A stereo amplifier is the powerhouse of your hi-fi system, and whether you want a stripped-out minimalist design or one with all the bells and whistles, here's our current list of the best on the market.

Hi-fi amplifiers were unchanged for decades, their analogue connections favouring music played on CD players and turntables.

But with laptops, smartphones and streaming services gaining ground as music sources, the stereo amp has had to evolve, with built-in DACs (digital-to-analogue converters), USB connections and wireless streaming now becoming increasingly important.

Don't become obsessed by power figures when buying an amplifier – more power doesn't necessarily mean better sound. A relatively low-powered amp can still sound sweet with the right speakers. And unless you intend to play your system at party levels all the time, it's important to pay just as much attention to attributes such as timing, dynamics, precision and control.

MORE: Awards 2015: Stereo amplifiers

Best stereo amplifier under £200
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Tested at £200 / Best price £199 at Sevenoaks

Our favourite budget amplifier, this is arguably the most entertaining affordable amp around. It boasts agility and a wicked sense of rhythm. 

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Best stereo amplifier under £500
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Tested at £500

This 2015 What Hi-Fi? Product of the Year is a lively performer with expressive dynamics and a surefooted sense of rhythm. Build quality is impressive too. 

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Best stereo amplifier under £1000
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Tested at £900

Arguably the best-value amp Rega makes, with insight and a precise handling of rhythms that’s hard to better even at double the price.

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Best stereo amplifier under £2000
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Tested at £1600

Rega’s top integrated builds on the qualities of its smaller brother, the Elex-R. We haven’t heard a more precise amplifier for the money.

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Best stereo amplifier under £3000
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Tested at £2750 / Best price £3050 at Sevenoaks

A terrific integrated amplifier. It’s punchy, with a low-frequency performance that brims with authority. Dynamics are strong too.

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Best money no object stereo amplifier
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Tested at £42,000

Get past the cost of the Dan D’Agostino Momentum Integrated and you’ll find a startlingly capable product – one of the finest amplifiers on the planet.

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