Yamaha amplifiers for sale

Yamaha amplifiers for sale DEFAULT

What’s in a name? In the Hi-Fi industry a brand name can automatically dictate the expectation of quality and performance.

Mention Marantz and most people visualise a good quality, well priced, middle-of-the-road product. Mention Krell and immediately the ultimate in what this industry has to offer springs to mind. However occasionally a brand challenges the norm, and Yamaha has just done that.

Like Marantz, Yamaha has earned a solid reputation as an above average, well priced and reliable brand. A number of years ago they released a range of high-end integrated amplifiers and matching CD players. The amplifiers ranged in price from $2,600 through to $9,000, and they quickly established themselves as the equivalent of any product at those price points, irrespective of the brand name. Beautifully sounding, and meticulously built.

Yamaha have now thrown down the gauntlet to the heavy hitters in our industry. They have just released the C-5000 pre-amplifier and matching M-5000 power amplifier, priced at $12,995 each. The good news is that they can easily justify the asking price – sonically they more than hold their own with others at this price point, and the build quality is better than most.

Yamaha has earned an enviable name in the Home Theatre market, every generation of their Aventage AV receivers (now in its 10th generation) has won the Sound and Image AV Receiver of the Year award. However the C/M-5000 release is pure Hi-Fi. No HDMI inputs, no on-board DAC’s and no in-built streamer. Just high performance 2-channel audio.

The C-5000 pre-amplifier features 6 x RCA inputs (including Phono) and 4 x Balanced inputs, which again includes phono in preparation for their upcoming fully-balanced GT-5000 turntable. It also features RCA and Balanced outputs. It is designed as a dual-mono pre-amp, down to the use of independent dual toroidal transformers. The M-5000 power-amplifier is rated at 100watts RMS into 8 Ohms. It doubles its power into 4 Ohms, something rarely achieved (think Krell) but which is always the mark of a superb amplifier. The power-amp is again designed in a dual-mono configuration.

Yamaha has been making musical instruments for over 125 years and built their first Hi-Fi component in 1954. They know what good sound is. They also have the resources to design and build what they consider to be the finest components on the market – the C/M-5000 combination is the result.

There is a lot of high-level competition at this price point, and most of it is well established in the market place, so this is a brave move by Yamaha. They are going head-to-head with iconic companies such as Krell and have positioned the product above high-performance companies such as Musical Fidelity. In the few days we have had this amplifier (it is not even run in yet) we have formed the opinion that Yamaha have achieved what they set out to do – produce an amplifier which can hold its head up in the company of the best the world can offer. The fact that the construction quality puts much of its opposition to shame is a bonus.

It is going to be interesting to see what influence a ‘name’ will have with the acceptance of this product. Will the buying public accept a $26,000 amplifier combination manufactured in Japan, even if it is designed and manufactured by the largest (and one of the oldest) musical company in the world? If they trust their ears they should, but history has proven that sometimes choices are based on more than the obvious. In preparing this I scrolled though a few forums and was intrigued by comments along the lines that Yamaha could never compete against the established ‘audiophile’ brands, and that they could not justify asking ‘audiophile’ prices. I am well aware that none of the people passing comment have actually heard the product!!

It’s a tough gig breaking new ground.

We currently have the C-5000/M-5000 combination playing through their very underrated NS-5000 speakers (described by Edgar Kramer from on-line review publication Soundstage Australia as ‘a new icon worthy of veneration’) in our showroom.

Bring your favourite piece of music and have a listen – you will be impressed.

Sours: https://lenwallisaudio.com/2019/03/yamahas-new-amplifiers-a-class-above/

A hulking great integrated amplifier with a retro style, Paul Rigby climbs the north face of this new Yamaha amplifier

[NOTE: You may have seen my similar YouTube review on the A-S1200. This is a later revision of that review with a few included updates within the techie section.]

Before this A-S1200 piece, a few year’s back, I seemed to go through a Yamaha phase. That is, I found myself reviewing Yamaha products, one after another. A steady stream of Yamaha hardware seemed to pass through my hands and the brand – for a time – dominated the headlines on this site. Then life happened. Other brands wandered in and Yamaha took a back seat. Feast turned into famine.

That fact suddenly hit me so I thought it time to revisit the company. And how! This integrated amplifier is big. It’s heavy. It offers retro styling and most of all…it includes VU meters! Wahoo!

The A-S1200 offers 90W (into 8 Ohms) and fills space. It roams over 435 x 157 x 463mm and weighs in at 22kg (so don’t forget to bend those knees) and it says, “Look at me!” A lot. It features a wall of aluminium on its front fascia, switches, round knobs, cheese slice knobs and more holes on the rear than Lennon’s Blackburn, Lancashire.

