Integrated Amplifiers

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Review: Nick Tate, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Aug 15, 2022
hfnoutstandingLike its predecessor, the MA9000, McIntosh's mighty MA9500 still combines transistors with transformers but the host of under-bonnet updates bring more than a little polish

What should an audiophile demand from an integrated amplifier with a price tag approaching £15k? There's an expectation it should be beautifully built and finished and, more than likely, hail from a respected marque with a long pedigree. There must be a sense of owning something special and exclusive. The performance, meanwhile, will need to be at or near the top of what's possible at the price, and with no shortage of power. As for the new £14,995 McIntosh MA9500, and without wishing to give everything away in my opening paragraph, it looks to tick all these boxes!

Jamie Biesemans, Review and Lab: Paul Miller  |  Aug 02, 2022
hfnoutstandingSteampunk styling meets luxury audio as the masters of touchscreen streaming launch one of the most tactile and flexible all-analogue integrated amplifiers ever seen!

Say what you will about HiFi Rose, the fledgling brand hailing from Seoul in South Korea, it sure knows how to capture the attention of audiophiles. First by launching remarkable do-it-all streaming players featuring huge touchscreens and options galore, and now this 'steampunk' integrated amp which left Internet forums speechless for about 15 seconds. Quite an achievement in this day and age... and those pundits hadn't yet seen the baffling rear of the RA180 with its sixteen loudspeaker terminals!

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jul 18, 2022
hfnoutstandingFlagship of this Italian brand's trilogy of tube amps, the Metropolis NYC 200i occupies a huge footprint and mercilessly sucks power from the wall. But the music is magic...

Is it unkind to suggest some Italian brand names do not carry convincingly into English? Who keeps a straight face with a cooker called 'SMEG'? As for Synthesis – which also has the appropriately named Roma range – choosing to dub its Metropolis integrated amplifiers 'NYC', because New York is a Metropolis, actually makes sense, I suppose.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jul 12, 2022
hfnvintageNot only did this '80s amp claim to tackle distortion using the company's new 'Super Feedforward System', it was also priced to have mass appeal. How does it sound today?

When the Sansui AU-D33 integrated amplifier was launched in 1982, it had a lot to live up to. Its predecessor, the AU-317II from 1980 [HFN Jun '15], delivered the sort of performance one would expect from a manufacturer of specialist hi-fi, thanks to its well engineered DC-coupled circuitry. The company's 'All hi-fi, everything hi-fi' slogan set out a clear manifesto – no transistor radios, no coffee machines, just quality audio products.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 24, 2022
hfnvintageBuy one of these late-'70s beauties secondhand today and you'll own an amp from a pedigree name with radio thrown in for 'free'. So, is this a receiver worth considering?

The receiver (tuner/amplifier) has always divided opinion, in the UK at least. While popular in Europe and the US, the British market never embraced these units to the degree it did separate tuners and amplifiers. And this wasn't because they could not rival a two-box counterpart on performance due to any technical reason. The real issue was that two top-quality units built into one housing could result in an indivisibly expensive product, one many consumers may not have been able to afford.

Review: Jamie Biesemans, Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 16, 2022
hfnoutstandingWhile Marantz's new 40 series shares its industrial design with the Class D Model 30, its core networking and Class A/B amp technology borrows from an earlier generation

By all accounts stylish, network-attached amps, including Cambridge Audio's Evo 150 [HFN Nov '21] or the compact NAD M10 and C 700 [HFN Jun '19 & Feb '22], are carving themselves a successful niche. So it's not surprising that Sound United, parent of Marantz, is making its own pitch. Marantz traditionalists needn't fret, however, for while the new £2199 Model 40n includes high-res wired/wireless streaming, USB and HDMI ARC inputs, the chassis is properly hi-fi-sized and the aesthetics are pure 'Marantz'.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 28, 2022
hfncommendedThe most comprehensively-equipped component of Roksan's Attessa quartet combines phono, line and digital inputs with a BluOS streaming platform and beefy amplifier

So it turns out that network amplifiers built around BluOS streaming technology are like buses. No sooner had we waved goodbye to the £1299 NAD C 700 [HFN Feb '22], then up popped the Attessa Streaming Amplifier from Roksan, a little more expensive at £1495 but cut from the same just-add-speakers cloth. This joins a competitive market alongside not only NAD's device but Bluesound's £850 BluOS-based Powernode, plus other streaming integrateds including Cambridge Audio's Evo 75 and Audiolab's Omnia. Handy for Roksan, then, that it has a lot going for it.

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: 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: 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  |  Mar 23, 2022
hfnedchoiceJust 16cm wide, the latest integrated amplifier from Chord Electronics is truly tiny, but the levels of performance it offers elevate it way beyond its apparent novelty status

The Chord Electronics Anni, selling for £1195, isn't the company's first compact amplifier – that honour goes to the £2900 TToby [HFN Feb '17], designed as a partner for the Hugo TT 2 DAC/pre/headphone amp [HFN Dec '15]. But the Anni is smaller, at just 16cm wide and 4.25cm tall, much lighter at 625g, and conceptually different from the TToby.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 18, 2022
hfnoutstandingHot on the heels of its tube hybrid integrateds comes this altogether cooler solid-state amplifier from Danish brand Copland. It packs on the style while also packing a punch

Nothing causes more consternation than a product seemingly 180 degrees at odds with a company's core philosophy, whether hi-fi, cars, watches, what-have-you. Audio Research dealt with the repercussions of its first solid-state amp… but an all-transistor amp from the equally tube-centric Copland? Not its first – these were the mid-'90s CSA8/CSA18 – so the CSA70 probably won't cause too much of a ruckus despite the absence of bottles.

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: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Feb 15, 2022
hfnoutstandingLaunched as part of Rotel's 60th anniversary celebrations, this is the latest version of the brand's flagship 'big integrated' amp – and there's rather more to it than meets the eye

Rotel's larger integrated amplifiers have always provided an attractive waypoint between the compact designs of hi-fi's affordable end and the monster amps of the high-end, offering plenty of power, an extensive feature-set and an entirely convincing performance. The new RA-1592MKII, selling for £2295 in black or silver finishes and claiming a 200W output, is no exception.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 27, 2022
hfncommendedSometimes, only an integrated amplifier will do, even if you've £15k burning a hole in your pocket. AVID's gargantuan Sigsum is here to challenge any bias toward separates

Maybe one grows less ornery with age, or perhaps there was a nice guy inside of me waiting to crawl out from my crotchety self. It's just that, only a few years ago, the frustrating elements of AVID's Sigsum integrated amplifier would have had me cursing Editor PM for asking me to review it. So, there's minimalism here, and there's contrariness, and that's just the lack of a remote control. In a product a fiver short of £15,000.

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