Top Picks Power Amplifiers

Marantz MM7055: $1,200
Tested as the mate for the Marantz AV7005 surround processor, reviewer Michael Fremer found the MM7005 a competent performer that lived up to its modest price tag. Rated at 140 watts per channel into 8 ohms with two channels driven, it achieved 108 watts with all 5 channels driven at our low .1% distortion figure. While it made some surgical compromises compared with Fremer’s much more expensive reference amp, “its musical heart was in the right place and at a price that can’t be beat.” (April 2011, Read Full Review)
Outlaw Audio Model 7500: $1,599
Internet-only Outlaw Audio is a favorite among our staffers for its high value quotient, and the 5-channel Model 7500 is a perfect example. Reviewer Gary Altunian cited its “excellent dynamics and headroom” and “multidimensional soundstage reproduction.” It’s rated 200 watts rms per channel with all channels driven into 8 ohms with low .03% distortion but easily exceeded this number in our bench tests. Throw in audiophile features like balanced audio inputs and a remote trigger input and you’ve got a big brute that sounds great at a ridiculously low price. (September 2008, Read Full Review)
Legacy Audio Powerbloc2 and Powerbloc4: $1,800, $2,950
Yet another example of audiophile-quality Class D amplification has arrived, this time in the form of two amplifiers from Legacy Audio—the two-channel Powerbloc2 and four-channel Powerbloc4. Both are conservatively rated to deliver 325 watts per channel into 8 ohms (or 650 watts into 4 ohms) and impressed veteran audio reviewer Dan Kumin with their ability to deliver “pristine, crystal-clear” sound at cinema levels. If you’re looking for serious power at a fair price, make this your first stop. (July/August 2017, Read Full Review)
$2,500 >
Parasound Halo A 52+: $2,995
Parasound engaged noted designer John Curl to create the Halo A 52+ amplifier, a less expensive follow-up to the company’s popular but expensive A 51. And it shows. The five-channel amplifier is an all-around versatile performer with input and driver stages that operate in pure Class A mode and a Class A/AB output stage capable of delivering clean power with ample headroom for movies and music alike. “Parasound’s new five-channel amp delivers clear, dynamic sound and has plenty of headroom to handle the explosive effects in movie soundtracks,” concluded reviewer Al Griffin. (May 2018, Read Full Review)
Cary Audio Design Model 7.125: $3,995
We’ve actually tested this 7-channel behemoth twice with different Cary prepros and were equally impressed both times. It’s rated for 125 watts per channel with all channels driven into 8 ohms with .1% distortion, and nicely achieved those numbers. Reviewer Fred Manteghian found that “the Model 7.125 has the ability to re-create music with the startling dynamics of a live event. Yes, goose-bumping good. The folks at Cary are blessed with good ears and great taste.” (March 2012, Read Full Review)
Parasound Halo A 51: $4,500
The 5-channel Halo A 51, the work of respected designer John Curl, is not only gorgeous to look at, but delivers the goods with aplomb. Reviewer Kris Deering found it bettered his excellent reference amp, an Outlaw Audio Model 7900, saying “the A51 definitely had a more musical nature with it’s detailed top end,” a John Mayer track “was less fatiguing than with the Model 7900, and the instruments had a richer sound with better definition.” It’s THX Ultra2-certified, and rated at 250 watts per channel into 8 ohms with all channels driven—a spec it handily reached in our bench tests. (June 2012, Read Full Review)
Parasound Halo JC 1: $4,500
With a price tag that’s not for the weak of heart, this $4,500 monoblock amp rated at 400 watts into an 8 ohm load, will likely be used only for the front two channels in any theater set up. In that configuration, mated with the 5-channel A-51 to fill out seven channels, it took reviewer Kris Deering’s system to such new heights that he cashed in his retirement fund and bought his review samples, noting simply that “The JC 1s left my jaw on the floor.” (June 2012, Read Full Review)
$5000 >
McIntosh MC8207: $6,000
Classically beautiful, the MC8207 is a 7-channel amp based on the company’s highly regarded, $8,500 model MC207, but with the fancy analog VU meters replaced with LED meters instead, for $2,500 less. Dress it any way you want, this 200 watts per channel amplifier (with all channels driven) proved itself the real star of the $34,000 all-McIntosh system reviewed by Michael Fremer, who noted that, “it’s a rock-solid-sounding, high-power/high-performance, impeccably American-made amplifier that adds pride of ownership and bling factors that can’t be quantified.” (June 2012, Read Full Review)
ATI AT6005: $6,395
Founded in the early ’90s by Morris Kessler of SAE fame, ATI has spent much of its time working quietly behind the scenes building amplifiers for the likes of Adcom and Theta Digital. Comparing this 116-pound, 5 x 300-watt behemoth with his John Curl-designed reference amp, reviewer David Vaughn concluded, “If I were in the market for a new amp, the ATI would be at the top of my list, due to its low noise and seemingly endless power output.” Making the AT6005 even more recommendable is its confidence inspiring seven-year transferable warranty. (October 2014, Read Full Review)
Micromega M-150 Integrated Amplifier: $7,499
Orange Crush would be an appropriate nick name for the Micromega M-150 integrated amplifier/DAC, which packs 2 x 150 watts of Class AB power and a 32-bit digital-to-analog converter (DAC) into a chassis that’s only 2 inches tall. Its vibrant exterior screams excess but the M-150 is actually a basic component that does one job and does it well, though at a price: deliver reference-grade sound, whether you’re spinning virgin vinyl or streaming a hi-res file. For better or worse, it eschews extras such as Wi-Fi, onboard access to streaming services, and even an onscreen interface. (Posted 9/19/18, Read Full Review)
Denon POA-A1HDCI: $7,500
This truly massive 10-channel (!) amplifier delivers 150 watts per channel and weighs 130 pounts; it has four power transformers with individual windings associated with each amplifier channel. With 7 of 10 channels driven in our bench tests (the most we could do), it handily achieved 169 watts. Kris Deering wrote, “On the upper end, the amp had a great sense of transparency... It provided crisp, detailed highs…If you’re looking for plenty of power and great low-end performance from a full-range speaker, you should consider the POA-A1HDCI.” (September 2009, Read Full Review)
Bryston 9B SST²: $8,095
As reviewer Fred Manteghian put it, the 9B SST² is a “nothing-held-back” old-school, five-channel Class A/B amplifier that’s easy to recommend for its ability to “absolutely astound you and connect you with your music.” Backed by an incomparable 20-year transferable warranty, this war horse delivers 120 watts per channel (200 into 4 ohms), each of which has a dedicated toroidal transformer and heatsinks “large enough to cool off a Google server.” (January 2013, Read Full Review)
Classe CD-5300: $9,000
The CD-5300 was our mate for Classe’s CT-SSP surround processor, with a power rating of 300 watts per channel into 8 ohms with all channels driven. Reviewer Fred Manteghian noted that his power-hungry Revel Salon speakers were delighted by its presence, and that “the CT-5300 exhibits that jump factor that’s all too hard to come by and makes scenes come alive.” (October 2010, Read Full Review)
Krell Chorus 7200: $9,500
It’s rare when a product comes along that truly advances the state of the art. Such is the case with the Chorus 7200, a new kind of Class A amplifier that delivers clean power without paying huge penalties in heat build-up and efficiency (the traditional Achilles heel of Class A). Krell’s iBias technology allows the amps to run in full Class A mode as needed, while minimizing heat generation. If cost is little or no object, the 7200 promises audio bliss with its ability to deliver 200 watts of bold power into seven channels— or 7 x 360 into 4 ohms. (April 2015, Read Full Review)

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