A-S1200 Integrated Amplifier From Yamaha

Inside is a meaty toroidal transformer, film capacitors and internal shielding while the company says that the design utilises a, “Mechanical Ground Concept, which begins with the bolts of the feet welded directly to the main chassis, followed by the large heat sink, power transformer and block capacitors directly bolted to the chassis. Through this design, unwanted vibration is avoided, achieving expressive ‘groove’ in the music.”

This amplifier is heavy – partly because of this meaty Toroidal transformer.

I installed the A-S1200 in my hi-fi system and spent a few minutes just looking at the thing. This box may dominate your hi-fi, your room and quite possibly the street you live in so bear that in mind if aesthetics are important.

The layout of this amplifier, front and back, is classic, traditional and nostalgic. The front fascia has a large Volume knob, a smaller source selector, Bass, Treble and Tone controls (if all of those are set to zero the audio will bypass the tone control circuit) and a Speakers switch because you can hook up two sets of speakers to this one. There’s also a full size, 6.35mm Phones socket for the built-in headphone amplifier, a Mute and Power switches.

The one intriguing control is the Meter option that allows you to turn off the VUs, select peak level monitoring, classic VU mode or dimmer to automatically change the brightness of the meter display. You can lock in the desired dimmed lighting too.

The rear of the A-S1200 chassis provides two sets of speaker binding posts, situated on the far left and right. Alongside the Pre outs (which allow you to hook up a sub) is an Auto Power Standby switch that kicks in after eight hours plus Trigger jacks. Three sets of Inputs run over the top of a pair of MM/MC Phono sockets for vinyl use.

 

The phono amplifier offers the following settings – you won’t find the following in the manual. I specially requested this data from Yamaha:

Moving Coil:

MC Input Sensitivity/Impedance150μVrms/50Ω
Total MC gain63.6dB
MC head amp gain28dB
EQ amp gain(MM gain)35.6dB
Input Capacitance100pF

Moving Magnet:

MM Input Sensitivity/Impedance3.5mVrms/47kΩ
EQ amp gain(MM gain)35.6dB
Input Capacitance100pF

There’s also two pairs of Line Outputs (for a tape deck) and Main inputs. The latter forces the volume to operate in fixed mode which allows you to hook three sockets to a pre-amp or AV amp. You also get an IEC power socket.

I asked Yamaha why there is no Ground pin on this socket. I was told, “The reason why there is no ground pin is the meet safety standard Class2 of IEC/UL/others. This allows us to design the unit the meet safety standards on a global level.”

There will be those out there of a more technical mindset who may want to know more. So just for them, I collared a poor Yamaha engineer who didn’t mange to run fast enough and he replied, “Class 2 requires clearance and creepage distance of hot and cold in primary and primary to secondary isolation for safety. If its not able to keep a distance, double isolation is required. Actually each wire of the primary circuit is double isolated. And in safety standards tests, the distance is strictly measured and the leak current is tested by applying very high voltage. Anyway, it keeps the isolation of hot and cold in primary and primary to secondary. It not necessary to use Ground pin in the socket. This is the regulation of Class 2 in standard regulation, not only IEC but also any other country’s safety standard. Whether Class 0 or Class 2 is required depends on the category of products. Home electronics products need to meet either Class 0 or Class 2.”

So now you know.

One of the most important features of this design is the thing I did not talk about: a built-in DAC. Some prospective buyers might baulk at this emission but it pleases me no end. Why? Firstly, this is Yamaha we’re talking about here. One of the most enthusiastic bundlers out there. If there’s a chassis out there on the market, Yamaha normally loves to stuff as many features in it as possible. You want an amp? Sure, have a DAC in there too, why doncha? And Bluetooth…and streaming…and a CD player…and DAB radio…and multi-room options…and…Well so it goes on and on.

Now I understand why an internal DAC is so appealing to many. It’s seen as a freebee so there’s that value for money thing. Because the DAC is inside the amplifier’s chassis the footprint is lowered. Ideal for those who are short of pace. There’s no set up involved, that’s already sorted. Ideal for beginners.  There’s no need to buy extra cabling. The case for an internal DAC is a strong one.

On the other hand, there’s plenty of reasons not to have a DAC stuffed, cheek by jowl, inside an amplifier’s chassis. Firstly, the cramped conditions inside the chassis means that high frequency noise and vibration moves freely to and from the DAC, veiling essential musical detail. Also, any internal DAC is roped into the same build budget as the amplifier. It has to compete for limited and finite development funds with the star of the show, that amp.

