Integrated Amp Reviews

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Art Dudley  |  Mar 25, 2020  |  11 comments
I am the world's worst consumer. Not only have I made more than my share of disastrous purchase decisions, I'm also inexplicably luckless: If there's one defective sample or repack in an inventory, it will find me.

I'm also a deceit magnet, and I'm spineless: More than once in my life, I have made abominable purchase decisions solely to please a manipulative salesman or a disinterested third party (read: girlfriend). There is abundant photographic evidence that I don't know how to shop for clothes, my glasses are wrong for my face because I trust the advice of opticians with bad or no taste, and the less competent/more antagonistic the barber, the likelier I am to say "Great job, I love it" and tip them 50%. If I were smarter, I might actually be rich by now, or at least comfortable.

Art Dudley  |  Dec 01, 2015  |  0 comments
I don't think Americans dislike the French a tenth as much as the corporate media, in their endless struggle to sell our pettiest ideas back to us in cartoon form, suggests we do. Our nations' histories are intertwined, to our great mutual benefit. Americans envy the French their centuries of cultural accomplishments, the French envy Americans their sense of industry and their wide-open spaces. (That one's a tie.) We turn to them for wine, they turn to us for blue jeans. (A point for France.) We watch their films about law-breaking hipsters, they watch our films about law-breaking gangsters. (A point for the US, in whose films things actually happen.)
Michael Fremer  |  Jun 12, 2005  |  0 comments
The French-made Kora line has been in and out of American distribution over the past decade. It's currently imported by Norman AV of Aventura, Florida. With the window of opportunity open again, I decided to listen to Kora's modestly priced hybrid integrated amplifier, the Explorer 150SB ($2030).
Fred Kaplan  |  Jul 22, 2007  |  1 comments
There's something a bit oddball about the notion of a $16,500 integrated amplifier—until you stop to consider that the market is fairly drenched with preamps and power amps that, together, cost that much and more. And putting both pre- and power amp in a single chassis cuts down on storage (one less shelf), accessories (one less pair of cable), and electrical outlets (one socket freed up).
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Nov 29, 2019  |  15 comments
I was less than thrilled by Editor-in-Chief Jim Austin's suggestion to review the solid-state Krell K-300i integrated amplifier ($7000, plus an additional $1000 for the optional DAC). I had recently reviewed another $7000 integrated amplifier, the quite different hybrid Aesthetix Mimas, and while I ended up liking the Mimas a whole lot, I felt decidedly lukewarm about having to recalibrate expectations for another integrated, especially one that costs far less than my reference Dan D'Agostino Progression monoblocks ($38,000/pair) and whose DAC option is a fraction of the price of my reference dCS Rossini DAC/Rossini Clock combination ($31,498 plus cables). How good could it be?
Martin Colloms  |  Jul 06, 1996  |  0 comments
Is Krell risking its reputation? With the KAV-300i, an integrated amplifier that was originally envisaged as an export model, but for which home demand is clearly increasing, the Connecticut-based amplifier manufacturer is dabbling in low-cost territory. Previous Krell amplifiers have been known for their prodigious drive capability. Time and time again, it is found that the true measure of the bass performance of a big speaker isn't realized until a Krell power amplifier is brought into service. But how could an amplifier with a meaty 150Wpc specification and full remote control be built to sell for just $2350.
Wes Phillips  |  Feb 20, 2005  |  1 comments
How times have changed. When Krell first debuted its KAV-300i, in 1996, it risked having people question its high-end credibility simply for having considered producing an integrated amplifier, much less an affordable one. After all, Krell was the company best known for massively overbuilt—and, many claimed, overpriced—power amplifiers that were uniquely capable of driving speakers of ridiculously low impedance. In Martin Colloms' review of the 300i in the July 1996 Stereophile, he asked the question on everyone's minds: "Is Krell risking its reputation?"
Art Dudley  |  Nov 08, 2011  |  1 comments
In a perfect world, I would own the following: one good turntable (footnote 1), one good tonearm, one good pickup head, one good step-up transformer, one good integrated amplifier, and two good loudspeakers. And some decent cables. That's all, except maybe a home and a dog and some records and some books and one good guitar.
Chip Stern  |  Dec 28, 2000  |  0 comments
In the ongoing audiophile debate over the relative merits of solid-state vs tube amplification, compelling cases can be made for the overall musicality of both methods. And while there's a lot to be said for the dynamic headroom, bass focus, clarity, frequency extension, and silent performance of solid-state gear, it's funny how much you can come to miss the aural verities of tube electronics after a prolonged absence.
Herb Reichert  |  Sep 25, 2015  |  16 comments
When I began writing for Stereophile, I heard people whispering:

