Best stereo amplifiers 2022: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best stereo amplifiers you can buy in 2022.
A great stereo amplifier is the engine of any great hi-fi system. All you need to do is find the right one for your particular set-up, and we hope this carefully curated list of the best performers we have tested can help. Whether you're building a home stereo from scratch or upgrading an existing amplifier, you'll find our tried-and-tested pick of the best stereo amps available in the States below.
There are many different types of amplifiers to choose from, and they all have their advantages and disadvantages. To make life simple, all the models on this page are integrated stereo amps, meaning they feature both components – a power amp to drive the speakers and a preamp to control the volume and your sources – in one box.
Convenience is, of course, great, but it's sound quality that sets the best stereo amplifiers apart from the crowd. Each of the integrated amps on this page has been thoroughly tested by our dedicated team of in-house experts, so you can expect spellbinding sonics whatever your decision.
How to choose the best stereo amplifier for you
Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.
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 music streaming services becoming ever-more popular music sources, the integrated amplifier has indeed moved with the times. Many amps boast digital and/or wireless connections alongside traditional analogue inputs and outputs. Whether it's Bluetooth or optical or USB inputs, these features will make it easy to stream high-quality music from your mobile devices or computer to your hi-fi. The vinyl revival has seen many integrate phono stages for turntables again, too. Some even feature network streaming, making them a fully-fledged, just-add-speakers system (and for the best of those, you'll want to head on over to our best hi-fi systems Best Buy). So what you require will depend on your needs and the connectivity of any existing equipment you have.
You should also consider your amp's partnership with your speakers. The speaker/amp relationship not only comes down to an amp’s power output but also the speaker's impedance characteristics and sensitivity. So if you need clarification on system matching, you should head over to our thorough how to choose and set up a stereo amp advice page.
- The best stereo speakers to go with your new amp
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
This What Fi-Fi Award-winner is our MVP, and one of the best stereo amps you can buy for around $1000. Its elegant Lunar Grey chassis may bear a passing resemblance to its predecessor, the CXA80, but like a thanksgiving turkey, the CX81 is stuffed with fresh internals.
The signal path has been improved, there's a superior DAC and the USB port now supports hi-res audio up to 32-bit/384kHz and DSD256 quality. You even get an aptX HD Bluetooth receiver that delivers better-than-CD-quality wireless playback.
The result of these upgrades? Sound that is rich, confident, full-bodied and bursting with detail. Whether it's a hammering out a frenetic mid-range melody or a staccato bass line, the CX81 has the agility and energy to handle whatever comes its way.
Clarity is stunning given the (very reasonable) sticker price. Those sweet sonics, plus the high feature-count, mean the CX81 sets a new benchmark at this price.
Put simply, this is one awesome amp.
Read the full review: Cambridge Audio CXA81
The CX61 has big boots to fill. It's predecessor, the CX60, scored five-stars in our tests and picked up a coveted What Hi-Fi Product of the Year Award. Thankfully, the CX61 builds on that heritage with a classy design, impressive connections, high-resolution audio support and study remote.
The lower-specced sibling of the CX81 (above), the CX61 makes do with a touch less power (60W vs 80W). But at under $1000, it delivers exceptional sound-per-pound.
Audio is fluid, entertaining and energetic but that's not to say this integrated amp is constantly in party mode. It's serious about detail, dynamics and rhythmic precision, and knows just when to tone down the enthusiasm.
It does lack a USB port – you'll need to splash out on CX81 if that's a deal-breaker – but the CX61 is a fine bit of kit that pairs well with almost any musical genre.
Read the full review: Cambridge Audio CXA61
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.
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 at this level.
Read the full review: Rega io
British outfit Rega has been designing high-end audio components since the early 1970s. The company launched the original Brio amp in back in 1991 but this sixth-generation model continues to pay homage to its illustrious forebears.
Those retro looks may divide opinion but few would dispute that the Rega Brio takes sound to new heights at this price point. Again, like most Rega amplifiers, this is an analogue-only amp, so there's no built-in DAC. But it sounds terrific. From the incredible sense of scale to the punchy dynamics, this is certainly Rega's best-ever Brio.
Build-quality is typically solid and the hefty 5kg aluminium case has a reassuring, tank-like quality to it. In terms of features, Rega hasn't added much since 1991. You do get a phono stage but forget about Bluetooth streaming or digital inputs.
If you can overlook the lack of wireless connections, the back-to-basics Brio delivers stellar sound-per-pound and is worth every penny.
Read the full review: Rega Brio
So if you're looking for the best stereo amplifier at the cheapest price, this Cambridge model's a great option.
