Your hi-fi system’s job is to connect your digital inputs (turntable, CD player, phono stage, streamer, USB input, etc.) to your speakers. However, you may save money and space by using an integrated amplifier, which is often less expensive than buying a separate one. An integrated amplifier contains both units: power amplifier and preamplifier. Yet, it’s essential to know what you’re looking for to make the right purchase.
The built-in amp has evolved due to the popularity of various audio digital inputs, like PCs, cellphones, and similar devices. Nowadays, digital to analog converters (offering more power), MM phono input, USB ports for laptops, and Bluetooth receivers are built-in features in many models. Some even include network streaming, making them fully functional “just-add-speakers” systems easy to set up in minutes. Afterward, the analog and digital inputs will surely deliver the best sound quality. Hence, an integrated amplifier may be a better alternative than an external amplifier for those who wish to maximize the sound quality.
On that note, we set off to shortlist the best items currently available. For this, we carefully combed the net, looking for a distinct set of features. Also, we make sure to keep an eye on their affordability. In that way, we were able to compile this guide and feature the best choices for under $1000.
How We Made This List
What We Looked For
The device’s output determines how loud you can play audio on it. There is a typical correlation between big speakers and larger rooms, much to the chagrin of your neighbors and co-workers.
A powerful amp will have various features including more headroom capacity for demanding speakers, subwoofer output, gold plated speaker connections, mobile devices connection, MM phono stage input, improved power supply, balanced signal path, headphone amps, wireless connectivity, and balanced XLR inputs.
However, there are a few things to keep in mind. First of all, know that 10W is usually loud enough for most gather-rounds. Secondly, never overreach and go for 100W – that much power can blow the roof off most parties. A few more features to consider are the amp’s specifications, such as hi-res audio and SNR. The latter value indicates the clarity of sound.
Type of the Integrated Amplifier:
These amps fall into several classes: A, B, AB, and Class D amplifiers. Class A is well-rounded with minimal distortions but inefficient power use. Also, both output stages are always active in Class A amplifiers. Comparatively, Class B has a higher power efficiency since only one output stage is active at a time. Class A/B is a cross between them, resulting in both power-efficient and distortion-free circuitry. Finally, the digital integrated amplifiers go in the last class. Hence, they take up the least amount of space and can shift their sample frequencies.
Regardless of the stereo amp classes, several physical aspects impact the performance of your sound system. Among them, an amplifier’s power supply is one of the most critical. Internal circuitry transforms AC power from the wall into DC power inside the amplifier. Additionally, hi-res audio will result in a crisper-sounding output.
Construction of the Integrated Amplifier:
Toroidal power transformers are an essential component of the signal path of your hi-fi system. With little radiated electrical noise, these ring-shaped elements effectively supply high quantities of current. Hence, toroidal power transformers are recommended.
One good alternative is the tube amplifiers. They resemble small glass cylinders found in headphone amplifiers. The tube amps generate a characteristic, mellow and pleasant sound. In both physical and technological terms, this arrangement divides the right and left channels from one another. In turn, this creates a more orchestral-like result. Hence, those looking for a memorable score will enjoy it when an amplifier separates the frequencies as wide as possible using tube amplifiers.
The amplifier is the heart of your sound system, so a lot of its performance relies on that part. Hence, one shouldn’t be stingy when it comes to picking the one with more power. However, we’ve selected the top hi-fi amplifiers on the market today with budget choices in mind. As a result, this is more of a compilation of the top products you can find today. At all times, we aimed to focus on the tasks of listing the best integrated amplifiers under $1000.
Features and Specifications:
There are so many worthy products on the market that a single list can’t hold them all. Therefore, you are always s welcome to scour the net on your own. Yet, it’s crucial to keep in mind the bare minimum set of stats when opting for a suitable amplifier. However, the criterion for the following list came down to which ones sound the best. To locate what you’re searching for, we encourage you to utilize our complete listings of features and characteristics.
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The Best Integrated Amplifiers (Full Review)
1. Cambridge Audio CXA61: Best Overall
The Audio CXA61 model from Cambridge is a difficult act to follow. The Cambridge Audio CXA60, its immediate predecessor, has won several ‘best of the year’ awards and is still one of our top picks. The new amplifier has a striking resemblance to the original. Notable exceptions include the omission of the original’s balance and tone settings on the front panel. While we lament the removal of these (sometimes helpful) functions, the CXA61 remains a robust and stylish piece of equipment. It looks and feels better than its competitors. However, the price increase dims the shine a touch.