Hence, the DAC’s basic investment is going to suffer. Most of the cash will be spent on the amp because the DAC is only playing a guest star role in this movie. So parts quality will suffer. It will also suffer because of a lack of space. So even if you have the cash to spend on good quality DAC parts, there’s only so much room in an amplifier’s chassis. The DAC has to be designed to fit snugly in the gap reserved for it. Again, sound quality suffers because of it.

Not here, though. And that says to me that the A-S1200 is being treated seriously. Seriously in sound terms, that is. There is a single-minded approach to the design on this product.

A slim remote with a 60 degree arc of fire and a six metre range is included that also handles other equipment in the Yamaha range including a CD player.

So how does it sound?

SOUND QUALITY

I began with vinyl and span Eydie Gorme’s Spanish language album Cuatro Vidas (CBS), backed by the El Trio Los Panchos. I chose the track, Vereda Tropical. Full of romance, yearning, understated backing vocals, low-key percussion and acoustic guitars. Meanwhile Gorme has a purity in the high registers but a husky delivery around the lower frequencies. Frankly, it’s gorgeous. It’s also full of fragility so needs careful handling.

A-S1200 Integrated Amplifier From Yamaha

And let’s skip through the internal phono amplifier briefly. It’s fine. Not amazing but it’s useful ‘for now’. Midrange insight was ok not amazing, for example. The freebie phono amplifier remains ideal to get you underway if the budget for this amplifier has emptied your pockets. Grab an external phono amplifier as soon as you can, though.

A-S1200 Integrated Amplifier From Yamaha

My first impression using an external phono amp? Very intriguing. You can hear a plan here. There’s a definite, “We’re going to do sound this way. As opposed to that way.”

What you don’t get or, let me put the another way, what there is less of in this presentation is air and space. Saying that, the soundstage is not claustrophobic but there are plenty of amplifiers out there at this price point that infuses the soundstage with more air for detail to move around within. The Yamaha has less of that.

A-S1200 Integrated Amplifier From Yamaha

For some, this sonic personality may be a deciding factor right here and now. To reject the A-S1200 on this single factor – as important as it can be to some – would be a mistake, though.

That’s because the A-S1200 offers a trade off. Instead of the air and space that some amplifiers might give you in buckets, the Yamaha provides a host of focus. More focus that you might normally expect to hear, in fact. It can produce a slightly tense midrange but that’s never an issue. It’s a subtle effect as opposed to a hurdle to cross. The focus is the thing, here. And that focus conjures up space. All on its own.

A-S1200 Integrated Amplifier From Yamaha

What do I mean by that? Imagine standing in a small room.

Standing in that small room, you inherently lose space to move around. It’s a physical fact. You could feel a little cramped.

But look again at the interior design of this room. The choice of furniture. How that’s been arranged. The furnishings, the use of colour and the sympathetic way the room operates. So, despite the small room, you never feel closed in or restricted here. Cosy, maybe? Comfortable? But not confined.

Hence, despite the small physical space, the room itself feels workable. You never feel you can discern spaces in between objects and items occupying the room.

Hence, the A-S1200 tidies the soundstage. Maybe does a smattering of decluttering. The Yamaha maximises the space it offers. It created the illusion of space even though that soundstage is relatively small. It’s a neat trick.

The upshot is that the small room matters a little less than it might. The focus and precision makes up for it, as it where.

There are several consequences to this affect. To make sure that space is maximised, the placement of instruments and vocals across the soundstage has to be exact. It’s almost as if the producer has said, “Ok and I want you to stand there. Yes there. No, not two inches to the left. There! [pointing]”

Each element of the soundstage is arranged to a plan. The spin off is that bass never sounds pleasantly fuzzy or irritating bloomy. There is a strict element to the bass presentation. That goes for the upper frequencies too. The sense of precision from the acoustic guitars means that string plucks are honed and taught. There’s a real ‘ting’ after each pluck of the thing that enhances the accuracy of the instrument. Similarly vocals increase the quality of their diction.

Now that does mean that the A-S1200 tends to perform at attention. Because space is not abundant, the sense of relaxation and ease is really not there on this track. The Yamaha expresses this track with a flourish and precision of a set of castanets instead of a lazy guitar strum. Upper mids and treble are never bright or forward yet they are direct and controlled. Although, there may be a reduction in emotion and heart, you cannot fault the A1200 for its sense of accuracy. This effect will be of interest to both fans of classical and jazz recordings.

