Best Integrated Amplifier for Home Stereo System [ 2020 Updated List ]

Best Integrated Amplifier for Home Stereo System Review

Our team recently undertook a study into integrated amplifiers for home stereo system. They analyzed the features and functions of the amps and made a list of the top devices. Here they are. Do give it a read. It might help answer some of the questions you have regarding integrated amps.

Top 3 products are compared in below table. For more product details read the review section below.

Preview
Best Integrated Amp For Home Stereo
Yamaha A-S301BL Natural Sound Integrated Stereo Amplifier (Black)
1st Runner Up
Grace Digital GDI-BTAR512N 100W Integrated Stereo Amplifier with Bluetooth Wireless Receiver (Black)
2nd Runner Up
Home Audio Power Amplifier System - 2X75W Mini Dual Channel Sound Stereo Receiver Box w/ LED - For Amplified Speakers, CD Player, Theater via 3.5mm RCA - For Studio, Home Use - Pyle PCA3
Title
Yamaha A-S301BL Natural Sound Integrated Stereo Amplifier (Black)
Grace Digital GDI-BTAR512N 100W Integrated Stereo Amplifier with Bluetooth Wireless Receiver (Black)
Home Audio Power Amplifier System - 2X75W Mini Dual Channel Sound Stereo Receiver Box w/ LED - For Amplified Speakers, CD Player, Theater via 3.5mm RCA - For Studio, Home Use - Pyle PCA3
Color
Black
Black
Black
Best Integrated Amp For Home Stereo
Preview
Yamaha A-S301BL Natural Sound Integrated Stereo Amplifier (Black)
Title
Yamaha A-S301BL Natural Sound Integrated Stereo Amplifier (Black)
Color
Black
1st Runner Up
Preview
Grace Digital GDI-BTAR512N 100W Integrated Stereo Amplifier with Bluetooth Wireless Receiver (Black)
Title
Grace Digital GDI-BTAR512N 100W Integrated Stereo Amplifier with Bluetooth Wireless Receiver (Black)
Color
Black
2nd Runner Up
Preview
Home Audio Power Amplifier System - 2X75W Mini Dual Channel Sound Stereo Receiver Box w/ LED - For Amplified Speakers, CD Player, Theater via 3.5mm RCA - For Studio, Home Use - Pyle PCA3
Title
Home Audio Power Amplifier System - 2X75W Mini Dual Channel Sound Stereo Receiver Box w/ LED - For Amplified Speakers, CD Player, Theater via 3.5mm RCA - For Studio, Home Use - Pyle PCA3
Color
Black

Here we go.

Yamaha A-S301 Natural Sound Integrated Amplifier

Yamaha A-S301BL Natural Sound Integrated Stereo Amplifier

amazon link

The Yamaha A-S301 is the undisputed champion among integrated amplifiers for home entertainment systems. It is a dual-channel receiver/integrated amp with a minimum RMS power of 60 watts per channel @ 8 ohms, 0.019% THD, 20 Hz to 20 kHz. It has a high dynamic power per channel (8/6/4/2 ohms) of 100/120/140/150 watts. Frequency response of the device is 10 Hz to 100 kHz +/- 1.0 dB and total harmonic distortion is 0.019% (50 watts/8 ohms). Signal-to-noise ratio is 99 dB and damping factor is 210. The Yamaha A-S301 features a ToP-ART (Total Purity Audio Reproduction Technology) circuitry which has an input-to-output direct symmetrical design. This unique design cuts back on distortion and improves the audio. The amp has custom-made block capacitors and power transformers. It has a Pure Direct mode which shortens the distance the audio signal has to travel in the circuit route, bypassing the buffer amp, tone and balance controls in order to minimize signal degradation. The amp has volume control. It has a number of input and output connections such as digital (optical and coaxial) audio input for TV and Blu-Ray Disc Player and speaker terminals (8/2) for two speaker systems (4 terminals, A, B, A+B terminals). It has a subwoofer output, a DC out and a phono moving magnet input terminal. The amp also has a connection for YBA-11 Bluetooth Wireless Adapter for directly streaming music from Bluetooth-enabled sound devices. A rotary encoder LED input selector makes selecting the input source fairly easy.  The machine goes into auto standby mode if it does not receive any user function in 8 hours. The amp measures 17-1/8 inches (W) x 6 inches (H) x 15-1/4 inches (D). It weighs 19.8 lbs. A remote control is included.