There’s a lot to like about this device, like the various inputs (including wireless connectivity), a superb built-in moving magnet phono stage, a dedicated headphone amplifier, and an amazing DAC. On the CXA61, Cambridge engineers selected a new DAC (digital-to-analog converter) chip. Rather than the Wolfson 8740 of the previous model, this one has an ESS Sabre SE9010K2M DAC. As a result, it can also play 32-bit/384kHz PCM files and data streams up to DSD 256. That’s a very wide range, enough to cover all your audio needs. We’re happy to say that our efforts have paid off. On the same note, it is an attribute fitting for a more expensive product. Due to such modifications, the CXA61 ends up better than what came before it and is also among the best integrated amplifiers.
Sound quality: 9
|Output:||35 Watts per channel (into 8 Ohms)|
|Total Harmonic Distortion:||0.02%|
|Inputs/Connections:||Speakers A+B, 3.5mm Headphone, Preamp Output, Subwoofer Output.|
|Dimensions:||16.9 x 13.4 x 4.5 inches|
- Excellent built
- Captivating sound
- Great features
- A little pricey
Why We Like It: The Cambridge audio cxa61 produces a powerful, well-balanced sound that is brimming with detail. Hence, few options do better in terms of rhythmic force and dynamic expressiveness.
2. Marantz PM6006: Best Value for Money
This 2016 product is one of the freshest inventions of the brand Marantz. However, the iteration for the UK market is a bit larger than the others. So, consider its measurements. Remote control is also included in the package, allowing you to operate it from afar. However, there’s also a slimmer option available. Plus, there’s no need for a separate or aftermarket digital, optical, or analog DAC with this amp. The front panel of this integrated amplifier comes with basic and advanced volume settings. On the rightmost side, there is a large plastic knob that regulates and adjusts the loudness. Additionally, the input selection is conveniently positioned on the device’s left side. The central knobs for bass, treble, and balance settings are situated in the front panel’s center bottom section.
Also, this integrated amplifier features the direct source capability, enabling you to connect the audio straight to the output terminals. Then, the A & B terminal button allows you to choose the preferred speaker side. You can use other devices, such as mm phono for record and vinyl players, turntables, and CD menus, to encode the audio signals from that input. Moreover, it has a network that includes a tuner, recorder, coaxial, two optical inputs, and an additional source of audio signals. Lastly, for a more personal experience, there is the audio input connection.
|Output:||40W x 2 RMS at 8|
|Dimensions:||17.3 x 14.14 x 4.14 inches|
|Weight (H x W x D):||17.3 pounds|
- Pure audio quality
- High build quality
- Modern design
- Some noise on digital output
Why We Like It: For those looking to get their first hi-fi system up and running, the Marantz PM6006 is an excellent option.
3. Rega io: Best Budget-Friendly Option
The Rega io contains the same power amp and a moving magnet phono inputs stage as the Rega Brio. Likewise, it comes in black or silver variants. A 3.5mm headphone jack and two line-level sources are the only analog and digital inputs on this sound system. However, it’s not the most stylish device out there. It features a lot of plastic and basic-looking layouts, so aesthetics is not its strong suit. Nevertheless, it’s easy and intuitive to use. Also, the aluminum chassis is solid and well-made, complementing the minimalistic design. As such, it favors function over form.
Compared to the award-winning Brio amp, this amp’s performance is noticeably superior. It builds atop the circuit and power similarities between the two amps. Sanken output transistors, a linear power supply module, and an Alps volume potentiometer all work together to generate 30 watts (8 ohms) per channel.
Speaker Maximum Power: 9
Power Range: 8
Material Construction: 8
|Output:||30W per channel 8Ω (RMS)|
|Power consumption:||135 W|
|Inputs/Connections:||1 x Phono input, 2 x Line inputs|
|Dimensions:||180 x 68 x 290 mm|
|Weight (H x W x D):||6.4pounds|
- Produces clear and quality audio
- Distinctive headphone output
- Function over form
- No wireless connectivity
Why We Like It: At any rate, the Rega io’s class-leading performance remains its strongest selling point. As it stands, it’s possible that the io is the best choice for those who prefer simple, no-nonsense audio devices.
4. ONKYO A-9050
There are many reasons to recommend Onkyo, besides its affordability. The company launched this integrated amplifier back in 2012 and quickly earned the users’ attention. This item is available in two colors: silver and black, both resulting in a stylish addition to your living room. Next, there are several interesting elements on the front side. Onkyo features four digital inputs, four or five analog inputs, and a turntable/record connection. Additionally, in the upper corner, you’ll find an input selection knob and LED indicators for roughly 05 Lanes, 03 Dacs, and a single phono connection.