The feet are silver plated.

Next I went for something rather higher in energy terms. Picking the 2008 Edsel CD box set, Ian Dury & The Blockheads: The Stiff Singles, Promos Videos and Peel Session, I selected the single, Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick.

Again, there was the reduction in soundstage space but again, the Yamaha created its own space and lessened the effect.

In general mastering terms, this recording was a little forward around the upper mids and the A1200 made sure you knew about it. It never tried to hide the fact. Because the Yamaha is generally lean in its sonic approach, it will push the mids and treble towards a forward presentation without ever actually going there. Hence, if you play a piece of music has a slightly forward mastering, the Yamaha will push it over the edge. It’s not forgiving in that way.

Yet there was plenty of detail on offer here. Bass was a little lean but full of impact while the sound moved at quite a pace. The sound never dragged or felt sluggish.

What I really liked about the overall presentation from the A-S1200 was its ability to dig out even the most subtle of detail. For example, I never realised just how amazing the bass line is on this track. It was quite the revelation. The bass guitar was very easy to follow via the Yamaha. I could say the same about the piano which was wholly accessible by the ear through the Yamaha.

Moving to the vocal jazz of Carol Kidd and the Linn Records album, Dreamsville, you could hear the exacting nature of the presentation from the Yamaha but, at the same time, no detail was excluded here. That included the delicate cymbal taps. A cool air surrounded this album but all of the sonic ingredients were featured within. Nothing was excluded. Nothing was left out here.

Listening to the same album via the built-in headphone amplifier continued the personality. Often, an amplifier and its built-in head amp can present totally different sonic personalities. Not here, the sound continued from th speakers toheadphones. A lean yet strong bass, focused mids and accurate vocal delivery. It was all present.

CONCLUSION

I’ve reviewed many Yamaha amplifiers over the years but the A-S1200 is by far the most interesting and intriguing I’ve ever heard. It’s also the first that really tries to come to grips with sound, in an audiophile manner.

How it approaches sound is wholly fascinating and because of its sonic decisions, it might not be for everyone but this amplifier will, I’m sure, gain many friends.

More than anything, what I like about this amplifier is that it offers a sonic choice. It recognises that we are different and not everyone wants the same sonic presentation. There is room for all and this Yamaha amplifier supports that.

I can imagine that this amplifier will generate a passionate fan base in a short time. In fact, I’d call this amplifier a future cult favourite.


YAMAHA A-S1200 INTEGRATED AMPLIFIER

Price: £1,999

Website: uk.yamaha.com


GOOD: focus, midrange precision, pacy bass, build quality, detail, VU meters!

BAD: soundstage size, slightly tense mids

RATING: 8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


[Don’t forget to check out my Patreon Page at www.patreon.com/audiophileman, for exclusive editorial!]

REFERENCE

Origin Live Sovereign turntable

Origin Live Enterprise 12″ arm

Van Den Hul Crimson XGW Stradivarius Cartridge

Funk Firm LSD Turntable

Benz Glider MC cartridge

Ortofon Cadenza Bronze MC cartridge

Audiolab 6000CDT CD Transport

Benchmark DAC2 HGC

Icon PS3 phono amplifier

Aesthetix Calypso pre-amp

Icon Audio MB845 Mk.II Monoblock Amplifiers

Quad ESL-57 Speakers with One Thing mod

Tellurium Q Statement cables

Blue Horizon Professional Rack System

Harmonic Resolution Systems Noise Reduction Components

CAD GC1 Ground Controls

Air Audio AC-2K Balanced Transformer

Russ Andrews RF Router Mk.II

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Paul Rigby

I’ve been a journalist and editor for 35 years and still retain my good humour. Who’d have thought? I have worked within a range of industries, writing for hundreds of national magazines and newspapers in the UK, Europe and the USA covering: aviation, music, computer technology, computer gaming, hi-fi, mobile technology, home automation, lady’s lifestyle, plastic model making, antiques and more.   I currently write for national magazines in the subjects of business, music, hi-fi and general technology.

Sours: https://theaudiophileman.com/a-s1200-amplifier-review-yamaha/
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Best stereo amplifiers 2021: best integrated amps, budget to premium

Best stereo amplifiers 2020: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best stereo amplifiers you can buy in 2020.

A great stereo amplifier is the engine of any great hi-fi system. All you need to do is find the right one for your particular set-up, and we hope this carefully curated list can help. Whether you're building a home stereo from scratch or want to splash out on a system upgrade, you'll find our pick of the best stereo amps available in the States below.

