Music brings life even to the darkest of times. It is the reason many hi-fi enthusiasts spend tons of money on their hi-fi setup just to achieve the sound quality that they are aiming for. Different setups having varied tonal qualities, each can be specifically tuned to soothe even the ears of the most discerning audiophile. One of the main contributing factors to the sound chain is the amplifier. Nowadays, the modern hi-fi enthusiasts have a lot of amplifiers to choose from – from solid state, to a tube, to home theatres. Each caters to the varying needs of the end user. But with all the options available, what are the points to consider in choosing the best amplifier for you?
Application: What type of music are you planning to listen to? Each amplifier has its distinct tonal characteristics and some can even be modified to suit your musical taste.
Inputs: This refers mainly to the sound source or sources with which you are planning to use your amplifier on. Various connections are now available in most modern amplifiers, from RCA to USB, to XLR inputs, all of which is available to cater your connection needs.
With all of these in mind, let us help you in your pursuit of finding the best-integrated amplifier under $2000!
Musical Fidelity M5si Integrated Amplifier
Pro: Well defined and balanced sound reproduction in all levels.
Con: Tends to sound flat at times because of its uncolored sound reproduction
The M5si is one of Musical Fidelity’s crown jewels when it comes to its line of integrated amplifiers. With amplification power of 150 watts per channel, it will drive any loudspeaker you throw its way with ease. Its technical performance is comparable to that of the M6si. The frequency response of 10Hz to 20 kHz assures that it will deliver any genre of music that you may have the listening pleasure to with ease. The M5si delivers unparalleled sound clarity, with clearly defined mid, shimmering highs without the sharpness, and warm solid lows without distortion in any frequency range. There are available 4 RCA inputs, 1 USB type “B” connector, and 1 phono input for all your available sources. Truly, the M5si is an amplifier worth listening to and will surely exceed even the most discerning audiophiles expectations.
Yamaha A-s801 Integrated Amplifier
Pro: Very neutral yet musical sound reproduction.
Con: No preamp output.
The Yamaha A-s801 is for the audiophile who wants purity of sound without all the bells and whistles. Its 100 watts of raw amplifying power is enough to drive any speakers with ease. The neutrality of sound provided by the A-s801 is one of its strongest points. Yamaha’s objective for making the A-s801 sound delivery is to recreate the total listening experience – to hear the artist’s rendition of music as they have recorded it in the studio, no DSP processing or bass contour to saturate the sound, just pure music. There are 9 input options available; 3 line inputs, 1 phono, 1 cd input, 1 tuner, 1 optical, 1 coaxial, and a USB connection. Even though the sound reproduced is without coloration, one can’t help but notice that the sound is much “meatier” than the average integrated amplifier delivers. The best part is, Yamaha placed a built-in audiophile USB DAC in the A-s801, a feature they don’t normally put in their integrated amplifiers. Sufficed to say, the A-s801 Integrated Amplifier from Yamaha is the modern audiophile’s bridge to experiencing the joys of listening to pure music.
Cambridge – Azur 851A Integrated
Pro: Available option for XLR / balanced inputs.
Con: Does not have any provision for digital inputs.
The Azur 851A is Cambridge Audio’s Flagship Integrated Class XD Amplifier. Rated at 120 watts per channel, the 851A will easily drive any speakers with ease. The two main input types are RCA (phono), and XLR which is one of the 851 A’s strong points since not many of its contemporary amplifiers have that option for balanced input. It is encased in a full steel chassis for full protection and a touch of class. The 851A is equipped with two audiophile-class toroidal transformers: one that drives its preamp section and another for the power stages, ensuring that this amplifier will handle any load and provide sound finesse and clarity even at low volume levels. Another of the 851 A’s unique feature is the front panel LCD display which allows the user to customize the names of each of the 8 inputs which are very handy due to the fact that we have a ton of available sources today. In a nutshell, the Azur 851A is Cambridge Audio’s continuous innovation and enhancement of the products that have placed them as one of the top names in the hi-fi/audio industry today.
Dared I30 Tube Integrated amplifier
Pro: Warm yet clearly defined.
Con: You have to let the system “warm up” for quite some time to push 30 WPC.
If you are looking for something that will surely breathe life into your vintage record collections and your more recent tunes, the Dared I30 Tube integrated amplifier is the best choice for you. The 12AX7 and 12AU7 preamp tubes bring warmness and life to any sound source you may have, be it your grandpa’s turntable or your iPhone. Rated at 30 Watts per channel, it will be a welcome addition to your bedroom or living room setup. There are 3 available RCA connections, a 5.5 mm input jack, and a USB DAC. Just by looking at the warm glow of the I30’s tubes, you will surely be mesmerized while listening to its warm yet clearly defined mid, luscious tamed highs, and punchy lows. One of the notable characteristics in the I30 is that is doesn’t push 130 watts per channel the moment you plug your system in – you have to let it warm up for quite some time to achieve that warmness and volume. All in all, the I30 Tube integrated amplifier from Dared is your bridge way into the experience the sound and magic of tubes amplifiers for a price that is a definite steal.
Sony TA-A1ES Integrated Amplifier
Pro: Neutral yet very musical sound reproduction.
The TA-A1ES from Sony is the company’s answer to the statement “less is more.” The TA-A1ES clear and uncolored signature sound is sure to deliver the record’s musicality true to its source. Its line level inputs are a mix of RCA and XLR connections. One of the great features of the Sony TA-A1ES is its speaker wire provision which is sure to accept any cable gauge you might decide on using. The sound coming from the TA-A1ES was neutral yet very musical – you will hear music as how it was recorded. Natural sounding highs, clearly defined mid, and lows that are solid yet without distortion is a welcome reprieve from the normal DSP coated sound reproductions from other amplifiers. If you want real music with the most natural sound representation, then the TA-A1ES is for you.