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$1000 Two-Channel Stereo Recommended System

by May 21, 2014
$1000 worth of audio awesome!

$1000 worth of audio awesome!

Trying to be an Audioholic when you have a cash flow problem can be a challenge. But we all started somewhere and we aren't so far removed from those heady days of college that we can't remember what it was like to scrape together all your change to buy a new speaker or component. We asked ourselves a question - "If we only had a grand and wanted to buy a brand new $1000 stereo system, what would we get?" Here is the answer.

Receiver: Yamaha R-S300 Stereo Receiver

MSRP: $330 | More Info

For a two-channel system, you need a two-channel receiver. This receiver is a no frills model with everything you need and nothing you don't. Weighing in at almost 20lbs and with a larger power supply than some of their entry level 5.1 AV Receivers, the R-S300 is jacked.  Featuring 50 watts of power into two channels (20Hz-20kHz, 0.04% THD, 8 ohms) , this should have no problems powering the speakers we suggest.  In fact, this receiver is very conservatively rated and we are quite confident it can pump out significantly more power into lower impedance loads.   The R-S300 has a speaker selector switch for attaching a second pair of speakers and a 40 preset AM/FM tuner and a variable loudness control to boost low end bass response. At this price point it does everything we want and nothing more. It manages to look pretty good while doing it too!

Yamaha R-S300

Yamaha R-S300

Alternative: Yamaha RX-V377 or Denon  AVR-S500BT

MSRP: $299 (Yamaha) / $249 (Denon) | More Info on Yamaha RX-V377 | More Info on Denon AVR-S500BT

If you're thinking of one day turning your two-channel stereo into a 5.1 home theater system, consider going with an AV Surround Receiver instead.  The Yamaha RX-V377 offers all of the latest in HD audio decoding with video support and has five channels of amplification to transform your room into a mini theater.  The new Denon AVR-S500BT has similar features to the Yamaha but also supports wireless streaming from a Bluetooth enabled device.  You can't go wrong with either option as both AV receivers make a fine addition to an entry level home theater while also serving two-channel with aplomb.

Speakers: NHT Super Stereo

MSRP: $499 (2.1 system) | NHT Super Stereo Review

Since the Yamaha R-S300 is a stereo receiver with no bass management, we were limited to only choosing subwoofers that had high-level (speaker-level) inputs and outputs. NHT's SuperZero speakers have enjoyed a fantastic reputation on the forums and in professional reviews - and it is well deserved. These tiny speakers pack a ton of punch and just sound fantastic. These are the perfect starter speaker as they have a big enough sound to fill up a small to medium sized room and make great surround speakers when you have enough money to upgrade your mains. The included subwoofer does have high-level inputs but doesn't have the bass impact of some of the internet-direct brands. It does has the advantage of being very, very small. At 11.2" cube, the NHT sub is small enough to please the spouse while giving the SuperZero 2.1 speakers the help they need in the bass department.

NHT Super Stereo

NHT Super Stereo System

Alternate Subwoofer: HSU STF-1

MSRP: $309 + shipping | Hsu STF-1 Review

Pair two of the NHT SuperZero 2.1 monitors ($99 each) with the HSU Research STF-1 Subwoofer ($309) for a system that will rattle your teeth. The STF-1 has the required high-level inputs and outputs and it'll run you $309 plus tax for the group ($10 more than the NHT system) but you'll get a lot more bass. Only for users that can handle a 19" by 11" by 15 34" subwoofer.


HSU Research STF-1

Source: Onkyo C-7030 CD Player

MSRP: $199 | Onkyo Website

We would have preferred an SACD player but we couldn't find one in our price point. Take a look at used sales and other online sources as a hifi two-channel system would be remiss without a good SACD source. The Onkyo C-7030 is a good choice, however, as it features top quality DACs (Wolfson 192 kHz/24-bit), a precision clock to reduce jitter, and analog and digital outputs. We like that it has a dedicated headphone output with volume control so that you can plug your headphones directly into the CD player and bypass the receiver entirely.

onkyo c-7030

Onkyo C-7030


This budget leaves just over $20 for taxes and extras. Honestly, we're assuming you already have all the sources you'll need. If not, you could get the Onkyo we suggest or we highly recommend you look for B-stock or open-box sales. Amazon is a good source. For cabling, Blue Jeans Cables is our favorite for quality cabling at reasonable prices. Monoprice also has good cables at low prices. If you don't have somewhere to place your new NHT SuperZero speakers, consider investing $129 for a pair of Sanus NF36 stands (Review of similar stands from Sanus). If you are wondering, the image of the SuperZero speakers from NHT include Sanus' EF24 speaker stands, which retail for $79.99/pair. We think the NF36 stands look better but you could save some money with the EF24s. The thing to remember is that the stand should be the right height to put the tweeter at ear level when you are seated. Buy accordingly.

System Breakdown and Conclusion


Yamaha R-S300


 Alternative AV Receiver
 Yamaha RX-V377


NHT Super Stereo


Alternate speakers

NHT SuperZero
HSU Research STF-1 Subwoofer



Onkyo C-7030



Blue Jeans



We think the best thing you can do when you are buying an entry-level stereo system is to think about the future. The Yamaha R-S300 is a solid two-channel receiver with all the features you'll need for your new stereo system. The NHT SuperZero 2.1 speakers will sound great for now, and will make fantastic surround speakers later. If you bump up to the HSU Research STF-1 sub, you'll have a sub that you might replace later, but you'll never get rid of it. It's large, but it is a beast. The only thing to do after setting up your new system is to invite your friend over and watch their jaws drop.


About the author:
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As Associate Editor at Audioholics, Tom promises to the best of his ability to give each review the same amount of attention, consideration, and thoughtfulness as possible and keep his writings free from undue bias and preconceptions. Any indication, either internally or from another, that bias has entered into his review will be immediately investigated. Substantiation of mistakes or bias will be immediately corrected regardless of personal stake, feelings, or ego.

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