There are lots of different types of amplifiers to choose from – and all have their strengths and weaknesses. To make life simple, all the models on this page are integrated stereo amps. That means they feature two components in one (a power amp to drive the speakers and a preamp to control the volume and your sources). 

But as the way we consume music has evolved, you'll also find that many amps boast digital and wireless connections alongside traditional analogue inputs and outputs. Whether it's Bluetooth, optical or wi-fi networking, these features will make it easy to stream high-quality music from your mobile devices or computer to your hi-fi.   

Convenience is, of course, great, but it's sound quality that sets the best stereo amplifiers apart from the crowd. Each of the integrated amps on this page has been thoroughly tested by our dedicated team of in-house experts, so you can expect spellbinding sonics whatever your decision.

1. Cambridge Audio CXA81

An exceptional performer for the money, packed with top technology.

Specifications

Power: 80W per channel

Remote control: No

Phono stage: n/a

Digital inputs: S/PDIF coaxial, Toslink

USB: Yes

Bluetooth: aptX HD receiver built-in

Headphone output: Yes

Dimensions (hwd): 11.5 x 4.3 x 34.1cm

Reasons to buy

+Strong presentation+Great timing+Awesome detail

Reasons to avoid

-Nothing at this price

This What Fi-Fi Award-winner is our MVP, and one of the best stereo amps you can buy for around $1000. Its elegant Lunar Grey chassis may bear a passing resemblance to its predecessor, the CXA80, but like a thanksgiving turkey, the CX81 is stuffed with fresh internals.

The signal path has been improved, there's a superior DAC and the USB port now supports hi-res audio up to 32-bit/384kHz and DSD256 quality. You even get an aptX HD Bluetooth receiver that delivers better-than-CD-quality wireless playback.

The result of these upgrades? Sound that is rich, confident, full-bodied and bursting with detail. Whether it's a hammering out a frenetic mid-range melody or a staccato bass line, the CX81 has the agility and energy to handle whatever comes its way.

Clarity is stunning given the (very reasonable) sticker price. Those sweet sonics, plus the high feature-count, mean the CX81 sets a new benchmark at this price. 

Put simply, this is one awesome amp.

Read the full review: Cambridge Audio CXA81

2. Cambridge Audio CXA61

For the money, very few amplifiers can compete with the CX61.

Specifications

Power: 60W per channel

Remote control: No

Phono stage: n/a

Digital inputs: S/PDIF coaxial, Toslink

USB: Yes

Bluetooth: aptX HD receiver built-in

Headphone output: Yes

Dimensions (hwd): 11.5 x 4.3 x 34.1cm

Reasons to buy

+Detailed, dynamic audio+Stacked feature set+Great build quality

Reasons to avoid

-Pricier than the previous model

The CX61 has big boots to fill. It's predecessor, the CX60, scored five-stars in our tests and picked up a coveted What Hi-Fi Product of the Year Award. Thankfully, the CX61 builds on that heritage with a classy design, impressive connections, high-resolution audio support and study remote.

The lower-specced sibling of the CX81 (above), the CX61 makes do with a touch less power (60W vs 80W). But at under $1000, it delivers exceptional sound-per-pound.

Audio is fluid, entertaining and energetic but that's not to say this integrated amp is constantly in party mode. It's serious about detail, dynamics and rhythmic precision, and knows just when to tone down the enthusiasm.

It does lack a USB port – you'll need to splash out on CX81 if that's a deal-breaker – but the CX61 is a fine bit of kit that pairs well with almost any musical genre.

Read the full review: Cambridge Audio CXA61

3. Rega Brio

A sonically-superior stereo amp for demanding listeners.

Specifications

Power: 50W (8 Ohms)

Remote control: Yes

Phono stage: MM

Digital inputs: No

USB: No

Bluetooth: No

Headphone output: Yes

Dimensions (hwd): 7.8 x 21.6 x 34.5cm

Reasons to buy

+Detail and dynamics to die for+Agile and rhythmic presentation+Good headphone output

Reasons to avoid

-No digital inputs

British outfit Rega has been designing high-end audio components since the early 1970s. The company launched the original Brio amp in back in 1991 but this sixth-generation model continues to pay homage to its illustrious forebears.

Those retro looks may divide opinion but few would dispute that the Rega Brio takes sound to new heights at this price point. This is an analogue-only amplifier, so there's no built-in DAC, but it sounds terrific. From the incredible sense of scale to the punchy dynamics, this is certainly Rega's best-ever Brio.

