Integrated Amplifiers

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Ed Selley  |  Nov 17, 2011
Revisiting the first British solid state amplifier Goodmans was one of the most prolific loudspeaker makers of the 1960s, also supplying the radio and television trade. The company ran from 1932, ending when the TGI group was broken up in 2004. But the brand name as such survives marketing a range of DVB set-top boxes and LCD TV sets. Introduced in 1966 with a price tag of £49 10s, this compact little amplifier, the Maxamp 30, measured just 10in tall, 5in wide and 7in deep.
Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 24, 2020
hfnvintageThe sweet spot in a three-strong series of late '80s amps, this high current integrated promised to handle low impedance speakers without breaking a sweat. We listen...

Most hi-fi enthusiasts know how many watts their amplifier can produce, but does that figure tell the whole story? In the early '80s, Harman Kardon's HCC (High Current Capability) range of integrated amplifiers gave listeners another number to think about, which was how much current an amplifier was able to source.

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  |  Nov 16, 2020
hfnoutstandingThe new entry-level model in the Norwegian company's amp range is a sensible mix of facilities and performance – or at least it would be, if the sound wasn't sensational!

Oslo-based Hegel has been enjoying something of a purple patch of late: not content with raising eyebrows with the sheer performance of its flagship H590 integrated amplifier [HFN Oct '18], it went on to get dangerously near that level with the much more affordable H390 model [HFN Aug '19], offering almost all of big brother's sound quality for not much more than half the price. Our HFN review concluded that it was 'sensationally good value, with a clean, powerful sound and bags of musicality, not to mention exceptional flexibility including onboard network streaming'. Unsurprisingly, it won the 2019-20 EISA Award for 'Best High-End Amplifier'.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 25, 2022
hfncommendedKorea's Citech group is ploughing its considerable in-house hardware and software resource into a series of network-attached players. Here's its most compact all-in-one

One of the great advantages offered by network-capable audio hardware is that, once a platform has been designed, it can be rolled out across a number of products, re-purposed and scaled depending on the target market. We've seen the same from brands as diverse as AVM [HFN Dec '21], Cambridge Audio [HFN Nov '21] and Naim [HFN Aug '21], and now recent arrival HiFi Rose is following the same path with high-end players designed to be used in existing systems all the way through to one-box soundbar set-ups.

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: 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  |  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: 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.

Ken Kessler & Paul Miller  |  Feb 06, 2009
Debate that’s been raging since the dawn of hi-fi, Integrated vs Separates boils down to this: the former’s benefits over the latter include the removal of a pre-to-power cable connection, the need for one less AC outlet, less shelf space and – above all – the knowledge that the two sections are optimised for each other. Separates, however, counter with truly dedicated power supplies for each section, as well as isolation of the pre and power amp stages for less potential for undesirable interaction. Traditionally, the higher you go up the price scale, the more likely you are to opt for separates. Over the decades, milestone integrateds would appear that upset the formula: Sugden’s A48, specific models from Rogers, McIntosh, AR, et al.
Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Nov 13, 2014
The Editor’s review briefing included the warnings: ‘It’s 29kg – you may need help in unpacking it’ and ‘The S-550i is a remarkably dense amplifier, probably the most self-effacing yet monstrously powerful integrated we’ve ever tested. ’ This new flagship integrated, replaces the FBI while the S-300i remains as Krell’s entry-level integrated at £2795. The S-550i is a true ‘big brother’: the sonic resemblance is uncanny save for a brutal power delivery. While the front panel suggests minimalism, that’s only because all minor settings are relegated to a menu system, eg, balance setting and input trim, which can also be accessed by the full-function remote.
Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Nov 13, 2014
Yes, those valves – made in-house – really are a foot tall! And they radiate substantial heat once the SXI has been powered up for a few minutes, but KR Audio’s amplifiers are beautifully engineered. The company is based in Prague, founded by electronics engineer the late Dr Ricardo Kron in 1992. It’s a boutique firm of only a dozen or so people – skilled artisans who blow the glass and hand-craft the tubes. Such is the transparency of KR Audio’s Kronzilla amplifiers that at least of couple of German recording studios use them in mastering suites.
Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 23, 2020
hfnvintageWhile a near dead-ringer for the amp it replaced, this '60s integrated saw Leak leverage new technology to boost performance and widen its appeal. How does it sound today?

It's not unusual for a successful hi-fi product to be updated with mild revisions during its lifetime. Often the changes are minimal: a tidied-up fascia to match a new model added elsewhere in the range, or an extra function or minor circuit redesign. This was certainly not the case with the Leak Stereo 30 Plus amplifier of 1969, which replaced the Stereo 30 [HFN Oct '10] first seen in 1963. Side by side the two looked much the same, but inside the 30 Plus was all new in order to take advantage of improved technology.

Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 22, 2021
Very big in the Far East since 2005, Line Magnetic offers a comprehensive range of tube-based disc players, DACs, phono stages and amps. Here's the entry-level integrated

We may now live in an age of digital and streaming, but the number and sheer variety of valve amplifiers on offer seems to be on the increase. Perhaps more remarkable are those designs that unashamedly hark back to a previous era, attempting to keep it alive by the use of modern technological twists. One of the main proponents of this philosophy is Chinese company Line Magnetic, the £1699 LM-34IA integrated reviewed here being just one of a wide range of its amps inspired by famous designs of the past.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 01, 2018
hfncommended.pngThe style may be ‘retro’, but this powerful integrated amp from a Far East legend is no exercise in nostalgia: it lacks fashionable digital inputs, but has serious sonic appeal

OK, so it may help explain the whole ‘vinyl revival’ thing, from portable record players with greater tracking weight than a Caterpillar bulldozer to supermarket own-brand LPs, but looking to the past will only get you so far. Forget all that longer summers, colder winters and ‘jumpers for goalposts’ stuff: even nostalgia’s not what it used to be. Products must stand on their own merits in today’s competitive market.

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