"Herb is one of those triode-horn guys."

Wrong. Most of my life, I've favored solid-state integrated amplifiers driving small, British-made speakers.

"I'm sure he hates digital."

Alex Halberstadt  |  Jun 18, 2021  |  11 comments
If you've ever paused in front of a painting by Peter Paul Rubens, you may have noticed that the canvas seems to glow. Everything in Rubens's paintings celebrates abundance. A golden light bathes his landscapes, and his figures are epitomes of radiant health—the women ample and voluptuous (a body type sometimes called "Rubenesque"), the men vigorous and athletic. Invariably, these expanses of rosy European flesh appear to be in motion, an effect Rubens mastered more thoroughly than arguably any artist of his age.
Art Dudley  |  Mar 18, 2011  |  1 comments
My quandary on receiving for review the Linn Majik DS-I: What, precisely, is it supposed to do? Does the Majik DS-I contain a hard disk and music-ripping software, so I can use it to store all the music in my CD collection? Does it have a graphical user interface (GUI) that at least matches the one provided by the endearingly free Apple iTunes? Does it include a DAC that allows it to play the music files I've already put on my computer?
Art Dudley  |  Feb 21, 2012  |  1 comments
Phono cartridges—along with mothballs, hobnails, laundry bluing, hot-water bottles, lighter fluid, fur coats, and typewriters—are among the most outdated of consumer goods: To most people who make their living in the world of consumer electronics, every new cartridge that hits the shelves is little more than a coughing spasm from the death-room down the hall. You can imagine, then, the welcome accorded new samples of the even more anachronistic pickup head, which combines phono cartridge, headshell, and barbell into a product one seldom sees outside the school librarian's junk drawer. New pickup heads, which tend to look the same as old pickup heads, are manufactured in pessimistically small quantities, and seldom get much attention.
Art Dudley  |  Oct 29, 2015  |  6 comments
Please don't tell her I said this, but lately, my wife has been getting twitchy about my records. Twitchy as in: She wants me to sell them. Or at least some of them.

I have only myself to blame. For years, I have shared with her my every joy that came of finding, at a lawn sale or garage sale or on eBay or at a record store whose proprietors "had no idea what this thing is worth," some rare and valuable treasure. And therein lay another facet of my problem: As often as I would rejoice at the music I was poised to enjoy, or the sheer pleasure of acquiring something rare and well made, I would roll, pig-like, in the pleasure of the thing's potential monetary value. Old Testament–style dark clouds fill the sky outside my window even as I type this.

Art Dudley  |  Jul 26, 2018  |  11 comments
The Emitter II Exclusive integrated amplifier, from German manufacturer ASR Audio (footnote 1), challenged my idea of what I could expect from a solid-state amplifier and my thoughts of what might be the best amp for driving a pair of Quad ESL loudspeakers—revelations that were more or less inseparable. After hearing my friend and former neighbor Neal Newman drive his own ESLs with a ca 1975 sample of the Quad 303—a solid-state amplifier rated at 45Wpc into 8 ohms—and after my experiences, in 2016, driving my ESLs with a borrowed sample of the 18Wpc, solid-state Naim Nait 2, I began to think that Quad-friendly transistor amps are easier to find than their tubed counterparts.

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