Key Features :

  • Integrated stereo amplifier cum receiver.
  • RMS power 60 watts x 2 @ 8 ohms, frequency response 10 Hz to 100 kHz.
  • Digital optical input, digital coaxial input, audio in/out connections, subwoofer out, DC out.
  • Top-ART circuit design, Pure Direct technology, auto power standby mode, remote included.

Grace Digital GDI-BTAR512N Integrated Amplifier/Bluetooth Receiver

Grace Digital GDI-BTAR512N Integrated Amplifier_Bluetooth Receiver

amazon link

If you are looking for a Bluetooth receiver, you can check out the Grace Digital GDI-BTAR512N. It is a 100-watt Class D stereo amplifier cum speaker adapter. It drives passive bookshelf and floor-standing speakers, and powered speakers through a line-out port. The GDI-BTAR512N has Bluetooth 4.0 technology. It accepts sound input from PC, tablet, MAC, smart phones and MP3 players. It supports wireless music streaming and all kinds of digital music files. It has a 3.5mm AUX input for paying songs from non-Bluetooth devices like CD players. The gadget has an external Bluetooth antenna connector. It has integrated output jacks that connect with passive as well as active speakers. This makes the amp very versatile as most receivers only output to passive speakers. The Grace Digital amp has treble, bass, balance and volume controls for modifying the final output. It has a DC power-in jack. Frequency response of the machine is 20 Hz to 20 kHz and total harmonic distortion is < 0.1% @ 50 watts. Input impedance is 47 KΩ and input sensitivity is 500mV. The amp has a 2 Ampere USB port for charging devices like phones and tablets. In short, it also doubles as a powerbank for small electronic gadgets. It features LED indicators for showing the power and Bluetooth connection statuses. The package includes the amp, a credit card style remote control, a power adapter, a Bluetooth antenna, a 20-foot speaker wire, an auxiliary input cable and a user manual.

Key Features :

  • Integrated amplifier with Bluetooth 4.0 technology.
  • 100-watt Class D amp, outputs to passive and active speakers.
  • 5m AUX in jack, USB port for charging devices, DC power-in.
  • Includes Bluetooth antenna, remote control and 20-foot speaker wire.

Pyle PCA3 Integrated Amplifier

Pyle PCA3 Integrated Amplifier

amazon link

Pyle is a leading audio components maker. The PCA3 is one of its foremost integrated amps with an RMS power output of 75 watts x 2 channels @ 4 ohms. It is perfect for home and office stereo systems. The Pyle PCA3 supports audio input from multiple sources like smart phones, tablets, tuners, CD players, VCR, camcorders and tape deck. It has a 3.5mm RCA line-in (L/R) for accepting input. For outputs, it has push-style speaker terminals which allow direct connection to the amp via speaker wires. Speaker impedance supported by the amp for standard stereo speakers is between 4 ohms and 8 ohms. In stereo mode, total speaker impedance must be at least 4 ohms per channel. The gadget comes with rotary knob controls for volume, treble and bass. The knobs are placed in front for quick and easy adjustments. The PCA3 stereo amp has a blue LED output level display and an LED indicator for power status. On the back panel it has the inputs, outputs and a voltage selector. The housing of the amp measures 7.48 inches (width) by 5.39 inches (D) by 2.87 inches (H). The device includes a power supply (110/220V voltage selector 50/60Hz) and fuse {1.5 A 250V Fast-Acting (5 x 20mm)}. It has a frequency response of 20 Hz to 40 kHz and total harmonic distortion of 0.3%.

Key Features :

  • 2-channel integrated amp for home stereo.
  • 5mm RCA line-in (L/R), push-style speaker terminals.
  • RMS power 75 watts x 2 @ 4 ohms, frequency response 20 Hz to 40 kHz.
  • Treble and bass control, LED output level display, LED power status indicator.

