The stereo amp is the engine of any hi-fi system, driving music from your source to your speakers. They can offer various connections and different features, but ultimately most important for us here at What Hi-Fi? is outright sound quality.
The amps below were the winners of the Product of the Year title in the hi-fi amplifiers category that year. Not necessarily the best product you could buy bar none at the time, in fact almost certainly not, rather these represent the best performance-per-pound amplifiers to pass through our test rooms that year.
And there's some classic kit on the list - and indeed some classic hi-fi brands. If you can find any of the products listed on sale, which you should be able to do with the more recent models, then you might be able to pick up a bargain.
Do the amps below jog your memory? Did you own one of the models featured? Or is it still part of your system? Let us know in the comments below.
NAD C370 Tested at £449
The NAD C370 was our favourite amp for two years running, despite being "no looker" - it's not alone in that department. Fending off competition from the likes of Marantz, Rega, Cyrus and Arcam. It impressed us in all areas, from sheer power to its ability to be controlled and delicate when needed.
NAD C320BEE Tested at £220
NAD made it three wins in a row with the C320BEE. This £220 budget amp was a descendant of the NAD 3020 from 1978 and a clear example of how to produce a perfect performance-to-pound product. We said the C320BEE was a “genuinely stunning amplifier for the money”.
See all our NAD reviews
Cyrus 8 Tested at £800
2003 saw a Product of the Year win for Cyrus, no stranger to picking up What Hi-Fi? Awards. The 8’s stereo imaging was typically Cyrus: expansive and precise. Quite simply, the Cyrus 8 didn’t put a sonic foot wrong and was a well deserved winner. Despite being one of the more expensive winners we said it was "a competitive price" and all told, the amp was "a star".
See all our Cyrus reviews
NAD C352T Tested at £350
NAD made a triumphant return to the top spot at the 2004 Awards with the C352T. It proved once again that NAD could make fantastic sounding amplifiers for an impressively cheap price. Treble and bass were impressive in their own right, but it was the clear midrange and smooth integration of all elements that ultimately won us over. Just don't mention that "flimsy" casework...
More after the break
Rotel RA-03 Tested at £500
Rotel had won a few Best Buy Awards over the years, but in 2005 it got the top prize with the RA-03. This spectacular all-rounder was refreshing in its ability to be fuss-free with system matching. The built-in MM phono stage for adding a turntable was also pretty decent in to the bargain.
See all our Rotel reviews
Roksan Kandy L.III Tested at £650
Roksan already had three Best Buy Awards under its belt for the Kandy amp, but the revised version brought home the Product of the Year title. Virtually every component had been upgraded and the result was a spectacular sounding amplifier, capable of handling any kind of music thrown at it. As for the name, the 'L' makes sense when you remove the lid and see the L-shape to the amp's insides.
Roksan Kandy K2 Tested at £750
We called the Kandy K2 the best Kandy amplifier to date. It was a brilliant all-rounder that bettered its L.III predecessor in every aspect. The presentation was full-bodied, detailed and well organised, and we had no trouble in recommending it to, well, pretty much everyone. And, hold on to your hats, we heralded this amp as "immensely well made" and even gave props to the classy, programmable remote control.
See all our Roksan reviews
Cyrus 6XP Tested at £900
The 6XP was an incredibly versatile amplifier as it could be upgraded and customised in a number of ways. Still, as a standalone unit it was something of a belter. It delivered a sound with incredible scale and dynamism, with low frequencies that had more depth than Cyrus had previously been known for. We loved it so much we awarded it a Product of the Year gong in 2010, too.
MORE: Cyrus 6XP review
Marantz PM6004 Tested at £310
Marantz was no stranger to winning Awards for budget amplifiers, but the PM6004 really was something special. It was the result of a complete internal revamp which saw integrated circuits switched out for separate pre- and power-amp sections with discreet components. The result was a well-balanced sound that perfectly mixed refinement, insight and attack. Its successor, the PM6005, would go on to win the best buy Award for budget amplifier in 2013 and 2014.
MORE: Marantz PM6004 review
Rotel RA-10 Tested at £350
The RA-10 was a surprise winner to some, as the Rotel name hadn’t been associated with class-leading amps for some time. Nonetheless, the RA-10 was a well-deserved winner, delivering an entertaining and engaging sound that kept us listening for hours. And beat the pre-tournament favourite, the Marantz PM6004.
MORE: Rotel RA-10 review
Arcam's Full Metal Jacket range delivered the Product of the Year winner for 2013 and 2014, marking a return to two-channel amp supremacy for the brand, which has at times dominated this category. It's all about stability and composure here, the Arcam A19 delivering a quietly composed but brilliantly transparent sound that should suit pretty much any system.
MORE: Arcam A19 review
But what will take top spot in 2015? You don't have to wait long to find out. The What Hi-Fi? Awards winners for 2015 will be revealed on Monday 26th October, complete with a shiny new stereo amplifier Product of the Year...