Without music, how dreary our life would be. And I have to disagree with the Bard here. If music is the food of life, play on. Whether you’re in love or not, you still need music, right? Just as music is the elixir of life, amplifiers are the soul of the musical experience. Have you tried music without amplifiers? How was it? Bad, huh? This review is for you then.
Integrated amplifiers are literally the life of the party. In our search for the best integrated amplifiers, we came across many great products. But none as good as the Yamaha A-S301BL Natural Sound Integrated Stereo Amplifier (Black). The power, wireless connectivity, and the amazingly low harmonic distortion and noise were simply too good to be true. The Yamaha lives up to its name with this amplifier and we just couldn’t get enough of the symmetrical channels and stunning audio output.
In this review, we have 15 of the top integrated amplifiers in the market. These are
- Yamaha A-S301BL Natural Sound Integrated Stereo Amplifier (Black)
- Sonos Amp – The Versatile Amplifier for Powering all your Entertainment – Black
- Onkyo A-9110 Integrated Stereo Amplifier, Black
- PS Audio Sprout100 Complete HiFi DAC Amp, High Resolution High Fidelity Audio for Digital, Analog, Vinyl, and Bluetooth (Real Walnut)
- Echo Link Amp – Stream and amplify hi-fi music to your speakers
- Grace Digital GDI-BTAR512N 100W Integrated Stereo Amplifier with Bluetooth Wireless Receiver (Black)
- 2 Channel Amplifier Stereo Audio Amp Mini Hi-Fi Class D Integrated TPA3116 Amp for Home Speakers 50W x 2, with 19V 4.74A Power Supply – Fosi Audio V1.0B Black
- Micca OriGain Compact Stereo Integrated Amplifier 50W x 2 (Black)
- Dayton Audio APA150 150-Watts Power Amplifier (Black)
- Yamaha A-S701SL Natural Sound Integrated Stereo Amplifier (Silver)
- Yamaha R-S202BL Stereo Receiver
- Denon AVR-X1300W-R 7.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Receiver with Bluetooth (Renewed)
- NAD – D 3020 v2 Hybrid Digital Integrated Amplifier
- Marantz PM6006 Integrated Amplifier | Pre-Amp or Power Amp Integration | Superior Sound from Hi-Res Audio Files | Gold-Plated Inputs/Outputs | Complete the Series with the NA6006 and CD6006
- Cambridge Audio – CXA60 Integrated Amp (Black)
15 Best Integrated Amplifiers Reviews
Yamaha is a big name in the audio world. In some circles the words music and Yamaha are interchangeable. That’s just how resounding the Yamaha name among people who love their music to a distraction. So naturally, it was the first brand to go to when looking for an integrated amplifier. And seeing that it tops our list, means it’s the absolute best.
Clean and natural sounds stream out of the A-S301BL in a way that fills your soul and sends tingles down your spine. And when your tune comes on you’ll have goosebumps all over. It’s all thanks to the crisp sound which is both natural and pure.
Pure is the operative word here. Because the A-S301BL has the Pure Direct mode which is as lossless as they come. Think sitting in the theatre and the band is playing in front of you. That pure. Add to that the various input outlets which mean you can connect your TV, laptop, blu-ray player, phone, or tablet without a problem.
The amplifier is both compact and well-designed. It has a pleasing look and is sturdy which makes it durable as befits a device that you expect to be using every day for many years. The ART base (short for anti-resonance and tough) is the cherry on the cake. It cancels echos and reduces distortions creating the perfect ambiance to listen to your music or watch your movies.
- 2 channels, 60 watts each.
- Direct symmetrical design.
- Aluminum heat sinks to keep it cool.
- Variable loudness control.
- ART base.
- Custom-made power transformer.
- High price.
- USB interface isn’t that reliable.
Sonos is another name that has its own fanbase verging on a cult. One of the most persistent complaints of the fans was that Sonos never released an amp. There was a need that no other brand could fill for the Sonos fans. And when this amp was finally released there were cheers and people rejoiced.
So unless you’re a fan, this is probably the first time you look at Sonos in a serious way. I’m talking, wallet in hand and ready to key in your credit card number serious. So let’s see if Sonos can convert you and welcome you to its growing fanbase.
The Wi-Fi feature allows you to stream music from Spotify or any other music streaming service you subscribe to. The design is simple yet attractive and you won’t get tired looking at it as the music comes out flowing in waves.
You can connect just about any device to this amp. From turntables to smart TVs, there’s no device the amp won’t accept. Add to that the ease of use and great functionality, and you can begin to understand why Sonos has captivated the masses over the years.
- 125 watts per channel.
- Easy to use.
- Great connectivity.
- Wi-Fi ready.
- Remote control doesn’t work remotely.
- Doesn’t support Ultra HD music.
