Integrated Amplifiers

Sort By: Post DateTitle Publish Date
Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 23, 2022
hfnedchoiceJust 16cm wide, the latest integrated amplifier from Chord Electronics is truly tiny, but the levels of performance it offers elevate it way beyond its apparent novelty status

The Chord Electronics Anni, selling for £1195, isn't the company's first compact amplifier – that honour goes to the £2900 TToby [HFN Feb '17], designed as a partner for the Hugo TT 2 DAC/pre/headphone amp [HFN Dec '15]. But the Anni is smaller, at just 16cm wide and 4.25cm tall, much lighter at 625g, and conceptually different from the TToby.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 18, 2022
hfnoutstandingHot on the heels of its tube hybrid integrateds comes this altogether cooler solid-state amplifier from Danish brand Copland. It packs on the style while also packing a punch

Nothing causes more consternation than a product seemingly 180 degrees at odds with a company's core philosophy, whether hi-fi, cars, watches, what-have-you. Audio Research dealt with the repercussions of its first solid-state amp… but an all-transistor amp from the equally tube-centric Copland? Not its first – these were the mid-'90s CSA8/CSA18 – so the CSA70 probably won't cause too much of a ruckus despite the absence of bottles.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Feb 22, 2022
hfnoutstandingPrimaLuna's tradition of user-tweakable tube amps continues, this time by 'tweaking' its own EVO 300 model with a solid-state output stage. Welcome, PL's first hybrid...

OK, OK, there are those who think 'hybrid' is a dirty word. If your glass is half-empty, it signifies compromise, or – worse – indecisiveness. If you're a cynic, then it's purely a commercial choice. But if your glass is half-full, then it's a convenient solution to various problems. As PrimaLuna has only ever made all-valve amplifiers, the company's first hybrid needs some explaining. More to the point, at £6198, the PrimaLuna EVO 300 Hybrid – clearly related to the all-tube EVO 300 [HFN Mar '21] – is its costliest product.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Feb 15, 2022
hfnoutstandingLaunched as part of Rotel's 60th anniversary celebrations, this is the latest version of the brand's flagship 'big integrated' amp – and there's rather more to it than meets the eye

Rotel's larger integrated amplifiers have always provided an attractive waypoint between the compact designs of hi-fi's affordable end and the monster amps of the high-end, offering plenty of power, an extensive feature-set and an entirely convincing performance. The new RA-1592MKII, selling for £2295 in black or silver finishes and claiming a 200W output, is no exception.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 27, 2022
hfncommendedSometimes, only an integrated amplifier will do, even if you've £15k burning a hole in your pocket. AVID's gargantuan Sigsum is here to challenge any bias toward separates

Maybe one grows less ornery with age, or perhaps there was a nice guy inside of me waiting to crawl out from my crotchety self. It's just that, only a few years ago, the frustrating elements of AVID's Sigsum integrated amplifier would have had me cursing Editor PM for asking me to review it. So, there's minimalism here, and there's contrariness, and that's just the lack of a remote control. In a product a fiver short of £15,000.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 13, 2022
hfnoutstandingGuided by theory and practice from the costly REX-series, traditional output pentodes are usurped by a pair of power triodes in BAT's fully-balanced tube integrated amplifier

There's a certain amount of extra-curricular activity that can come with using a valve amp. As with their fellow stalwarts of hi-fi – turntables – valve amps present opportunities for setup, tweaking, and maintenance, and for some that's part of the appeal. Balanced Audio Technology's new £9995 VK-80i integrated, however, is intended to be 'plug-and-play', and provide a user experience more in line with its own solid-state models than some hot bottle contemporaries. All the thrills of the tube sound without the fuss? Where do I sign?

Review: James Parker, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 10, 2022
hfncommendedThe latest all-in-one compact Class D streaming system from the German company features an enhanced network audio platform – but that's only the start of its appeal

As the model designation suggests, this isn't the first all-in-one network audio system from German high-end company AVM. Replacing its existing Inspiration CS 2.2 model, the new Inspiration CS 2.3, selling for £5250 in black or silver finishes, with a chrome 'Cellini' finish available as a somewhat glitzy extra-cost option, is based around the company's latest streaming platform.

Review: James Parker, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Dec 16, 2021
hfnoutstandingThis London-based company may be a relative latecomer to the all-in-one streaming system market, but its debut models have style a-plenty – and performance to match

Given Cambridge Audio's track record in digital audio, it is perhaps a little surprising it's taken the company so long to enter the network systems arena. It was an early developer of add-on DACs in 1994 [see HFN Jun '21] and has been making streaming components for a good while, even going to the lengths of developing its own network audio hardware. The Cambridge catalogue currently caters for 'computer audio' enthusiasts with the entry-level £169 DacMagic 100 right up to the £4499 Edge NQ network preamp.

Review: David Price, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Dec 09, 2021
hfncommendedThe artisan of high-end tube audio, Jadis, has imbued more than a little Gallic flair into this 'entry level' integrated. Serve with sensitive speakers for a taste of magic...

Until the mid-1990s, valve amplifiers were typically persona non grata. The '80s had been all about solid-state – from tweaky low-powered integrateds to mega powerful monster power amps – and tubes didn't so much as get a look in. By the turn of the millennium however, the pendulum had swung back and tube amps were reinvented as exclusive objects of luxury and desire, famed for their sweet and satisfying sound. How times change!

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Dec 06, 2021
hfnoutstandingExposure returns to its roots with a full-width integrated inspired by the improved circuit design of the recent 5010 monoblock power amps. Does 'old school' still cut it?

Nostalgia doesn't come any better than this: an integrated amplifier that looks like it escaped from the 1980s, all minimalist and line-level and 440mm wide. But Exposure has been around for close to 50 years, so this isn't some exercise in retro from an arriviste brand with cod heritage. Rather, the 3510 is a device for reminding people like me of (hi-fi) life in simpler times.

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: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 21, 2021
hfnvintageWith its four-channel amp and on-board SQ decoder, this '70s receiver was the lynchpin in what was arguably the most leading-edge quadraphonic system of its time...

The era of quadraphonic sound was not the hi-fi industry's finest. Appearing around 1973 but moribund by 1978, quadraphonic was the first big marketing failure by a sector that had so far enjoyed unalloyed success in convincing the public to buy into its latest developments. Confusing advertising, a damaging format war and a lack of consumer demand all played their part in the downfall of a concept which, at its peak, had been hailed as the future.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 14, 2021
hfnoutstandingPromising 'extraordinary power with exquisite tube finesse' BAT's new VK-3500 integrated marries the brand's REX 3 triode preamp with a robust solid-state output

Please indulge me while I discuss the design of BAT's (Balanced Audio Technology) VK-3500 amplifier. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and all that, but I'd be surprised to find anyone who didn't admire the styling of this hybrid integrated. Even without the 'BAT' logo conjuring images of Gotham City's caped crusader, it has a purposeful, high-quality look and feel. There's an argument that the appearance of a hi-fi product is unimportant, but at this price you expect some attention to detail and craftsmanship – and that's what you get. Of the silver and black finish options, the latter is the obvious choice if you really want to emphasise the Dark Knight vibe…

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'.

Pages

X