What we like: Capable power stage, Switchable speaker outs, Spacious soundstage
Not so much:No screen, No Bluetooth.
Watts RMS per Channel @8ohms: 85w Digital Music Features: Bluetooth -No, WiFi – No Inputs: 5x Line level RCA, 1x MM Phono Stage RCA, 1x Optical, 1x Coaxial Outputs: 2x L/R Speaker terminal sets 1x RCA Record out, 1x SUB out, 1x ¼” Headphone out
The Yamaha A-S501 is our pick of the lower end integrated stereo amplifiers for a number of reasons including its built-in DAC, fantastic sound, and great design.
This amplifier has a robust build with precise controls that are almost unparalleled at this price point (currently under $600). It is also feature-rich with many line-level inputs accompanied by one each of coaxial and optical inputs. Having two speaker outputs and 1 subwoofer out make this amplifier perfect for a 5.1 home theatre setup.
The tone from this amplifier is fairly balanced with a bouncy and robust presentation and has a more meaty sound than older Yamaha amplifiers. There is a far-reaching soundstage when listening to music that accounts for musical distance but can sound a little muddled when the music gets a little more complicated.
However, the dynamics remain punchy and exciting when compared to other budget amplifiers.
What we like:Open and precise sound, Punchy, Solid build
Not so much: No screen
Watts RMS per Channel @8ohms: 60w Watts RMS per Channel (4-ohms): 90w Digital Music Features: Bluetooth -Yes, WiFi – No Inputs: 4x Line level RCA, 1x Phono RCA, 2x Optical, 1x Coaxial 1x Balanced XLR, 1x USB B, 1x 3.5mm AUX Outputs: 2x L/R speaker terminal sets, 1x SUB out, 1x 3.5mm Headphone jack
The Cambridge Audio CXA61 has a smaller power stage than the CX81 which is also in our top picks but comes with some upgrades to compensate for its heftier price tag.
One such upgrade is Bluetooth compatibility. Having Bluetooth allows for in-home streaming. The CXA61 also has an upgraded DAC which is DSD 256 compatible and can play PCM files at 32bit/384kHz.
These features make it much more capable of being a diverse unit than the older CX80 although you must be aware of the smaller power output when considering your purchase.
What we like: Expressive sound, Balanced, Decent connection variety
Not so much: Missing tone control knob for mids, Weak power stage
Watts RMS per Channel @8ohms: 40w Digital Music Features: Bluetooth -No, WiFi – No Inputs: 4x Line level RCA, 1 Phono RCA, 2x Optical, 1x Coaxial Outputs: 2x L/R Speaker terminal sets, 1x RCA record through, 1 x ¼” Headphone Jack
The PM6006 may look a little busy at the front but that also means that you have control over parameters such as bass and treble on the unit as well as the option to use its well equipped remote control.
It is available in silver or black in an aluminum chassis to suit the rest of your Hi-Fi setup. This amp comes with an onboard DAC and an input for a turntable so it can be used for digital and vinyl applications
You can expect a warm tone and wide soundstage from the Pm6006 but it is only driven by a 40w power stage so you may need to keep that in mind if you are looking to fill out a large space.
What we like:Clean and dynamic sound, Feature-rich, MQA and DSD capable
Not so much: Lacks a little agility
Watts RMS per Channel @8ohms: 80w Digital Music Features: Bluetooth -Yes, WiFi – No Inputs: 1x Line level RCA, 1x MM Phono RCA, 2x Optical, 1x Coaxial 1x USB B, 1x HDMI, 3.5mm AUX, Bluetooth Outputs: 1x L/R Speaker terminal set, 1x Pre-out RCA, Bluetooth
Other amplifiers in our top picks may have more inputs but the NAD NAD D3045D3045 definitely has one of the most diverse input ranges from RCA to HDMI.
Having such a broad range of inputs makes it an ideal unit to use for home theatre as you can easily have your computer plugged in as well as your TV and turntable. It is also well suited to being used as a desktop integrated amplifier given its small size which can be placed horizontally or vertically.
This amplifier has compatibility for hi-res music in both MQA and DSD formats which makes it amazing for streaming through Bluetooth or any of its digital inputs with streaming services that use these formats.
