio tuner. The unit is fitted with a telescopic antenna for picking up radio stations.

The KEiiD Compact receiver is laid out exactly like a VW car stereo. With 6 preset buttons located on either side of the LCD display with a bank of buttons controlling various functions. There is a separate rotary knob for volume and track skip/radio tuning. It also has separate controls for bass, mid-range, and treble so you can fine-tune the KEiiD Compact to your room or personal preference.

As this is a car stereo receiver, the KEiiD Compact has a built-in speakerphone. It allows you to make hands-free calls and to talk to Siri or Google. The system comes with a remote control that allows you to control all of the KEiiD Compact functions including the speakerphone.


3. Como Audio Compact Stereo

Como’s Compact home stereo system comes fitted with all the modern features, housed in an elegant walnut or hickory wood enclosure. The speaker can read data from various mediums and includes several helpful features.

The Como Audio stereo supports many connections, including Bluetooth, USB, 3.5mm Auxiliary, Optical, FM Radio, and CD Disc. The USB input will also successfully charge many modern cell phones, and WiFi connectivity is also available- permitting multi-room style usage. The Como system also includes a line output to extend sound to alternate speakers or headphones and a wired ethernet connection as an alternative to the WiFi option.

The Como system can be controlled using either the remote or the free mobile app. While there are many connectivity options on this stereo system, I feel they could have included an RCA input for use with a television. One can still use the auxiliary input, but an RCA would have been nice.

The Como Audio Musica stereo system has been designed with compactness in mind, occupying very little space on your tv cabinet or countertop. The stereo adopts an all-in-one design where the head unit and speakers are all contained within one enclosure. This will reduce the stereo field, of course. However, the Como Audio Musica still sounds decent. While it may not be as loud as other systems on this list, the 25W power capabilities of the Musica are sufficient for at-home casual listening or to use in conjunction with your television.

As for the overall sound quality, the design and components of this speaker provide quite a mid-heavy listening experience. While this is good for vocal-lead songs and arrangements, the Como Audio system is not for you if you listen to more instrumental-driven music or are looking for a good bass response.


4. Keiid Boombox Compact Stereo

KEiiD adopts a retro-style design approach to compact stereo systems with their Boombox-type model, designed primarily for desktop use in the home office. However, you can certainly use it in your home theater environment, kitchen, bedroom, or even outdoors.

The KEiiD Boombox speaker has many modern features to create a user-friendly and versatile device. The Boombox can accept various connections, including CD, Bluetooth, FM Radio, and 3.5mm Auxiliary.

The onboard LED alarm clock is a great feature and includes a calendar, 12- or 24-hour display, 3-level dimmer, alarm volume, and adjustable alarm tones. The onboard FM radio receiver can save up to 30 preset stations, and its Y-shape copper antenna ensures high-quality signal reception. The unit can be controlled using the provided remote control.

The KEiiD Boombox stereo system utilizes 2 x 15W bass drivers and 2 x dome silk tweeters to deliver rich and natural sound with deep bass. There are five equalizations presets to choose from which further enhance sound quality: Flat, rock, pop, jazz, or classic.

The wood materials resonate well with the speakers, and while the stereo image is smaller due to the all-in-one design, this speaker can still produce decent volume sounds great in any setting. If you’re looking to listen privately, the 3.5mm output jack can be used for headphones or extending the signal to an external, louder speaker if you wish.


Non-Compact Stereo Systems

Stereo systems probably obtained their informal name due to creating a large stereo field for music, film, and radio. They come as a set of two standalone speakers, powered and controlled by a head unit, usually situated between them.

Stereo speakers are available in many sizes and configurations, from small 3-inch full-range drivers to larger enclosures that house dedicated woofers, midrange drivers, and tweeters. If you’re looking for a louder, fuller-sounding speaker system for bigger bass, sharper treble, and bringing your films to life – a stereo system is what you need. 

Our Pick!

Sharp XL – BH250

The Sharp XL-BH250 is a great example of one of those old-school home stereo systems but with some modern touches and features.

The XL-BH250 is a 3-piece home stereo system with a receiver and 2 x 4” speakers each capable of producing 25W RMS. Even with only 25W, the XL-BH250 has some serious bark. Easily enough to fill small to medium-sized living spaces. The bass is clean with a nice punch, however, this is not a party system by any means. The mid-range and treble are pleasant with a good balance and clean sound.