Build-quality is typically solid and the hefty 5kg aluminium case has a reassuring, tank-like quality to it. In terms of features, Rega hasn't added much since 1991. You do get a phono stage but forget about Bluetooth streaming or digital inputs.

If you can overlook the lack of wireless connections, the back-to-basics Brio delivers stellar sound-per-pound and is worth every penny.

 Read the full review:Rega Brio

4. Cambridge AXA35

One of the best budget integrated amplifiers for the money.

Specifications

Power: 35W (8 Ohms)

Remote control: Yes

Phono stage: MM

Digital inputs: No

USB: No

Bluetooth: No

Headphone output: Yes

Dimensions (hwd): 8.3 x 43 x 33.5cm

Reasons to buy

+Punchy, precise sound+Good detail resolution+Expressive midrange

Reasons to avoid

-Remote struggles off-axis-No Bluetooth

So if you're looking for the best stereo amplifier at the cheapest price, this Cambridge model's a great option.

At around $350, it's big on value, big on sound and built to last. The sleek, 8cm-high case is equipped with a built-in moving magnet photo stage (worth using if you have a budget turntable), a 6.35mm headphone output and 3.5mm auxiliary input. The lack of Bluetooth and USB port is entirely forgivable give the bargain sticker price.

As for sound, the AXA35 puts on a killer performance for the money. It throws plenty of power and weight behind every track, providing a spacious and spirited sound without any harshness. If you're happy to live with the relatively simple specs, this great budget amp serves up superb sonics.

Read the full review:Cambridge AXA35

5. NAD D 3020 V2

This rebooted version of the classic NAD amp has high-tech appeal.

Specifications

Power: 60W (8 Ohms)

Remote control: Yes

Phono stage: MM

Digital inputs: optical/coaxial

USB: No

Bluetooth: Yes

Headphone output: Yes

Dimensions (hwd): 18.6 x 5.8 x 21.9cm

Reasons to buy

+Full-bodied performance+Fine timing and dynamics+Phono stage

Reasons to avoid

-Nothing really at this price

You might be struck by this budget amp's quirky design, but things get a whole lot more interesting under the hood. The D 3020 V2 is packed with high-tech features including, Class D amplification, Bluetooth for music streaming and a moving magnet phono stage for connecting a turntable. 

Assuming you appreciate the curvature of its neat, upright case, this accomplished NAD amp is easy to love. It combines an impeccable sense of timing with superb dynamics to great effect, making it an enjoyable and engaging listen. Presentation is tonally-even but there's the option of a tasteful 'bass boost' via a button on the remote control. 

Detail levels are superb for the money, although the Marantz PM6006 near the top of this list offers a bit more performance for the money. Still, if you want a fully-featured digital amp, the NAD 3020 V2 is a great shout. Be sure to add it to your shortlist.

Read the full review: NAD D 3020 V2

6. Audiolab 6000A

An impressive amplifier and a classy alternative to the Rega Brio.

Specifications

Power: 100W (8 Ohms)

Remote control: Yes

Phono stage: MM

Digital inputs: optical/coaxial

USB: No

Bluetooth: Yes

Headphone output: Yes

Dimensions (hwd): 6.5 x 44.5 x 30cm

Reasons to buy

+Clear, refined and articulate sound+Big, spacious presentation+Good spread of features

Reasons to avoid

-Fierce competition

If you're not sold on the Rega Brio's retro looks, or simply want accomplished alternative for the same money, take a look at the five-star Audiolab 6000A. A competitive mid-range amp, the 6000A shares a DAC chip with the Award-winning Audiolab M-DAC, giving it instant appeal.

The solid, high-quality case and volume dial are well-crafted, while connections are plentiful. You get four digital inputs, three analogue inputs, and a pair of moving magnet phono inputs. And unlike the Rega Brio, this amp also has Bluetooth for music streaming.

Sound is wonderfully-crisp, with ample detail and plenty of clarity. Vocals are cut with emotion and subtlety. We find that the best amplifiers breathe new life into well-worn tracks, and this model does just that. 

While the Rega Brio offers more texture, the nimble Audiolab 6000A offers a more spacious and refined sound that's hard to beat at this price. A fantastic sub-$1000 amp.

Read the full review: Audiolab 6000A

7. Rega Elex-R

This high-end bargain would impress at double the price.