PS Audio Sprout100 Complete Hi-Fi DAC Amplifier

PS Audio Sprout100 Complete Hi-Fi DAC Amplifier

amazon link

The PS Audio Sprout100 is a powerful digital-to-analog converter (DAC) integrated amplifier. It has a bunch of connections and is compatible with most media devices. It supports digital, analog, vinyl and Bluetooth technology. The Sprout100 is a sophisticated DAC capable of decoding Sample Rates up to 384 KHz/24-Bit or DSD64/128 (DoP). It features ESS Saber 9016 which ensures stunningly clear playback in high-resolution audio, video and gaming applications. The amp has a USB-B digital audio input for accepting audio from computers, and an optical Toslink for connecting flat-panel HD TVs, play stations and CD players. It has Bluetooth for wireless music streaming from Bluetooth devices like smart phones and tablets. It works with Tidal, Spotify, Pandora, TuneIn Radio, Apple Music and YouTube. The best thing about the Sprout100 integrated amplifier is that it works with vinyl. It is phone-stage ready and is optimized for moving magnet cartridges. The gadget has a special JFET input stage which lowers background sound and increases headroom. Overall, you get beautifully nuanced and deep vinyl reproduction that is bound to make your friends envious. The amplifier supports two channels and pumps out 100 watts per channel @ 4 ohms and 50 watts per channel @ 8 ohms. It has a headphone output, a subwoofer output and banana connectors. Dimensions of the amp are 6.2 inches (W) x 1.9 inches (H) x 8.2 inches (D). It weighs 2.9 lbs.

Key Features :

  • Dual-channel DAC integrated amplifier.
  • 100 watts x 2 @ 4 ohms, JFET input stage, ESS Saber 9016.
  • Inputs: Bluetooth, phono RCA, analog RCA, digital USB-B, digital optical.
  • Outputs: stereo pair, analog RCA, mono RCA sub out, headphone out.

Fosi Audio TDA7498E 2-Channel Stereo Audio Amplifier/Receiver

Fosi Audio TDA7498E 2-Channel Stereo Audio Amplifier/Receiver

amazon link

The Fosi Audio TDA7498E is an integrated amplifier for hi-fi home entertainment. It drives two channels, putting out 160 watts per channel @ 4 ohms, 20 Hz to 20 kHz, 0.04% TDH. It works with bookshelf speakers, desktop speakers, floor-standing speakers, Echo Dot, TV, MP3 player, CD player, smart phones, tablets and iPods. The Fosi Audio TDA7498E is a Class D amp. It has analog audio inputs (AUX) and outputs to passive speakers. It has a frequency response of 20 Hz – 20 kHz (±1 dB), input sensitivity of ≤ 280mV and SNR of ≥ 98dB. It has a terminating impedance of 2 ohms to 8 ohms. Power supply range of the device is 12 V to 32 V. The box includes the integrated amplifier, an AC power cable, power supply, and a user manual. The manufacturer specifically mentions that the TDA7498E is only meant for passive speakers and not powered ones. You need to first plug in the power supply to the amp and then to the AC outlet. Reversing this order can cause small sparks, although that’s normal for a Class D amp and is not a security risk. The cabinet is made of aluminum and it has a smart minimalistic design.

Key Features :

  • Stereo receiver/ integrated amplifier for hi-fi set-up.
  • Puts out 160 watts/channel @ 4 ohms, 20 Hz to 20 kHz, 0.04% TDH.
  • Analog audio input, works with passive speakers only.
  • Class D amp, ideal for bookshelf, desktop, floor-standing speakers, Echo Dot-ready.

