Integrated Amp Reviews

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Jim Austin  |  Nov 29, 2019  |  48 comments
My in-person introduction to Devialet's products was under auspicious circumstances. I was in Paris for what would be a month-long vacation; my wife was there to give some lectures, but I was free to roam the city, take pictures, practice my bad French, and enjoy the excellent food—the experience of a lifetime except that, a few days in, I was missing music. Still early in my visit, I wandered by the big Devialet retail store near the Paris Opera; it was closed but it gave me an idea. I soon had two Gold Phantom powered loudspeakers in our Paris studio apartment.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Nov 29, 2019  |  16 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?
Ken Micallef  |  Nov 19, 2019  |  69 comments
In 2007, Luxman Corporation released the SQ-N100 tubed integrated amplifier as part of the company's NeoClassico Series, which focused on smaller, space-saving designs. The 12Wpc (into 6 ohms) SQ-N100 proved very popular, both in Japan and internationally, possibly owing to its use of EL84 pentode power tubes, cherished among audiophiles and electric guitar players alike for their midrange-to-treble luster and visceral sense of drive.
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!)
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jul 23, 2019  |  35 comments
I love listening to new audio products and discovering how they make me feel. I do my best to open my mind, ears, and pores, to trust the process and see where it leads me. Ultimately, for all the words and analogies I or any reviewer may conjure up, what we do isn't very different from a dog sniffing out a new patch of grass or an insect sending out its antennae to determine what's what.

In all cases, the spirit and care with which we approach new territory helps inform our conclusions.

Robert Harley  |  Jul 11, 2019  |  First Published: Feb 01, 1993  |  2 comments
American audiophiles have long had a love-hate relationship with British integrated amplifiers. On one hand, they often provide superb musicality, sell for a moderate price, and don't take up much room. On the other, these British alternatives to Adcom or B&K separates often have low power output, nonstandard connectors, idiosyncratic appearance (footnote 1), and dictate the kind of speaker cable and interconnects you can use.
Jim Austin  |  Jun 20, 2019  |  27 comments
Mark Levinson isn't known as a budget brand, and most people would not consider $8500 a budget price for anything short of a new car. One could argue, though, that Levinson's new No.5805 integrated amplifier ($8500 with DAC and phono stage) is a budget component—combining high performance and build quality with a price tag that's moderate by hi-fi standards. Plus, there's a lot of functionality in one box.
Art Dudley  |  May 21, 2019  |  9 comments
Audiophilia is nothing if not nostalgic—in fact, it's doubly so. Listening to recorded music is an act of looking back, often with the hope of re-creating some wistfully recalled wonder. On top of that, the zeal to perfect the playback experience, whether by means of better-quality recordings or better hardware, is far less common than it used to be among middle-class consumers. Although in recent years our pastime has surprised with its resilience, we're surely nearer the immolation scene than the Prelude to Act I.
Ken Micallef  |  May 16, 2019  |  11 comments
In his review in the November 2015 issue, Herb Reichert wrote that Parasound's Halo Integrated amplifier "has a recognizable sonic personality: easy flowing, mostly smooth, and decidedly mellow. . . . But don't worry—it's not milquetoast mellow or unwashed-hippy-stoner mellow. It is, instead, an everything's-under-control, don't-worry-now mellow."
John Atkinson  |  Apr 02, 2019  |  25 comments
In our February 2019 issue, when I reviewed a new integrated amplifier from Colorado-based Ayre Acoustics, I concluded that "the EX-8 Integrated Hub is a high-end contender at a competitive price" (footnote 1). In that review I promised a Follow-Up in which I would compare the EX-8 with Cambridge Audio's Edge A integrated amplifier, which Ken Micallef had positively reviewed in our January 2019 issue (footnote 2). While I'd enjoyed my time with the EX-8, I'd found its balance rather on the light side, and that it projected voices somewhat forward on the soundstage.
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."
John Atkinson  |  Jan 17, 2019  |  49 comments
It's a high-end audio truism: Successful companies are founded by a creative engineer or entrepreneur with a vision. So what happens when the founder is no longer around? While Mark Levinson is an example of a brand that not only survived the exit of its leader but thrived, speaker manufacturer Thiel dwindled after co-founder Jim Thiel died in 2009, and eventually closed up shop. Colorado company Ayre Acoustics was faced with this problem when founder Charley Hansen passed away in November 2017.
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  |  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.

Herb Reichert  |  Oct 23, 2018  |  15 comments
The original PS Audio Sprout, which I reviewed in the May 2015 issue, showed newcomers an easier, smaller way to amplify music recordings in the home. At $599, the Sprout100 costs $100 more. It fixes a few of the old Sprout's weirdnesses: no power-on indicator light, no remote control, five-way binding posts that weren't really five-way. It also doubles the Sprout's class-D power output into 4 ohms, from 50 to 100Wpc (or 50Wpc into 8 ohms), and adds a few sonic and mechanical enhancements.

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