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Best stereo amplifiers 2021: best integrated amps for every budget

Best stereo amplifiers 2021: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best stereo amplifiers you can buy in 2021.

Stereo amplifiers aren't as simple and stripped back as they used to be. The days of equipping them with just analogue inputs and outputs and a pair of speaker terminals are now no longer the norm.

With laptops, smartphones and streaming services becoming ever-more popular music sources, the integrated amplifier has moved with the times. Many now contain built-in digital-to-analogue converters (DACs), phono stages for turntables, USB connections for laptops and hard-drives, and Bluetooth streaming. Some even have network streaming integrated, making them a fully fledged just-add-speakers system.

We've rounded up a wide selection of the best integrated amps on the market, offering a vast selection of features across a range of prices. We're confident there will be something here to suit all budgets and requirements, and to get your music system singing.

Best stereo amplifier: Marantz PM6007

(Image credit: Marantz)

1. Marantz PM6007

One of the best stereo amplifiers we've ever heard at this level.

Specifications
Power: 45W per channel
Remote control: Yes
Phono stage: MM
Digital inputs: coaxial, optical
USB: No
Bluetooth: No
Headphone output: Yes
Dimensions (hwd): 10.5 x 44 x 37cm
Reasons to buy
+Clear and punchy performer+Broad connectivity+Solid casework
Reasons to avoid
-No Bluetooth or USB

The new Marantz PM6007 takes the winning formula of the Marantz PM6006 UK Edition, (a former What Hi-Fi? Award winner) and manages to squeeze even more performance out of it.

Let's get the negatives out of the way first, though. There's no USB input or Bluetooth connectivity, which some users might demand but apart from this, the PM6007 is pretty much faultless.

The PM6007 boasts trademark Marantz styling and is a solidly built, nicely-finished integrated amplifier with traditional hi-fi appeal.

Improvements include a new DAC and new filters, which can be switched between when you're using the amp's digital inputs, plus new components in the power amp and phono stages. The latter also gets upgraded circuitry.

And the results speak for themselves. The sound is smooth, full-bodied and balanced, with a pleasing spaciousness. Another quality hi-fi amplifier from Marantz.

Read the full review: Marantz PM6007

Best stereo amplifier: Cambridge Audio CXA81

(Image credit: Cambridge Audio)

2. Cambridge Audio CXA81

One of the best stereo amplifiers you can buy at the money.

Specifications
Power: 80W per channel
Remote control: No
Phono stage: n/a
Digital inputs: S/PDIF coaxial, Toslink
USB: Yes
Bluetooth: aptX HD receiver built-in
Headphone output: Yes
Dimensions (hwd): 11.5 x 4.3 x 34.1cm
Reasons to buy
+Strong presentation+Great timing+Awesome detail
Reasons to avoid
-Nothing at this price

Despite some minor cosmetic tweaks, the CXA81 might look a lot like its predecessor, the CXA80, but all the improvements are where it counts: on the inside. 

Cambridge Audio's engineers have upgraded the signal path, as well as the capacitors in both the preamp and power amp sections. Also on board is a new DAC and an improved USB input that supports hi-res audio. 

What does this all mean? It means there's a world of difference when it comes to performance. It's as punchy as anything, with a bold, powerful sound. Yet detail is never sacrificed, and it's lean and agile enough to handle anything you can throw at it. 

Add in the addition of aptX Bluetooth for wireless playback, and you've got the best stereo amplifier around at this price and a very worthy 2019 What Hi-Fi? Award-winner. It sets a new standard for hi-fi amplifiers in this price bracket - one we can't see being surpassed any time soon.

Read the full review: Cambridge Audio CXA81

Best stereo amplifier: Rega io

(Image credit: Rega)

3. Rega io

A brilliant stereo amplifier in an affordable package.

Specifications
Power: 30W (8 Ohms)
Remote control: Yes
Phono stage: MM
Digital inputs: 0
USB: No
Bluetooth: No
Headphone output: Yes
Dimensions (hwd): 6.8 x 18 x 29cm
Reasons to buy
+Detailed, rhythmic and fun sound+MM phono stage+Good headphone output
Reasons to avoid
-No digital inputs

This excellent budget integrated amp borrows the power amp and moving magnet phono stage from its elder sibling, the Rega Brio, which you'll find in position six on this list. And it's quite obvious when you power up the io, that it's a descendant of this excellent amp. It showcases a fantastic sense of rhythm, impressive dynamics, detail. It's a whole lot of fun to listen to. In terms of stereo speakers, we'd look to partner the Rega with something like the Elac Debut 2.0 B6.2 or Bowers & Wilkins 606.

