Integrated Amp Reviews

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Howard Kneller  |  Jul 13, 2022  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $2,499

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Spacious, rich sound
Gorgeous aesthetics
Tank-like build quality
Feature-packed
Minus
Small display
Limited wired connectivity options
Lacks room correction

THE VERDICT
The Marantz Model 40n is a thoroughly modern music streaming machine that sounds great and delivers a robust set of features without losing sight of the brand’s storied past.

I attended a launch event for the Marantz Model 40n a few months ago and marveled at just how far the iconic brand has come since founder Saul Marantz took his first steps as an audio pioneer way back in 1945. In true hobbyist fashion, he modified his car radio so he could listen to it at home and, once it was up and running there, continued tinkering with it to improve its performance.

Howard Kneller  |  Apr 27, 2022  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $2,548 (as tested)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Stellar performance
Powerful internal amplifier
Modular design accommodates updates and additional features
Minus
Modestly built chassis
Small front-panel display
Uninspired remote control

THE VERDICT
The C 399 delivers great performance, impressive features and flexibility, and high value in a modest, yet handsome package.

While waiting on the arrival of NAD's C 399 integrated amplifier for review, I checked it out on the company's website. What I saw there was a minimally adorned exemplar of the black-box design school, with steel chassis panels of ordinary fabrication and a small display showing mostly monochrome text. Yawn. Well, a funny thing happened when the C 399 finally arrived, and I unboxed it. I took a shine to its no-frills, understatedly handsome looks. Sure, there are more striking-looking components out there with more robust build quality, but they'll cost you.

Al Griffin  |  Apr 06, 2022  |  0 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,600

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Surprisingly powerful amp
Clean, detailed sound
Great build quality for price
Minus
limited feature set compared to competition
Streaming options limited to Bluetooth wireless and direct computer-to-USB input

THE VERDICT
Rotel’s affordable A14MKII integrated is light on features but heavy on performance. A great option for listeners who want to keep their audio system simple.

Back in fall 2021 Sound & Vision reviewed Rotel's RA-1572MKII integrated amplifier, an upgraded version of the company's popular RA-1572. Well, at Rotel the upgrades keep coming fast and furious: Just a few months later, word dropped that the same treatment was coming to products at more affordable price points, with the company's A12 and A14 integrated amps getting bumped up to MKII status.

Howard Kneller  |  Oct 27, 2021  |  2 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $3,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Excellent sound quality
Impressive power in a small package
Extensive feature set
Minus
So-so headphone preamp
Lacks room correction
Non-backlit remote

THE VERDICT
Cambridge Audio’s feature-packed wireless network streamer/integrated amplifier offers substantial power and generally excellent performance at a reasonable price.

Now headquartered in London, English audio product manufacturer Cambridge Audio was founded in 1968 in the university city of the same name. The company's initial product was the walnut-trimmed 20 watts-per-channel (Wpc) P40 integrated amplifier. (Notably, the P40 was the first consumer audio amp to contain a toroidal transformer, a now de rigueur feature in high-end audio.)

Daniel Kumin  |  Sep 15, 2021  |  0 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $2,099

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Generous power
First-class sound
High-quality fit and finish
Minus
Network connection doesn't support audio
Lacks Wi-Fi, AirPlay wireless streaming

THE VERDICT
Rotel's MKII version of its RA-1572 integrated amp delivers impressive power and transparent sound with digital and analog sources but lacks the comprehensive streaming features found on similar designs from other manufacturers.

True story. My very first hi-fi system featured a Rotel integrated amplifier—if memory serves, a model RA-20 of some 20 watts per channel. I bought it brand new for around $60 from K&L Sound in Watertown, Massachusetts, with money saved from my after-school job building shelves, sweeping floors, and punching holes in sheet- metal panels that would become the very first ARP synthesizers. (The late Alan R. Pearlman was my next-door neighbor and a lovely, kind, brilliant guy.)