Monolithic technology designers and manufacturers Philips dominate many markets, home entertainment being one of them. While most stereo systems nowadays are controlled by one’s cell phone using Bluetooth technology, the FX10 features various connectivity options to completely remove all limits.

The Sharp XL-BH250 is a great example of one of those old-school home stereo systems but with some modern touches and features. The biggest difference between the XL-BH250 and 90s 5-disc changers is the size. The XL-BH250 is about half the size and sounds twice as good.

LG brings us a monstrous home stereo system packed full of various epic features to transform your home entertainment area into an immersive theater experience, dancefloor, and all-around enjoyable setup.

List of the Best Home Stereo Systems

1. Sharp XL-BH250

Best Home Stereo System Sharp XL-BH250

The Sharp XL-BH250 is a great example of one of those old-school home stereo systems but with some modern touches and features. The biggest difference between the XL-BH250 and 90s 5-disc changers is the size. The XL-BH250 is about half the size and sounds twice as good.

The XL-BH250 is a 3-piece home stereo system with a receiver and 2 x 4” speakers each capable of producing 25W RMS. Even with only 25W, the XL-BH250 has some serious bark. Easily enough to fill small to medium-sized living spaces. The bass is clean with a nice punch, however, this is not a party system by any means. The mid-range and treble are pleasant with a good balance and clean sound.

Aside from the 5-disc CD player, the XL-BH250 also has a built-in AM/FM radio. The XL-BH250 plays both CD-R and CD-RW. In addition, there are three inputs including ⅛-inch AUX, USB, and Bluetooth with NFC. There is also a ⅛-inch headphone output. All you need from a modern-day home stereo system. Both the USB and AUX inputs are located on the front panel making them easy to access.

There are several buttons on the front display including a separate button for each CD tray. This makes switching CDs and ejecting CDs quick and easy. A large rotary knob in the center of the receiver adjusts the volume control. The LCD display shows an array of information including track info, audio settings, clock, and timer information.

The supplied remote enables you to access all of the functions mentioned above and more. The XL-BH250 features an X-Bass bass boost which can be engaged or disengaged via the remote. There is also separate tone control for bass and treble adjustment. You can also set up your clock and timer settings using the remote. The front panel LCD on the receiver is large enough that you can do this from across the room.


2. Philips FX10

Monolithic technology designers and manufacturers Philips dominate many markets, home entertainment being one of them. While most stereo systems nowadays are controlled by one’s cell phone using Bluetooth technology, the FX10 features various connectivity options to completely remove all limits. These include an onboard CD player, FM Radio frequency receiver, and a USB port, allowing you to experience musical content from multiple sources.

For movies and games, of course, the Sony FX10 can accommodate either an RCA connection or 3.5mm auxiliary cable directly from your television, freeing up the additional I/O to other devices. The FX10 is controllable by a remote control which can direct virtually all of the features of the FX10 stereo system.

The FX10 uses two active power amplifiers to deliver cleaner, fuller sound. Dedicated amplifiers are used to drive the woofers and tweeters independently, eliminating inter-modulation, which can interfere with the speakers’ performance, inherently muddying up the sound quality.

The dual-amplification method essentially provides tighter, deeper, and more powerful bass responses while the higher end of the frequency spectrum remains detailed and pure. Combined with an active crossover system, advanced control of the speakers is gained, achieving a well-balanced and natural sound, perfect for movies, music, gaming, or radio.

While the authentic qualities of the FX10 are a great fit for many applications, sometimes a little more ‘oomph’ is called for. Sony’s MAX Sound technology allows for an overall volume boost and low-end boosting at the push of a button, guaranteed to enhance any multimedia experience. Additionally, the onboard EQ presets allow for great versatility to suit various styles of music or media.


3. LG CK99

LG brings us a monstrous home stereo system packed full of various epic features to transform your home entertainment area into an immersive theater experience, dancefloor, and all-around enjoyable setup.

The CK99 features many party-friendly features designed to elevate your gathering to create memories you’ll never forget. The CK99 holds a mighty 15-inch woofer to pump out thunderous low-end that’ll rattle your bones and shake the roof! They included various party lighting options on the CK99, including dual strobes and dance effects that light to the beat of the music.

The built-in karaoke mode of the CK99 is packed with several nifty features to jazz up your house party. There is no need to download karaoke backtracks, as the CK99 suppresses the frequency band occupied by the human voice to create an instrumental version of any song. The track can then be pitch-shifted to suit the vocal range of whoever holds the mic, and available voice filters can further enhance your singing or alter your voice for comedic purposes.