One slight drawback is that in order to reach this level of audio quality, Rega has made the decision to stick purely with analogue inputs. The lack of any digital connectivity might be a hindrance to some, but it's not unheard of at this price point, and it doesn't dampen our enthusiasm for what is one of the best stereo amplifiers we've heard in 2020.

Read the full review: Rega io

Best stereo amplifier: Naim Nait XS 3

(Image credit: Naim)

4. Naim Nait XS 3

This third-generation Naim integrated amp is better than ever.

Specifications
Power: 70W
Remote control: Yes
Phono stage: MM
Digital inputs: n/a
USB: No
Bluetooth: No
Headphone output: Yes
Dimensions (hwd): 7 x 43 x 40cm
Reasons to buy
+Dynamic sound+Decent MM phono stage+Able to be upgraded
Reasons to avoid
-Bettered for features

This is the third-generation instalment of a model first introduced in 2008. The XS 3 adds a moving magnet phono stage and better responsiveness, and that's about it. If that sounds negative, it shouldn't – the XS 3 is a killer stereo amp, earning a well-deserved five stars, and picking up a 2019 What Hi-Fi? Award for its trouble. 

Why? Attention. To. Detail. Open it up and you'll see what we mean - there's immaculately assembled audio circuitry, with fantastic care shown in reducing the degrading effect of outside interference and unwanted interactions between components.

And it shows. The sound is much crisper and more agile than its forebears, thanks in no small part to this exacting eye for detail (it even goes as far as the shape of the connecting wiring and the exact number and placement of tie clips holding it in place). It might not be enough of a difference to justify upgrading from its predecessor, but it still makes for an awesome amp nonetheless.

So not a massive change, as we say. But if it ain't broke...

Read the full review: Naim Nait XS 3

Best stereo amplifier: Cambridge Audio CXA61

(Image credit: Cambridge Audio)

5. Cambridge Audio CXA61

At this level, there aren't many better hi-fi amplifiers out there.

Specifications
Power: 60W per channel
Remote control: No
Phono stage: n/a
Digital inputs: S/PDIF coaxial, Toslink
USB: Yes
Bluetooth: aptX HD receiver built-in
Headphone output: Yes
Dimensions (hwd): 11.5 x 4.3 x 34.1cm
Reasons to buy
+Detailed, dynamic audio+Stacked feature set+Great build quality
Reasons to avoid
-Pricier than the previous model

The CXA61 is the lower-specced stablemate to the CXA81 at the top of this list, and successor to the CXA60, a winner of multiple What Hi-Fi? Awards. So it's in good company. 

Thankfully, it doesn't let the side down: it has the same digital inputs and Bluetooth capabilities as the CXA81, but only outputs at 60W per channel instead of 80W, giving you less power. But for most listening scenarios, that won't be a deal breaker. 

What's more important is the sound quality. And we're happy to report it's a real step on from the CXA60, being more transparent and fun, but always staying composed even when the music gets frantic. It's a presentation style that works well across a wide range of musical genres and speakers, and should please all but the most demanding of listeners. If that's you, you'll have to spend a little more to satisfy your audio taste buds.

Read the full review: Cambridge Audio CXA61

Best stereo amplifiers: Rega Aethos

(Image credit: Rega)

6. Rega Aethos

A superb stereo amplifier with that justifies its premium pricetag.

Specifications
Power: 125W (8 Ohms)
Remote control: Yes
Phono stage: No
Digital inputs: No
USB: No
Bluetooth: No
Headphone output: Yes
Dimensions (hwd): 9,5 x 43.3 x 36cm
Reasons to buy
+Impressive agility and punch+Rhythmic and dynamic+Solid build
Reasons to avoid
-Runs warm-Some minor ergonomic issues

The Rega Aethos delivers an fantastic combination of insight, dynamics and rhythmic precision to produce a class-leading sound. It's not the most highly-specced stereo amp we've seen, though. There are no digital inputs, nor is there a phono stage for a turntable, which is surprising at this level. You do get five line-level inputs and a 6.3mm headphone socket, though.