Specifications

Power: 72W (8 Ohms)

Remote control: Yes

Phono stage: MM

Digital inputs: optical/coaxial

USB: No

Bluetooth: No

Headphone output: Yes

Dimensions (hwd): 10.5 x 44 x 37cm

Reasons to buy

+Agile and articulate performer+Fine rhythmic ability+Good phono stage

Reasons to avoid

-Remote control could be classier

Here's a great option for those who demand the taste of champagne on a beer budget. It's priced at around $1700, but the Award-winning Rega Elex-R performs more like a $3400 amp.   

It produces the kind of sound that transports from your lounge to a live recording session. Timing is impressive and it fills the room with an addictive sense of energy that seems to soak into the walls. In terms of authenticity and scale, few amps can beat the Elex-R – especially at such an appealing price.

As you may have guessed from the typically-solid case, this is very much a traditional amp. It not luxurious but it is well-engineered and reliable – our test unit has been running for over three years without any issues.

There's no digital inputs, no Bluetooth and no headphone output. But if you're all about the music, you'll almost certainly be wowed by the Elex-R's sonics.

Read the full review: Rega Elex-R

8. Rega Aethos

A superb stereo amplifier with that justifies its premium pricetag.

Specifications

Power: 125W (8 Ohms)

Remote control: Yes

Phono stage: No

Digital inputs: No

USB: No

Bluetooth: No

Headphone output: Yes

Dimensions (hwd): 9,5 x 43.3 x 36cm

Reasons to buy

+Impressive agility and punch+Rhythmic and dynamic+Solid build

Reasons to avoid

-Runs warm-Some minor ergonomic issues

The Rega Aethos delivers an fantastic combination of insight, dynamics and rhythmic precision to produce a class-leading sound. It's not the most highly-specced stereo amp we've seen, though. There are no digital inputs, nor is there a phono stage for a turntable, which is surprising at this level. You do get five line-level inputs and a 6.3mm headphone socket, though.

IF you can live with that, the Rega will reward you with a captivating sound, that majors in clarity and dynamic fluidity. Its sense of timing is second to none at that level, which is part of the reason it's a What Hi-Fi? Awards 2020 winner.

Read the full review: Rega Aethos

9. Moon 240i

One of the best high-end stereo amplifiers for the money.

Specifications

Power: 50W (8 Ohms)

Remote control: Yes

Phono stage: MM

Digital inputs: optical/coaxial

USB: Yes

Bluetooth: No

Headphone output: Yes

Dimensions (hwd): 3.5 x 42.9 x 36.6cm

Reasons to buy

+Smooth, subtle and dynamic+Rhythmically cohesive+Agile, precise timing

Reasons to avoid

-Not the most muscular sound

Just like a Cadillac, the Moon 240i offers power and performance in a classy, understated case. Sound is smooth and defined, layered with texture and refreshingly clear. The 240i partners well with almost any speakers but to show off its true capabilities, you'll want to hook it up to some serious kit.

The superb sonics are matched by impressive specs. You get an asynchronous DAC supporting playback of hi-res files up to 32-bit/384kHz, a USB input and four digital inputs. So, whether you want connect a CD player, laptop, TV or media streamer, the 240i will oblige.

If all that hasn't won you over, take a closer look at the Moon 240i's classy metal casing and crisp OLED display. Although this amp isn't cheap, its build quality is reminiscent of the kind of hi-fi components that cost a lot more than $2500.

If you're working with a healthy budget and want a versatile digital amp, take a trip to the Moon.

Read the full review:Moon 240i

10. Musical Fidelity M2si Integrated Amplifier

This stereo amp lacks features but it's still a top performer.

Specifications

Power: 60W (8 Ohms)

Remote control: Yes

Phono stage: None

Digital inputs: None

Bluetooth: No

Headphone output: No

Dimensions (hwd): 10 x 44 x 40cm

Reasons to buy

+Expansive and fluid sound+Impressive dynamics+Refined yet muscular performance

Reasons to avoid

-Line level unit only-No headphone out

This stripped-back amp is pitched at the hifi purist. With no digital connections, no wireless connectivity, no headphone socket and no phono stage, the M2si is all about going back to basics and focusing on what really matters – sound.

In the M2si, Musical Fidelity has created an brilliant performer capable of delivering large-scale sound without breaking a sweat. Complex rhythms are handled effortlessly; individual instruments are rendered precisely and tonal balance is such that this amplifier is a lot less fussy about partnering with equipment than many of its rivals.

Of course, cheaper alternatives such as the Audiolab 6000A give you far more features for the money. But if a remote control, six line level inputs and a smattering of solid metal controls are really all you need from a stereo amplifier, this simple, clean-cut affair is great bang for your buck. And at around $1500, it's a worthy alternative to the Rega Elex-R (above).