Howard Kneller  |  Mar 17, 2021  |  1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $3,835

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Great sound quality
Multiple HDMI inputs (w/ARC)
Effective Space Optimisation room correction
Built-in phono stage
Minus
Dealer setup recommended
Small speaker terminals

THE VERDICT
Linn's all-in-one wireless streamer/amplifier/DAC offers impressive sound, sleek looks, and plentiful connectivity options.

According to the corporate lore of Scottish audio manufacturer Linn, in 1973 a newly married engineer named Ivor Tiefenbrun went shopping at his wife's direction to buy home furnishings. To his wife's chagrin, the story goes, he instead returned with a stereo system. After setting it up, Ivor was disappointed with the sound, but soon discovered that moving the turntable from his listening room into an adjoining room improved the system's performance since the speakers' output no longer interacted with the turntable and distorted the audio signal.

Daniel Kumin  |  Nov 04, 2020  |  1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $4,999

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Reference-quality power and D-to-A conversion
Excellent on-board phono section
Onboard Dirac Live room correction
Minus
Coarse “app” volume control steps
No USB type-B port for computer connection
Occasionally wonky AirPlay 2 streaming

THE VERDICT
The M33 combines state-of-the- art sound, power, and broad functionality in an elegantly conceived package.

Boy, has NAD come a long way. Back in 1978, the Canadian/ American/Euro multinational's first product was an unassuming but great-sounding little 20-watt integrated amplifier in a plain gray sheetmetal box, with controls that had all the sophisticated feel of a Kenner Easy-Bake Oven.

Daniel Kumin  |  Mar 25, 2020  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,195

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Generous power from a super-slim chassis
Bypass input for surround system integration
Flexible, analog-domain subwoofer filtering
Full-size, backlighted remote control
Minus
Digital conversion limited to 24/96 via USB
No built-in Bluetooth or other wireless features

THE VERDICT
An affordable integrated amplifier-DAC with substantial power, high-quality conversion, flexible inputs and outputs, and full-function remote. Bravo.

I like simple. Simple is good. Simple works. Simple makes my job easier and helps me sleep at night.

Parasound, a Bay Area maker with a half-century of success walking the parapet between high end audiophilia and value-engineering design, apparently concurs. The company's new NewClassic 200 Integrated is, as you might well guess, an integrated amplifier, with a high-quality onboard digital-to-analog converter section. The 200 Integrated was in fact derived by the simple expedient of sliding a class-D stereo power amp sourced from Danish class-D amp-module stalwart Pascal Audio into its otherwise-identical preamp stablemate. This slim, two-channel module delivers a claimed 110 watts per channel into either 4-ohm or 8-ohm loads with typical class-D efficiency, pulling only a modest 50 watts from the wall.

Al Griffin  |  Nov 20, 2019  |  9 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $6,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Clean, dynamic sound
Tank-like build quality
Ample power
Minus
Pricey
Streaming requires wired network connection
Unintuitive setup menu

THE VERDICT
With its extremely solid build quality, future-proof feature set, and excellent sound, Hegel's H390 could be the last integrated amp you'll ever need.

Hegel Music Systems is a Norwegian audio electronics manufacturer that has been slowly and steadily making a mark on the high-end audio world since it started out in the early 1990s. One thing that distinguishes Hegel from other audio companies is its portfolio of proprietary technologies that were developed in-house by founder and chief designer Bent Holter.

Al Griffin  |  Aug 07, 2019  |  0 comments

Speakers
Performance
Build Quality
Value
Integrated Amplifier
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $400 (as tested)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Great value
Tidal, Spotify, and TuneIn streaming
Digital and analog inputs accommodate multiple sources
Minus
Subwoofer output
Treble-forward sound with some music
Coarse volume steps
No USB-DAC input

THE VERDICT
OSD Audio’s compact, component-based system is a great value and offers a high-er-performance alternative to many all-in-one wireless speakers.

OSD Audio is a company that seems to make everything— everything audio-related, that is. When I stopped by the company's booth at the CEDIA trade show in 2018, CEO Dave Chai took me on a guided tour of the vast array of in-wall and in-ceiling speakers, outdoor speakers, subwoofers, amplifiers, accessories, and cables on display, thoroughly impressing me with his ability to speak about each product in detail. While much of OSD Audio's catalog is aimed at custom installation pros, two new consumer-oriented categories for the company are bookshelf speakers and integrated amplifiers with wireless streaming capability.