IF you can live with that, the Rega will reward you with a captivating sound, that majors in clarity and dynamic fluidity. Its sense of timing is second to none at that level, which is part of the reason it's a What Hi-Fi? Awards 2020 winner.

Read the full review: Rega Aethos

Best stereo amplifiers: Chord Anni

(Image credit: Chord Electronics)

7. Chord Anni

Chord's diminutive amplifier offers a premium twist on desktop sound

Specifications
Power: 10W (8 Ohms)
Remote control: No
RCA inputs: x2
Digital inputs: No
USB: No
Bluetooth: No
Headphone output: 3.5mm, 6.3mm
Dimensions (hwd): 43 x 160 x 97mm
Reasons to buy
+Detailed, dynamic and musical sound+Pleasing sense of sonic stability+Fine build
Reasons to avoid
-Only two inputs-Ergonomics aren’t great-Runs hot

Chord Electronics has proven to have quite some talent in finding new market niches. And the diminutive Anni desktop integrated amplifier is a perfect example of that.

Make no mistake, this really is a proper Chord amplifier in miniature, using as it does the Ultima dual feed-forward circuitry seen in the latest generation of the brand’s high-end power amplification. However, this little box is only the size of the Chord Qutest digital-to-analogue converter – for the uninitiated, think smaller than a pair of coasters laid end-on – and it’s intended to be an ideal partner for that DAC and the company’s Huei phono stage. The important thing to note is that it’s designed for desktop use with either headphones or suitable speakers.

This is one of the most capable headphone amplifiers we’ve heard. It sounds clean, clear and articulate yet captures the manic energy of Nick Cave & The Bad Seed's Babe, I’m On Fire superbly.

Use it as a desktop amplifier as intended and it shines. Sure, there are operational quirks – something that’s proving to be a Chord trait – but when the Anni sounds this good we can forgive a lot.

Read the full Chord Anni review

Best stereo amplifiers: Rega Brio

8. Rega Brio

A talented integrated amplifier, with bags of detail, precision and dynamics.

Specifications
Power: 50W (8 Ohms)
Remote control: Yes
Phono stage: MM
Digital inputs: No
USB: No
Bluetooth: No
Headphone output: Yes
Dimensions (hwd): 7.8 x 21.6 x 34.5cm
Reasons to buy
+Detail and dynamics to die for+Agile and rhythmic presentation+Good headphone output
Reasons to avoid
-No digital inputs

If it's heritage you want, the Rega Brio has it in abundance. The original Brio launched in 1991, when Bryan Adams was topping the charts with (Everything I Do) I Do It For You. And it wears its heritage on its sleeve, with a redesign that harks back to those earlier models.

It's now in its sixth generation, and we had to wait six long years for this model to touch down. Thankfully, it was worth it.

It takes audio performance to a whole new level at the money, making it the kind of amplifier we want to leave on and play our entire music collection through. Again and again. 

Yes, your main inputs are limited to standard RCA sockets and a moving magnet phono stage, but we're willing to overlook this, given the amp's amazing sense of musicality. It sounds terrifically fluid with precision and scale in spades. In fact, almost anything you play on it will sound amazing. Even Bryan Adams.

Read the full review: Rega Brio

Best stereo amplifiers: Cambridge Audio Edge A

(Image credit: Cambridge Audio)

9. Cambridge Audio Edge A

A stunning flagship integrated amp with an array of musical talents.

Specifications
Power: 100W (8 Ohms)
Remote control: No
Phono stage: n/a
Analogue inputs: line-level x3, XLR
Digital inputs: optical, coaxial, HDMI (ARC)
USB: Yes (type B)
Bluetooth: Yes
Headphone output: Yes
Dimensions (hwd): 15 x 46 x 40.5cm
Reasons to buy
+Superb all-round presentation+Lots of insight and drama+Excellent build and finish+Good feature list
Reasons to avoid
-Runs warm-Needs plenty of rack space-No phono stage

As far as flagship stereo amplifiers go, the Edge A is a stunning piece of kit. The casework looks slick thanks to its curved corners, while the knurled input selector ring works with wonderful precision. It even comes with a classy remote handset. Features include an array of digital and analogue inputs including balanced XLRs and USB (type A), plus Bluetooth aptX HD, and even an HDMI ARC socket to help your TV sound better.