At around $400, it's big on value, big on sound and built to last. The sleek, 8cm-high case is equipped with a built-in moving magnet photo stage (worth using if you have a budget turntable), a 6.35mm headphone output and 3.5mm auxiliary input. The lack of Bluetooth and USB port is entirely forgivable give the bargain sticker price.
As for sound, the AXA35 puts on a killer performance for the money. It throws plenty of power and weight behind every track, providing a spacious and spirited sound without any harshness. If you're happy to live with the relatively simple specs, this great budget amp serves up superb sonics.
Read the full review: Cambridge AXA35
The new Elicit MK5 under test is one step down from the award-winning Rega Aethos and marks a surprising change of direction for the company’s amplifier designs.
Rega products tend to be pretty purist affairs that prioritise performance and solid engineering above all else. They rarely excel on the features front, but that seems to have changed with the Elicit MK5, since it now includes digital optical and coaxial (though sadly not USB) inputs alongside the usual analogue connections you'll find on other Rega amps.
Just over 30 years on from the original, the Elicit integrated remains an excellent choice for those that prioritise sonic performance - one that's taut, punchy, clear and simply one of the most musical at this level. Recommended? You bet.
Read the full Rega Elicit MK5 review
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
You might be struck by this budget amp's quirky design, but things get a whole lot more interesting under the hood. The D 3020 V2 is packed with high-tech features including, Class D amplification, Bluetooth for music streaming and a moving magnet phono stage for connecting a turntable.
Assuming you appreciate the curvature of its neat, upright case, this accomplished NAD amp is easy to love. It combines an impeccable sense of timing with superb dynamics to great effect, making it an enjoyable and engaging listen. Presentation is tonally-even but there's the option of a tasteful 'bass boost' via a button on the remote control.
Detail levels are superb for the money, although the Marantz PM6007 at the top of this list offers more insight for not much more money. Still, if you want a fully-featured digital amp at a great price, the NAD 3020 V2 is a fantastic shout. Be sure to add it to your shortlist.
Read the full review: NAD D 3020 V2
If you're not sold on the Rega Brio's retro looks, or simply want accomplished alternative for the same money, take a look at the five-star Audiolab 6000A. A competitive mid-range amp, the 6000A shares a DAC chip with the Award-winning Audiolab M-DAC, giving it instant appeal.
The solid, high-quality case and volume dial are well-crafted, while connections are plentiful. You get four digital inputs, three analogue inputs, and a pair of moving magnet phono inputs. And unlike the Rega Brio, this amp also has Bluetooth for music streaming.
Sound is wonderfully-crisp, with ample detail and plenty of clarity. Vocals are cut with emotion and subtlety. We find that the best amplifiers breathe new life into well-worn tracks, and this model does just that.
While the Rega Brio offers more texture, the nimble Audiolab 6000A offers a more spacious and refined sound that's hard to beat at this price. A fantastic amp for this money.
Read the full review: Audiolab 6000A
Here's a great option for those who demand the taste of champagne on a beer budget. It's priced at around $1700, but the Award-winning Rega Elex-R performs more like one that's double the price.
It produces the kind of sound that transports from your lounge to a live recording session. Timing is impressive and it fills the room with an addictive sense of energy that seems to soak into the walls. In terms of authenticity and scale, few amps can beat the Elex-R – especially at such an appealing price.
As you may have guessed from the typically-solid case, this is very much a traditional amp. It not luxurious but it is well-engineered and reliable – our test unit has been running for over three years without any issues.
There are no digital inputs, no Bluetooth and no headphone output. But if you're all about the music, you'll almost certainly be wowed by the Elex-R's sonics.
Read the full review: Rega Elex-R
Just like a Cadillac, the Moon 240i offers power and performance in a classy, understated case. Sound is smooth and defined, layered with texture and refreshingly clear. The 240i partners well with almost any speakers but to show off its true capabilities, you'll want to hook it up to some serious kit.
The superb sonics are matched by impressive specs. You get an asynchronous DAC supporting playback of hi-res files up to 32-bit/384kHz, a USB input and four digital inputs. So, whether you want connect a CD player, laptop, TV or media streamer, the 240i will oblige.
If all that hasn't won you over, take a closer look at the Moon 240i's classy metal casing and crisp OLED display. Although this amp isn't cheap, its build quality is reminiscent of the kind of hi-fi components that cost a lot more than $2500.
If you're working with a healthy budget and want a versatile digital amp, take a trip to the Moon.
Read the full review: Moon 240i
This stripped-back amp is pitched at the hifi purist. With no digital connections, no wireless connectivity, no headphone socket and no phono stage, the M2si is all about going back to basics and focusing on what really matters – sound.