Fosi Audio TB10A 2-Channel Stereo Audio Amplifier Receiver

Fosi Audio TB10A 2-Channel Stereo Audio Amplifier Receiver

amazon link

Another quality integrated amplifier by Fosi Audio is the TB10A. It is a mini stereo amp with an RMS power output of 100 watts per channel @ 4 ohms, 20 Hz to 20 kHz, 0.04% TDH. It is designed to drive 280 watts @ 8 ohms and 320 watts @ 4 ohms speakers. The Fosi Audio TB10A has a 24 volts power supply. It has RCA inputs that take in audio signals from mobile phones, tablets, computers, TVs and DVD players. It outputs the final amplified signal to passive speakers. The device has treble and bass controls for adjusting the sound. It has a built-in circuit protection that prevents sparks when you plug in the power supply. It is built with TI TPA3116D2 chips (2 pieces) for extra-clear sound. It has a hi-fi-ready circuit board that produces rich audio from home stereo speakers. The amplifier is very easy to install. It does not need any software to get it started. It has a frequency response of 20 Hz to 20 kHz, SNR of ≥98 dB, input sensitivity of ≤280 mV and terminating impedance of 2 ohms to 8 ohms. It has a compact aluminum housing and fits in small spaces. Dimensions of the amp are: 3.9 inches (W) x 5.1 inches (D) x 1.4 inches (H). It weighs 1.9 lbs. The box includes the amp, a 24V power supply, a power cord and an instruction manual.

Key Features :

  • 2-channel mini stereo integrated amplifier.
  • 100 watts RMS per channel @ 4 ohms, 24V power supply.
  • RCA inputs, outputs to passive speakers, contains two TI TPA3116D2 chips.
  • Frequency response of 20 Hz to 20 kHz, terminating impedance of 2 ohms to 8 ohms.

Marantz PM5005 Entry-Level Integrated Amplifier

Marantz PM5005 Entry-Level Integrated Amplifier

amazon link

The Marantz PM5005 is one of the best entry-level integrated amps you can get your hands on. It has A and B speaker outputs for two sets of stereo speakers or for bi-wiring compatible stereo speakers. It delivers 40 watts per channel @ 8 ohms and 55 watts per channel @ 4 ohms. The PM5005 is designed with Marantz’s in-house Current Feedback technology. This technology ensures super fast and accurate signal processing which produces perfectly balanced audio that brings out the true flavor of the original recorded track. The amp has an all-analog circuitry from input to output. All the inputs and outputs are gold-plated for maintaining signal integrity. There are 6 audio inputs that accept input from smart phones, tablets, laptops, DVD players, CD players, tuners, recorders and iPods. It has dual recording inputs and outputs, and a headphone amplifier jack. It outputs to two sets of stereo speakers. You can operate the two pairs in parallel or individually. The amp can handle 4- ohms and 8-ohm speakers. It has treble, bass and balance controls. It has a phono MM (moving magnet) equalizer for turntables. The Marantz PM5005 stereo amp features Source Direct function which ensures the shortest possible route for the audio signal. This function bypasses the tone and volume controls to reduce the distance the signal has to travel, thus keeping the purity of the signal intact. The gadget has an aluminum heat-sink that prevents heat from interfering with the circuitry.

Key Features :

  • Hi-fi stereo amplifier with Current Feedback Technology.
  • 40 watts x 2 channels @ 8 ohms, 55 watts x 2 channels @ 4 ohms.
  • Source Direct function, 6 audio inputs including phono input for vinyl records.
  • A + B speaker outputs for two pairs of speakers, gold-plated inputs and outputs, headphone jack.