And the Cambridge sounds like a truly complete amplifier for the money. It generates a huge sense of authority and scale, with amazing dynamic reach. The amp also has a fantastic grasp of low-level details, thanks to a display of clarity and control you'll struggle to beat at the price.

If you're looking for a fit-and-forget hi-fi amplifier, we can't think of anything better at this level.

Read the full review: Cambridge Audio Edge A

Best stereo amplifier: Naim Supernait 3

(Image credit: Naim)

10. Naim Supernait 3

A brilliant premium integrated amplifier.

Specifications
Power: 80W (8 Ohms)
Remote control: Yes
Phono stage: MM
Digital inputs: No
USB: No
Bluetooth: No
Headphone output: Yes
Dimensions (hwd): 8.7 x 43 x 31.4cm
Reasons to buy
+Punchy and dynamic sound+Excellent rhythmic drive+Sonic authority+Upgrade potential
Reasons to avoid
-No digital inputs

This is another integrated amp with some serious pedigree. This third-gen model doesn't break any moulds, but then it doesn't have to. A slight improvement on its predecessor would be enough to make it one of the best around in its category.

And that's exactly what we have here. Changes over the previous version are limited to the addition of a (good quality) moving magnet phono stage and a tweak in the power amplifier section. It makes the Supernait a little more useful and a little bit better. But such was the quality of its predecessor that that's enough to keep the Supernait at the cutting edge at this level.

Some may baulk at the lack of digital inputs, but these can harshen the analogue performance. And they never sound as good as a dedicated outboard unit like a Chord Mojo. So we support Naim's decision to keep it strictly analogue.

It certainly shows when it comes to sound quality. In fact, we can't think of a more talented alternative when it comes to punch, dynamics and rhythmic drive.

Read the full review: Naim Supernait 3

Best stereo amplifier: Cambridge AXA35

(Image credit: Cambridge Audio)

11. Cambridge AXA35

Cambridge Audio's budget integrated amplifier strikes gold.

Specifications
Power: 35W (8 Ohms)
Remote control: Yes
Phono stage: MM
Digital inputs: No
USB: No
Bluetooth: No
Headphone output: Yes
Dimensions (hwd): 8.3 x 43 x 33.5cm
Reasons to buy
+Punchy, precise sound+Good detail resolution+Expressive midrange
Reasons to avoid
-Remote struggles off-axis-No Bluetooth

Let's be honest, the world of budget stereo amplifiers isn’t exactly brimming with superstar products. So when we come across something as talented as Cambridge’s AXA35 we’re especially pleased.

This is a well-built, cleanly styled product that packs all the essentials. True, we’d like to see Bluetooth as well as a couple of physical digital inputs, but we’re willing to overlook such things when the amplifier is as sonically capable as this. And if you have a budget turntable, you can take advantage of its built-in moving magnet phono stage.

The AXA35 delivers a bold and composed sound that practically overflows with detail. It’s an even-handed performer that’s as happy playing a large-scale Mahler symphony as it is Jay-Z’s latest, along with everything in between. And when it comes to rhythmic drive and dynamic expression, few alternatives do better. 

At this price, you really can't ask for more.

Read the full review: Cambridge AXA35

Best stereo amplifier: NAD D3020 V2

(Image credit: Future)

12. NAD D3020 V2

It’s difficult not to love this spruced-up version of a classic NAD amp.

Specifications
Power: 60W (8 Ohms)
Remote control: Yes
Phono stage: MM
Digital inputs: optical/coaxial
USB: No
Bluetooth: Yes
Headphone output: Yes
Dimensions (hwd): 18.6 x 5.8 x 21.9cm
Reasons to buy
+Full-bodied performance+Fine timing and dynamics+Phono stage
Reasons to avoid
-Nothing really at this price

If you want an interesting alternative to the Marantz mentioned above, then we suggest the NAD D 3020 V2. It has a smaller design, and the fact it can stand upright means it's more versatile with positioning. 

