Integrated Amp Reviews

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Sam Tellig Posted: Feb 23, 2003 0 comments
Despite its name, the Panache is not made in France, but here in the States, by Portal Audio, headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina. The company is owned and run by Joe Abrams, a longtime veteran of high-end hi-fi who was once closely associated with Threshold.
Art Dudley Posted: Feb 20, 2005 0 comments
My first reaction to the Prima Luna Prologue One was based solely on looks: For $1095, I might not have been disappointed had it sounded no better than a Bose Wave Radio. Its casework straddles the breach between vintage and modern in a way that little else does, at any price. The dark gray-blue finish, hand-rubbed to a tactile gloss, wouldn't look out of place on an Alfa GTV (the new one, which resembles a drop of oil). And for the first time in my experience, a high-end audio manufacturer has figured out a way to make a protective tube cage easy to remove and replace: with banana plugs and sockets. Why couldn't one of the high-price American brands have figured that out?
Robert Deutsch Posted: Dec 16, 2014 8 comments
Ever since I reviewed PrimaLuna's ProLogue Premium, for the June 2012 issue, it has been the model I would turn to when I wanted a moderately priced integrated amplifier to try with a new speaker. It never disappointed me, and never seemed outclassed, even when the speaker was the MartinLogan Montis ($10,000/pair). At $2399, the ProLogue Premium to me represents the "sweet spot" for systems in the range of $4000–$10,000 or higher. Although its 35Wpc may not be enough for some speakers (depending on the room and personal preference), I never had any such problem, regardless of whether the speaker had a built-in powered subwoofer (eg, the Montis or the GoldenEar Technology Triton Two) or was a passive design (Wharfedale's Jade 7 or Focal's Aria 936). With differences noted depending on whether EL34 or KT88 output tubes were used, the ProLogue Premium delivered sound that was always smooth and musically involving.
Robert Deutsch Posted: May 30, 2012 3 comments
Integrated amplifiers are hot. I don't mean in the literal sense—although having a preamplifier and stereo power amplifier in the same chassis usually results in higher running temperatures—but in the metaphorical one. Once viewed as the type of component that no serious audiophile would consider buying, integrated amps have made a comeback in popularity and prestige. Consider: the October 2006 "Recommended Components" issue of Stereophile listed 29 integrated amps, whereas the October 2011 issue lists 40. Stereophile's 2010 Amplification Component of the Year award went to an integrated amp, the Audio Research VSi60, beating out a host of heavy-hitter preamps and power amps. The 2012 Stereophile Buyer's Guide lists 400 integrateds.
Robert Deutsch Posted: Jan 22, 2006 0 comments
Lovers of Italian wine, travelers to Italy, and, of course, Italians, may be familiar with this story. It seems that in the year 1111, Henry V was traveling to Rome to be crowned Holy Roman Emperor. A member of his entourage, one Giovanni Defuc, was very fond of wine, and had the practice of sending ahead one of his servants to sample the wine in each place. When the servant found a wine that he particularly liked, he would write "Est!" on the door of the establishment, which was a signal to his master that the wine is (est) good. Having arrived at Montefiascone, the servant found a wine he thought so superb that he wrote on the door of the inn "Est! Est!! Est!!!"
Herb Reichert Posted: Apr 23, 2015 7 comments
I find small humans more beguiling than big people. My favorites are the two-footers—those little two-year-old boys with a kind of wobbly, bent-kneed stride that dips like a blues song every fourth step as they stagger ahead of their watchful parents. I like three-footers too—sprightly three-year-old girls who dress better than their moms and never need a lifestyle consultation. Whenever we see one of these cheerful, bouncing young'uns coming toward us on the sidewalk, I smile and my dog's tail wags. Their bright faces and excited voices make me think, You go, little sprouts! These miniature humans' special beauty is that they still possess their full force de vie.
Art Dudley Posted: Nov 17, 2011 0 comments
Given that Quad's founder, the late Peter J. Walker, wasn't around to design the Quad II Classic Integrated, the English firm relied instead on Tim de Paravicini, whose credits include the comparatively recent Quad II-eighty mono amplifiers and QC-twentyfour preamplifier (not to mention his own line of E.A.R./Yoshino electronics and countless other well-regarded products). It's with respect for both men that I say: In turning to Tim de Paravicini, Quad has probably chosen the closest approach to the original.
Wes Phillips Posted: Apr 10, 2005 Published: Sep 10, 1998 0 comments
You can read all about an automobile, check its gear ratios, and ponder the engine's horsepower all you want—but until you put yourself in the driver's seat and take that baby out for a spin, you have no idea whether or not it's going to be fun to drive.
Sam Tellig Jim Austin Posted: Oct 08, 2006 Published: Apr 08, 2001 0 comments
The Rega Couple interconnect ($150/1m pair) comes in a plastic pouch rather like a Ziploc veggie bag—just the pouch and a printed card. How much could the packaging cost? Ten cents?
Art Dudley Posted: Nov 09, 2012 2 comments
I can imagine the gaiety and mirth that filled the halls of the electronics industry in the 1950s, as engineer after bespectacled engineer realized that the transistor would soon consign to the outposts of oblivion those ancient technologies that had preceded it. Before long—surely no more than a decade—the hated vacuum tube would vanish from the Earth, along with the tube socket, the tube tester, the tag board, the high-voltage rail, and that lowest rascal of them all, the output transformer. What a jubilant time!

