In the market of modern acoustic systems, the so-called active speakers have long occupied an overwhelming niche. They are equipped with a built-in amplifier, which is located inside their case. Using such products is quite simple — you just need to connect them to a sound source (taking into account the available technologies, it is not at all necessary to use a cable for this, it is quite acceptable to use one of the wireless communication formats) and to a power source. However, passive speakers are still widely used. They are used, as a rule, in a professional environment, as well as in Hi-Fi and Hi-End systems.
High quality speakers often do not have a built-in amplifier, so you have to purchase it separately. We will tell you how to do it right in today’s ranking of the best sound amplifiers of the year. In addition, a wide range of similar designs will be presented here, so that readers can choose a suitable device for themselves, which will be acceptable not only in terms of quality, but also in terms of cost.
How to choose the right audio amplifier?
It should immediately be noted that this is not an easy task, so it should be approached as responsibly and thoughtfully as possible. If you purchase products that are not suitable for specific columns, this can cause their overload and failure. There are situations with not such a deplorable outcome — it’s just that the speaker system will not be able to fully reveal its potential, providing the listener with high-quality sound. Be sure to take into account the power of the speakers themselves and the amplifier. At the same time, the concepts of nominal and peak power are distinguished — in the first case, the sound will be reproduced without distortion, with the second type of load, the speakers can work for a very short time.
Amplifiers can be tube or reproduce sound using integrated circuits. The first type allows you to ensure the minimum amount of noise and distortion, even in the case of short-term overloads. Such devices are suitable for music lovers from outdated media, such as vinyl records, audio cassettes. Integrated circuit amplifiers are more modern products, characterized by more accurate sound reproduction. There are a few more distortions here, but when listening to modern music genres, for example, club, electronic music or hip-hop, this is not so noticeable.
When choosing, an important parameter is also taken into account — the resistance of the amplifier. A similar indicator should be at least a little lower compared to the columns. This does not affect the serviceability of the equipment in the least, however, if the ratio of parameters is incorrect, the real output power will turn out to be approximately two to three times less compared to the actual capabilities of the acoustics. It is worth noting that there are amplifiers on sale that can be equipped with an impedance selector or several channels with variable power. Such products belong to the universal class, as they can be combined with absolutely any acoustic product.
When we chose devices to be included in the rating of the best sound amplifiers, we relied mainly on all the indicated parameters. We tried to include more universal products in the review, so that every fan of high-quality sound could choose the best option for himself. However, other factors were taken into account — the ratio of price and quality of equipment, as well as user reviews.
4. Onkyo TX-RZ730
This receiver is perfectly compatible with various audio system configurations. The products are manufactured using the latest dynamic amplification technology, which independently adjusts the signal from each channel in real time. This has a positive effect on the overall sound quality, bringing it to a whole new level. If necessary, the amplifier can be synchronized with various devices, such as smartphones, computers, laptops, TVs with Smart TV capabilities — this is done through Bluetooth channels or Wi-Fi a / c. In addition, the receiver has a Chromecast adapter, through which it will be possible to work with various online broadcast services — Deezer, Spotify and many others. If desired, the device can be used in a full-fledged multimedia complex Multiroom, which plays different content in different rooms.
When the amplifier is paired with a TV, a fairly powerful graphics processor is also used to make the picture clearer and the color even deeper. The device scales and smooths video of low resolution, so even quite old films will look quite acceptable on the screen of a large TV. The AccuEQ system automatically evaluates the acoustic environment in the room and adjusts its signal parameters to it, avoiding the occurrence of standing waves and reflected vibrations.
- Excellent sound quality;
- There are several wireless modules;
- Ability to support all existing codecs;
- Flexibility of sound settings;
- If desired, you can download an application to your smartphone to control the device.
- It is very expensive.
3. Denon AVR-X1500H
Modern products from a well-known Japanese brand, whose models successfully pass specialized tests of many publications covering events in the high-tech industry every year. This model is just head and shoulders above all its competitors in the price category. One of the main design differences of this device is that the transistors here are located on a radiator cooling them and in a checkerboard pattern, thanks to such a solution, heat is removed as efficiently as possible. Under them is a copper substrate, and the entire amplifier block is divided into right and left sections. This is all done to ensure that the sound quality is as good as possible. To minimize vibrations that significantly affect the sound, the amplifier uses double stamped pallets and a full triple chassis. Depending on the output power, the transformer can also be different — it is quite large, equipped with a carbon steel screen, which conducts heat well and provides good conductivity.
This model is focused mainly on working with modern object-oriented formats, however, it will also play retro-style music quite well. When connected to a TV, it is capable of delivering the most clear and deep sound, which is also dynamic, but at the same time it will not hurt your hearing. There are no distortions and standing waves during playback. If desired, you can connect a second subwoofer. As a result, excellent sound is provided, regardless of the area and type of room.
- A large number of connectors for connecting external equipment;
- Emphasis is placed on modern formats and film playback;
- Intuitive control menu;
- The whole design is thought out in such a way as to ensure high-quality sound reproduction.
