Home stereo systems are making a comeback, especially with the popularity of home speakers which connect to your home assistant devices. We have updated this list each year to include products that we felt were the best representative of home stereo speakers in the current times. Smart speakers are a great example of the evolution of a compact home stereo speaker.
Compact Home Stereo Systems & Full Home Stereo Systems
We’ve broken our list up into two distinct sections. First, we’ll cover the best compact home stereo systems before looking at larger, less portable options. Compact home stereo systems can be placed around your kitchen, living area, or bedroom as they are typically small and discrete enough. You can easily carry these speakers to various parts of your home on a whim.
The full stereo systems are more of your traditional home stereo systems with two speakers, which are separated from the source components. Meaning that the speakers can be moved around the room and angled towards the listener. These larger speaker systems tend to offer more volume and better sound quality but also don’t come with the versatility of the compact choices. While they are still fairly easy to move between rooms, the process would be much simpler with a compact option.
Which Are You Looking For?
Full Home 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.
We understand that versatility and sound quality are important factors when looking for a home stereo. When selecting these products, we had a look at their overall sound quality and their listening options. All of these products have a decent sound quality, you might not be able to host ragers with all of them. But they are more than capable of a dinner party.
These products offer a variety of inputs and listening options to meet any need you could have. Because there has been a shift away from CD support, we have included products that are based instead around assistant support.
List of the Best Home Stereo Systems
1. 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 remove all limits completely. 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 Philips 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. Philips’ 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 great versatility to suit various styles of music or media.
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2. 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.
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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.
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4. 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.
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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.
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.
Read our full review on the Bose Wave Sound System.
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2. Keiid Compact 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 six 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 that 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 talk to Siri or Google. The system has a remote control that allows you to control all of the KEiiD Compact functions, including the speakerphone.
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3. Bose Home Speaker 500
Home audio pioneers Bose grabbed our attention with this Home Speaker 500 model, which is a compact, great-sounding, and versatile home stereo speaker that isn’t all that expensive for what it’s worth.
The Bose Home Speaker 500 adopts a futuristic design style, with an LCD panel on the front that displays album artwork, track title, and other information about what’s currently playing. Being a feature we’ve never seen before on a smaller speaker like this, I must say I really like this, though it may not add much value to some.
The Home Speaker 500 supports Bluetooth, WIFI, and auxiliary inputs for media playback. As with some others on this, an RCA or Optical cable would have been nice, but the up-to-date Bluetooth codecs and modern features can make up for this. The speaker can be controlled using the buttons on the control panel or using the Bose Music App, where you can also make equalization adjustments and save up to six presets for quick recall. The app also allows connecting to streaming applications and internet radio stations.
The Bose Home Speaker 500 is Alexa compatible, but no other virtual assistant technologies are supported. The onboard microphones are situated all around the speaker, ensuring you’ll always be heard by Alexa, who can also be muted.
The sound signature here is Bose’s signature bass-enhanced tonal profile, which will without a doubt be appreciated by fans of bass-heavy music, though this particular speaker’s low-end enrichment does cause some serious deterioration of clarity along the remaining frequency spectrum. For a more well-balanced listening experience, I’d recommend taking a look at Sonos home stereo speakers, particularly the Sonos One, but if you’re after that thumping bass, the Bose Home Stereo 500 is a great choice.
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4. Denon Home 350
With a variety of modern features and superb sound quality, the Denon Home range of home stereo systems is one of our favorites. The 350 model is compact but powerful, available in black or white, this elegant design compliments any home theater or entertainment area.
The Denon Home 350 operates as a wireless home stereo speaker and accepts Bluetooth, USB, WIFI, Apple Airplay, or auxiliary playback. With all these input options, I feel they could have gone the extra mile and added an RCA input, so it’s a little easier to connect to your TV, though there are more than enough alternatives here.
The 350 also supports popular voice assistant programs like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple’s Siri, where you can control all the features relating to music playback, and the onboard microphone allows for new voice command functions to be added with each firmware update. If you prefer the feel of analog switches, there are also a series of buttons to perform such commands.
The Denon Home 350 is powered by a pair of 6.5-inch woofers, two 2-inch midrange drivers, and dual 3.25-inch tweeters to represent source material accurately. This speaker can get incredibly loud for its size, and the sound is warm and full-bodied, guaranteeing to fill any room. Aside from the previously mentioned connectivity options, the Home 350 can also connect to radio frequencies, and up to three presets can be stored on the speaker.
The Home 350 can also be paired with another of its kind to form a stereo pair or another speaker in the Denon Home speaker range, which includes smaller and larger models. While the Home 350 isn’t exactly affordable to all, you’ll certainly get your money’s worth and won’t find yourself wishing for more features or functionality- the Denon Home 350 has it all. Supporting many of the same features, the Klipsch Heritage Three is another elegantly-designed home stereo speaker that goes for around 100 bucks cheaper than the Denon Home 350.
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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.
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. In the past, we had stated that home stereo speakers were typically not easily portable, but in recent years we’ve begun to see the Bluetooth speaker market merge with home audio.
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 reviewed numerous products and chose what we deem 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!
Because the speaker landscape is constantly evolving, we attempt to update this article regularly and adapt it to the current market. We’ve started to include smart home speakers, which have started to replace a lot of portable home stereo systems.
When we go through the process of selecting our products, we consider multiple factors. We look at the price of the product, the performance, what customers have said, the product specifications, the brand’s reputation, and their previous products.
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.
That doesn’t suggest that big sound can’t be found in smaller devices. Many smaller speakers can still produce some amazing quality, but if you’re looking to rattle your windows while watching your favorite action movie, then going for a larger system, perhaps with an added sub-woofer, is going to be the move.
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.
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.