The NAD is also packed with useful features. There's Bluetooth for offline streaming and a moving magnet phono stage for connecting a turntable. Which give you far more options when it comes to audio sources. Plus you get optical, coaxial and RCA connections, along with a subwoofer out for adding lashings of bass.

And if this wasn't enough, it's an enjoyable listen too. Dynamics and timing are up there with the best, while detail levels are impressive for this class. Even if the Marantz does pip it for all-round sound quality, this NAD more than makes up for it in terms of features and ease of use. Definitely one for your shortlist.

Read the full review: NAD D 3020 V2

Best stereo amplifier: Audiolab 6000A

13. Audiolab 6000A

A hugely capable hi-fi amplifier for the money.

Specifications
Power: 100W (8 Ohms)
Remote control: Yes
Phono stage: MM
Digital inputs: optical/coaxial
USB: No
Bluetooth: Yes
Headphone output: Yes
Dimensions (hwd): 6.5 x 44.5 x 30cm
Reasons to buy
+Clear, refined and articulate sound+Big, spacious presentation+Good spread of features
Reasons to avoid
-Fierce competition

Arguably, this is the only stereo amplifier at this price capable of troubling the Rega Brio (at no.6). So needless to say the Audiolab 6000A is a very accomplished performer. 

It's well-equipped on the connections front - four digital inputs, three analogue inputs, and a pair of moving magnet phono inputs. Add Bluetooth and a headphone output to the equation and you've got a list of options the Rega simply can't match. 

So how does it sound? Very good indeed. Though considering it uses technology derived from the top-of-the-range 8300A series, and the same DAC chip as the Award-winning Audiolab M-DAC, its prestige audio quality comes as no surprise. 

The 6000A's open and airy presentation gives music plenty of room to breathe and there's bags of refinement on offer too. It's clean and articulate, with a gorgeous sense of clarity and an absolute tonne of detail to get your teeth into. Take it from us, the 6000A doesn't disappoint.

Read the full review: Audiolab 6000A

Best stereo amplifier: Musical Fidelity M2si Integrated Amplifier

(Image credit: Musical Fidelity)

14. Musical Fidelity M2si Integrated Amplifier

Short on features but still a superb stereo amplifier.

Specifications
Power: 60W (8 Ohms)
Remote control: Yes
Phono stage: None
Digital inputs: None
Bluetooth: No
Headphone output: No
Dimensions (hwd): 10 x 44 x 40cm
Reasons to buy
+Expansive and fluid sound+Impressive dynamics+Refined yet muscular performance
Reasons to avoid
-Line level unit only-No headphone out

Let's start with the negatives. The Musical Fidelity M2si doesn't have the features list of most rivals – there are no digital connections, no phono stage and no wireless connectivity. In fact, it's one of the most stripped-back amplifiers we've ever tested. But that means every penny you spend on it goes straight to making a great-sounding amplifier. 

So what do you get for your money? There's a remote control, six line level inputs, including a tape loop and a home cinema bypass option to help integration into a surround system. It feels better built than many rivals, too, while the simple, clean cut design will appeal to many. 

Sound-wise, its performance is massively refined and pleasantly entertaining, and leaves plenty of scope for upgrades. It's a large-scale sound, packed with authority and substance. It images very well, and dynamic expression is another strong point.

In short, a superb all-rounder. Whatever you throw at it, it never disappoints.

Read the full review: Musical Fidelity M2si

Best stereo amplifier: Dan D’Agostino Progression Integrated

(Image credit: Dan D'Agostino)

15. Dan D’Agostino Progression Integrated

This integrated amplifier certainly lives up to its name

Specifications
Power: 200W (8 Ohms)
Remote control: Yes
Phono stage: Optional
Digital inputs: Yes
Wi-fi streaming: Yes
Headphone output: 6.3mm
Dimensions (hwd): 18 x 43 x 43cm
Reasons to buy
+Staggering clarity and detail+Superb build and finish+Modular nature
Reasons to avoid
-Headphone socket on the rear panel

Dan D’Agostino Master Audio Systems (to use the company's full name) only plays at the top table. Despite its hefty price tag, the Progression Integrated amplifier is the starting point for the brand's range, but that doesn’t make it a diluted facsimile of products further up the chain. It’s more like everything the brand knows in a condensed package.