The Onkyo A-9110 comes from a family of stereo amplifiers that has been known for the great audio quality it produces. The A-9 series has been around for many years and this latest release builds on its history and expertise.
The main feature that compels you to consider this integrated amplifier is the new improvement to the internal circuits. These allow the audio signals to travel faster which cuts down on lags and delays no matter what device is connected to the amp.
For its low price, this is an amp that delivers top-quality sounds that you only get from top-notch amps from big brands. If you’re on a budget and need to get a good amp with high-quality sounds, the A-9110 is your choice without a doubt.
The 2 channels are 50 watts each which is decent for a low-budget amp that doesn’t burn a hole in your pocket. However, the lack of a digital to analog converter means you’ll have to invest in a separate DAC. After all, who doesn’t want to connect their amp to the PC or tablet? We all do it. But the A-9110 doesn’t seem to get this simple fact.
- Direct mode offers authentic audio.
- Bass boost.
- Wide range amplification technology (WRAP).
- Reasonable price.
- No DAC included.
If you’re looking for a compact amp that doesn’t take up much space yet delivers a powerful sound, the PS Audio Sprout100 is the right one. It’s got everything you’d expect from a decent amp and then some. Clear sounds, convenience of connectivity, and straightforward setup all make this a good amp for the price you pay for it.
The improved DAC and phono stage are some of the best features we liked about the Sprout100. After having trouble connecting the Onkyo to my laptop, I was relieved to find this amp more than willing to turn the music on my laptop into sonic nirvana.
That said, this amp is more of a small room device, than outdoor parties and large living rooms. You can place it in a corner in your bedroom and enjoy the melodic tunes that fill up the room. In large settings, most of the quality of the sound would be lost.
So if you have sunk a small fortune in high-end speakers, you wouldn’t want to connect them to this amp. The outcome wouldn’t please you nor anyone else for that matter. As we said, the Sprout100 is the little guy who likes things scaled down. This includes space as well as speakers.
- Powerful sound.
- Digital to analog converter.
- 100-watt per channel.
- More suitable for small places.
- Is wasted on high-end speakers.
For an amp that weighs 8 pounds, has a DAC and boosts of 60-watt channels, you’d expect the Echo Link to fly off the virtual shelves on the Amazon store. However, that’s not the case. For one thing, the company that makes this amp is Amazon, the same company that sells countless other amps. What made Amazon get into making amps instead of just selling them? Good question.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and theorize that the market for Hi-Fi music is so red hot that Amazon couldn’t resist the temptation to try and grab a slice of that lucrative business. The problem with that line of thinking on Amazon’s part is that with the tough competition, you really need to produce something extraordinary to make the customers giddy with excitement.
Does the Echo Link make one giddy? Nope. The sound quality is mediocre at best and the amp doesn’t capture the nuances of what great audio sounds like. Even if you want this amp to work with Alexa you will have to purchase Echo Dot smart speaker. Both are, if you haven’t been following, Amazon products.
- 8 pounds in weight.
- 60-watt channels.
- Compatible with Alexa.
- Flat sound quality.
The GDI-BTAR512N from Grace Digital is a breath of fresh air about the struggle we had with the Echo Link Amp. Equipped with powerful 100-watt channels and Bluetooth wireless connectivity, it was time to sit back and chill with some great music.
Audio pollution is a serious problem that leads to health issues. If you don’t believe us, try testing an awful amplifier that doesn’t deliver on the most basic of promises. So when we connected this amp to the laptop, all our sonic troubles washed away.
It works with various types of speakers from stand-alone ones to the speakers on your bookshelf. Powered speakers can also be connected to the amp through a special line out. What all this means to you is that you get an amp that just about works with any device you have and delivers great sound quality at the same time.
We also liked the front panel on this amplifier. It’s intuitive and easy to navigate. You have everything you need right there to connect to your audio source, adjust the volume, fiddle with the bass and treble, and put the amp on standby. The back panel has the power outlets and connectivity ports.
- 100-watt per channel.
- Bluetooth connectivity.
- Intuitive design.
- Line out for powered speakers.
- Decent price.
- Annoying voice prompt on booting and connecting Bluetooth.
We always try to look for low-budget products that give you a great bang for your buck. From experience, we have come to realize that not all expensive products are worth the money you sink in them. On the other hand, some products come at a fraction of the price yet are loaded with great features and outstanding value. One of those is this amplifier from Fosi Audio.
Durability is the number one feature that lures you in and makes you consider this amp. Made from a solid aluminum chassis and backed by an advanced circuitry design, this is a device that is built to last for years. The 50-watt 2 channels system is powerful enough to bring 8-ohm speakers back to life.
The amp doesn’t make any noise when it’s on. Even when there’s nothing playing, the silence is truly deafening. This gives you an idea of the purity of the sound it produces as it works with zero noise or distortion.
- Low price tag.
