Integrated Amp Reviews

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Herb Reichert  |  Feb 03, 2023  |  15 comments
Before this month, I'd never experienced Rotel amplification in one of my own systems, but I have memories of how their amplifiers sounded back in the early 1990s. In those days, at audio shows, I would audition every Rotel amp I could find; I was especially interested in their $369, 60Wpc RB-960BX. I was curious about that model because it was the number-one competitor to the 60Wpc darling of the audiophile proletariat: Adcom's GFA 535 II. My friend Corey Greenberg compared these two popular amps in Stereophile and concluded, "The Rotel is for the budget-minded music lover who wants a good, solid little amplifier that's not going to make listening to music a trying experience."
Ken Micallef  |  Jan 26, 2023  |  23 comments
My first high-end component was an Audio Note M2 preamplifier, which I bought from former Audio Note distributor/current Stereophile contributor Michael Trei. (Senior Contributing Editor Herb Reichert was Michael's partner in that 1990s-era Audio Note venture.) Herb can regale you with tales of motoring across the Soviet Union in an unheated Mercedes, trunk full of Audio Note components and American dollars, but that's a story for another review (most likely to be written by Herb).
Ken Micallef  |  Jan 06, 2023  |  63 comments
Sometimes when the world shouts too loudly, I immerse myself in other sounds: in music. I escape the cacophony by diving into my stash of vinyl records (not literally, although that's a fun image) and reveling in the soundwaves they release. The soundwaves liberated from those physical grooves, combined with impressions stored deep in my hippocampus, never fail to soothe, energize, fascinate, excite.
Herb Reichert  |  Dec 09, 2022  |  33 comments
This morning, I received an email from John, my DIY friend in Europe, saying how happy he was. He had just finished building a new power amplifier using two UcD250LP class-D amplifier modules. He described the results as "quiet, clear, clean, effortless class-D power," adding, "What more could I ask for?"
Julie Mullins  |  Dec 02, 2022  |  36 comments
Sometimes it's good to step outside your comfort zone. In fact, I relish new and novel experiences. It's a major reason I enjoy attending hi-fi shows and events: for the chance to see and hear new things—new hi-fi equipment, especially equipment that's groundbreaking or unusual.
John Atkinson  |  Nov 25, 2022  |  10 comments
When I put together my first hi-fi system in the late 1960s, the amplifier was a Kenwood integrated. Soon I replaced the Kenwood with a Sony integrated, and then, a few years later, I bought a Lecson preamplifier and power amplifier pairing. It's been separates for me ever since.
Ken Micallef  |  Oct 21, 2022  |  17 comments
During my 30-odd years inhabiting New York City's Greenwich Village, I've seen many things come and go. Today's Village buzzes, blasts, and bellows in every direction, change itself the only constant.
Rogier van Bakel  |  Sep 22, 2022  |  8 comments
I like to think that my musical tastes are pretty eclectic: jazz, pop, blues, Americana, metal, world music, ambient, prog rock, more. Operatic music and classical singing, though? Thanks, I'll pass.

There are exceptions. I find tear-tugging beauty in "Ebben? Ne Andrò Lontana" from Alfredo Catalani's La Wally, whether sung by Donij van Doorn or Wilhelmenia Wiggins Fernandez (footnote 1). The German Lieder of Kurt Weill, as interpreted by soprano Teresa Stratas, produce gladness in my heart but confusion in my uncomprehending wife and children. Maybe it's because the often sarcastic, gruff songs about the travails of the lumpenproletariat contrast with the purity of Stratas's classically trained voice. That clash is precisely what I love about it.

Kalman Rubinson  |  Aug 05, 2022  |  11 comments
On a cold, clear February morning, I attended my first in-person press event since the beginning of the pandemic. Marantz had invited me to a small group session in a suite at the Equinox Hotel at Hudson Yards but gave no indication of what was in store. After two years without live press events or audio shows, I was not going to spurn the offer no matter what would be presented: I was hungry for hi-fi. Upon arrival, I learned that Marantz would be featuring just one new product, a streaming integrated amplifier, the Marantz Model 40n ($2499). Sure, I'm in.
Ken Micallef  |  Jun 24, 2022  |  11 comments
When I reviewed Technics's SU-R1000 integrated amplifier for the December 2021 issue, I found its performance beyond my expectations. It practically rewrote the ritual of listening to music on my home hi-fi. With its wealth of technological advancements, significant user options, and clear, three-dimensional sound, it cast a large sonic shadow over the other integrated amplifiers in my possession.
Ken Micallef  |  May 27, 2022  |  0 comments
Old-school audiophiles like me cling to our vinyl records and CDs. We spin them on turntables and slide them into transports, which send electric signals through wires to solid state or tubed amplifiers—a string of hardware devices. But, despite our object-attached ways, we're quite aware that we are living in a software-enabled, Bluetooth-connected, Wi-Fi–facilitated world. Even our Milky Way galaxy is wireless; as that pontificator of everything galactic, scientist Neil DeGrasse Tyson, has proclaimed, "We're all connected."
Rogier van Bakel  |  May 18, 2022  |  16 comments
National pride is the damnedest thing. When I was growing up in the Netherlands, schoolchildren were taught that the inventor of the printing press was a Dutchman named Laurens Janszoon Coster. Germany's Johannes Gutenberg was waved away as an also-ran, if he was mentioned at all.
Julie Mullins  |  Mar 04, 2022  |  2 comments
I've been on a Kim Gordon kick lately. It began a few months ago with rediscovering some Sonic Youth albums and picking up Gordon's solo record, No Home Record. I recently finished reading her memoir, Girl in a Band, about her life, art, and musical career. I tend to read books rather than listen to them, but this time I listened with the Audible app, and I found the experience compelling. Gordon's delivery is direct, her voice even-keeled, almost deadpan. She's giving us the straight dope. Subtle inflections are detectable: moments when she felt strong and proud; leftover cobwebs of postbreakup pain. Her humanity came through.
Herb Reichert  |  Jan 27, 2022  |  22 comments
I remember, around the time I started at Stereophile, telling Art Dudley that I wanted to review "a lot of power amplifiers" because amplifiers are the "blood-pumping heart machines" that "reanimate the artistry" of musicians: Horowitz, Björk, Bill Monroe. Whereupon he looked over his glasses and spied me with bare eyes like a stern parent and said, "Just be sure to not review any amplifiers that weigh more than 65 pounds."
Ken Micallef  |  Dec 03, 2021  |  17 comments
Technics, an arm of the Japanese giant Panasonic Corporation, has long been a major player in the hi-fi world, even if, in some recent decades, it stayed below the radar.

In the 1970s, analog-centric audiophiles particularly praised the Technics SP-10, the world's first direct drive turntable. Created by Matsushita engineer Shuichi Obata in 1969, the SP-10 and its successors became the standard in vinyl playback for American radio stations during that heyday of broadcast radio.