At its most basic, this is a line-level analogue integrated amplifier, but add the optional digital module for an extra £5600 ($5000, AU$8995) and you get a good range of digital inputs alongside network streaming capabilities, making it a fully fledged just-add-speakers streaming system. Regardless of whether you’re after a straight high-end integrated or something more fully featured, the Progression Integrated is something that must be heard.

Our time with the D’Agostino had us trawling through our music collection, impatient to hear what all those familiar tracks sound like through it. It’s rare to find such a powerful amplifier sounding so transparent and responsive.

Ultimately, it delivers a superb all-round performance. And its modular nature means it offers far greater flexibility than most rivals, too.

Read the full Dan D’Agostino Progression Integrated review

Best stereo amplifiers: Copland CSA 100

(Image credit: Copland)

16. Copland CSA 100

A cultured integrated amp with a plenty of features

Specifications
Power: 100W (8 Ohms)
Remote control: Yes
Phono stage: MM/MC
Digital inputs: Coaxial, optical, USB
Bluetooth: aptX HD
Headphone output: Yes
Dimensions (hwd): 13.5 x 43.5 x 37cm
Reasons to buy
+Transparent and detailed+Agile and precise sound+Good range of features
Reasons to avoid
-No display-Needs care with headphone matching

Copland doesn't introduce new products all that regularly, so the CSA 100 is a welcome addition to its line-up and a welcome addition to our list of the best stereo amplifiers you can buy.

The CSA 100 boasts a clutter-free and elegant design, with digital module, headphone output and a phono stage all to be found inside that well-constructed chassis. At its core is a hybrid electronic design that produces a solid 100W per channel (8ohm).

Connectivity includes a phono (moving magnet/moving coil) plus single-ended (three) and balanced XLR (one) line-level inputs. As for digital, there’s the usual trio of USB, coaxial and two optical sockets. The Copland's ESS Sabre ES9018 Reference DAC is compatible with up to 32-bit/384kHz PCM files and DSD128.

Sonically, the amp produces a nicely layered image with instruments sharply focused – its sonic precision and a sense of fluidity are hugely appealing. It’s an impressively detailed performer that allows you to just sit back and enjoy your music collection.

Read the full review: Copland CSA 100

Best stereo amplifiers: Rega Elex-R

17. Rega Elex-R

At double the price, the Rega Elex-R would still impress.

Specifications
Power: 72W (8 Ohms)
Remote control: Yes
Phono stage: MM
Digital inputs: optical/coaxial
USB: No
Bluetooth: No
Headphone output: Yes
Dimensions (hwd): 10.5 x 44 x 37cm
Reasons to buy
+Agile and articulate performer+Fine rhythmic ability+Good phono stage
Reasons to avoid
-Remote control could be classier

This is another amazing (and multi-Award-winning) stereo amplifier from Rega. 

The Elex-R builds on the strengths of the excellent Brio (see earlier in this article), doubling down in areas such as detail, dynamics and timing. Think of the Brio on steroids, and you're pretty much there.

The build quality is as solid as we would expect from Rega, and while the casework is functional rather than luxurious, it’s finished neatly and everything feels like it will last for years. In fact, our unit has been beavering away in our test room for three years and counting, and we're yet to encounter any issues.

We'd avoid sources and speakers that err too far towards brightness or harshness, but otherwise this amp can't fail to shine. The power output of 72W isn’t enough to make the floor shake in really large rooms, but most set-ups should benefit from this amp's many abilities. A great addition to almost any system.

Read the full review: Rega Elex-R

Best stereo amplifiers: Moon 240i

18. Moon 240i

Meaty, beaty, big and bouncy - as a famous man once sang.

Specifications
Power: 50W (8 Ohms)
Remote control: Yes
Phono stage: MM
Digital inputs: optical/coaxial
USB: Yes
Bluetooth: No
Headphone output: Yes
Dimensions (hwd): 3.5 x 42.9 x 36.6cm
Reasons to buy
+Smooth, subtle and dynamic+Rhythmically cohesive+Agile, precise timing
Reasons to avoid
-Not the most muscular sound

If it's smoothness, subtlety and sophistication that you're after in a stereo amp, then the Moon 240i has you covered. It's Moon's entry-level integrated amp, though that certainly doesn't mean it comes cheap – Moon is one of those high-end audio brands whose cheapest products are still out of the reach of many. But it's a credit to itself that it looks and behaves like something pricier still.