- 2 50-watt channels.
- Zero noise during operation.
- Could use more power.
Another budget amp that works with just about any type of speakers you have. From the small boxes to the monsters that take up a wall, this compact amp from Micca is a perfect choice for both home and office settings. And did we mention that it’s very affordable?
Sometimes you wonder why would people pay for an upscale amp with all the usual bells and ribbons when you can get a basic one that offers the same features and great sound quality. I guess it all comes down to searching and spending some time looking for the right amplifier for you. And this is where the OriGain really shines.
The harmonic distortion is really low and estimates at 0.5 percent. That’s really low and you’ll need super ears to detect that level of noise. The system has 2 channels, each one is 50 watts. While this power doesn’t put it at the top of the amps chart, it still makes it good enough for speakers between 4 and 8 ohms.
- Low harmonic distortion.
- 2 channels each is 50 watts.
- Powers speakers between 4 and 8 ohms.
- The treble is a little muddy.
- Not good for low volumes.
When people complain about the noise and distortion that their amplifiers make, they usually refer to the noise of operation. Things like internal cooling fans whirling in there and interfering with the audio quality. This is something that the APA150 from Dayton Audio deals with effectively. The output transistors are the quietest we have seen and don’t need much cooling.
The fan makes so little noise it barely registers on a highly sensitive decibel meter. Add to that the sleek design and compact size of the amp, and you know you just have to take a closer look at this amp and maybe give it a try.
We did test it and were pleased with the overall functionality and sound quality of this nifty little amp. Channel power is there and puts this amp near the top. Each channel has 75-watt power and it is all you need to have a wild party or just enjoy some great music.
- 75-watt channels.
- Low-noise fan.
- Sleek and compact design.
- Settings not saved after shutdown.
- Bad odor comes off the device.
Once in a while, you want to splurge. You know, treat yourself for all the hard work you do. Life isn’t all about work, you know. As a stereophile, your dream gift has to be something to do with either speakers or amplifiers, or both. So when you find you have some extra cash to spend, this would be the purchase you want to make.
The A-S701SL doesn’t come cheap, but then again it pays you back with quality sound for every dollar you spend on it. Think about it. When you have an amp that comes with gold plated digital coax inputs and analog inputs, you know you’re living the life. It works for speakers A, B, and A+B. Having this pricey amp in your home is the definition of luxury.
The 2 channel system has 100-watts power which is as powerful as they come. Naturally, you’d want to invest in expensive speakers to match this power and class.
- 100-watt channels.
- A, B, and A+B speakers.
- Gold plated digital and analog inputs.
- Very pricey.
While not really an amp, the R-S202BL is a stereo receiver that has a place on this list simply because it works so well with both the Yamaha amps we reviewed here. So why would you want to buy this stereo receiver?
Well, there are many reasons and each one is better than the others. For starters, this stereo receiver has an advanced circuitry design that emits low noise and gives you top quality audio. It also has Bluetooth connectivity which lets you stream all your favorite music from all your devices with that capability.
We also liked the sleek design and streamlined front panel. You get to select from 40 AM/FM stations which should keep you glued to it for long hours. The brushed aluminum finish makes it a perfect addition to your home. It fits in any setting and decor. It also comes with preset tuning or you can search and save your favorite station.
- 40 stations.
- Aluminum finish.
- Bluetooth connectivity.
- Preset tuning.
- Bluetooth is a little moody.
- Display could be bigger.
Another receiver that offers more power and 4K Ultra HD. Your listening habits will never be the same once you’ve tried the AVR-X1300W-R from Denon. Combined with a decent amplifier, this AV receiver opens a whole new audio world for your listening pleasure.
The first thing that gets your attention besides the 4K Ultra HD is the 3D feature. You haven’t heard music play so vividly and with great clarity until you’ve tuned your ears to the AVR-X1300W-R. And as it comes with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities, streaming your music has never been easier nor more enjoyable.
But perhaps the best feature of all was the multiroom one. It lets you enjoy two sources of music in two different rooms at the same time. Think about it. No more arguing with the people who live with you about which music genre to listen to. All in all, a very satisfying experience even if it comes at a high cost.
- Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities.
- 4K Ultra HD and 3D.
- Multiroom feature that plays 2 different audio sources.
- Quite expensive.
- HDMI ports not reliable.
After getting super excited over the AVR-X1300W-R from Denon we decided to try another overpriced gadget. This time it was the D 3020 from NAD. NAD is a respectable name in the world of electronics, but how far do you need to go to get a decent amplifier. NAD just proves that there’s no price too steep for a simple amp.
To justify this exorbitant price, the D 3020 comes with two-way Bluetooth. Not only can you send your music to the amp, but you can have the amp send music to other devices such as headphones. The purpose of this feature escapes me, still, I record here for all those interested.