For greater utility, this amplifier uses synchronized bass. Hence, even if you set the sound/volume in the lower to mid-range frequencies, it will enhance the quality or shorter the wavelength. You may also switch the amplifier to direct mode by pushing the specific bottom button. Bypassing the critical audio controls will re-route the audio stream through the shortest path. Additionally, a few quick yet effective options are available to help you get even better results. For example, there’s a cartridge selection switch and a headphone jack on this amp. Plus, you can lower the frequency ranges at will.
Speaker Maximum Power: 8
Power Range: 8
Material Construction: 7
|Output:||160W per channel|
|Total Harmonic Distortion + Noise (THD + N):||0.1%|
|Dimensions:||139 mm (H): 435 mm (W): 330.3 mm (D)|
|Weight (H x W x D):||10.48 kg|
- Excellent articulation
- Refined sound dynamics
- Noise plug feature
- Limited use for a pre/power amp only
Why We Like It: The A-9050 is well-balanced for all frequency ranges and offers enough options to warranty daily usage.
5. Rega Brio
The Brio aims to honor the classics by combining analog with cutting-edge solid-state technology. All that fits in the tiny retro-style housing. It’s so compact that you won’t even notice it when not in use. Plus, it has an excellent moving magnet phono input, several analog inputs, and a record out for making cassette or reel-to-reel mixtapes. Moreover, a single set of solid speaker binding posts occupy the rear. Hence, all switching takes place on the back panel to reduce the signal path. Additionally, the full-sized headphone jack and a headphone amplifier are noteworthy inclusions, too.
A toroidal power transformer and a Class AB amplifier are also part of the Brio. The preamp portion contains a backup power supply that provides total isolation. The reaction of the volume knob to the remote feels a little abrupt, but it is superlinear. So, you can always tell how much effort Rega put into the quality of sound. Consequently, this amp may astound you with its ability to support speakers well above its price range.
Speaker Maximum Power: 9
Power Range: 7.9
Material Construction: 6.4
|Output:||50 Wper channel into 8 Ω|
|Power Consumption:||195 W|
|Inputs/Connections:||1 x Phono , 4 x Line digital inputs|
|Dimensions:||216 x 78 x 345 mm|
|Weight (H x W x D):||5.1 kg|
- Compact European design
- Captivating sound
- Gold power lines
- Phono feature only available with the latest turntables
Why We Like It: Rega’s inventions brought them the award-winning year of 2018. This amp is an upgraded version in both features and sound quality. Hence, it’s an excellent choice for a modern music lover.
The Rotel A10 integrated amplifier is on the lower end of our pricing range, yet it delivers acceptable performance and is a terrific “pound for pound” audio device. First, The Rotel A10 is designed to be simple and effective. For that, Rotel removed some of the expensive features, focusing instead on delivering high-quality sound. Based on the standard Rotel Class AB amplifier design, the A10 is a small and dynamic amplifier. It has a 40-watt output and is excellent for compact spaces or with high-efficiency speakers.
In terms of networking, the A10 is analog-only. However, it offers more than five line audio inputs. A 3.5mm mini-jack analog input, two auxiliary digital inputs, a CD input, a tuner input, and an MM phono for your turntable are all available on the A10. It also includes A + B speaker switching, allowing you to install a second set of speakers. Additionally, the A10 creates a raw, powerful sound so you can really feel the song’s intensity. Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” would be a great choice to test this out. Also, the Rotel A10 adheres to the idea of combining a cute layout with high-quality sound. This is a fantastic entry-level integrated amplifier for less than $1,000.
Speaker Maximum Power: 9
Power Range: 9
Material Construction: 8
|Output:||40W per channel (All channels driven, 8Ω)|
|Total Harmonic Distortion + Noise (THD + N):||(20Hz–20kHz) <0.03%|
|SNR (Signal to Noise Ratio):||Line Level Inputs: 100dB|
|Bluetooth:||aptX HD receiver built-in|
|Dimensions:||430 × 72 × 342mm 17″ × 2.9″ × 13.5″|
|Weight (H x W x D):||5.9kg (13 pounds.)|
- Flexible input with high-quality DAC and Bluetooth
- Precise sound
- Satisfying entry level for audiophile setup
- Somewhat lacking in audio strength
Why We Like It: This amp delivers the best quality sound for such a small size and affordable asking price. Don’t let its compactness fool you – when the time comes, this amp will deliver.
There’s a lot more substance to the Marantz PM6007 than there ever was from its predecessor, the Marantz PM6006 UK Edition. However, let’s begin with taking the negatives out of the way first. So, aside from the fact that it lacks a USB or Bluetooth connection, the PM6007 has it all. This is a well-built, well-envisioned amplifier with a classic hi-fi look and sound.