- The display is very basic;
- The model is quite heavy.
The device is able to interact with almost all known formats that work with three-dimensional object-oriented sound such as Dolby Atmos or DTS:X. In addition, this amplifier can support the DTS Virtual:X format — it is able to turn a standard two-channel system into a full-fledged acoustics equipped with virtual immersive surround-type sound. Such a receiver works with Ultra HD, and also has an upscaler in its software — it is able to increase the resolution of any format up to 4K. The model has HDAM modules that use current feedback. Due to this technology, high-quality amplification can be achieved — this is expressed in pure sound dynamics in the case of using the widest possible frequency range.
The maximum power of each of the channels reaches 100 watts at 8 ohms. This amplifier can handle even a 4-ohm load, it has an eco-mode, which allows you to significantly save electricity. The product has two Wi-Fi modules at once that operate in different ranges, the Bluetooth format, it can support HEOS technology, which helps to synchronize products with gadgets running on the iOS operating system. For comfortable control of the amplifier, use the Marantz AVR Remote application or the remote control that comes with the kit.
- Excellent sound quality regardless of the source used;
- The receiver is able to turn even a low-quality picture into 4K format;
- The ability to calibrate the sound by eight points within a few minutes;
- A dynamic equalizer with fine adjustments is provided.
- The ergonomics of the control panel are not well thought out;
- The instructions do not contain Russian.
1. Yamaha RX-V485
Works with unique Cinema DSP 3D technology. It is developed using an original combination of calculated sound floor data, the signal of which is processed using the digital capabilities of the device. The company’s engineers have collected information regarding the sound fields of the most famous concert halls and music clubs around the world. After analyzing the obtained data, it was possible to develop an original mixing system. When all this information was digitized and included in special integrated circuits, the amplifier received an effective reproduction of the acoustic space of even a large room in a home environment. Due to this approach, the viewer is provided with high realism of films, which will practically not differ from the cinema.
There is also an intelligent analysis of the acoustics of the room where such an amplifier is installed. The choice of various sound parameters is made automatically. To reduce sound distortion, this amplifier is equipped with discrete power amplifiers. The volume is controlled by an intelligent system that minimizes the amount of noise, regardless of the type of audio signal.
- Pretty wide functionality of the device;
- Can be controlled through the application;
- Direct integration with numerous audio streaming services.
- When turning on and off, mechanical clicks are heard;
- The cost is not the most reasonable.
3.Cambridge Audio AXA35
The British company that manufactures this audio equipment has long been known to lovers of quality music for its not too expensive and well-designed products. This integrated amplifier is characterized by increased output power, and a phono stage for MM heads is also provided here. There is also a headphone output, an information liquid crystal display — it shows the operating modes and the timing of the track being played. The physical playback control keys are located directly on the body of the receiver, they are rubberized, not too tight, they are pressed with a characteristic click. On the left side there is an infrared sensor for remote control of the device. The device is able to work with any sound formats, there is a mode for playing tracks without pauses between them.
The digital stream is converted into an analog signal by a dual-channel WM8524 microchip, with which you can work with sound of not too high quality — 24 bit / 192 kHz. It also uses a two-pole filter, which reduces almost to zero the interference that occurs at high frequencies. There are all necessary connectors for connecting external equipment. The case is made of stainless steel, practically does not vibrate even when playing very low frequencies.
- Excellent sound regardless of the source;
- Carefully thought-out equipment ergonomics;
- For its type, it is distinguished by an acceptable cost.
- Screw terminals for connecting external speakers are not very convenient.
Cambridge Audio AXA35
2. Pioneer A-40AE
The optimal sound amplifier, which is suitable for beginner music lovers who are going to create a minimum or average type of system for themselves. With the help of such equipment, you can get excellent sound at the output, but in this case you do not have to integrate the system into your home wireless network using complex technology. The external design of the device is quite strict — in its style, the design resembles amplifiers that were produced back in the distant 1980s. This is an integrated amplifier of the traditional type; you will not be able to find built-in streamers or various kinds of wireless modules here. The design is designed specifically to work within the framework of a classic stereo system. When developing the device, engineers paid special attention to the most important aspects for sound quality. A digital-to-analog converter is provided here, which operates on the basis of a Wolfson microchip, it is capable of supporting signals with a resolution of 24 bits and a frequency of 192 kHz.
All transformer windings are completely isolated from each other, thereby greatly extending their service life. The internal space of the device is organized in such a way that there are practically no parallel planes — this moment helps to minimize the likelihood of resonance, get rid of standing waves. The rear panel provides a full set of analog inputs, an analog output, as well as an input for connecting a turntable with an MM head. Separately, there is an input in order to feed an analog signal to a power amplifier, and this is done directly.
- Optimum equipment of the device;
- Well thought out form factor and design;
- The sound is energetic, well balanced and large;
- Acceptable cost.
- Lack of wireless modules.