Pyle Audio PCAU46A Home Audio Power Amplifier System

Pyle Audio PCAU46A Home Audio Power Amplifier System

amazon link

The Pyle Audio PCAU46A is a mini stereo receiver box with Bluetooth. It drives two channels and is perfect for hi-fi home entertainment systems. It has a power output of 120 watts per channel and is ideal for satellite speakers for listening to music and watching TV. The amplifier supports input from various devices such as Android phones, iPhones, desktop, CD players and MP3 players. It has 4 ways of accepting audio signals: Bluetooth, 3.5mm AUX in (RCA input), USB port and SD card reader. Bluetooth offers hassle-free wireless music streaming directly from your sound source. The 3.5mm AUX in jack takes in audio from MP3 players and tablets alike. The USB port plays music and also charges your device. The SD card reader plays music via SD cards. The PCAU46A is compatible with 4-ohm speakers. It has push-type speaker terminals that connect the speakers directly. Recommended total speaker impedance at stereo mode is a minimum of 4 ohms per channel. The front panel of the amplifier has all the tone controls and inputs. It has bass and treble controls, a function control and a loudness control. It has a SD/MMC socket and a USB socket. It has an AUX/CD input port, a phone jack and a digital LCD display panel. It also has LED indicators for showing the audio output level display. The rear panel has the RCA line-in (L/R) jacks and the speaker (L/R) terminals. It has the power switch, the AC in power port and the fuse. The device comes with a remote control and a 12 volt power adapter. It has short circuit and power surge protection to avert damage to the circuit board. Dimensions of the amp are: 8.41 inches (H) x 2.87 inches (W) x 5.39 inches (D). It weighs 5.53 lbs.

Key Features :

  • Compact integrated amplifier with Bluetooth.
  • 5mm AUX input, USB, SD card input, USB charges device.
  • 4 push-type speaker terminals, one headphone jack.
  • 120 watts x 2, supports 4-ohm speakers, remote control, tone controls, digital LCD display.

AudioSource AMP100VS Analog Integrated AmplifierAudioSource AMP100VS Analog Integrated Amplifier

amazon link

The AudioSource AMP100VS is a reliable stereo receiver/integrated amplifier. It pumps out 50 watts RMS x 2 channels @ 8 ohms and 60 watts RMS x 2 channels @ 4 ohms. It has a bridge output of 150 watts @ 8 ohms. It is suitable for powering a pair of bookshelf speakers at home or in office. It is also capable of running a multi-room sound system with multiple speakers operating in different parts of the house. The AudioSource AMP100VS has something called Audio Sensing which senses when you start your sound system and automatically turns on the amplifier. It has a frequency response of 10 Hz to 30 kHz and signal-to-noise ratio of 100 dB below 50 watts output into 8 ohms. It has a channel separation of 70dB @ 1kHz, referred to 50 watts output into 8 ohms. Input sensitivity of the gadget is 700mV, 50 watts @ 8 ohms. The amp is compatible with smart phones, laptops, Macs, iPods, Echo Dots, turntables, CD players and media players. It outputs to bookshelf speakers, ceiling speakers, computer speakers and TV/Blu-Ray. The gadget has bass and treble controls on the rear panel, and balance and volume controls on the front. It has a power consumption of 500 watts AC power. It has 5-way binding posts and A/B speaker selector. It has main and secondary audio line-in jacks with automatic source switching. It also has loop output on the main line input for hooking up another amp to create a multi-room speaker system.

Key Features :

  • Integrated amplifier with multi-room capability.
  • 50 watts RMS x 2 @ 8 ohms, 60 watts RMS x 2 @ 4 ohms.
  • Bridge output 150 watts @ 8 ohms, 5-way binding posts.
  • A/B speaker selector, Auto Sensing, dual auto switching inputs.

ELAC EA Series EA101EQ-G Integrated Amplifier

ELAC EA Series EA101EQ-G Integrated Amplifier

amazon link

The ELAC EA101EQ-G is a Bluetooth stereo receiver from the brand’s EA Series of amplifiers. It is built with ELAC’s signature BASH Digital Fidelity which makes use of a modulated switched mode power supply allied to a conventional Class AB amplifier. The supply tracks the incoming audio signal (which is more than 4,00,000 times per second) to ensure that the amplifier gets only the voltage necessary to cope with the ever evolving audio and video content. This greatly enhances the performance and accuracy of the amp. The EA101EQ-G has DSP technology for better sound reproduction. It has Dolby Digital Decoding which provides stunning like-like audio quality. It further has ABC (Auto Bend and Calibrate) technology which solves two of the biggest problems of dual-channel stereo sound: matching the subwoofer with the main speakers and room correction. You can control the amp using the iOS or Android mobile app of the brand. In terms of power output, the amp provides 80 watts RMS x 2 channels @ 4 ohm, 40 watts RMS x 2 channels @ 8 ohms and 70 watts RMS x 2 channels @ 2 ohms. In inputs, the amp has 2 analog inputs, 3 digital inputs (2 optical and 1 coaxial) and 1 USB input. It has Bluetooth with aptX for wireless music streaming. In outputs it has 1 subwoofer output, 1 headphone output and left and right speaker outputs for two stereo speakers. The EA101EQ-G integrated amplifier has a frequency response of 20 Hz to 40 kHz +/- 1.8 dB, and SNR of 101 dB. A remote control comes with the device.

