Integrated Amplifiers

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John Bamford and Paul Miller  |  May 08, 2011
Sleek design, comprehensive functionality and even a built-in wireless DAC make the AS-400 a thoroughly modern integrated amp – for today’s iTunes generation Not long after the introduction of Micromega’s £2800 integrated amplifier, the IA-400, and its £1100 WM-10 wireless-equipped DAC comes a component that effectively combines the two: a new version of its integrated amplifier (with ‘AS’ instead of ‘IA’ nomenclature) featuring a built-in 802. 11n Wi-Fi receiver/DAC, working to Apple’s latest AirStream protocols. As with any wireless connectivity – Bluetooth or Wi-Fi – there is something quite spooky about the ability for music stored on computer, mobile ’phone or PDA to be played through one’s hi-fi system as if by magic. Unlike open source DLNA/UPnP systems, however, AirStream (formerly called Airplay) is proprietary to Apple and works only with its iTunes media player, iPhones, iPads and the web-enabled iPod Touch.
Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 15, 2021
hfnoutstandingOriginally inspired by Class D maven Bruno Putzys, the innovative Mola-Mola brand returns with a fully integrated version of its separate amp, DAC and phono technologies

Never judge a book by its cover… or an amplifier by its industrial design. Take the Kula integrated amplifier from Groningen-based Mola-Mola – at first glance you may raise an eyebrow at this relatively compact, if solidly-built and undeniably stylish, integrated amplifier's £9900 price-tag. Then, complete with optional onboard DAC (£5999) and £1799 MM/MC phono stage, it adds up to just under £17,700 – well, that should raise the other brow into an expression of some shock.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 18, 2022
hfncommendedThis boutique brand from Sweden has quietly been making a name for itself with a classically-styled, modular integrated amp. We test the 'tickled up' Reference version

Anyone who spends time idly clicking between websites will be familiar with the HTTP 404 error, which occurs when a browser can't find what it was looking for. Coincidentally, the Moonriver Model 404 Reference amplifier, which is priced from £4495, has a similar 'error': there may be a USB-B port on its rear panel, offering the prospect of connecting a computer to play music, but there's nothing behind it, due to circumstances beyond the control of the amp's Swedish manufacturer.

Review: Jamie Biesemans, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Feb 19, 2024
hfnoutstandingFirst the Nu-Vista series, and now the iconic 'Class A' A1 integrated is reimagined by Musical Fidelity's new owners. How close to the original is this modern version?

Now that Heinz Lichtenegger, president of parent brand Audio Tuning, is comfortably behind the wheel of Musical Fidelity and the marque is churning out a steady flow of new products, including the rather notable Nu-Vista amplifiers [HFN Mar & Aug '23], it's good to see the full history of this British brand being revisited. The £1499 reissue of the 'griddle plate' A1 integrated amplifier is a case in point. Without losing sight of the past – or the original A1's flaws – it has been reworked by Simon Quarry, the engineer in charge of most new Musical Fidelity designs. The result is a fully symmetrical, Class A-biased amplifier that looks, and sounds, true to the original – it is not simply a vintage lookalike with unconvincing innards.

Review and Lab: Paul Miller  |  Aug 04, 2020
hfnoutstandingA new big beast stalks the integrated amplifier jungle, courtesy of the refreshed Musical Fidelity brand. Armed with ears and test gear, we track the M8xi to its lair...

If you are into fancy-looking hi-fi with machined fascias and decorative meters then the £5649 M8xi integrated amplifier is not for you. 'Sorry, that's the way it is', says Musical Fidelity, though I suspect this declaration of intent for the entire M8 series owes more to Musical Fidelity's founder than the new owners, Audio Tuning Vertriebs GmbH, of which vinyl evangelist Pro-Ject Audio Systems is another division.

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.
Review: Mark Craven, Review and Lab: Paul Miller  |  Sep 07, 2023
hfnoutstandingThis latest nuvistor/bipolar hybrid integrated marks a return of Musical Fidelity's traditional 'no-nonsense belter'. Difficult speakers? This amplifier will drive anything!

