2018 Top Picks of the Year Audio Separates & Integrated Amps


Audio Separates & Integrated Amps

Top Pick of the Year: Anthem STR Integrated Amplifier
(December 2018/January 2019) With a beefy 2 x 200-watt amp and enough input options to accommodate any digital or analog source in your rack, including turntables with moving magnet and moving coil cartridges, Anthem's stereo integrated amplifier is certainly formidable. What puts it over the top is the inclusion of the company's proprietary ARC room correction, a longstanding feature of its home theater preamps and receivers. Extensive setup memories and configuration options also make the STR an audio tweaker's delight. $4,499, anthemav.com

TEAC AI-503 Integrated Amplifier/DAC
(April) Don't be fooled by the vintage look of TEAC's integrated amp/DAC. This desktop-friendly model is primed for high-res audio and supports 32/384 PCM and 11.2-megahertz DSD files fed through its asynchronous USB input. The unit's 2 x 30-watt ICEpower class-D amplifier also supplies enough oomph for living room use. $1,000, teac.com

Parasound Halo A 52+ Amplifier
(May) Anyone seeking a reasonably priced, high-performance five-channel amplifier would be well served by this new model from Parasound, which puts out 180 watts per channel and provides input and driver stages operating in pure Class A mode and a Class A/AB output stage. $2,995, parasound.com

Naim Uniti Atom Wireless Music Player
(June) Naim's Unit Atom is not just a compact 2 x 40-watt integrated amp, but a music-streaming dream machine, with support for Spotify Connect, Tidal, TuneIn internet radio, and others via AirPlay and Chromecast. The company's superior iOS/Android app also makes setup and control a breeze. $3,000, naimaudio.com

Micromega M-150 Integrated Amplifier
(September) The M-150 may count among the pricier audio products Sound & Vision tested in 2018, but its gorgeous industrial design, and equally gorgeous sound quality, make it a compelling option for deep-pocketed listeners seeking something different. $7,499, micromega.com

PS Audio Sprout100 integrated amplifier/DAC
(October/November) PS Audio made its Sprout100 stands out from similar compact amp/DACs by including a phono stage for vinyl playback. Otherwise, this affordable unit delivers impressive sound quality and plenty of digital and analog connection options plus aptX wireless Bluetooth streaming and a subwoofer output. $599, psaudio.com

Marantz AV8805 A/V Surround Processor
(December 2018/January 2019) This flagship processor from Marantz offers 15 output channels—enough to facilitate almost any Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, or Auro 32 immersive sound configuration you can dream up. The AV8805 also throws in Audyssey MultEQ XT32 room correction, AirPlay 2 streaming, and Alexa voice control to supplement its all-around great sound quality. $4,499, us.marantz.com

Cambridge Audio Edge A Integrated Amplifier
(December 2018/January 2019) A normally value-oriented company, Cambridge Audio threw out all the stops in creating the Edge A, a 2 x 100-watt statement piece that combines impeccable design with sonics that had longtime reviewer Daniel Kumin wondering if his system had ever sounded any better. $5,000, cambridgeaudio.com

Krell Theater 7 Multichannel Amplifier
(February/March 2019) High-end audio pioneer Krell proves it is back in the game with the Theater 7, a 7 x 100-watt class-A amplifier that manages to deliver the sledgehammer dynamics needed for home theater, along with the subtlety and transparency music lovers demand. $8,250, krellonline.com

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