Integrated Amplifiers

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Ken Kessler and Paul Miller  |  Jul 08, 2011
Upscale integrateds must be the ‘new black’: following Storm, EAR-Yoshino, Quad and others, the Audiant 80i is a charmer from Down Under – and with an onboard DAC too In its 37 years as an amplifier manufacturer, Perreaux has gone from its 22W/ch GS 2002 integrated debut product to eye-watering 750W monoblock powerhouses. Separate preamps, professional gear, D/A converters, CD players – it’s a full-line brand that’s maintained a global reputation despite the remoteness of a manufacturing base in New Zealand. Along the way, Perreaux was bitten by the MOSFET bug. Having decided not to go with valves as far back as 1974, due to the inconveniences of size, weight and heat, and not entirely happy with the sound of bipolar solid-state devices, MOSFETs seemed a godsend.
Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 01, 2018
hfncommended.pngStill billed as 'The World's Most Powerful Integrated Amplifier', Perreaux's MOSFET flagship has been tickled-up with a new digital input module. And more power too...?

Side-by-side, you'd be forgiven for seeing no changes between the Perreaux Eloquence 255i integrated amplifier and the earlier 250i [HFN Aug '12]. Same rotary, same display, same number of buttons – even the price would leave you clueless, the six years between them inflating the £5695 of the earlier unit to £6895 in standard, line-level-only trim. Given the recent drop in the value of Sterling, that alone could account for the increase, so full marks to Perreaux.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 15, 2022
hfnvintageFuss-free and highly affordable, this compact valve integrated was an early foray by the Dutch company into the '60s separates market. But how will it sound today?

How much power does your present amplifier produce? Expectations have risen over the years to the point that wattages in the three-figure range are no longer exceptional. But is this necessary? The Philips AG9016 seen here is rated at 2W per channel – not even sufficient to satisfy the fairly lax requirements of the DIN 45 500 'hi-fi' standard, which requires six watts.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 27, 2020
hfnvintageMarketed by Philips yet made by Marantz, is this purposeful-looking integrated packed with premium components an unsung hero of hi-fi's past? It's time to find out...

Philips should have been a dominant player in the hi-fi arena, yet many of its products somehow missed the mark. Despite these repeated failures, every now and again the sleeping giant would wake from its slumbers and produce something miraculous – Compact Disc, Motional Feedback speakers – only to disappear until inspiration struck again.

Review: David Price, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Aug 01, 2018
hfnoutstanding.pngInspired by the success of its A-70 integrated from 2012, Pioneer has trickled down the tech and combined it with a new close-coupled PSU in this DAC-equipped budget amp

Having recently achieved the grand old age of 80 years, the Pioneer Corporation is rightly celebrating the fact. While some believe that all Japanese companies are the same – faceless consumer electronics giants with sprawling factories full of robots, making generic white goods – anyone who's lived in Japan knows this couldn't be further from the truth. In practice, each organisation has its distinct identity and corporate culture, going about things in its own special way.

Richard Stevenson & Paul Miller  |  Nov 06, 2009
Pioneer’s flagship Susano amplifier arrived amidst an unseasonable summer tempest that lashed the south of England with high winds and heavy rain. An auspicious start for an amplifier that derives its name from the ancient Japanese god of storms. Sadly, divine intervention didn’t go so far as helping me carry it to the listening room because it’s the size and weight of a small stone temple. The SC-LX90 is Pioneer’s statement of intent at the upper echelons of the AV amplifier market, sharing the same piano-black fascia and cosmetic cues as the company’s top-end plasma screens.
Ken Kessler & Paul Miller  |  Jul 06, 2009
Having played with a number of PrimaLuna ProLogue products, I’m safe in saying that each and every one represents astonishing value because 1) they’re made in China, but 2) to European standards. They single-handedly established and provided credibility for the lower entry-level price point for rock-solid valve products, and showed that China was ready to compete with the rest of the world in hardware manufacture, if the proper structure was applied. With DiaLogue, PrimaLuna is attacking the next price point, with the same vigour. That in itself should be enough to make the DiaLogue Two a fascinating prospect for those with up to £2000 to spend on amplification.
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: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 20, 2021
hfnoutstandingFor the inveterate enthusiast, PrimaLuna continues its tradition of user-tweakable amplifiers with the EVO 300, an ode to tube traditions – but with modern surprises

It's important to accept how language evolves, particularly when reviewing an amplifier with a name that is a contraction of 'evolution'. PrimaLuna calls its current lineup EVO, as it represents the next step in the advancement of its valve amps, and the 40W-rated £3798 EVO 300 integrated represents the mid-point in a 13-model range.