The 2 channels are 60 watts each which is not really that powerful but not on the low end either. I did expect more power for the price I had to pay. I’m sure many customers feel the same way.
- Two-way Bluetooth.
- 60-watt channels.
- High price tag.
- Not very powerful.
When you have a successful product that garners awards and customers’ praise, what do you do? You improve on it, of course. That’s what the PM6006 is all about. It’s an improvement on the highly popular PM6005. Nobody can say the folks at Marantz sit on their laurels.
So what does the PM6006 have that the previous model didn’t? Well, it handles peak currents which makes controlling and refining the audio even more possible. With 3 digital inputs, 5-line audio inputs, and 45 watts per channel, you have a versatile amp that accepts audio from various sources.
We still find it expensive and the 45-watt channels can’t convince us that this is a good investment.
- 3 digital inputs, 5-line audio inputs including phono.
- Less audio distortion.
- Handles peak currents.
- It skips during play.
- Sometimes fails to read discs.
We end our review with the CXA60 from Cambridge Audio. It offers simplicity that many other products lacked. Simplicity of use, of operation, and of output. The amp works like a charm and the quality of the sound is really satisfying.
The 60-watt channels put it in the middle of scale as far as power is concerned. However, the sleek design combined with its versatility makes this a cool amp to own. On the downside, you have to fork up a big sum to own this device. Is it worth it? Some people think so while others disagree strongly.
- 60-watt channels.
- Low-flux toroidal transformer.
- Bluetooth adapter fails to sync often.
Things to Consider Before Buy
We always say that size matters. And of course, it does. When you’re looking for the best jigsaws for example, then the size of the blade matters. This means that you’re looking for a big blade that does the job in record time. But when it comes to integrated amplifiers, bigger doesn’t always mean better.
You’re not looking for a bulky box that takes up space and makes it hard to move around. On the contrary. The more compact the amplifier the better quality it has. So when shopping for your best integrated amplifier, pay attention to things such as design and construction. A sturdy amplifier is worth every penny you invest in it. As for that hulking box in the corner, well, forget about that one.
Power is good. I think we can all agree on that. If you’re buying a metal detector for beginners, you’d want it to be powerful enough to find the lost treasures of the Inca buried in your grandma’s backyard. The same goes for your integrated amplifiers. You want them to be powerful enough to resuscitate your speakers and bring them to life.
Of course, you need to take the size of your place into consideration. A small room, for example, doesn’t require powerful amps since that would elicit a hostile reaction from the people living in the same place, let alone those nosy neighbors who don’t seem to get any sleep day or night. A powerful amplifier is more suited for pool parties and the outdoors than indoors. But then again, it all depends on how dedicated you are to getting under your neighbors’ skin.
These days we have many devices that play music for us. From mobile phones to tablets, notebooks, and the old analog radio. As varied as these devices are, you’d want your integrated amplifier to be able to accommodate all of them.
It should be able to have input ports for both digital and analog devices. You never know when your favorite jam comes on and you want your amplifier to get you in the groove. In short, the more audio inputs your amplifier has the better chances you’ll be using it a lot. Which is the whole idea of buying an integrated amplifier in the first place. You don’t want it to be sitting around collecting dust.
Carrying your integrated amplifier around wherever you go isn’t ideal. You want to put it in your room and connect to it from anywhere in the house. In other words, you’re looking for wireless connectivity. The days of cables and wires getting entangled as you connect your earbuds to your phone or your laptop to your phone. These days are thankfully gone.
Enter Bluetooth. The real cable cutter. The one solution that lets you connect to your buddy’s phone without having to be in the same room. If you get a good tune on your phone and you want the rest of the household to enjoy it, you can blast it through the amplifier with Bluetooth. It’s a valuable feature that you’ll come to appreciate.
Total Harmonic Distortion and Noise
Sound purity is the wet dream of every audiophile. Ask anyone who’s into music, which is practically everyone worth knowing, about the thing they desire the most in the world and a great sound system would invariably rank high on their list. It’s human nature to want to listen to the best music in the best way possible.
Unfortunately, many amplifiers don’t deliver on that promise of pure music. Noise and distortions get in the way of your listening experience, and you leave with more noise pollution than music filling your ears. Make sure the amplifier reduces noise and harmonic distortion and delivers as pure music as you’d get if you were there in the flesh while they were recording it.
After this audio odyssey, we come to the end of our review. Our editor’s choice is the Yamaha A-S301BL Natural Sound Integrated Stereo Amplifier (Black). We loved the Direct symmetrical design which combined with the aluminum heat sinks, keeps it cool and reduces the noise output from the fans. The variable loudness control and ART base give you more control over the sound quality.
Add in the custom-made power transformer and a bunch of other features and you get why we recommend this amp for every stereophile out there.
Mike Zhang. Founder of FamilyLifeShare