Integrated Amp Reviews

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Ken Micallef  |  Dec 20, 2018  |  14 comments
One summer in the mid-2000s I purchased a pair of Cambridge Audio components for my red-headed, tango-dancing Texas girlfriend. She quickly saw through my ruse to install some solid hi-fi in her New Jersey home away from home—but eventually she acquiesced, and soon Michael Martin Murphey (she), the Beatles (me), and Miles Davis (us) filled our weekends with music. Inspired by a Sam Tellig column I read around that time, I paired a Cambridge Azur integrated amplifier and CD player with a pair of Triangle Titus XS minimonitors. The sound produced by this quartet was clean, precise, and altogether pleasurable—for a total of about $1300.
Herb Reichert  |  Feb 05, 2015  |  14 comments
The more integrated amps I review, the more I want to tell manufacturers: Please, skip the DAC, omit the phono stage, lose the Bluetooth—just give me the best sound quality, and the most vivid, most transparent line stage and control center (with pre-out) you can design. Make sure this line stage has appropriate gain, and high input and low output impedances. Give me at least four balanced and single-ended inputs. Make sure the volume, balance, and tone controls are durable and degrade the sound as little as possible. That way, I can add a DAC, server, phono stage, or Bluetooth, of any quality level, any time I choose.
Robert Harley  |  Sep 26, 1995  |  0 comments
As strongly as I believe that the listening experience is the most reliable method of judging the quality of audio equipment, I've been biased against single-ended tube amplifiers because of their quirky measured performances. Without having heard single-ended under good conditions—much less living with an SE amplifier—I had concluded that many listeners must like them because they're euphonically colored by large amounts of low-order distortion and impedance interactions with the loudspeakers. SE amplifiers seem to be a departure from the goal of making the electronics transparent. Moreover, the range of loudspeakers suitable for SE amplifiers is so restrictive that I wondered why anyone would bother with these underpowered distortion-generators. I had fallen into a trap that I've repeatedly railed against: drawing conclusions without firsthand listening experience (footnote 1).
Ken Micallef  |  Dec 01, 2016  |  1 comments
My entrée to high-end audio was in the late 1990s, when I bought a used pair of Cary Audio CAD-572SE tubed monoblock amplifiers to add to my Marantz CD player, Audio Note M2 preamplifier, and ProAc Response One SC loudspeakers. This system reproduced recordings with a sound that made me happier than a country boy with a glass of milk and a helping of peach cobbler. (I was reared, as my grandmother would say, though not born, in North Carolina, where Cary is based.)
Herb Reichert  |  Dec 13, 2018  |  22 comments
My Russian neighbor's blind grandfather, Vlad, has very discriminating ears—but only when I tell him what to listen for. If I don't, he just bitches about my choice of music. And he refuses to listen to "weak" American orchestras.

Not surprisingly, Vlad worships Mikhail Glinka. "Herb! Play Russlan and Ludmilla!" When he asks for "Pyotr Ilyich," I groan and quietly put the vodka back in the freezer.

Ken Micallef  |  Sep 24, 2019  |  30 comments
New York City is forever being born. Lately, transnational capitalists are turning Manhattan into both an investment vehicle and playground for their platinum-level appetites. As real estate developments blot the city's skyline with competing glass-and-metal towers, mom-and-pop businesses collapse under rising rents and a lack of protection from predatory landlords—all the while such New York institutions as the White Horse Tavern, Cafe Edison, Bleecker Bob's, the Plaza Hotel, the Paris Theatre, and the Chelsea Hotel undergo massive change or disappear altogether. (Thank God for Katz's Delicatessen!)
Art Dudley  |  Feb 18, 2007  |  0 comments
"Guitar groups are on the way out, Mr. Epstein."—Dick Rowe, Decca Records, 1962
Robert J. Reina  |  Mar 19, 2008  |  0 comments
Late in 2006, I was watching John Atkinson set up a pair of DPA cardioid microphones in front of the stage of New York City's Otto's Shrunken Head to record a performance of my jazz quartet, Attention Screen (footnote 1). Before the first set, Wes Phillips approached me. "Bob, I found a piece of equipment you must review—the Cayin A-50T integrated amp. It's only 1300 bucks and you'll love it!"
Robert J. Reina  |  Apr 09, 2012  |  0 comments
Stereophile has reviewed two integrated amplifiers from Chinese manufacturer Cayin in the past: the A-50T, which I wrote about very positively in March 2008, and the A-300B, which Art Dudley reviewed in February 2007. So when I read about Cayin's $2195 SP-10A integrated amplifier, which has a wood-covered sleeve, just like the old Marantz and McIntosh gear and offers 38 watts of push-pull power, in our coverage of the 2008 CES, I put in on my must-write-about list.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 31, 2019  |  40 comments
"The sound was to die for," I wrote shortly before my resurrection. I was taking notes about the sound of CH Precision's D1 SACD and CD Drive (now $38,000) and C1 D/A Controller (base price $32,000), in the demo room of Michael Woods's Elite Audio Systems, at the California Audio Show, just three months after the 2015 edition of the Munich High End show. CH Precision's L1 dual-mono, solid-state preamplifier (now $58,000), M1 dual-mono power amp ($104,000), and X1 external power supply ($17,000) had helped deliver "fantastic sound."
Michael Fremer  |  Feb 29, 2004  |  First Published: Jul 01, 2001  |  0 comments
With its high-end heart and home-theater brain, Chord's powerful CPM 3300 integrated amplifier ($9500 with the aluminum-cylinder Integra leg option, $8950 without) is a uniquely fascinating audio product well worth considering. High-tech innards and magazine-cover good looks don't hurt either, but what originally got me interested was the superlative sound Chord products have consistently delivered at trade and consumer shows when paired with Wilson-Benesch loudspeakers.
Robert Harley  |  May 30, 2005  |  First Published: Sep 01, 1997  |  0 comments
With the price of high-end audio increasingly reaching for the stratosphere, audiophiles appear to becoming much more value-conscious. This trend is reflected in the recent popularity of CD players over separate transports and processors, and particularly in the sudden resurgence in integrated amplifiers. An integrated amplifier makes a lot of sense: the buyer saves the cost of two chassis, two power cords, two owner's manuals, and an extra pair of interconnects. You also get a simpler system.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Apr 06, 2017  |  9 comments
The last few years have seen a flood of new integrated amplifiers in an audiophile market traditionally wedded to separate preamps and power amps. That might reflect the fact that integrated amps make a lot of sense, and not only because they usually cost less than equivalent separates. The latter gained a foothold in audio's Paleolithic era, when tubes were the only game in town. Tubes generate lots of heat—an enemy of electronics—and separating the preamp stages from the output devices kept this under control. Yes, there were integrated amplifiers back then, but they were generally of very low power—25Wpc was once considered monumental.
Martin Colloms  |  Mar 07, 2004  |  First Published: Aug 01, 1998  |  0 comments
The search for signal transparency has led to much experiment and debate concerning losses in fidelity that can be traced to the preamplifier or—as it's more often and awkwardly called these days when the phono stage is omitted—the "line controller."
Robert J. Reina  |  Aug 26, 2013  |  First Published: Dec 01, 1995  |  3 comments
In this, my first equipment review for Stereophile, I'll begin by explaining my philosophy regarding reviewing inexpensive components. In my quest for products by designers who strive to establish new benchmarks for reproducing sonic realism at lower prices, I'll be looking for "value" components (a more appropriate term than "budget") whose designers logically fall into two camp. . .

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