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.
The Philips FX10 is the best home stereo. It’s relatively affordable and compact but still offers excellent audio quality and many features. This is also our budget recommendation.
Best Compact Home Stereo
The Bose Wave IV is the best compact home stereo. It still offers CD and AM/FM support but also caters to smart features with its WiFi connectivity. You’ll also get good audio quality and reasonable volume.
Best Home Smart Speaker
The Denon Home 350 is the best home smart speaker with support for Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple’s Siri. While it’s not the loudest, the audio quality is still impressive.
Loudest & Best Bass Choice
The LG CK99 is our choice for the best bass in a home stereo system. It is a fairly large home stereo system powered by whopping 12″ woofers. These drivers bring a lot of volume and an extremely impressive bass presence.
Compact VS. Full Stereo Systems
We’ve broken our list up into two distinct sections. First, we cover the best full home stereo systems. These larger systems with independent speakers offer better overall sound quality and much more volume. However, they lack many of the smart features that come with some of the compact home stereo systems. These are the types of systems your parents likely had in the living room.
Compact stereo systems are more similar to old kitchen radios in that they can easily be moved to different areas of the house if needed. They tend to compensate for what they may lack in volume with lots of features. Modern compact home stereo systems sometimes offer smart technology with WiFi connectivity.
Which Are You Looking For?
Compact Home Stereo Systems
Full Home Stereo Systems
The Top 8 Home Stereo Systems
In this list, you’ll find our selection of the best home stereo systems, both large and small. We’ve started the list featuring full home stereo options, while the latter portion focuses on compact stereo systems. The first four home stereo systems have Bluetooth support.
1. Philips FX10
Monolithic technology designers and manufacturers, Philips dominate many markets, home entertainment being one of them. The Philips FX10 is a Bluetooth stereo system and allows for wireless connectivity without the need for any additional components, connect with your phone, and you can start playing music.
In terms of additional features and support, this stereo system can play CDs, FM Radio and has a USB input.
For movies and games, of course, the Philips FX10 can accommodate either an RCA connection or a 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 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.
Why We Recommend It
Even with its relatively compact nature, the Philips FX10 delivers quality audio with enough volume to cater to most medium-sized rooms. It offers Bluetooth connectivity, an FM radio, and a USB port. The Philips FX10 is versatile enough not to feel out of place in your entertainment area or office.
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 size is the biggest difference between the XL-BH250 and the 90s 5-disc changers. 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.
Features & Design
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.
Why We Recommend It
The Sharp XL-BH250 is a versatile home stereo that offers excellent value for money. With its 5-disc CD changer, Bluetooth connectivity, and USB input, you can play your music from various sources. The system also features a built-in AM/FM radio tuner and a headphone jack, making it ideal for both personal listening and entertaining guests.
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 up 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.
Despite the small unit size, the speakers on the CK99 are fairly large and powerful.
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.
Why We Recommend It
The LG CK99 is a bit pricy, but it brings entertainment features found on very few other products in this space. The inclusion of a built-in karaoke mode and DJ control makes this a great choice for those who enjoy entertaining or who have kids.
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.
Design & Features
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-enabled, 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 that 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 adjust bass and treble independently.
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 and the Sony Bass Boost feature.
Why We Recommend It
The Sony CMT-SBT100 is best used for small rooms or those with limited volume requirements. The sound quality is clear, but it does lack some bass response. What it lacks in volume, it makes up for with features. It offers Bluetooth support, an AM/FM radio, USB, aux input, and a CD player.
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.
5. 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.
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.
You can play audio from popular streaming services and internet radio stations like Sirius XM using a WiFi connection. Streaming is done through the app, allowing 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 can set up two separate alarms. You can also choose the audio you wake up to. Songs, playlists, radio stations, CDs, podcasts, 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.
The bass response is boosted while still retaining a good amount of definition. Suppose you’re not fond of big bass. In that case, this can be adjusted on the internal EQ. Both the midrange and treble are well balanced, with a notable crisp high-frequency response adding to the speaker’s intelligibility and clarity.
Read our full review of the Bose Wave Sound System.
