Integrated Amplifiers

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Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Sep 20, 2021
hfnoutstandingHot on the heels of VAC's flagship separates stack on our March '21 cover comes the more affordable derivative, the integrated VAC Sigma 170i – is it a true Mini-Me?

If I wasn't averse to tattoos, I'd have one that says, 'Always Read The Owner's Manual First'. I spent so much time trying to illuminate the VAC Sigma 170i's iQ warning lights that I was wondering if the review sample was a dud. Doh: in this application, the £10,000 single-chassis alternative to the Signature stack [HFN Mar '21], they don't light up at switch-on. Here they only work when something is amiss. Blast it! I never did see them in action.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Aug 19, 2021
hfncommendedTop integrated in Rotel's flagship Michi series leverages much of the P5 preamp and S5 power amp technology to realise a taller, heavier amp that aims to upstage the X3

Expect the unexpected: it will be the first lesson in the book if I ever get round to writing Hi-Fi Reviewing For Dummies. You see, just because something seems like something else, it doesn't follow that it is... Too many times I've stumbled across a speaker sitting in the middle of a range, and apparently using the same recipe of drive-units, that turns out to be a complete outlier – for good or bad – in the way it plays music. The same happens with amplifiers, too. So, just because one model seems little more than a bigger version of another, don't expect it to have the same kind of balance of qualities, only 'more so'.

Review: James Parker, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Aug 12, 2021
hfncommendedHaving nailed the whole 'one box system with built-in speakers' category, T+A now shifts tack to a 'just add speakers' unit. It's on-trend, and with substance to match the style

Are we downsizing, simplifying, or just looking for more from less? Whatever the reasons, it seems the one-box system, to which one only needs add some speakers, is in the ascendant. There's no denying a movement is growing, with everything from 'more integrated' amps complete with onboard streaming through to complete systems such as the NAD M10/M33 [HFN Jun '19 & Aug '20], Naim's Uniti range [HFN Mar '11 & Nov '17] – which was in the vanguard of this trend back in 2009 – and the recently-announced Cambridge Audio Evo models [News, HFN Jun '21].

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Aug 09, 2021
hfncommendedDescribed as the 'sister brand' of solid-state stalwarts Audio Analogue, Pegaso has just one product and it's an all-tube integrated amplifier that claims Class A, all the way...

As a new arrival from Tuscany, Italy, and with just the P50A integrated amplifier in its inventory, it's possible you've not yet heard of Pegaso. On the other hand, many readers will be familiar with fellow Italian brand Audio Analogue [HFN Nov '20 & Feb '20], which has been in operation since the mid '90s. Both are stablemates sheltering under the umbrella of AF Group SRL (also the home of AirTech), and they share more than just a postcode.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jul 22, 2021
hfnoutstandingDanish brand Copland beefs-up the power supply to its all-singing, all-dancing CSA100, crowning its range of tube hybrid integrated amplifiers with this heavyweight model

Not long into my audition of Copland's CSA150, I began to feel a little annoyed that, at some point, I'd have to unplug it and send it back. Reviewer remorse isn't quite as galling as buyer remorse, but it is still 'a thing', and this £4988 hybrid tube integrated had given me a bad case of it. Hybrid? Yes, for the CSA150 looks to be an upscaled CSA100 [HFN Aug '20] combining a 6922 double-triode and solid-state FETs in its preamp stage, driving a bipolar transistor amplifier output. Perhaps keen to avoid overselling the benefits of this architecture, Copland warns buyers not to expect 'the warm and nice, coloured charm of some older tube designs'.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 17, 2021
hfnoutstandingSeven years after Yamaha moved into high-end price points with a flagship, all-analogue integrated we look at its latest offering and discover 'retro' with 21st century sound

Big, bold and unashamedly old-school with its silver finish – black is available as an option – polished piano black side panels and large illuminated meters, the £4999 Yamaha A-S3200 is the flagship of the brand's integrated amplifier range, which kicks off with the modest £200 A-S201.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 11, 2021
hfnvintageAs Lexus is to Toyota, so was Aurex to general CE brand Toshiba. We reappraise the SB-A10 – compact but full-featured, was this miniature hi-fi at its very best?

In previous vintage reviews we have featured the Technics SL-10 turntable [HFN Apr '19] with its footprint the size of an LP sleeve, Sony's D-88 CD player [HFN Jul '16] that was so small the disc stuck out of its side, and Technics' SB-F1 speakers [HFN May '17], which individually could be held easily in the palm of one's hand. So how about a complete integrated amp about the same size as the concise edition of the Oxford English Dictionary? Meet the Aurex SB-A10 from 1981.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 27, 2021
hfnoutstandingThe 'entry-level' model in a range of two new, fully-featured Michi integrateds, the X3 is a distillation of Rotel's award-winning pre/power design with astonishing power on tap

This amplifier is substantial, beautifully designed and finished, powerful (rated at 350W/4ohm) and hefty, at getting on for 30kg – and yet it's the base model of two integrated amplifiers recently added to Rotel's revived Michi range. Following on the heels of the EISA Award-winning P5/S5 pre/power amplifiers [HFN May '20] and the M8 monoblocks [HFN Oct '20], the X3 and bigger X5 all-in-one amplifiers are the next stage in the expansion of this lineup. The £6300 X5 claims 600W/4ohm and while the £4300 X3 model may be 'lower powered' it's still able to deliver quite a wallop when required, offering a very impressive bang for your buck.