Key Features :

  • App-controllable 2-channel integrated amplifier.
  • BASH Digital Fidelity, Auto Bend and Calibrate technology.
  • DSP technology, Dolby Digital Decoding, Bluetooth aptx.
  • 80 watts RMS x 2 @ 4 ohm, 40 watts RMS x 2 @ 8 ohms.
  • Inputs: 2 analog, 3 digital, 1 USB. Outputs: 1 sub, 1 headphone, 2 L/R speaker outputs.

Denon PMA-600 NE Stereo Integrated Amplifier

Denon PMA-600 NE Stereo Integrated Amplifier

amazon link

The final item on our list is the Denon PMA-600 NE. It is a stereo receiver with a built-in digital-to-analog converter and a phono preamp. It puts out 70 watts x 2 channel @ 4 ohms and is perfect for home stereo speakers. The PMA-600 NE features a divided circuitry which disengages digital circuits and terminates Bluetooth connectivity for an undivided analog experience. It is powered by AHC or Advanced High Current single push-pull circuit which ensures clean and immersive output. The device has one coaxial, two optical and one phono input for plugging in CD players, Blue-Ray and vinyl records. The phono equalizer supports input from sources that have a moving magnet cartridge. You can also connect your tablet or smart phone via Bluetooth. The amp connects to stereo speakers (impedance between 4 ohms – 16 ohms) through the rear-mounted speaker terminals. There is a subwoofer out and a recorder output. The front panel of the gadget has bass, treble and balance controls, a larger volume knob and an input selection knob. There is a power switch and a port for connecting your phone. There are also several indicators to show the power status, analog mode, source direct and digital in/Bluetooth status.

Key Features :

  • 2-channel stereo amplifier with Bluetooth.
  • 70 watts x 2 channel @ 4 ohms, built-in DAC.
  • AHC single push-pull circuit, outputs: L/R speaker out, subwoofer out, recorder out.
  • Inputs: 1 coaxial, 2 optical, 1 phono input, bass, treble and balance controls.

Cambridge Audio Topaz AM5 Stereo Integrated Amplifier

Cambridge Audio Topaz AM5 Stereo Integrated Amplifier

amazon link

The Cambridge Audio Topaz AM5 is a great choice for a home stereo amplifier. It powers two channels, providing a maximum of 25 watts per channel @ 8 ohms. It can be paired with bookshelf speakers or computer speakers and it accepts input from smart phones, iPods and CD players. The device has a frequency response of 10 Hz to 30 kHz, input impedance of 32 kΩ and unweighted SNR of >82 dB (1W). Maximum power consumption is 180 watts. On the front panel are has volume, bass, treble and balance controls. There is a 3.5mm AUX input next to it and also a knob for selecting the input between BD/DVD, CD, tuner/DAB and MP3/AUX. On the rear panel the amp has 4 inputs: one CD RCA input, one tuner/DAB RCA input, one MP3/AUX RCA input and one BD/DVD RCA input. In outputs, it has one Recorder out RCA output. The Topaz AM5 helps you create your own hi-fi music system. It brings the best out of your stereo speakers and greatly improves audio quality. It is an entry-level integrated amplifier for home use. It weighs 5.1 kg and has a sleek black cabinet measuring 430mm (W), 80mm (H) and 340mm (D).

Key Features :

  • Entry-level integrated amplifier for hi-fi system.
  • Front-mounted 3.5mm AUX input, 4 rear-mounted inputs.
  • Recorder out RCA output, compatible with phones, CD players, iPods.
  • Delivers 25 watts x 2 @ 8 ohms.

