Integrated Amplifiers

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John Bamford and Paul Miller  |  May 08, 2011
Sleek design, comprehensive functionality and even a built-in wireless DAC make the AS-400 a thoroughly modern integrated amp – for today’s iTunes generation Not long after the introduction of Micromega’s £2800 integrated amplifier, the IA-400, and its £1100 WM-10 wireless-equipped DAC comes a component that effectively combines the two: a new version of its integrated amplifier (with ‘AS’ instead of ‘IA’ nomenclature) featuring a built-in 802. 11n Wi-Fi receiver/DAC, working to Apple’s latest AirStream protocols. As with any wireless connectivity – Bluetooth or Wi-Fi – there is something quite spooky about the ability for music stored on computer, mobile ’phone or PDA to be played through one’s hi-fi system as if by magic. Unlike open source DLNA/UPnP systems, however, AirStream (formerly called Airplay) is proprietary to Apple and works only with its iTunes media player, iPhones, iPads and the web-enabled iPod Touch.
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: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 18, 2022
hfncommendedThis boutique brand from Sweden has quietly been making a name for itself with a classically-styled, modular integrated amp. We test the 'tickled up' Reference version

Anyone who spends time idly clicking between websites will be familiar with the HTTP 404 error, which occurs when a browser can't find what it was looking for. Coincidentally, the Moonriver Model 404 Reference amplifier, which is priced from £4495, has a similar 'error': there may be a USB-B port on its rear panel, offering the prospect of connecting a computer to play music, but there's nothing behind it, due to circumstances beyond the control of the amp's Swedish manufacturer.

Review and Lab: Paul Miller  |  Aug 04, 2020
hfnoutstandingA new big beast stalks the integrated amplifier jungle, courtesy of the refreshed Musical Fidelity brand. Armed with ears and test gear, we track the M8xi to its lair...

If you are into fancy-looking hi-fi with machined fascias and decorative meters then the £5649 M8xi integrated amplifier is not for you. 'Sorry, that's the way it is', says Musical Fidelity, though I suspect this declaration of intent for the entire M8 series owes more to Musical Fidelity's founder than the new owners, Audio Tuning Vertriebs GmbH, of which vinyl evangelist Pro-Ject Audio Systems is another division.

Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Jan 20, 2015
We ran the scoop review of MF’s debut Nu-Vista unit over 15 years ago [HFN Aug ’98]. Now the company has this new nuvistor-equipped integrated amp, having recently found a company to make the requisite tube bases. Blessedly, it eschews gadgetry offering just a remote, a switchable display of input and level, home theatre pass-through for one of the four line inputs and extra speaker terminals for bi-wiring. The Nu-Vista 800 has a fascia machined from solid aluminium and sides fitted with attractive heatsink extrusions – it even comes with spikes for the feet and with cups too, to protect floor finishes.
Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 25, 2022
hfnoutstandingNAD remains a key partner in the BluOS wireless ecosphere and the C 700 is its most streamlined – read affordable and flexible – all-in-one network player/amplifier yet

With its latest 'just add speakers' hi-fi solution, Canadian manufacturer NAD's intentions are crystal-clear. Take the form factor and functionality of its award-winning Masters M10 BluOS-integrated amplifier [HFN Jun '19] but rethink the specification in order to nearly cut the asking price in half. This isn't a surprising move – at £1299, the C 700 is the 'mainstream' all-in-one system that has been begging to be built.

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].

Richard Stevenson & Paul Miller  |  Jun 08, 2010
I find it very odd that the M2 is the most technically advanced and subjectively successful digital amplifier yet to grace my listening room. Until recently, right now in fact, NAD was not a company likely to spring to mind for its cutting edge technical innovation. The brand saw me through my penniless student days with a host of hi-fi products that majored on simplicity, great value and a remarkable immunity to spilt beer. But the M2 is very different.
Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Sep 07, 2020
hfnoutstandingEver at the cutting edge of both analogue and digital Class D amplification, NAD's new M33 is the first to utilise Purifi's groundbreaking modules. All this and streaming too...

Launched last year, NAD's M10 all-in-one streaming system [HFN Jun '19] was remarkable in two ways. One was that this compact 'just add speakers' package was actually part of the brand's elite Masters Series, more usually populated by high-end DACs and amplifiers, while the other was that this little system, selling for around £2000, was exceptionally good, receiving a glowing review in HFN before going on to win a 2019-20 EISA award as Best Smart Amplifier.

Richard Stevenson & Paul Miller  |  Feb 06, 2009
I have a fondness for NAD. The brand has succeeded over the decades by creating products just a few degrees askew from those of everyone else; never following the herd but, equally, rarely radical. In two-channel audio this has often meant a stripped-down, fundamentalist approach with products having an appealing Bohemian quality. However, when it comes to multichannel AV, eschewing key technologies in favour of a ‘music-first’ approach could be a little too existential for its own good.
John Bamford and Paul Miller  |  Dec 16, 2011
In celebrating the company’s 60th anniversary Nagra’s specialist hi-fi division pays homage to the ‘king of tubes’, the timeless 300B triode, in a new stereo amplifier 'A key difference between consumer electronic components manufactured for hi-fi systems and professional products made for sound engineers is the fact that you can drag pro gear across a room by its mains lead without it breaking,’ quipped an industry veteran to me, way back when. Witticisms like that, noted during formative years, tend to remain embedded in one’s memory banks for life. As does the iconic Nagra marque. Think Nagra and you think Swiss precision engineering at its finest: electronics made for professionals.
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: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 17, 2021
hfncommendedStalwart of Germany's single-ended tube scene, Octave Audio also produces hybrid and push-pull amplifiers, including the 'Class A' V70 integrated featured here

Which are you? The minimalist who wants an integrated valve amp bearing only clearly-labelled inputs, source selector, volume control and speaker terminals? Or do you prefer a 'fully loaded' device with total flexibility? The former is intuitive, and any experienced hi-fi user thinks of such units as virtually 'plug 'n' play'. Germany's 30-year-veteran brand Octave Audio has, in its V70 Class A, an amp that sits between both camps and yet I was compelled to digest its 36-page manual.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 18, 2021
hfnoutstandingThe typically modest, functional styling of this 'entry-level' mostly-Class A integrated amplifier belies its less-than-modest capabilities, with power and sound to spare...

There's something comforting about a product with a singular focus, and Pass Labs' INT-25 fits that bill. A line-only integrated, it steers clear of the digital inputs, network functionality and onboard phono stage offered by many competitors. Instead, it presents itself simply as a conduit between your source(s) and speakers, combining a FET-based preamp and Class A power amp and nothing else. If that sounds somewhat 'basic', Pass Labs' history and the amplifier's £7200 price tag should suggest it's anything but. As does its mastery of music – but I'm getting ahead of myself…

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Aug 09, 2021
hfncommendedDescribed as the 'sister brand' of solid-state stalwarts Audio Analogue, Pegaso has just one product and it's an all-tube integrated amplifier that claims Class A, all the way...

As a new arrival from Tuscany, Italy, and with just the P50A integrated amplifier in its inventory, it's possible you've not yet heard of Pegaso. On the other hand, many readers will be familiar with fellow Italian brand Audio Analogue [HFN Nov '20 & Feb '20], which has been in operation since the mid '90s. Both are stablemates sheltering under the umbrella of AF Group SRL (also the home of AirTech), and they share more than just a postcode.

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