Integrated Amplifiers

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Review: Nick Tate, Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 23, 2019
hfncommendedThis sophisticated, premium-priced streaming CD player and integrated amplifier combo delivers fine sound with sleek Scandinavian style, and consummate ease of use

With its two Wi-Fi aerials protruding from behind, allied to the skinny front control knobs, swish brushed aluminium fascia and three 'podular' feet, there's something very Jetsons about the look of the Primare I35 Prisma network-ready amplifier. It has the appearance – perhaps unintentionally – of a cutting-edge piece of technology from the late 1950s, a time of dramatic change as the world entered the Space Age.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 14, 2019
hfnoutstandingA high-end, high-power, configurable tube/transistor hybrid integrated amplifier – tightly targeted but the Aesthetix Mimas could easily seduce the separates purist

Aaah, downsizing: if it keeps the high-end healthy, I'm all for it. US boutique brand Aesthetix's Mimas integrated amp joins a sector that's increasing in numbers if not dimensions, set to satisfy the modern affliction of space shortages, especially for city dwellers. Along with Wilson's TuneTot monitor [HFN Nov '18], the all-in-one SME Synergy turntable/phono stage package, TechDAS's Air Force V [HFN Jan '19], and other ultra-compact-yet-truly-high-end items, the Mimas demands little room.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 18, 2019
hfncommendedThe latest addition to the Italian manufacturer's range is said to be a ground-up design to make the most of its hybrid – valve preamp, solid-state power amp – configuration

Based in Treviso, Italy, Unison Research has long specialised in making very traditional looking tube amps with polished wooden chassis and rows of glowing bottles on display. At the same time its Unico series has adopted a more mainstream aesthetic and includes valve-based amplifiers that, well, don't really seem like valve amplifiers. Despite an outward appearance suggesting a completely conventional integrated amp, the Due – which sells for £2500 in standard silver with black available at a £100 premium – is very definitely a valve amp, or at least half of one.

Review: Nick Tate, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 26, 2019
hfncommendedThis compact high-end integrated stereo amplifier both looks and sounds special, thanks to its old-meets-new McIntosh styling and hybrid tube/transistor design

And now for something completely different. While McIntosh has been producing big valve amps for decades and, more recently, big transistor amps – including the MA9000 [HFN Sep '18] – it is arguably better known for its use of output 'Autoformers' that manage the power into different speaker loads. Yet this diminutive £4500 MA252 actually turns out to be quite different – a compact half-width integrated amplifier with a twist. It sports a vacuum tube preamplifier section, illuminated from below, making it the company's first ever valve/transistor hybrid amplifier.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 08, 2019
hfncommendedMarking brand ambassador Ken Ishiwata's 40 years with Marantz, this 'Ruby edition' SACD player and integrated amplifier aim high. How precious are they?

We've been here before: ten years ago Marantz celebrated Brand Ambassador Ken Ishiwata's 30-year tenure at the company with a KI-Pearl pairing of player and amplifier [HFN Aug '09]. So its only fitting that, now he's clocked up another decade, we should have these latest KI Ruby models, limited to 1000 units apiece (500 of each in gold, 500 in black), and selling at £3500 for each unit.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 01, 2018
hfnoutstanding.pngNamed after Cambridge Audio’s founding father, this new integrated amplifier includes a DSD-compatible DAC and Bluetooth aptX HD. But does it really have an Edge...?

There’s one very noticeable thing about the new Edge range from Cambridge Audio – well, apart from the fact that these hefty new high-end components are quite a long way from the company’s usual entry/midrange territory, that is. Look at any of the new products and you’ll notice the branding – it simply says ‘Cambridge’, as if to set this range apart, and fit in with the minimalist-but-purposeful vibe of the whole lineup.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Sep 01, 2018
hfncommended.pngBilled as McIntosh’s most powerful integrated amp to date, the mighty MA9000 combines transistors with transformers and a ‘blue’ aesthetic that’s truly timeless

Right, let’s get the ‘and fries to go’ thing out of the way first. If ever a product deserved the title, this is the ‘Big Mac’. Or at least ‘Big Mc’, for the McIntosh MA9000 is huge in every respect, from the sheer bulk of the thing – at least by the standards of most integrated amplifiers – to the 45.8kg fighting weight, increasing to 60.8kg packed, and the £12,995 price tag.