Daniel Kumin  |  May 29, 2019  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,999

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Unimpeachable sound quality
Impressive power and dynamic ability
Chromecast built-in, AirPlay, and Spotify Connect support
Minus
No phono input or headphone output
No native streaming (requires smartphone, tablet or similar)

THE VERDICT
Flexible streaming options enhance the appeal of this sleek-looking integrated amplifier/DAC with serious audiophile pedigree and performance.

Primare is a small audio component manufacturer in Sweden founded by an industrial designer from Denmark. The Malmö-based firm's quirky high-end electronics have found favor among in-the-know audiophiles for nearly thirty years. Recently, a new line of streaming-centric components was introduced that appear custom-made to broaden Primare's appeal, and if the entry-level Prisma I15 integrated amplifier/DAC ("streamplifier," as I like to call them) they've supplied us for review here is any indication, the move will succeed.

Daniel Kumin  |  Feb 27, 2019  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $749 (was $699 at time of review)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Impressive power and sonics from a sub-compact design
Dynamic enough to handle a wide range of speakers
Useful Bass EQ/subwoofer filter options
Minus
Digital conversion does not extend to 32-bit/384kHz

THE VERDICT
The D 3045 is a surprisingly powerful compact integrated amplifier with an eminently capable onboard DAC that's equally at home on the desktop or component rack.

Five years ago, when I examined NAD's $399 D 3020, the progenitor of the D 3045 before us here, I liked it—a lot. The D 3020 was among the first of what I've come to call DAC-lifiers: small-ish integrated amps with onboard digital-to-analog facilities intended for audio-streaming or computer sources and projecting at least some level of audiophile sophistication.

Daniel Kumin  |  Dec 05, 2018  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $5,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Top-shelf sound reproduction
Enough power to handle nearly all loudspeakers
Price-no-object manufacturing and finish
Minus
Challenging input-identification ergonomics
No phono input

THE VERDICT
Cambridge Audio’s commemorative Edge A combines top-shelf sound with gorgeous industrial design. The price may be a cut above average, but the Edge A is no average integrated amp.

Do you really need a $5,000, 54-pound, two-channel integrated amplifier? Yes, of course you do. Especially if that integrated amplifier is the new Edge A from Cambridge Audio, a British firm with a long record of seriousness about sound reproduction. Cambridge’s gear has always struck me as a rigorously high-end/high-value proposition, but the Edge A looks, tastes, and smells more like a no-holds- barred statement design, the kind we’re more likely to expect from a company whose bottom line is that they don’t give a fig for the bottom line.

Al Griffin  |  Nov 15, 2018  |  2 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $4,499

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Effective, easily configured room correction
Flexible bass-management
Powerful stereo amplifier
Extensive phono input settings
Minus
No built-in network streaming capability

THE VERDICT
ARC room correction on Anthem’s STR integrated amp makes it a must-audition option for anyone putting together a high-performance stereo system.

Anthem AVM series preamplifier/processors have been part of my home theater toolkit going back as long as I can remember. Though they perform A/V switching, audio processing, and video upscaling as well as anything else on the market, the main feature I’ve come to depend on is the company’s proprietary ARC (Anthem Room Correction), a Windows and iOS/Android app that lets you measure the effect of your listening environment on your speakers using either a calibrated microphone or the one built into your phone or tablet.

Al Griffin  |  Oct 11, 2018  |  2 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $599

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Impressive power from compact box
Built-in phono stage
Subwoofer output
Minus
Slightly forward sound on some tracks

THE VERDICT
PS Audio’s new Sprout 100 is a worthy option for anyone seeking a compact integrated amplifier/DAC that also handles vinyl playback.

The original PS Audio Sprout integrated amplifier/DAC was noted as being part of a new trend of ultra-compact ampDACs when Sound & Vision reviewed it back in 2015. We’ve since tested similar models from Elac and Teac, though it was the Sprout that most grabbed our attention due to its moving magnet phono stage—a feature those other models happen to lack.

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