I can't imagine what went wrong.

Herb Reichert Posted: Jul 31, 2014 7 comments
Once, on a cold, dank, soundless day deep in the Eastern bloc, I watched a man spend over a million dollars on an audio system: a turntable, a fancy horn tweeter, a few wires, and some amplification for his modified Klipschorns. I asked him what he did for a living, and he told me he was a notary public.
Herb Reichert Posted: Nov 07, 2014 11 comments
It was spring. I was planting kale and cabbage, wearing bib overalls, and listening to Pigboy Crabshaw (aka Elvin Bishop) on my iPhone. My girlfriend, "bb," came out, and just stood there laughing. "What's this? American Gigolo: The Alabama Years?"

Now, please, don't start worrying about your newest Stereophile reviewer. I've owned my share of Julie London and Jennifer Warnes records, but these days I'm more into Hazel Dickens and Maybelle Carter. It's summertime, fish are jumpin', and that dirt-road American music is getting me high.

Art Dudley Posted: May 15, 2010 0 comments
Besides my 20th wedding anniversary and the 15th anniversary of Listener magazine's first issue, this year marks the 25th anniversary of Roksan Audio Ltd., easily one of the most innovative design and manufacturing firms in British audio. Before Roksan came upon the scene in 1985, none of us had ever seen a loudspeaker whose tweeter was isolated from its surroundings by a sprung suspension. Or a commercial phono preamplifier designed to fit inside a turntable, just a centimeter away from the tonearm base. And who among us could have guessed that the Linn LP12's hegemony—among flat-earthers, I mean—would be broken by a turntable from outside of Scotland? Yet the Roksan Darius loudspeaker, Artaxerxes phono stage, and, above all, Xerxes turntable accomplished those things and more, to the genuine surprise of nearly everyone—and to the benefit of our industry at large, as other firms took those ideas and ran with them.
Herb Reichert Posted: Apr 28, 2016 15 comments
This is a story about vulgar words and what is likely one of the most innovative and exciting, yet self-consciously idiosyncratic, audio components of the 21st century: Schiit Audio's Ragnarok integrated amplifier ($1699).

I never use vulgar words—at least not in public. I rarely use the word shit as an adjective, a verb, or a noun. Therefore, when I first heard of an audio company founded by legendary audio engineer Mike Moffat (formally of Theta) and award-winning science-fiction author and audio polymath Jason Stoddard—a company named Schiit—I could permit myself to pronounce its name only as Shite. I thought it made me sound British instead of rude.

Art Dudley Posted: Mar 18, 2008 0 comments
My first one-piece stereo—I think I paid $60 for it, including a pair of speakers with pegboard backs—gave me a lot of pleasure when I was young, and I loved it. Everything that came after has been better in every way but one: None has inspired that kind of love. And most have left me wondering if there might be something just a little bit better.

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