What Is An Integrated Amplifier?

An integrated amplifier is an electronic device which contains two components in one – an audio preamplifier and a power amplifier. It is a 2-in-1 device which combines the preamp and the main amp inside a single cabinet. It has various inputs and outputs for connecting with CD players, DVD players, smart phones, laptops, AM/FM tuners, turntables, satellite speakers, subwoofers and amplifiers.

What Is An amplifier?

An amplifier is that component of a sound system which powers the loudspeakers. It also lets you choose the sound source and regulate the volume.

Why Do You Need An Amplifier?

Speakers and headphones on their own cannot produce sound. They need to be powered by an amplifier. Some speakers have internal amps. They are known as active or powered speakers. Most speakers, however, are passive which means they lack an internal amp, and hence, need to be wired to an external amp for power. As a norm, an amplifier, or an integrated amplifier, as is the case here, is designed to be paired with passive speakers. Such speakers derive their power from the amp itself and do not need to be connected to a direct power supply such as a wall receptacle or a battery. An amplifier also improves the quality of the input signal and makes it smoother and deeper.

What Is The Difference Between a preamp and a power amp?

Strictly speaking, preamps and power amps have different functions. A preamp accepts the original input signal from the sound source and gives it just enough power to be handled by the power amp. The input signal is a weak signal, barely audible to the human ear. The preamp jacks up this signal and makes it strong enough for further processing by the power amp, which then proceeds to use all its muscle to amplify it to a level where it can be heard loud and clear through the main speakers. The preamp comes with balance and tone controls which help make the signal more nuanced and deep. It allows you to select between various audio sources like smart phones and DVD players. It also lets you adjust the volume. The power amp does most of the amplification and you get the final output in the form of audible music from the speakers. The high and midrange frequencies are directed to the main speakers while the bass frequencies are routed to the subwoofer.

Preamps and power amps are normally sold separately. But an integrated amp consolidates both in a single unit which makes it convenient for a first-time user. If your knowledge of sound systems is limited, we recommend you go for an integrated amp, rather than buying the preamp and the power amp separately. It will simply your work and you will have excellent audio.

Types of Integrated Amplifiers

An integrated amp can be of two types: stereo amp and AV receiver. A stereo amp has two channels, one for the right side of the sound and the other for the left. The right channel outputs to the right speaker and the left to the left. A stereo amp can drive a pair of bookshelf speakers and a subwoofer. It is best suited for hi-fi setups where there are two main speakers and maybe an extra sub.

An AV receiver is a step-up to a stereo amp. It is a sophisticated integrated amp with a built-in radio tuner. It is designed to handle 5, 7, 9, 11 or even 13 channels. It is capable of driving multiple speakers and subs, such as in a home theatre system with surround sound and multi-room network. It accepts video signals, usually through an HDMI connection, and is likely to have Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capability.

To put it simply, a stereo amp is a basic entry-level integrated amp capable of handling two channels while an AV receiver is a sophisticated integrated amp capable of handling several channels. If you want an amp only for listening to music, a good stereo amp will do the job. But, if you want it for watching movies with surround sound speakers, an AV receiver will be a better choice.

Can you add an additional amp to a set-up that already has an AV receiver? Yes, of course you can. If you want to expand your system to cover a larger area, you can add more speakers and an extra amp to power them.

Integrated Amplifier Buying Guide

If you are planning to buy an integrated amplifier, there are a few things you must know. To prevent confusion, we want to enlist them here in bullet points before proceeding with the explanation.

Factors to consider before buying an integrated amp:

  1. Connections
    1. Inputs
      1. Wired
        1. Analog audio input
        2. Digital audio input
      2. Wireless
        1. Bluetooth
        2. Wi-Fi
        3. Others
    2. Outputs
      1. Headphone output
      2. Subwoofer output
      3. Preamp out/main in connection
      4. Preamp output
      5. A + B speaker connectors
  2. Power rating of the amp.
  3. Impedance.
  4. Amplifier class.