The conclusion to our review of Musical Fidelity's original Nu-Vista 800 integrated amplifier [HFN Nov '14] announced: '16 years from now, we'll remember it!'. That was the gap between the manufacturer's first Nu-Vista product, the 1998 Nu-Vista Preamplifier, and its then-new integrated descendant. Yet while our reviewer was so enamoured of MF's tube/solid state powerhouse that he imagined it flying the hybrid amp flag for years to come, it turns out the Nu-Vista 800 was not to last quite that long.

Review: Jamie Biesemans, Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 08, 2023
hfncommendedIt may look like the 3030 from 1976, but beneath the faux-retro exterior of NAD's celebratory, limited edition C 3050 integrated beats the heart of a 21st century amp

Since its founding in 1972 NAD has grown into one of the mainstays of the hi-fi industry, and to celebrate its first half-century of existence, the brand has launched the C 3050 LE streaming amplifier. Taking cues from forerunners such as the C 700 [HFN Feb '22] and the C 389, it's a just-add-speakers package, including HDMI connectivity and an MM-only phono input.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 25, 2022
hfnoutstandingNAD remains a key partner in the BluOS wireless ecosphere and the C 700 is its most streamlined – read affordable and flexible – all-in-one network player/amplifier yet

With its latest 'just add speakers' hi-fi solution, Canadian manufacturer NAD's intentions are crystal-clear. Take the form factor and functionality of its award-winning Masters M10 BluOS-integrated amplifier [HFN Jun '19] but rethink the specification in order to nearly cut the asking price in half. This isn't a surprising move – at £1299, the C 700 is the 'mainstream' all-in-one system that has been begging to be built.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Aug 05, 2019
hfnoutstandingAs a major partner in the BluOS project, it makes sense for NAD to have its own all-in-one network player, and it's aiming very high with this fully-loaded, fine-sounding system

No-one could ever accuse NAD of lacking ambition. Alongside its acclaimed core range, on which the company has built its reputation over the past four decades, it also has its Masters series of high-end components, several of which have been reviewed favourably in these pages in the past, including the EISA Award-winning M32 integrated amp – sorry, 'DirectDigital DAC/Amplifier' – [HFN Jul '18].

Richard Stevenson & Paul Miller  |  Jun 08, 2010
I find it very odd that the M2 is the most technically advanced and subjectively successful digital amplifier yet to grace my listening room. Until recently, right now in fact, NAD was not a company likely to spring to mind for its cutting edge technical innovation. The brand saw me through my penniless student days with a host of hi-fi products that majored on simplicity, great value and a remarkable immunity to spilt beer. But the M2 is very different.
Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Sep 07, 2020
hfnoutstandingEver at the cutting edge of both analogue and digital Class D amplification, NAD's new M33 is the first to utilise Purifi's groundbreaking modules. All this and streaming too...

Launched last year, NAD's M10 all-in-one streaming system [HFN Jun '19] was remarkable in two ways. One was that this compact 'just add speakers' package was actually part of the brand's elite Masters Series, more usually populated by high-end DACs and amplifiers, while the other was that this little system, selling for around £2000, was exceptionally good, receiving a glowing review in HFN before going on to win a 2019-20 EISA award as Best Smart Amplifier.

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.
John Bamford and Paul Miller  |  Dec 16, 2011
In celebrating the company’s 60th anniversary Nagra’s specialist hi-fi division pays homage to the ‘king of tubes’, the timeless 300B triode, in a new stereo amplifier 'A key difference between consumer electronic components manufactured for hi-fi systems and professional products made for sound engineers is the fact that you can drag pro gear across a room by its mains lead without it breaking,’ quipped an industry veteran to me, way back when. Witticisms like that, noted during formative years, tend to remain embedded in one’s memory banks for life. As does the iconic Nagra marque. Think Nagra and you think Swiss precision engineering at its finest: electronics made for professionals.
Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Dec 09, 2019
hfncommendedNaim's latest version of its classic Nait amplifier features not only improved overall performance, but also a built-in phono stage. Whatever will they think of next?

While it could never hope to match the seemingly annual product replacement cycle of some mass-market brands – and nor, I suspect, would it care to – Naim still maintains a continuous programme of product development that goes on 'behind the scenes' of some of its more attention-grabbing launches. So while all the big news from Salisbury has concerned network-capable audio, as Naim rolls out its 'Future Platform' from the latest Uniti products to new ND-series network players [HFN Apr '19] and second-generation Mu-so models, in the background the company has been working on its core integrated amplifiers, the Nait series.

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