2020 Top Picks of the Year Audio Separates & Integrated Amps


Audio Separates & Integrated Amps

Top Pick of the Year:

NAD M33 Masters Series Streaming Integrated Amplifier
(December 2020/January 2021) Read Review

After gushing over its industrial design ("if the M33 did nothing but light up, I'd want one"), our reviewer Daniel Kumin stepped back to cooly assess the sonic merits of NAD's M33. The result? "In short, sonics-wise, no complaints. None." Much of the M33's performance is owed to its cutting-edge "Eigentakt"class-D power-amp modules from Danish company Purifi. Beyond that, NAD's Masters Series integrated amp offers Dirac Live room correction, BluOS streaming, and an excellent on-board phono preamp for a very complete all-in-one package. $5,000, nadelectronics.com


Parasound NewClassic 200 Integrated Amplifier
(April/May) Read Review

Parasound's NewClassic 200 appears impossibly slim for such a full-featured integrated. What's it got? A 2 x 110 watts per channel class-D amp, a 24-bit/192kHz DAC, a phono preamp compatible with both moving-magnet and moving-coil cartridges, subwoofer outputs with variable analog-domain bass, and home theater-bypass connections. That's a lot of stuff for a cool-looking component priced at just over one grand. $1,195, parasound.com

Legacy Audio i·V 7 Seven-Channel Amplifier
(October/November) Read Review

Since the performance of your speakers depends largely on the capabilities of the amp attached to them, the multichannel amp in your home theater is not a place to compromise. Rated to deliver 7 x 610 watts into 8 ohms and 7 x 660 watts into 4 ohms (all channels driven) Legacy Audio's class-D i·V 7 epitomizes "no compromise." At around $8,000 it's not cheap, but its classy looks and clean, effortless sound will let you know where that money went. $7,995, legacyaudio.com

NAD Masters Series M28 Seven-Channel Amplifier
(February/March 2020) Read Review

Yet another NAD Masters Series offering packing Purifi's new "Eigentakt" class-D amp modules, the M28 7-channel amplifier is rated to deliver 200 watts per channel into 8 ohms and 340Wpc into 4 ohms. It has the same sleek design of other products in its series, and at five grand, makes for a compelling middle-price-range option. $5,000, nadelectronics.com

SuicideSquid's picture

It's nice to see a range of pricing across your picks - good to see a mid-range priced bookshelf speaker as your top pick of the year, and a $700 set of B&Ws to sit alongside some of the $5,000 options. It's a lot more helpful to most readers than just leaning hard into the top-end.

The feature set of that Monoprice preamp looks amazing, but am I the only one who thinks it looks ugly as sin? The aesthetics of most of monoprice's gear makes me cringe.

mjmiller715's picture

Couldnt agree more.

I havent heard any of their products other than basic hdmi cables and the like.

I find it hard to believe they can copycat their way into such high quality but maybe im mistaken.

This coming from someone who uses an old anthem receiver that is not the prettiest girl at the party but it does quite well under most conditions.

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It's wonderful to have a variety drift hunters of prices among your selections.

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sarrielens's picture

I enjoyed your blog post on the A/V gear trends of 2020. Streaming surged while disc-based viewing declined. Affordable Ultra HDTVs and HDMI 2.1 brought enhanced viewing experiences. The Monoprice Monolith HTP-1 and Dirac Live impressed on the audio front. Thanks for the insights! Read more

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I have the 16-channel surround preamp-processor and found it works great! And I think the logistical issues of 2020 have been somewhat resolved in 2023. Things seem to be moving a lot smoother. -Eric, bathroom renovations Markham

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Maybe a bit off topic but it is pretty incredible how other companies put together streaming services so quickly and took advantage of everyone being at home. Makes me wonder if they kind of knew about something we didn't and planned accordingly. Either way, a smart business move! Also I was glad to see the new 2.1 HDMI, it made video games so much better, wow! -Lisa, foundation crack repair Winnipeg