Up to 4 devices can connect to the CK99 at once using Bluetooth, and music can be mixed using the onboard DJ controls, including effects, beats, and sampling. The CK99 also accepts a 3.5mm auxiliary input, FM radio channels, CDs, or up to 2 USB devices at once.


4. Sony CMT-SBT100

Sony CMT-SBT100

The CMT-SBT100 is a 3-piece stereo system with a receiver and two separate speakers. Even though this is a 3-piece system the CMT-SBT100 is compact enough that it won’t take up too much space while still providing room-filling sound. The CMT-SBT100 features 2 x two-way 25W speakers each with a low-frequency driver and tweeter.

The combined 50W Sony stereo system delivers a surprising amount of volume for its size. More than enough to fill small to medium living spaces. The bass is present but I wouldn’t call the CMT-SBT100 a bassy stereo system. It’s more than adequate for most, however, bass fans might find the CMT-SBT100 somewhat limiting in the low-end. The mid-range and treble are clean delivering excellent clarity for both music and dialogue-heavy audio like the radio or podcasts.

Even though the CMT-SBT100 is compact, it certainly makes space for inputs. These include ⅛-Inch AUX, USB, and Bluetooth. There is also a built-in AM/FM radio and CD player (plays CD-R & CD-RW). A ⅛-inch headphone output is located on the front panel. The CMT-SBT100 is NFC enables so a Bluetooth connection is instantaneous for NFC enabled devices simply by tapping the sensor on the stereo system.

The front of the CMT-SBT100 is neatly laid out with buttons to access controls and functions, a large rotary volume knob, and an LCD display. The USB port is also located on the front panel for easy access. Buttons include power, function (input selector), Bluetooth pairing, play/pause, track skip/radio tuning, and EQ. As with most Sony products, there is a Bass Boost button which enhances the low-end of the speakers. This definitely increases the bass but, as mentioned, isn’t as significant as you would expect. The EQ button allows you to independently adjust bass and treble.

In addition to the front panel controls, the CMT-SBT100 comes with a remote to control all of what’s mentioned above and more. On the remote, you’ll find separate buttons for each of the inputs, AM/FM radio and CD player making switching between these quick and easy. There are separate buttons to adjust treble and bass as well as the Sony Bass Boost feature.


Need a Home Stereo? Here’s What you Should Look For

You’re still not sure which home stereo system is right for you? Have a read through our buyer’s guide where we narrow down the options for you. We have covered the most important features to look at when purchasing a home stereo system.

Does Size Matter?

In some cases, yes it does. If you’re going to install your stereo where space is limited, then you want to look at a compact stereo system. However, remember with a smaller device the less low-end response and the poorer the sound quality will be. Larger speakers tend to produce more bass while delivering better clarity and detail.

What Features Should you Look for?

Are you looking for something simple or are you looking for something advanced with loads of features? Some home stereo systems now connect to your WiFi network which means they can integrate with systems like Alexa or Google Assistant. Some home stereo systems even have their own apps they can connect to.

On the other hand, you might just want to play CDs, listen to the radio, play your cassette tapes or plug in your AUX cord, in which case all the added extra features would be a waste.

It Needs to Sound Great

We all want the best sound our budget can buy. If you’re really fussy about what your stereo system should sound like, be prepared to spend some money. Obviously, the more expensive options sound significantly better but none of our home stereo systems we have listed sound poor in any way.

Bass is something many consumers base their decision on. In our options we’ve featured, we’re honest about the expectations on the bass response so, if you are looking for big bass, look for the comments on low-end or bass. We also point out what to expect from overall clarity and sound quality.

If you’re looking for a powerful home stereo system, keep an eye on the power output measured in watts (W). The higher the watts RMS or Peak, the more powerful your stereo system will be.

Which Inputs and Outputs are Most Important?

Most people just use Bluetooth these days to stream their favorite music. But did you know it’s better for sound quality to use the AUX input? If you don’t need to use your mobile device while the music is playing, rather connect an audio cable via the AUX. Some home stereo systems use an RCA or ⅛-inch AUX input. For RCA connections you will need an RCA to ⅛” cable to connect to your mobile devices.

If you want to connect external devices or speakers, then you’ll need a line or digital output. You don’t find line outputs often on modern home stereo systems but we have included a couple in this article.

