What Hi-Fi? Awards 2021: Rega and Cambridge Audio reinforce their supremacy in stereo amp category

Rega Aethos
(Image credit: Rega)

If you're looking for a new stereo amplifier, then boy do we have the line-up for you! We have recently announced the winners of the What Hi-Fi? Awards 2021, and it is British outfits Rega and Cambridge Audio who once again prevail in this year's stereo amplifier category. 

Rega sandwiches the category with the shoebox-shaped io (£379, $595, AU$849) at one end and the premium Aethos (£2999, $4000, AU$$5999) at the other. While there's the expected gulf in performance between the two, both amplifiers display the lively, rhythmically secure sonic character we've come to love in the company's products.

Cambridge Audio CXA81

The Cambridge Audio CXA81 wins the 'Best stereo amplifier £600-£800' (Image credit: Cambridge Audio)

Between those brilliant Rega bookends, Cambridge Audio keeps a firm grip on the middle of the market with the double whammy of its CXA61 (£749, $999, AU$1899) and step-up CXA81 (£999, $1299, AU$2495) – which hail from the CX series Cambridge launched in 2019. Both these repeat winners are supremely talented amps, delivering a combination of detail resolution, precision and punch that price rivals just can't match. Spending extra for the CXA81 gets you greater dynamic punch and sonic authority. Both integrateds are superbly made and sensibly specified, too.

Marantz PM6007

The Marantz PM6007 wins the 'Best stereo amplifier £400-£600' (Image credit: Marantz)

Our list of Award winners is completed by the excellent entry-level Marantz PM6007 (£479, $599, AU$1290) and Naim's evergreen Nait XS3 (£2199, $2999, AU$5250). The Marantz is well-equipped in the connectivity department and a brilliant sonic all-rounder that works really well across a wide range of systems. The Nait XS3, meanwhile, is an undiluted thrill machine that's a joy to listen to.

The keenest-eyed among you may notice that these top dogs were also victorious in last year's What Hi-Fi? Awards. And while we always like a shake-up in an awards category, this stronghold only goes to show how exceptional these amps truly are. Arguably all are worthy of the category's 'Product of the Year' trophy, but only one of the six will take one home from the What Hi-Fi? Awards ceremony on Wednesday 3rd November, when we will also announce a handful of special awards. Tune in that evening to find out which takes the glory.


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Ketan Bharadia
Technical Editor

Ketan Bharadia is the Technical Editor of What Hi-Fi? He's been been reviewing hi-fi, TV and home cinema equipment for over two decades, and over that time has covered thousands of products. Ketan works across the What Hi-Fi? brand including the website and magazine. His background is based in electronic and mechanical engineering.