Connections

The amp you buy must be able to connect with your existing media components like speakers, phones, laptops, CD players, MP3 players and TVs. If you plan to add more devices in the future, keep those in mind too.

Connections are of two types: inputs and outputs. Inputs accept media from the sound source. Outputs direct the final amplified sound to the speakers/headphones, or help you add another power amp. Inputs are further divided into wired and wireless. Let us take a look at the wired input connections of an amp.

Wired inputs

Analog audio inputs

  • RCA audio inputs are the most commonly used inputs for connecting sound devices in an entertainment system.
  • An RCA phono input directly connects a turntable without a phono preamp. Some can also work with moving coil cartridges and moving magnet cartridges (more common).
  • Balanced XLR audio inputs are heavy-duty three-pin connectors capable of connecting sophisticated sound gadgets.

Digital audio inputs

Some integrated amplifiers contain a digital-to-analog converter also called DAC. Key digital audio inputs found in amps are:

  • Optical (Toslink)
  • Coaxial (RCA)
  • USB Type B, used to hook up a computer
  • USB Type A, used to plug in smart phones and USB flash drives
  • Ethernet, used to log in to the Internet, a network of connected computers or a network of connected hard drives.

Wireless inputs

Apart from wired connections, an integrated amp might also feature wireless connections such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

  • Bluetooth lets you connect the amp to media devices like phones, computers and tablets. You can enjoy Wireless Music Streaming without the hassle of wires. Bluetooth makes connectivity very easy and we suggest you go for an amp with Bluetooth.
  • Some amps come with built-in Wi-Fi which helps you connect the device to your home wireless network. Wi-Fi lets you stream music from online platforms like Amazon Music and Spotify, network-connected computers and music servers.
  • Some amps have Apple AirPlay for streaming music from iPhones and iPads. If your laptop is on the home network and it has iTunes, you can use AirPlay to send music from the laptop to the amp.

We have come to the end of input connections. Let us now take a look at the outputs.

Outputs

Most integrated amplifiers have a headphone jack for enjoying music privately. If you are someone who uses headphones regularly, we advise you to buy an amp with a headphone jack.

A subwoofer output is mandatory if you have a sub in your existing audio set-up or if plan on adding one in the future.

If you want to disconnect the preamp and the power amp, and use them separately, make sure the amp has a preamp out/main in connection.

If you plan on expanding your existing sound system by adding additional satellite speakers, you might want to go for an integrated amp with a preamp output. This output will help you add another power amp which will be needed to drive the new speakers once you add them at a later point. The preamp output is instrumental in multi-room set-ups where you have speakers in different rooms.

A + B speaker connectors are great for connecting two pairs of speakers. You can use it to add an additional pair of speakers in another room or in the porch. The dual outputs are an easy way to bi-wire two speakers.

Power Rating Of The Amplifier

The power rating of the amp must match the room size, speaker sensitivity and expected volume. If you have a small or medium-sized room with standard stereo bookshelf speakers, a small amp will do. You won’t need more than 15 to 20 watts per channel to drive such a system. However, if you have a large room with floor-standing speakers, a larger amp with 200 watts or more will be better.

Pay more attention to the RMS power of the amp as it is a more realistic representation of the continuous power handling ability of the amp.

Impedance

Always see that your amp matches your speaker’s impedance. Read the amp’s user manual carefully and follow the minimum recommended impedance listed there. Also, keep in mind that when two pairs of speakers are simultaneously drawing power from the amp that has A and B speaker outputs, the speaker impedance changes. So read the manual to know the limit and stay within that limit.

Amplifier Class

You will notice that amps have classes like Class A, Class B, Class A/B, etc. They have very specific technical meanings. For the average buyer though, it doesn’t really matter. All classes sound great and any difference is barely noticeable. So don’t get too caught up in the classes and just pick what suits you best.

[hr]

Check our top product recommendation for tube amplifier & subwoofer plate amplifier.

You may also check best small amplifiers if you need a mini amp for your audio setup.

[hr]

Leave a Comment