The curvy silver edges and two-tone effect give the amp serious presence, while the OLED screen is crisp and clear. It sounds like a serious piece of kit, too. Bass notes have a level of detail often missed even by pricier amps, but the 240i doesn't feel the need to shout about it. It's an understated, yet terrifically talented, amplifier - one that puts subtlety and dynamism to the fore.

The Moon also boasts an asynchronous DAC, which supports hi-res files up to an impressive 32-bit/384kHz as well as DSD256 files.

Read the full review: Moon 240i

Best stereo amplifiers: Roksan Blak integrated amplifier

19. Roksan Blak integrated amplifier

A true stereo amp all-rounder and a worthy investment.

Specifications
Power: 150W (8 Ohms)
Remote control: Yes
Phono stage: MM
Digital inputs: USB
Bluetooth: Yes
Headphone output: Yes
Dimensions (hwd): 14 x 44 x 30.9cm
Reasons to buy
+Big, powerful and enjoyable sound+Insight and refinement+Solid feature list
Reasons to avoid
-Some eccentricities in use-No coax or optical inputs

Great product, annoying name. But let's overlook the deliberate misspelling and focus on this amp's positive points. It's a fully-featured all-rounder that works superbly with a wide range of systems and across all types of musical genres. 

There's plenty of connectivity, too, with balanced XLRs, single-ended line-level inputs, a moving magnet phono stage for traditionalists and a USB Type B that can cope with all manner of high-res music files. There's even aptX HD Bluetooth on board. That means you can connect it to your computer, smartphone, turntable and headphones, which is certainly a lot more versatile than some amps.

Design-wise, it's a world away from minimalist. But when it comes to audio quality, the Roksan boasts impressive muscularity and enthusiasm, with plenty of scale and a lovely soundstage. It’s a stable presentation, the instruments staying locked in place even as complexity rises. Superbly judged, with a powerful and energetic sound.

Read the full review: Roksan Blak integrated amplifier

Best stereo amplifiers: Luxman L-509X

20. Luxman L-509X

It's got the build. Better, it's got the VU meters. Best, it sounds superb.

Specifications
Power: 120W (8 Ohms)
Remote control: Yes
Phono stage: MM/MC
Digital inputs: optical/coaxial
USB: No
Bluetooth: No
Headphone output: Yes
Dimensions (hwd): 19.3 x 44 x 46.3cm
Reasons to buy
+Detailed, cohesive and powerful+Excellent build and finish+Generous range of features
Reasons to avoid
-Headphone output could be better

This might be an integrated amplifier, but it really is more like a separate pre- and power amplifier in a single box rather than a compromised electrical design. Build quality is excellent. Thanks to its impressive power amp circuitry, this is an amplifier that will have no trouble driving difficult speakers to high volume levels. In other words, it's right up our alley.

It might take a while to fully appreciate its understated presentation. But give it time, and come to appreciate it you will. This is a neutral, balanced delivery, served up with a stunning sense of purity and transparency. And we’re particularly impressed with the way this amplifier can deliver deep bass with such texture, agility and power. Those difficult speakers we mentioned? They'll shake the room when pushed to high volumes.

If you’re looking for a one-stop amplification solution for a high-end stereo system, this Luxman is an excellent place to start.

Read the full review: Luxman L-509X

Best stereo amplifiers: Mark Levinson No.5805

(Image credit: Mark Levinson)

21. Mark Levinson No.5805

A premium stereo amplifier with a mature sound.

Specifications
Power: 250W
Remote control: Yes
Phono stage: Yes
Digital inputs: x2 optical, coaxial, 2x USB
USB: Yes
Bluetooth: Yes
Headphone output: Yes
Dimensions (hwd): 15 x 44 x 51cm
Reasons to buy
+Crisp, refined and articulate sound+Well specified+aptX HD Bluetooth+Pleasing build
Reasons to avoid
-Faces tough competition

Mark Levinson is one of the most prestigious brands in the high-end amplification space. The firm helped establish the era of high-end hi-fi in the 1970s, and is still one of its leading proponents.

