Integrated Amplifiers

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Ken Kessler  |  Mar 31, 2020  |  First Published: Mar 01, 1996
The loudspeaker firm, famed for its late-1950s amps, makes a late-1990s return to tube electronics with two new integrateds. Ken Kessler listens

When the grapevine alerted the world's tube crazies to the return of Rogers amplification, visions of two-tone faceplates danced before our eyes. A nice Cadet III [HFN May '13], or maybe an HG88 visually unchanged but suitably modernised. The collector in me rejoiced. But the Rogers beancounters felt that an all-new product was a more sensible proposition, which is why the E-20a and E-40a all-valve integrated amps have nothing whatsoever to do with the preceding models. Indeed, they have little to do with Rogers.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 05, 2020
hfnoutstandingHigh-end headphone amps for connoisseurs of cans require total adjustability – has Manley Laboratories delivered the goods with the Absolute Headphone Amplifier?

Veteran makers of headphone amplifiers for studios, Manley Laboratories is taking on the extreme high-end of the domestic genre with a £4500 unit – the Absolute – that marries audiophiles' sonic requirements with the total control demanded of professionals. Company CEO Eveanna Manley says, bluntly, 'Our goal was simply to produce the most awesome-sounding and sonically flexible vacuum tube headphone amplifier!'.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Feb 07, 2020
hfnvintageCombining cool cosmetics with touch-sensitive control, this late '70s receiver was a watershed when it came to the way we interact with our kit. How does it sound today?

Released in 1977, B&O's Beomaster 2400 receiver brought touch-sensitive operation and full remote control to a world that expected nothing more from its hi-fi components than knobs and buttons. Its impact was immense, and soon the company's factory was unable to make receivers fast enough to satisfy demand. What's more, the unit's basic form and function lived on through a series of models that remained in production until 1992. And even by then, the design still looked fresh and modern.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 28, 2020
hfnoutstandingHere's a compact amp with both digital and analogue inputs, plus a full Roon-ready network audio implementation, and radically lowered price – what's not to like?

Alot can happen in three years, and while the amplifier we have here is very much the smaller sibling of the DIA-400S [HFN Oct '16], it's also boosted by the inclusion of the Danish company's NPM module, a complete network audio solution giving access to a wide range of streaming options.

Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 21, 2020
hfncommendedIcon Audio's new Stereo ST30SE amplifier makes use of beefy KT150 output valves in an effort to overcome the traditionally low power of SE tube amps. Does it succeed?

The single-ended valve amplifier is still something of a niche product. Low power outputs and often equally low damping factors mean that very careful system matching, plus sensitive loudspeakers, are a prerequisite if you are to hear such designs give of their very best. However, the UK's very own guru of all things thermionic, David Shaw of Icon Audio, has decided to address these issues with his £2299 single-ended Stereo ST30SE, an integrated amp having, shall we say, a tad more welly, thanks to it being equipped with KT150 output valves.

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].

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