What we like:Looks great, Dedicated headphone amp, Flexible connectivity
Not so much: 35w Power stage, No Phono input
Watts RMS per Channel @8ohms: 35w Digital Music Features: Bluetooth -No, WiFi – No Inputs: 2x Line Level RCA, 1x Coaxial, 2x Optical, 1x USB B DAC, 1x USB A Outputs: 1x L/R Speaker terminal set, 1x SUB out, 1x ¼” Headphone out
The HD-AMP1 is worth consideration for a small room as it looks amazing and has great connections as well as a quality onboard DAC with DSD capabilities but is only powered by 35w at 8ohms.
The DAC is compatible with 384kHz/32bit which is better than most other built-in DACs are capable of at this price point. However, there is no phono input so it is not well suited for use with vinyl records.
Marantz is known for attempting to create a transparent sound signature from their amplifiers and the HD-AMP1 ticks this box with ease. You can hear great detail in the music played by this under $1000 amp from its fine top end and precise mid-range.
What we like: Beefy power stage, Refined balance, Onboard DAC
Not so much: Not much improvement on the A-S501BL for the price
Watts RMS per Channel @8ohms: 100w Digital Music Features: Bluetooth – No, WiFi – No Inputs: 5x Line level RCA, 1x MM Phono Stage RCA, 1x Optical, 1x Coaxial Outputs: 2x L/R Speaker terminal sets 1x RCA Record out, 1x SUB out, 1x ¼” Headphone out
This amplifier may look, feel and sound similar to the Yamaha A-S501BL which is also in our top list of integrated amps under $1000 but packs a whopping 100w power stage to drive your speakers.
This amp also includes all the great features of the smaller A-S501BL such as a phono stage input and robust build. The soundstage remains wide and deep with a particular affliction towards glistening high end and punchy dynamics.
The larger power stage on the A-S701BL also helps to beef up the bottom end a bit. This amp is great and even slightly better than its little brother but the difference in price may not be worth the small improvements. That being said, if you have the extra to spend it is well worth your consideration.
What we like: Rich midrange, Many features, Potent presentation
Not so much: Sloppy timing, Unrefined bass response
Watts RMS per Channel @8ohms: 50w Digital Music Features: Bluetooth – No, WiFi – No Inputs: 3x Line level RCA, 1x MM Phono stage RCA, 1x 3.5mm AUX Outputs: 1x L/R Speaker terminal set, 1x Preamp out, 1x RS232, 1x RJ45 network port 1x 3.5mm Headphone
The Arcam SA10 is an option to consider if you are after a network capable integrated amplifier on a budget. It does not come with WiFi or Bluetooth compatibility but comes equipped with an RJ45 network port as well as an RS232 connected home port to allow networking around your home.
There is an inbuilt DAC accessed through the optical and coaxial inputs of this device that runs at 32bit. The sound from this amplifier has an especially rich and detailed midrange but can become a little sloppy at the low ends of the frequency spectrum. There is still an admirable scale and full-bodied presentation from this amplifier.
What we like: USB DAC, Big sound, Sturdy construction
Not so much: No preamp out
Watts RMS per Channel @8ohms: 100w Digital Music Features: Bluetooth – Yes, WiFi – No Inputs: 5x Line level RCA, 1x MM Phono Stage RCA, 1x Optical, 1x Coaxial Outputs: 2x L/R Speaker terminal sets 1x RCA Record out, 1x SUB out, 1x ¼” Headphone out
The A-S801 is identical to the A-S701 in many ways including its power and outputs. So you can expect the same quality amplification and broad soundscape coupled with well-defined dynamics.
What is different in the A-S801 is an upgrade of the DAC. The DAC in the A-S801 has a USB input for easy connection to your devices. This DAC is also DSD compatible in both 5.6 and 2.8mHz making it better for certain streaming services.
In terms of PCM digital playback, this under $1000 integrated amp is capable of 384kHz/32bit which is higher than you are likely to need in most cases. When comparing the line of budget Yamaha integrated amplifiers you need to consider if the upgrade is worth the extra cost to you.
What we like: Fine detail, Precise sound, Sleek look
Not so much: Analog only
Watts RMS per Channel @8ohms: 50w Digital Music Features: Bluetooth -No, WiFi – No Inputs: 4x Line level RCA, 1x MM Phono RCA Outputs: 1x RCA record out, 1x ¼” Headphone Jack
One of the reasons we love the Rega Brio under $1000 integrated amplifier is its simplicity as although it is lacking in some of the digital features of its competitors it delivers on its analog inputs and outputs.