So the No.5805 has quite some legacy to live up to. It's the company's entry-level model (not that you'd know it, from the price tag), and is pretty well equipped on both the analogue and digital front: you get three analogue line-level inputs, including a balanced XLR, alongside a quartet of physical digital connections. There’s a choice of USB, coax and a pair of opticals and a nod to wireless modernity in the form of aptX HD Bluetooth.

Its sound doesn’t grab the attention as firmly or as quickly as some rivals in this list, but over time you can't help but fall for its many charms. The amp's presentation is refined, insightful and dynamic, while the feature set is admirably broad and useful. If you’re in the market for a premium integrated amplifier then the No.5805 is definitely one to consider.

Read the full review: Mark Levinson No.5805

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What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.


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  • davidf
    Massive lack of Hegel amps (particularly as one reviewer rated the H390 above two more expensive amps on that list), as well as YBA and Norma Audio which would easily compete with most on that list.
    Reply
  • Dadas
    davidf said:
    Massive lack of Hegel amps (particularly as one reviewer rated the H390 above two more expensive amps on that list), as well as YBA and Norma Audio which would easily compete with most on that list.

    Davidf,

    I wanted to thank you very much for your post. Thanks to it, I did some research on Hegel and now I am a very happy owner of Hegel H390 to match with my B&W 804 D3s. That is a match made in heaven and it would not have happened hadn't I read your post. :)

    Having done all my research and demo sessions, I am indeed surprised this amp is not on What HiFi list.

    Adam
    Reply
  • davidf
    Dadas said:
    Davidf,

    I wanted to thank you very much for your post. Thanks to it, I did some research on Hegel and now I am a very happy owner of Hegel H390 to match with my B&W 804 D3s. That is a match made in heaven and it would not have happened if I didn't read your post. :)

    Having done all my research and demo sessions, I am indeed surprised this amp is not on What HiFi list.

    Adam
    No problem Adam. One of my regulars is about to add one to his LS50s.

    I don’t know if Hegel have been supplying to WHF for reviews, but they certainly should be on everyone’s shortlist, even if the onboard DAC isn’t going to get any use! The new H120 (replaced the Rost) is a corker for the money.
    Reply
  • Dadas
    The DACs in both H590 and H390 get a lot of praise in reviews. I tried it with Qobuz and Tidal. It is a bit of a hassle to get it connected to get the full resolution, one needs to use USB connection, but once you do, it works really well. I also have a Chromecast Audio and this supports MQA and FLAC up to 96kHz, which is fine for some convenient music consumption when I do not want to get my laptop connected.
    Not only this Hegel sounds good, it is also compact and elegant. I really recommend it.
    Reply
  • Kestutis
    To correct a mistake (I was very disappointed to find out it is a mistake): the NAD D3020 V2 should not be described as "USB: Yes", as it is not an USB input, just a service port to update the firmware. I would go for it in a heartbeat should it have an USB input, and the NAD D 3045 is not as recommended. Sad.

    Reply
  • bobdupuy
    What Hi-Fi? said:
    If you want great sound from a separates hi-fi system, you need to choose a top quality stereo amplifier.

    Best stereo amplifiers 2019: budget and premium : Read moreI was also surprised that the IOTAVX SA3 amp was not mentioned. It has received rave reviews in the US and Canada and it is made in ENGLAND.
    Reply
  • OldHand
    The Norma Audio 70 amp has had some fantastic reviews recently
    Reply
  • -pekr-
    What Hi-Fi? said:
    If you want great sound from a separates hi-fi system, you need to choose a top quality stereo amplifier.

    Best stereo amplifiers 2019: budget and premium : Read more

    Denon fan here :-) On one of the local top audio sites in CZ, Denon pma-800ne won its category. I would say, that something like Denon pma-600be ticks many boxes - gets great reviews, has digital inputs, phono stage, sub-out, bluetooth streaming support ...

    Cheers,
    /Petr
    Reply
  • Riri
    What Hi-Fi? Am really surprised you don’t mention the Rega Aethos here, given you give it best in group test against the Roksan and Naim Supernait3... ? Also isn’t included in your best buys?.....
    Reply
  • Peter227
    Well, I'm really dissapointed not to see Yamaha here. As801, As1200 or As2100 are just some examples of high quality amplifiers.
    Reply