In the M2si, Musical Fidelity has created an brilliant performer capable of delivering large-scale sound without breaking a sweat. Complex rhythms are handled effortlessly; individual instruments are rendered precisely and tonal balance is such that this amplifier is a lot less fussy about partnering with equipment than many of its rivals.
Of course, cheaper alternatives such as the Audiolab 6000A give you far more features for the money. But if a remote control, six line level inputs and a smattering of solid metal controls are really all you need from a stereo amplifier, this simple, clean-cut affair is great bang for your buck. And at around $1500, it's a worthy alternative to the Rega Elex-R (above).
Read the full review: Musical Fidelity M2si
There’s no two ways about it, Musical Fidelity’s M8xi is something of a monster. The integrated amplifier dwarfs most rivals when it comes to size and weighs in at a vertebrae-crushing 46kg. Perhaps the most impressive number is that it has a huge claimed power output of 550 watts per channel in 8 ohms, which then rises to a dizzying 870 watts as the speaker impedance halves.
The M8xi is a poke in the eye for anyone that considers an integrated amp a compromised alternative to a pre/power combination. Inside the Musical Fidelity’s huge frame – 16 x 44 x 40cm (hwd), in case you were wondering – is very much a modular design with DAC, preamp and two monobloc power amplifiers separated as much as possible with the casework.
The M8xi has power to burn and that shines through in its muscular and authoritative nature. You can throw pretty much anything at this amplifier and it’ll never seem out of its depth, yet beneath all that muscle is a product that has enough emotional stretch to satisfy across a wide range of musical genres. The Musical Fidelity M8xi definitely belongs on the shortlist.
Read the full Musical Fidelity M8xi review
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
The D 3045 looks a whole lot like its cheaper sibling, the D 3020 V2 (above), and is jam-packed with features. You get Bluetooth aptX for 24-bit hi-res music streaming, two optical connections, a hi-res DAC and an asynchronous USB input for optimised USB audio playback.
But then, you get all that if you buy the cheaper variant – so why pay more for the D 3045? Well, the main reason is that the 3045 provides more power than the D 3020 V2 (80W vs 60W). It also sports a more luxurious design and comes in a case that features some extra premium touches.
The added power makes for a beefier presentation but that's not to say this amp punches like Tyson. It serves up a smooth, balanced performance that is controlled and detailed across the frequency range. On the downside, it lacks the same level of enthusiasm as it's lower-priced sibling.
This amp's technological firepower makes it a great buy for the money. But if you don't care for the additional 20W of power, the D 3020 V2 might be the better choice.
Read the full review: NAD D 3045
What we have here is a rather straight-laced, all-analogue integrated that’s been designed with considerable care. It has a sensible features list and, most importantly, a performance that justifies its hefty price tag.
The A-S3200 is a beautifully built product, as expected at this level – an impressively solid beast thanks to its chunky casework and back-straining 25kg weight. Alongside line level and XLR sockets, there's a switchable moving magnet/moving coil phono stage (though it’s a shame there’s no electrical loading adjustability to optimise the results for any specific cartridge).
This is a surprisingly clean and clear performer that renders the leading edges of notes with crispness without ever veering towards sounding hard or edgy. That’s a difficult balancing act that quite a few alternatives fall foul of. Tonally, it stands on the lean side of neutral, particularly through the midrange, affecting the A-S3200’s ability to convey solidity and punch through these frequencies and giving it a more analytical presentation than most.
There are certainly more robust sounding alternatives, but make no mistake, the A-S3200 is a classy performer.
Read the full Yamaha A-S3200 review
How we test stereo amplifiers
We have state-of-the-art testing facilities in London, Reading and Bath, where our team of experienced, in-house reviewers test every bit of hi-fi and AV kit that passes through our door.
What Hi-Fi? is all about comparative testing, so we listen to every stereo amplifier we test against the current leader in its class to gauge how it compares to the competition. We keep What Hi-Fi? Award-winning products in our stockrooms so we can always pit new products against ones we know and love. We do our best to review as many new models in as many markets as possible, ensuring our contextual knowledge is the best it can be. And we encounter even more during our What Hi-Fi? Awards judging, where we listen to every amplifier manufacturers submit.
We are always impartial in our testing and ensure we hear every product – including stereo amps – at their optimum. So we'll use different partnering products – those in our high-end reference system as well as more price-comparable ones – as well as try plenty of different types of music. Naturally, we give them plenty of listening time (and time to run in) too.
All review verdicts are agreed upon by the team as a whole rather than an individual reviewer to eliminate any personal preference and to make sure we're being as thorough as possible. There's no input from PR companies or our sales team when it comes to the verdict, with What Hi-Fi? proud of having delivered honest, unbiased reviews for decades.
You can read more about how we test and review products on What Hi-Fi? here.