This amplifier is perfect for your turntable needs and sounds absolutely amazing with its fine and precise sound, open soundstage, and dynamic punch.
You will need to plug your computer in through RCA cables or use a standalone DAC for your digital music needs but we think the sound from this amplifier is worth having to do that. The Rega Brio also looks great with its 90’s throwback looks and solid construction.
What we like:Exceptional clarity, Energetic sound, Weighty presentation
Not so much: Bricky dynamics, No phono input
Watts RMS per Channel @8ohms: 80w Digital Music Features: Bluetooth – Yes, WiFi – No Inputs: 4x Line level RCA, 2x Optical, 1x Coaxial 1x Balanced XLR, 1x USB B, 1x 3.5mm AUX Outputs: 2x L/R speaker terminal sets, 1x SUB out, 1x 3.5mm Headphone jack
The CX series from Cambridge Audio is a celebrated line of integrated stereo amps and the CXA81 includes more connections and a more capable power stage than the smaller CXA61. This under $1000 integrated amplifier is lacking a phono stage input but comes with a high-quality integrated DAC making it more suitable for listening to digital sources than for traditional turntable listening.
The sound from this amp is tangible and accurate with a solid and weighty presentation. This clean and precise tone makes for easy listening but the dynamic shifts can feel bricky when listening to high volumes which causes a little bit of the atmosphere to be lost.
What we like: Big penetrating sound, Amazing clarity, Feature-rich
Not so much: “Plasticky” buttons
Watts RMS per Channel @8ohms: 60w Digital Music Features: Bluetooth – Yes, WiFi – Yes Inputs: 3x Line level RCA, 1x Phono Stage RCA, 2x Optical, 1x Coaxial, 1x USB Outputs: 1x L/R Speaker terminal set, 1x SUB out, 1x ¼” Headphone Jack
Take the best bits of the Marantz 6006 and upgrade the DAC, add wireless networking capabilities, increase the power output, and Bluetooth compatibility and you will get the Marantz PM7000N.
The DAC in this integrated amp is compatible with DSD 5.8 for hi-res streaming and has a phono capable RCA input so you can have the best of both worlds.
This is the perfect amplifier if you have any other Marantz or Denon network compatible devices as it uses the same HEOS connectivity suite which can be used with your android or apple device to be part of a connected household. The sound from this amplifier also offers a little extra excitement from the dynamics than other offerings from Marantz.
What we like:Built-in DAC, Direct through mode, Easy pairing
Not so much: Binding posts feel a little cheap
Watts RMS per Channel @8ohms: 50w Digital Music Features: Bluetooth -No, WiFi – No Inputs: 3x Line level RCA, 1x MM&MC Phono RCA, 1x Line level record through, 3x Optical, 1x Coaxial, 1x IR Control Outputs: 1x 6.3mm Headphone,1x Record Out, 2x L/R Speaker terminal sets, 1x IR Control
The DAC makes this amplifier compatible with hi-res music up to 192kHz/24bit which is a great inclusion for such a low-cost integrated amplifier. The sound from this amplifier is warm with a wide soundstage and well equipped to handle glistening highs to a thundering low end.
The PMA-800NE is the smallest of the PMA series by Denon and shares the solid build quality of the larger units in the range as well as including features such as a direct through mode to bypass the DAC when listening to analog sources. You can find our full review of Denon PMA-800NE here.
What do I get in this price range (under $1000) ?
This is a tricky price range to really get a feel for as there are stark differences between an amplifier that costs closer to $500 and those that are closer to $1000. Those that are closer to $500 will have a higher output than the sub $500 range but will not include some of the features of their more expensive counterparts.
You can find a range of different qualities but rarely all withing the lower end of the price bracket such as phono inputs, onboard DACs extra speaker outputs, and Bluetooth compatibility. Spending closer to $1000 may get you more of these features in one package and also have more chance of having wireless network capabilities.
The DACs inside digitally capable integrated amplifiers are also likely to increase in capabilities such as higher streaming of PCM format and compatibility with the hi-res streaming formats of DSD and MCQ. Having these streaming capabilities could be important if you are registered with a service that uses them or to get the best signal from several different services.
Last update on 2021-02-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
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