Why We Recommend It
The Bose Wave music system brings smart features to your stereo system. While it is more compact and less versatile in its speaker positioning, it offers Wi-Fi support along with great sound quality. If you’re looking for a modern smart speaker that still offers some nostalgic media comforts, this is a great choice.
6. 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.
Regarding 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. Six preset buttons are located on either side of the LCD, with a bank of buttons controlling various functions. A separate rotary knob for volume and track skip/radio tuning is also present. 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.
Why We Recommend It
The Keiid Compact Stereo has a vintage look and feels that will be appreciated by those not looking for anything modern but rather just looking for an effective, compact home stereo solution. This isn’t the loudest speaker around, but it can still cover a small room.
7. 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 displaying album artwork, track titles, and other information about what’s playing. Being a feature we’ve never seen before on a smaller speaker like this, I 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.
Features & Sound
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. However, 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. Still, the Bose Home Stereo 500 is a great choice if you’re after that thumping bass.
Why We Recommend It
The Bose Home Speaker 500 lacks the CD player capabilities that most other devices on this list offer and is by far the closest thing to a traditional smart speaker on this list. Still, this speaker can easily integrate with your home audio, especially with the inclusion of Wi-Fi functionality.
8. 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 complements 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 it fills 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.
Why We Recommend It
The Denon Home 350 can be compared with the Bose Home Speaker 500, with both speakers focusing on modern connectivity and support but not offering some of the older features. It features Wi-Fi connectivity, smart features, and crisp audio quality.
Home Stereo System vs. Bluetooth Speakers
Do you really need to understand the differences? Well, yes, you do. We want to help you fully understand the best sound system 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 have 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 isn’t practical, as it would make the device less portable. Home stereo systems are installed in the home and can 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 constantly evolves, 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.
Buyer’s Guide For Home Stereo Systems
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 when purchasing a home stereo system.
Does Size Matter?
In some cases, yes, it does. If you install your stereo where space is limited, then you want to look at a compact stereo system. However, remember that with a smaller device, the less low-end response, 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 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 the 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.
All stereo systems on this list feature either WiFi or Bluetooth connectivity. Bluetooth in stereo systems has become more of an essential than a nice-to-have. Up until a few years ago, while Bluetooth stereo systems weren’t out of place, we still saw a number of models being released without it. These days, it feels obsolete to recommend a stereo system without a wireless connectivity option.
Which Inputs and Outputs are Most Important?
Most people use Bluetooth these days to stream their favorite music. But did you know sound quality should 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. You will need an RCA to ⅛” cable to connect to your mobile devices for RCA connections.
If you want to connect external devices or speakers, you’ll need a line or digital output. You won’t find line outputs often on modern home stereo systems, but we have included a couple in this article.
Frequently Asked Questions
How should I approach a stereo system?
First, determine what it is you need. In the same way, you wouldn’t rush out to buy a telephoto lens for a birthday party; you shouldn’t just buy the most expensive stereo system. Ask yourself what kind of volume you require for your room (depending on the room size), what color works in your area, which connectivity options you typically use most often, and then, of course, how much space you have to work with. This will help narrow down your options.
Do home stereo systems have Bluetooth?
Most modern home stereo systems come with Bluetooth connectivity. Some smaller systems that focus on smart features may swap Bluetooth for WiFi connectivity.
What are the differences between a full home stereo and a compact home stereo?
Full home stereos are larger, and have more volume. Compact home stereo speakers are more portable and often focus more on modern features like smart assistants.
How much space do I need for a home stereo system?
Compact home stereo systems are so small they can be kept in the kitchen even. Most speakers on this list have a more moderate size and can fit on most standard desks or TV cabinets. You can find stereo systems that are extremely large and are essentially floor-standing systems. These will require a large space. In the end, there is a home stereo out there that will fit your space restrictions.
Are WiFi or Bluetooth home stereo systems better?
Neither is inherently better. It’s about what you need out of the connection type. Bluetooth is a good choice if you plan to control your audio from the same room, but if you want to control your speaker from another room in the house, WiFi is typically a better option.
Are CD players still relevant?
If you’re wondering why CD features are still present on these stereo systems, the truth is CDs aren’t dead quite yet. Many people still rely on CDs as their primary listening format. However, as time goes on, we may even see CD support being replaced with vinyl – which has seen a resurgence. We’re going full circle.