1. Denon PMA-800NE
Not only integral, but also digital technologies found expression here, thanks to which the developers managed to launch a universal audio system center on the modern market. The device is placed in the company’s classic branded case, which is characterized by a rather thick front panel, which is made of lightweight aluminum alloy. It contains all the controls. The product looks quite stylish — it fully corresponds to the premium class, it will optimally fit into any AV system. The chassis of the device is equipped with a patented decoupling, which allows damping acoustic vibrations, and there is also a supporting steel plate, the thickness of which is 1.6 mm. It reliably protects electronic circuits from various kinds of mechanical influences. The amplifier is equipped with proprietary push-pull amplifiers that can handle high output current while supporting extended frequency range.
The maximum power of one channel reaches 85 W, thanks to which the product can work even with very complex acoustics. In order to adjust the nature of the sound, the amplifier has tone controls for high and low frequencies, there is also a stereo balance. The design has a phono stage, due to which it will be possible to conveniently work with most stand-alone devices. To power digital and analog circuits, the secondary windings of a separate type network transformer are used, and the corresponding boards are located at a considerable distance from each other.
- Really very high power of the device;
- Excellent sound quality regardless of the type of acoustics;
- Stylish appearance;
- Reliable protection against physical and acoustic influences;
- During heavy loads, it practically does not heat up and does not create a background.
- It costs a little more than similar devices.
3. McIntosh MHA50
The device is designed specifically for people who love high-quality portable sound. Such a device is able to work with devices running on various platforms — iOS, Android, MacOS, Windows. It supports wireless connection to headphones via Bluetooth 4.1 protocol. A 32-bit processor is responsible for working with the signal, which can also interact with asynchronous audio transmission via a USB channel. The design uses a rechargeable battery with a capacity of 3000 mAh. This will be enough for 6 hours of battery life if you use wireless channels, with a wired connection, the products can work much longer. In terms of overall dimensions, the device is practically no different from modern smartphones. It weighs a little, is placed in an aluminum case, which tapers somewhat towards the sides.
The front panel is made of tempered glass, it has a touch-type volume control. The device has two power modes — high and low, thanks to which it can interact with headphones, the resistance of which is in the range from 8 to 600 ohms. In addition to headphones, you can also connect a player or any other portable acoustic device via a 3.5 mm jack. The amplifier comes with three USB cables for working with sources, there is also a convenient leather case and a power outlet for charging the battery.
- Able to work with various operating systems;
- Two power modes help to synchronize the device with any kind of headphones, regardless of their impedance;
- Harmonic distortion is almost invisible;
- Compact overall dimensions and weight;
- The set comes with a stylish leather case and everything you need to work with any device.
- Weak battery capacity, which is especially noticeable when working with autonomous sound sources;
- The glass front panel collects fingerprints.
The amplifier has small overall dimensions — in size it does not exceed the majority of mp3 players. At the same time, it is placed in a case made of glass with metal side inserts, although it has a decent capacity battery, the weight of the device does not exceed 30 grams. The back panel is an LED indicator. When turned on, it blinks blue, indicating readiness for pairing with an external device, if you press the only functional button on the body of the device, the blinking turns blue-red — in this case, the device will be ready to synchronize with the sound source via Bluetooth. All controls are located on the left side — there is a microphone, a power button, and a volume rocker.
The bundled microphone has a decent sensitivity, it is possible to switch tracks directly through this amplifier while listening to music. To change the volume, it is not necessary to use the rocker — you can adjust it with the capabilities of your smartphone or player. There are two outputs on the case — Type C and standard 3.5 mm, and you can use them simultaneously, that is, the device will play music and charge at the same time. The NFC module provides wireless connection to smartphones.
- The products are distinguished by high-quality sound detailing;
- Supports all popular codecs;
- Can be used as an external sound card;
- Long battery life;
- Small overall dimensions.
- The location of the control buttons is not very convenient, besides, the case that comes with the kit makes it even more difficult to use them.
1. Beyerdynamic Impacto universal headphone amplifier
The smallest product in our entire review of the best audio amplifiers. They include not only an amplifier, but also a digital-to-analog converter. The model is equipped with a built-in two-way cable that connects to the headphones using a standard 3.5 mm plug. The device is able to work not only with smartphones, but also with personal computers, laptops, tablets and players. On the bottom side there is a micro-USB input for connecting one of the four appropriate cables supplied with the product. The case contains playback controls. The play and pause button is equipped with an LED backlight, there is also a button for switching between tracks, and there is also an indicator that indicates that Hi-Res content with a sample rate of 48 kHz or higher is currently playing.
With the help of this device, it will be possible to obtain a mini-system for reproducing the sound of the highest quality, and it will be possible to listen to music even on the street. The amplifier goes well with any kind of headphones. The design is equipped with a lithium-ion battery.
- Universal products that can work with various gadgets;
- Provides high quality sound;
- It has a very stylish appearance and compact size.
- High price.
Beyerdynamic Impacto universal headphone amplifier
In conclusion, a useful video
Our review of the best audio amplifiers has come to an end. As you can see, we have tried to present diverse products in it, so that each of our readers can choose the best model for their needs. If you still have questions about the characteristics of the device you like, ask us in the comments. We will promptly respond to your message and provide all the necessary additional information.