Integrated Amplifiers

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Richard Stevenson & Paul Miller  |  Jul 06, 2009
With HD technology and disc formats now on a firmer footing, almost every maker worth its transistors has launched a range-topping ‘HD’ amplifier. Enter Denon’s AVC-A1HD, goodbye AVC-A1XVA. Price-wise, the AVC-A1HD amplifier’s £3800 ticket nestles between Denon’s flagship AVR-4308 receiver (£2000, HFN, Dec ’07) and its new £10,000 A1HD multichannel pre/power combination. But of far more relevance is its position against its only serious competition – Yamaha’s DSP-Z11 (HFN, Apr ’08) and Pioneer’s SC-LX90, both at £5000.
Richard Stevenson & Paul Miller  |  Jul 06, 2009
I always get a warm, Sunday afternoon feeling when a new product arrives from Arcam. While you can imagine the Far Eastern competition frenetically working 24/7 to be first to market with the latest multichannel widget, I see Arcam as a little more reserved, a little more British. The AVR600 may have been a long time coming with its HD-audio decoding, multi-room installer features and premium video processing but it simply exudes dedication and polish from the moment you open the box. It’s substantial for starters.
Keith Howard & Paul Miller  |  Jul 06, 2009
This way madness lies. Or so you’d think if you buy hook, line and sinker into the mythology that has grown up around the Swiss darTZeel brand. And yet our Movers & Shakers feature in the March ’09 issue illustrated that darTZeel partners Hervé Delétraz and Serge Roch are nothing if not methodical in their approach to amplifier design. Their goal is to keep the audio path as straight and simple as possible, avoiding input/output switching and even using an optically-coupled rotary encoder for volume rather than a conventional potentiometer.
Richard Stevenson & Paul Miller  |  Apr 06, 2009
Yamaha’s Z11 is an amplifier of extremes. Almost every feature can be prefixed with terms like ‘most’, ‘advanced’ and ‘leading’ and the fit and finish is superb. The specification sheet is impressive and the features list is the size of the Encyclopaedia Britannica and reads like my very own wishlist of AV technology. The Z11 is right at the cutting edge of multichannel audio, HD video and multi-room technology and then goes on to incorporate a level of audiophile engineering that would compete favourably with high-end two-channel components.
Richard Stevenson & Paul Miller  |  Apr 06, 2009
After 45 years in business Rotel has every right to do things its own way. The new RSX-1560 gloriously raises its middle knob to the herd, eschewing games of specification trumps and symphony-length features lists. It is also thoroughly gorgeous to behold, and you can’t say that about many of today’s AV receivers. The clean fascia, sturdy case and chunky polished corner pieces give it high-end panache while the rear panel is a cornucopia of beautifully crafted gold plated terminals.
Richard Stevenson & Paul Miller  |  Feb 06, 2009
I have a fondness for NAD. The brand has succeeded over the decades by creating products just a few degrees askew from those of everyone else; never following the herd but, equally, rarely radical. In two-channel audio this has often meant a stripped-down, fundamentalist approach with products having an appealing Bohemian quality. However, when it comes to multichannel AV, eschewing key technologies in favour of a ‘music-first’ approach could be a little too existential for its own good.
Ken Kessler & Paul Miller  |  Feb 06, 2009
Debate that’s been raging since the dawn of hi-fi, Integrated vs Separates boils down to this: the former’s benefits over the latter include the removal of a pre-to-power cable connection, the need for one less AC outlet, less shelf space and – above all – the knowledge that the two sections are optimised for each other. Separates, however, counter with truly dedicated power supplies for each section, as well as isolation of the pre and power amp stages for less potential for undesirable interaction. Traditionally, the higher you go up the price scale, the more likely you are to opt for separates. Over the decades, milestone integrateds would appear that upset the formula: Sugden’s A48, specific models from Rogers, McIntosh, AR, et al.

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