Read the full review:Musical Fidelity M2si

11. Copland CSA 100

A cultured integrated amp with a plenty of features

Specifications

Power: 100W (8 Ohms)

Remote control: Yes

Phono stage: MM/MC

Digital inputs: Coaxial, optical, USB

Bluetooth: aptX HD

Headphone output: Yes

Dimensions (hwd): 13.5 x 43.5 x 37cm

Reasons to buy

+Transparent and detailed+Agile and precise sound+Good range of features

Reasons to avoid

-No display-Needs care with headphone matching

Copland doesn't introduce new products all that regularly, so the CSA 100 is a welcome addition to its line-up and a welcome addition to our list of the best stereo amplifiers you can buy.

The CSA 100 boasts a clutter-free and elegant design, with digital module, headphone output and a phono stage all to be found inside that well-constructed chassis. At its core is a hybrid electronic design that produces a solid 100W per channel (8ohm).

Connectivity includes a phono (moving magnet/moving coil) plus single-ended (three) and balanced XLR (one) line-level inputs. As for digital, there’s the usual trio of USB, coaxial and two optical sockets. The Copland's ESS Sabre ES9018 Reference DAC is compatible with up to 32-bit/384kHz PCM files and DSD128.

Sonically, the amp produces a nicely layered image with instruments sharply focused – its sonic precision and a sense of fluidity are hugely appealing. It’s an impressively detailed performer that allows you to just sit back and enjoy your music collection.

Read the full review: Copland CSA 100

12. NAD D 3045

A compact stereo amplifier that is bursting with features.

Specifications

Power: 80W (8 Ohms)

Remote control: Yes

Phono stage: MM

Digital inputs: optical

USB: Yes

Bluetooth: Yes

Headphone output: Yes

Dimensions (hwd): 23.5 x 7 x 26.5cm

Reasons to buy

+Nicely balanced sound+Good timing+Versatile design and features

Reasons to avoid

-Lacks a little energy

The D 3045 looks a whole lot like its cheaper sibling, the D 3020 V2, and is jam-packed with features. You get Bluetooth aptX for 24-bit hi-res music streaming, two optical connections, a hi-res DAC and an asynchronous USB input for optimised USB audio playback.

But then, you get all that if you buy the cheaper variant – so why pay more for the D 3045? Well, the main reason is that the 3045 provides more power than the D 3020 V2 (80W vs 60W). It also sports a more luxurious design and comes in a case that features some extra premium touches.

The added power makes for a beefier presentation but that's not to say this amp punches like Tyson. It serves up a smooth, balanced performance that is controlled and detailed across the frequency range. On the downside, it lacks the same level of enthusiasm as it's lower-priced sibling. 

This amp's technological firepower make it a great buy for the money. But if you don't care for the additional 20W of power, the D 3020 V2 might be the better choice.

Read the full review: NAD D 3045

13. Yamaha A-S3200

This high-end integrated amp is an articulate performer

Specifications

Power: 200W

Remote control: Yes

Phono stage: MM/MC

Digital inputs: No

Line level: 6 (2x XLR)

Bluetooth: No

Headphone output: Yes

Dimensions (hwd): 18 x 44 x 46cm

Reasons to buy

+Clean and detailed presentation+Impressive levels of resolution+Excellent build and finish

Reasons to avoid

-Midrange is a little lean-Presentation lacks verve-Phono stage needs adjustable cartridge loading

What we have here is a rather straight-laced, all-analogue integrated that’s been designed with considerable care. It has a sensible features list and, most importantly, a performance that justifies its hefty price tag.

The A-S3200 is a beautifully built product, as expected at this level – an impressively solid beast thanks to its chunky casework and back-straining 25kg weight. Alongside line level and XLR sockets, there's a switchable moving magnet/moving coil phono stage (though it’s a shame there’s no electrical loading adjustability to optimise the results for any specific cartridge).

This is a surprisingly clean and clear performer that renders the leading edges of notes with crispness without ever veering towards sounding hard or edgy. That’s a difficult balancing act that quite a few alternatives fall foul of. Tonally, it stands on the lean side of neutral, particularly through the midrange, affecting the A-S3200’s ability to convey solidity and punch through these frequencies and giving it a more analytical presentation than most. 

There are certainly more robust sounding alternatives, but make no mistake, the A-S3200 is a classy performer.

Read the full Yamaha A-S3200 review

Sours: https://www.whathifi.com/us/best-buys/hi-fi/best-stereo-amplifiers

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Best New VINTAGE Amplifier?! Yamaha AS3200 Integrated Amp Review

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