Integrated Amplifiers

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Review: David Price, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 17, 2020
hfncommendedDespite its diminutive dimensions, this half-size CD player/integrated amp combination offers a grown-up sound along with facilities normally seen on full-width separates

Size matters – or does it? Most hi-fi manufacturers stick rigidly to the traditional 'full width' separates model, but not all. The former often maintain that the market simply isn't ready for the latter, arguing that many key countries demand 'proper size' boxes. Yet over the years we've seen brands like Cyrus make high-quality, half-width hi-fi their stock in trade. So which is it to be? The answer, reckons Exposure, is to offer both.

Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Dec 13, 2019
The big beast of the budget audiophile jungle is back with two new models to beef-up its 14-series lineup. Does this affordable CD/amp combination have real teeth?

Something is afoot in the land of hi-fi separates. First we had Musical Fidelity with its M2scd/M2si [HFN Jul '19], then Cambridge Audio's AXC35/AXA35 [HFN Sep '19] and now Rotel has launched its own affordable amplifier and CD player pairing, in the form of the £429 CD11 and £599 A11.

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.

Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Dec 02, 2019
hfncommendedIs the no-frills CD player/amplifier combo making a comeback? Cambridge Audio is not alone in thinking so, but its latest AX series also looks to offer uncommonly good value

Whether a car, hi-fi component or a general electronic gadget, the promise of 'trickle-down' technology from a flagship model is always an alluring prospect. Cambridge Audio is the latest to claim such an advantage, with the assertion that its new AX models 'take design and innovation cues from the CX and Edge [HFN Nov '18] hi-fi ranges'.

Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 13, 2019
hfncommendedBeing 'designed in France and built with passion', the IA350A integrated amplifier from YBA's Passion series promises high quality with more than a sprinkling of Gallic flair...

Agood hi-fi system should invoke 'passion' in the listener – be that an urge to crank-up the volume, to play an air guitar or wave an imaginary baton. French brand YBA knows this only too well, bestowing this particular moniker on its penultimate lineup of models. Coming in below its Statement units, but above Design, Heritage and Genesis, the six-strong Passion range also includes the PRE550/AMP650 pre/power amplifiers [HFN May '18].

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 24, 2019
hfnoutstandingThis latest integrated amp from a stalwart of the US high-end may be stereotypically big and bold, but it's also both extremely flexible and surprisingly affordable

Although many aspire to grabbing themselves a chunk of American high-end audio, there's all too often a problem – price. It's very tempting to look at the price-tags back home in the States and shake one's head at the UK ticket. But most of us can guess at the differences between the US and UK markets, the import taxes and costs involved in shipping and distributing small samples of heavyweight equipment.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 16, 2019
hfnoutstandingA little over half the price of the mighty H590 amp, in a slimmer design and with very similar facilities and output, this new arrival from Norway is a sure-fire bargain

They're clearly fans of the old buckled swash at Hegel: having evoked Master And Commander in announcing its £9000 H590 flagship amplifier [HFN Oct '18], the Norwegian company says it's calling the new H390 'Robin Hood'. Why? Well, it's all a matter of re-distribution of wealth, apparently, for the £4900 debutant takes much of the ability of its big brother, and makes it available to those of us of humbler means.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Sep 09, 2019
hfnoutstandingWe're a long way from the old idea of hairshirt hi-fi here: the latest heavyweight integrated amp from Krell's Connecticut factory comes fully-loaded – and then some!

You need to do some serious rethinking on first encountering the Krell K-300i. If you're expecting a simple device all about massive power and minimalism, you're going to be disappointed, but for those looking for an amp able to handle all the needs of the modern music listener, this one could just be bang on the money.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Aug 15, 2019
hfncommendedThe celebrated brand has given its miniature integrated amp a comprehensive update to mark its fifth anniversary. So is it still a winner in an increasingly crowded market?

We live in uncertain – and expensive – times: the average price of a flat in Greater London is currently north of half a million, which is why there's a major property building boom underway, with almost any space or building being turned over to housing. And with prices so high, it's also no surprise that space is at a premium. Even with London salaries typically higher than those outside the capital, the average income, run through the usual multipliers, doesn't get you a mortgage able to buy anything palatial.

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].

Review: David Price, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jul 11, 2019
hfnoutstandingPromising more power, better sound and greater flexibility, will this latest incarnation of a longstanding 'audiophile favourite' tube integrated meet the challenge?

The first Stereo 40 tube integrated amp arrived in the year 2000, and according to Icon Audio's founder and chief designer David Shaw, 'is the heart of what we do'. It's the metaphorical ham sandwich of the valve amplifier world – the staple diet of audiophiles wanting a simple, affordable, user-friendly integrated that offers classic tube sound and some interesting features too. This new £2200 Stereo 40 MkIV sits bang-smack in the middle of the range and, as claimed, is uncommonly versatile.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 21, 2019
hfnoutstandingBudget hi-fi, from the USA: Emotiva's BasX TA-100 isn't quite what at first it seems – however, given what it does, it's hard not to conclude that it's something of a bargain

Well, this is rather confusing: look up the Emotiva BasX TA-100, which sells in the UK through Karma Audio Visual for £519, on its US-based manufacturer's website, and you'll find it appears under 'Preamps'. In fact Emotiva has a stack of preamps, and even more power amps, in its unusually extensive catalogue.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 12, 2019
hfnoutstandingA modern integrated amp with the valve du jour, Copland's CTA408 leaves nothing out and delivers the lot – could this be the biggest bargain in high-end audio?

Of late, I have been banging on, to the dismay of many, about how high-end audio has priced itself beyond any regard for reality. That said, context is everything. So, if I tell you a burger can cost £18 in a London restaurant and that Copland's CTA408 integrated tube amp is actually a bit of a bargain at £6398, please accept that I'm painfully aware the latter sum is a fortune to many, but the former is highway robbery. Eighteen quid for a burger!

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.

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