Ken Kessler and Paul Miller  |  Nov 01, 2011
Emblematic of the evolution of the Chinese-made valve amp is PrimaLuna's ProLogue Premium - in case you hanker after a value-for-money integrated with no rough edges This year, my son turned 21 and graduated from university. That was enough of a reminder of time’s passage to depress me. Far less cataclysmic an indicator was another shock to the system (metaphorical, I stress) in the form of the PrimaLuna Prologue Premium Integrated Amplifier. It’s not that the original, which ‘legitimised’ Chinese-made valve amps for Western consumers, was shabby by any means.
Review: Nick Tate, Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 23, 2019
hfncommendedThis sophisticated, premium-priced streaming CD player and integrated amplifier combo delivers fine sound with sleek Scandinavian style, and consummate ease of use

With its two Wi-Fi aerials protruding from behind, allied to the skinny front control knobs, swish brushed aluminium fascia and three 'podular' feet, there's something very Jetsons about the look of the Primare I35 Prisma network-ready amplifier. It has the appearance – perhaps unintentionally – of a cutting-edge piece of technology from the late 1950s, a time of dramatic change as the world entered the Space Age.

Ed Selley  |  Nov 19, 2011
The new Primare integrated introduces a bespoke class D module Sweden’s Primare company is renowned for its chic ‘designer’ components with immaculate alloy fascias and classy stainless steel controls. This I32 integrated is more than just a makeover of an existing design, however, as it employs the latest generation of Class D switching modules introduced in Primare’s multichannel AV amps in 2008 – dubbed ‘Ultra Fast Power Device’. The I32’s preamplifier section has a dedicated power supply and is isolated as far as possible from the two UFPD modules. As high efficiency is a given with Class D designs, here is an eco-friendly amp you needn’t feel guilty about leaving in standby, as it draws just 0.
Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 29, 2021
hfncommendedDubbed PS Audio's 'finest all-in-one music component', the Strata combines network streaming, USB and other digital audio inputs with a 'Gain Cell' pre and ICEpower amp

Browse the catalogue of Colorado's PS Audio and you'll find both monstrous and slimline monoblock amps – the BHK Mono 300 [HFN Jul '16] and Stellar M1200/M700 [HFN Jan '21 and Apr '20], respectively – together with stereo power amplifiers, streaming DACs, integrated amps and preamps. And then there's the Stellar Strata, which in some ways is a distillation of PS Audio's diverse product line and tech into one box.

Review: David Vivian, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 01, 2018
hfncommended.pngThe company ups the ante by adding a 'just-add-speakers' solution to its Artera series, managing to squeeze streaming alongside CD replay into casework of pert proportions

So far, Quad's Artera family has comprised the Play (a combined CD transport, DAC and preamp) and the Stereo [HFN Nov '15], which is a power amp using the company's Current Dumping topology. Both solid-state components, not only are they compact and dapper but high functioning and lifestyle literate too – a feat that's trickier than it might seem. But not as tricky as folding all of the above (plus streaming) into a chassis with the same proportions as the other components in the Artera range.

Ken Kessler & Paul Miller  |  Jan 16, 2010
As far as expressions go, a novelist would describe it as ‘eyes agog’: that’s the look that crossed my face in January 2009, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. It wasn’t even an actual piece of hardware that grabbed me. It was a preliminary product sheet, a flyer for the forthcoming Quad II Classic Integrated. Talk about a well-kept secret: even the normally voluble Tim de Paravicini, who designed it, let out nary a peep [see p110].

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