2021 Top Picks of the Year Audio Separates & Integrated Amps


Audio Separates & Integrated Amps

Top Pick of the Year:

Bluesound Node Streaming DAC
(December/January) Read Review

What's a streaming DAC? Basically, it's a component that brings the world of high-res audio streaming to existing systems. And in the case of Bluesound's Node, it does so at an affordable price. As part of a wider family of Bluesound streaming-capable products that includes speakers, soundbars, and a subwoofer, the Node is like a gateway drug to wireless multiroom streaming. Its BluOS controller app is among the most user- friendly we've encountered, and the Node's plentiful connection options, including HDMI eARC for a TV and a configurable subwoofer output, make it easy to integrate with your gear. $549, bluesound.com


Rotel RSP-1576MKII Surround Sound Processor
(April/May) Read Review

Rotel's latest surround sound processor lacks some key features you'd expect to see on a surround sound preamp/processor circa-2021, specifically built-in streaming and Dolby Vision HDR pass-through capability. Even so, this 7.1.4 Dolby Atmos and DTS:X surround sound processor impressed us with its audiophile- grade sound quality, while its Dirac Live Full room correction also helped make up for any deficits. $3,500, rotel.com

Linn Majik DSM Streaming Integrated Amplifier
(April/May) Read Review

Hailing from Scotland, Linn has been churning out quality hi-fi gear since the 1970s, and its new Majik DSM, a stereo integrated amplifier with a built-in DAC and wired/wireless streaming capa- bility, is no exception. Reviewer Howard Kneller was taken with its good looks and great sound, and was also impressed by its exten- sive feature set, which includes room correction, a built-in phono stage, and switching for multiple HDMI sources. $3,835, linn.co.uk

Simaudio Moon 280D Streaming DAC
(August/September) Read Review

Simaudio's Moon 280D is a full-featured streaming DAC that gives you access to all the music services you'd care to tap, and is also AirPlay 2-capable, Roon Ready, and multiroom-friendly. As reviewer HK concluded: "Add to that its tank-like build quality, made in North America boasting rights, and lengthy ten-year warranty, and it's any easy recommendation for anyone who values quality over quantity." $3,000, simaudio.com

Cambridge Audio Evo 150 Streaming Integrated Amplifier
(December/January) Read Review

Offering up substantial amplifier power along with generally excellent audio performance, Cambridge Audio's highly feature-packed Evo 150 wireless network streamer/ integrated amplifier proved to be a notably elegant all-in-one solution in our test, one that reviewer HK found to be "a huge success by any measure...jam packed with features, and with killer customizable looks." $3,000, cambridgeaudio.com