Review: David Price, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Aug 01, 2018
hfnoutstanding.pngInspired by the success of its A-70 integrated from 2012, Pioneer has trickled down the tech and combined it with a new close-coupled PSU in this DAC-equipped budget amp

Having recently achieved the grand old age of 80 years, the Pioneer Corporation is rightly celebrating the fact. While some believe that all Japanese companies are the same – faceless consumer electronics giants with sprawling factories full of robots, making generic white goods – anyone who's lived in Japan knows this couldn't be further from the truth. In practice, each organisation has its distinct identity and corporate culture, going about things in its own special way.

Review: David Vivian, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 01, 2018
hfncommended.pngThe company ups the ante by adding a 'just-add-speakers' solution to its Artera series, managing to squeeze streaming alongside CD replay into casework of pert proportions

So far, Quad's Artera family has comprised the Play (a combined CD transport, DAC and preamp) and the Stereo [HFN Nov '15], which is a power amp using the company's Current Dumping topology. Both solid-state components, not only are they compact and dapper but high functioning and lifestyle literate too – a feat that's trickier than it might seem. But not as tricky as folding all of the above (plus streaming) into a chassis with the same proportions as the other components in the Artera range.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 01, 2018
hfncommended.pngStill billed as 'The World's Most Powerful Integrated Amplifier', Perreaux's MOSFET flagship has been tickled-up with a new digital input module. And more power too...?

Side-by-side, you'd be forgiven for seeing no changes between the Perreaux Eloquence 255i integrated amplifier and the earlier 250i [HFN Aug '12]. Same rotary, same display, same number of buttons – even the price would leave you clueless, the six years between them inflating the £5695 of the earlier unit to £6895 in standard, line-level-only trim. Given the recent drop in the value of Sterling, that alone could account for the increase, so full marks to Perreaux.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 01, 2018
hfncommended.pngThe style may be ‘retro’, but this powerful integrated amp from a Far East legend is no exercise in nostalgia: it lacks fashionable digital inputs, but has serious sonic appeal

OK, so it may help explain the whole ‘vinyl revival’ thing, from portable record players with greater tracking weight than a Caterpillar bulldozer to supermarket own-brand LPs, but looking to the past will only get you so far. Forget all that longer summers, colder winters and ‘jumpers for goalposts’ stuff: even nostalgia’s not what it used to be. Products must stand on their own merits in today’s competitive market.

Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Jan 30, 2015
British company Ferrograph, as its name suggests, has its origins in the production of tape recorders. After the Second World War it successfully marketed a series of professional machines based around the sturdy Wearite deck. Having mastered this most difficult of components, it would have been relatively straightforward for Ferrograph to diversify into other lines. But its first integrated stereo amplifier is one of the most interesting.
Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Jan 20, 2015
We ran the scoop review of MF’s debut Nu-Vista unit over 15 years ago [HFN Aug ’98]. Now the company has this new nuvistor-equipped integrated amp, having recently found a company to make the requisite tube bases. Blessedly, it eschews gadgetry offering just a remote, a switchable display of input and level, home theatre pass-through for one of the four line inputs and extra speaker terminals for bi-wiring. The Nu-Vista 800 has a fascia machined from solid aluminium and sides fitted with attractive heatsink extrusions – it even comes with spikes for the feet and with cups too, to protect floor finishes.
Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Jan 14, 2015
In some ways the AX-5 represents a distillation of Ayre’s ‘purist’ philosophies, as it employs both the company’s ‘Diamond output circuit’ and the elaborately-designed volume control trickled down from its flagship KX-R Twenty preamplifier. In the fully-balanced zero loop feedback AX-5 integrated, Ayre eliminated the preamp stage altogether and simply made the gain of the power amplifier directly adjustable using VGT (Variable Gain Transimpedance). The volume knob on the right of the fascia acts as an encoder to control a pair of motor-driven Shallco silver-contact rotary switches (one for each channel, conjoined using toothed belts), each of which contains dozens of hand-selected, low-noise resistors. Volume level can be adjusted over a range of 69dB in 46 steps of 1.
Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Dec 22, 2014
The TA-1120 stereo amplifier was a step-ahead design which combined power, quality, reliability and compactness in a way that had not been seen before, but which in a few years would become ubiquitous across the ranges of Japan’s major hi-fi brands. In 1968 the original TA-1120 was replaced by the TA-1120A, as tested here, the addition of a headphone socket and the removal of a ‘safety’ indicator light being the only obvious external clues as to which model is which. Revisions were also made to the preamplifier circuit. The main selector lever gives a choice of phono 1 (MM) or tuner, along with a central position that selects a rotary control giving four further options, eg, mic, tape head, second MM turntable and line-level auxiliary input, which can be used to connect a CD player.

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