Ken Kessler  |  May 25, 2021  |  First Published: Feb 01, 1990
hfnvintageKen Kessler on Bill Beard's new line-level-only integrated valve amplifier

Manufacturers should not be criticised for responding to changing tastes. CD has forever changed the face of hi-fi, so all you're doing when you mourn the passage of the phono stage is increase the value of shares in sackcloth and ashes. Instead, be thankful that the companies in the high-end are intent on making the best line-stage amplifiers they can design. What you use for a phono section can be either your existing, pre-CD preamp or an outboard phono section. With this in mind. Bill Beard has launched an all-valve, line-level-only integrated amplifier, the first product to bear his new company's name.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 17, 2021
hfncommendedStalwart of Germany's single-ended tube scene, Octave Audio also produces hybrid and push-pull amplifiers, including the 'Class A' V70 integrated featured here

Which are you? The minimalist who wants an integrated valve amp bearing only clearly-labelled inputs, source selector, volume control and speaker terminals? Or do you prefer a 'fully loaded' device with total flexibility? The former is intuitive, and any experienced hi-fi user thinks of such units as virtually 'plug 'n' play'. Germany's 30-year-veteran brand Octave Audio has, in its V70 Class A, an amp that sits between both camps and yet I was compelled to digest its 36-page manual.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 29, 2021
hfncommendedDubbed PS Audio's 'finest all-in-one music component', the Strata combines network streaming, USB and other digital audio inputs with a 'Gain Cell' pre and ICEpower amp

Browse the catalogue of Colorado's PS Audio and you'll find both monstrous and slimline monoblock amps – the BHK Mono 300 [HFN Jul '16] and Stellar M1200/M700 [HFN Jan '21 and Apr '20], respectively – together with stereo power amplifiers, streaming DACs, integrated amps and preamps. And then there's the Stellar Strata, which in some ways is a distillation of PS Audio's diverse product line and tech into one box.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 20, 2021
hfnoutstandingFor the inveterate enthusiast, PrimaLuna continues its tradition of user-tweakable amplifiers with the EVO 300, an ode to tube traditions – but with modern surprises

It's important to accept how language evolves, particularly when reviewing an amplifier with a name that is a contraction of 'evolution'. PrimaLuna calls its current lineup EVO, as it represents the next step in the advancement of its valve amps, and the 40W-rated £3798 EVO 300 integrated represents the mid-point in a 13-model range.

Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 22, 2021
Very big in the Far East since 2005, Line Magnetic offers a comprehensive range of tube-based disc players, DACs, phono stages and amps. Here's the entry-level integrated

We may now live in an age of digital and streaming, but the number and sheer variety of valve amplifiers on offer seems to be on the increase. Perhaps more remarkable are those designs that unashamedly hark back to a previous era, attempting to keep it alive by the use of modern technological twists. One of the main proponents of this philosophy is Chinese company Line Magnetic, the £1699 LM-34IA integrated reviewed here being just one of a wide range of its amps inspired by famous designs of the past.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 08, 2021
hfnoutstandingEagerly anticipated, Audia Flight's 'starter' FLS series integrated accommodates a suite of optional modules. Could this be the high-end hub you've been waiting for?

A'synergy of sophisticated original circuit design and Italian style'. That's the promise of Audia Flight, the company established in 1996 by Massimiliano Marzi and Andrea Nardini. Arguably a 'boutique brand' by virtue of a product line focused almost entirely on amplifiers, the lone standout is a CD player in its entry-level 'FL Three S' range [HFN Sep '07]. We are testing its newest addition here: the FLS 9 stereo integrated which pledges to showcase the brand's audiophile philosophy at a price more manageable – beginning at £5950 – than that of its other high-end creations.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Feb 25, 2021
hfnoutstandingWithout any sense of irony, the man most identified with rival brand Marantz for 40 years is posthumously recognised for his work in 'tweaking' Rotel's budget CD and amp

Synchronicity is a strange thing: for whatever reason of scheduling, I found myself embarking on this review a year to the day since the passing of audio legend Ken Ishiwata. The anniversary was marked by his daughter with a YouTube video of some joyously retro Latin music performed by an all-Japanese vocal group. 'Instead of making this a very sad day,' she wrote, 'we would like to share one of his favourite songs with you. He used to play this all the time, it brings back lovely memories and a smile upon our faces'.

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