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Written by
Matt

Matt is a sound engineer and self-confessed vinyl-junkie! His work as a sound engineer includes both live production and venue installations. While traveling the world, Matt shares his knowledge and expertise with us!

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14 comments
  • After 27 yrs my Kenwood stereo system has died. Where can I find a system that can accommodate vinyl, CD, and cassettes ?

    • Hi Crystine, thanks for getting in touch!

      Sorry to hear about your Kenwood. You’ll be hard-pressed to find an all-in-one system that plays cassettes these days but we’d suggest the 1byone Nostalgic Wooden Turntable. It seems to have everything you’re looking for. You can view it here

      Hope that helps!

      • No I don’t think it does. I’m in a similar position. I want a proper, decent quality system. Yes Dab+ would be expected but so would a real radio FM & AM, I can live without a record deck but would like a cassette player. Not everyone over 21 wants a ‘nostalgia’ toy. My living room is also 30′ x 17′ so most of these are pathetically weak.
        (Looking for something as my amp has died)

      • I have one of these. Sound quality is not great but all the features work well (vinyl, cassette, CD, Bluetooth). Radio tuner is a bit cheap, local stations are even fuzzy. I’m in market for something better for sound, hence why I’m on this page!

  • So not one of these ‘sterio systems’ is worthy of the name.
    I don’t mind paying a reasonable sum but these are pathetic. I’ll stick with my 1990s system

  • Not many people try this but you can find amazing deals on old school sound systems at pawn shops and great pricing! Try your luck and I hope it’s good!

  • Matt!
    I have a simple itch that can’t be scratched. I simply want a multi-cd (3-5 cd/mp3 capability that changes automatically so I don’t have to continually change cd’s while shooting pool), am/fm receiver and bluetooth capability. I have a wall full of great cd’s and with the death of my stereo, can’t find this exact match. Any suggestions?

  • We need to replace our old school sound set up with fm/cd/Jack for turntable, etc. We need two speakers with the central setup and two remote speakers. Wired connections are very difficult in this house and we are tired of threading through walls and under floors. Is there any wireless solution for speakers?

  • You completely forgot the Technics compact reference Series or the mini components from Marantz. I can name a few others that have high sales, not just amongst fanboys, but also audiophiles and audio purists alike. They may cost a bit more but also offer more serious room filling sound for their size.

    On another note, the list of components in this article seem nothing more than just average bookshelf stereo systems destined to be sold at stores like Sears or equivalent to Circuit City (if they were still around). Might as well throw in a few RCA audio systems in this list. Basically this list are stereo components for people who want a slight cut above decent soundbars or high end BT speakers, leaving only the convincing factor of price.

    Some of us, like me, were expecting more serious full size audio components like stereo receivers, integrated Amplifiers, network media players… Etc. Also, at the same time being the price range that most average people with average salaries can afford.

    Not trying to be a snoot or anything but the misleading title in this article is what lead me to post my thoughts.

  • To tell the truth, I really like the concept of home stereo systems because these devices are really innovative and modern. I think that their development is a great breakthrough in the sphere of technologies, but, of course, it is really important to choose the most effective one and it is so valuable that you provided us with such wonderful models. Of course, all these mentioned stereo systems have a great deal of advantages and highlights, but I fell in love with KEiiD Compact because it meets all my requests and it has an absolutely unique visual component. It is so cool that you can fine-tune the KEiiD Compact to your room or personal preference because you can adjust it to yourself, which is really important. The structure of this stereo system is so modern and I think that it is truly decent value for money, especially for a true connoisseur of home stereo systems.

  • My friend has a Bose Mini Soundlink 2, and it creates impressive bass and treble, and clear sounds, for being such a small device. I can only imagine how good the Bose Wave IV is… but dang, that price tag!

  • Home stereo systems come in various different shapes and sizes. Whether you’re searching for a music system to flow your most liked bands or you desire a theater-grade sound quality for your movies and shows, there is lot of alternatives for you to select from. The perfect system for you may not be the perfect for someone else, and that’s perfectly okay. All of the new brands on the market provide USB connectivity, along with wireless Bluetooth connectivity, and all the more in between. There are closely packed systems that work for small rooms and large complex designs which are designed for more tangled up listening experiences. We are aware that it can be hard to restrict your search to a single home stereo system, so we made eight of our favorites derived from different criteria and spotlighted some of the beautiful features of each brand.