Q: I use a home theater receiver for my system and need a stereo receiver to replace it. My receiver is running very hot trying to power two pairs of 8-ohm speakers (one indoor pair and one outdoor pair), and it just doesn’t sound good overall. In addition to the speakers, I have a Cambridge SoundWorks BassCube 8 powered subwoofer connected to the subwoofer output.
Do you have any recommendations for stereo receivers with Bluetooth that can power two sets of speakers? What do I do if the receiver does not have a subwoofer output? Most stereo receivers do not seem to have them. I would like to spend under $300.
A: Unless you are using the receiver for home theater, I usually advocate buying stereo receivers over audio/video receivers. With a stereo receiver, you get more real-world power, as well as simple setup, easier operation and higher reliability. Home theater receivers also tend to become obsolete within a few years, while a good stereo receiver can be used for decades.
Your subwoofer has “speaker-level connections,” which are inputs and outputs for speaker wires. Take the appropriate speaker wires from the receiver’s speaker outputs and connect them to the corresponding wire inputs on the subwoofer, then run wires from the matching outputs to the left and right speakers. Once everything is connected, adjust the subwoofer controls to match the subwoofer output to the speakers.
I have two receiver recommendations for you, one well under your budget and one that is a bit over. At the lower end of the price range is the Yamaha RS-202BL (usa.yamaha.com). It currently is on sale at $129, reduced from the regular price of $149. It will run two pairs of 8-ohm speakers at once, but you could get one for each pair of speakers and still be under your budget. It also has an output you can connect to a mini-amp like the $30 Dayton Audio T-Amp (parts-express.com), which will take some of the stress off the receiver if you want to play it really loud.
If you raise your budget to $399 you can get a premium product in the Cambridge Audio AXR85 Stereo Receiver (cambridgeaudio.com). Cambridge Audio is a British high-end audio manufacturer, not to be confused with budget manufacturer Cambridge SoundWorks, manufacturer of your subwoofer. In addition to better sound, the AXR85 is built to a much higher standard and weighs 20% more than the Yamaha, a good indicator of the quality of the power supply and the parts inside. It does an especially good job with FM radio. I have recommended the AXR85 to many people who have e-mailed me for recommendations, and everyone I’ve heard back from has been pleased with their purchase.
Q: Do I need to buy speaker stands with the Emotiva T-Zero speakers?
A: No. In fact, you should definitely NOT put them on stands. The T-Zero speakers are small towers that are meant to be placed on the floor in order to use reflections from the floor to help reproduce the bass. They will sound worse on the stands. All tower speakers are designed this way.
Send questions to Don Lindich at firstname.lastname@example.org. Get recommendations and read past columns at soundadvicenews.com.