When utilizing the amp’s digital sources, you may select between a new DAC (i.e., more power) and filters. Plus, there are new components in the amp and an MM phono stage. The circuitry of the latter is likewise updated, and the outcomes are self-evident. As a result, you can enjoy a smooth, balanced, and dynamic sound signal. In short, this is a great all-around product.
Speaker Maximum Output Power: 9
Power Range: 9
Material Construction: 9
|Total Harmonic Distortion + Noise (THD + N):||0.08%|
|SNR (Signal to Noise Ratio):||83dB|
|Maximum output power:||60W|
|Dimensions:||10.5” x 44” x 37cm”|
|Weight (H x W x D):||23.3 pounds|
- Clean sound performance
- Solid design
- Various connectivity
- No Bluetooth receiver
Why We Like It: Why do we like it? Simply because it deserved to be this year’s award winner, as it so happened.
When searching for a new amp model, here are some factors to keep in mind:
You need to make sure that the speaker will fit in the reserved area. Next, make sure there is enough room around each component to allow for optimum airflow. Hence, small stereo amps are only appropriate for small environments.
It’s best to opt for a well-known name in the business. Usually, even their high-quality goods are available at an affordable price. Customers often rely on a brand’s reputation and willingness to stay at the top. As a result, a popular brand doubles down on the advertised qualities. In addition, such a company’s customer support service is second to none.
● Gold Coat
A gold-plated connection ensures the amplifier’s long-term viability. It’s an excellent source of tensile strength and inhibits fretting decomposition. Electrical conductivity and heat protection are by-products of these materials, which are also resistant to oxidation.
If you’re looking for an integrated amplifier, the number and layout of the inputs are essential. For example, the CD player’s inputs receive signals from the source. However, there are RCA audio, phono, XLR, and digital audio inputs, and all have their uses. Additionally, optical, coaxial, USB, and Ethernet are some of the ways allowing for digital data transport.
How much to spend on integrated amps? Well, this is a subjective question. Although your budget may be tight, investing a few more bucks for increased power often is the cheapest route. On the same note, finding the most optimal amp demands that you make certain compromises. Even though the price might be a good indicator of the quality of a product, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re getting the greatest value for your money. As a rule, for home or office usage, a pair of high-quality speakers and an amplifier with at least 100 watts per channel will suffice.
The outputs include a headphone connector, a subwoofer output, a preamplifier output, and the main connection. The maximum number of speakers that may be connected is two. Also, you may combine the pairs for better results.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the difference between preamplifiers and integrated amplifiers?
Given their specifications, people often confuse one for the other. However, they are completely different products. A preamp’s primary function is to amplify the low-frequency and weak audio impulses. Technically, it does so by converting them. Hence, you may not be able to comprehend the music you’re listening to if you don’t have this converter.
The preamp almost entirely minimizes the unwanted noise by operating in tandem with the power amps. So, due to their increased impedance, they eliminate noise interference from the overall sound profile. On the other hand, an integrated stereo amplifier combines both the preamplifiers and power amps into a single unit.
2. Can I use my integrated amp as a preamp?
Yes, the built-in amp may also serve as a pre amp if necessary. Plus, you might get an all-around pre amp substitute with a much greater utility. As a result, such a ‘pre amp’ will be compatible with a wide range of devices. Also, unlike an actual preamp, an amplifier offers separate inputs for turntables, record players, and even AM tuners. Hence, they have sway over the pre amp. A built-in amp is the most cost-effective option since you must buy the amp power unit in addition to the preamp.
3. What are the best uses for an integrated amplifier?
Integrated amplifiers are most convenient for home theater and streaming. So, any avid movie fan should consider purchasing them. Plus, they tend to stay at an affordable price range. Therefore, you may easily enhance your system without breaking the bank.
4. Is an amplifier worth it?
The whole home theater system is made up of circuit-based parts. For example, if these circuits end up in these consoles, they may cause noise and interfere with the amplifier signal processing. Because single transformer powers it, the electronics are completely separated. Additionally, these built-in amplifiers may improve your movie streaming experience. They are a budget option that’ll effectively ensure a much clearer-sounding audio effect, no matter the medium in question.
5. In what ways are integrated amplifiers different from conventional amplifiers?
When compared to an integrated amp, powered and preamp amplifiers offer some distinct tones. Producing crystal-clear effects is something the film industry values above all else. Hence, such amps are better than the regular ones regarding those cinematic experiences.
6. Can I use integrated amplifiers as power amplifiers?
Yes, utilizing the built-in amplifier as a power amp is conceivable. However, it’s not all that easy to pull off. Therefore, you’re better of leaving such a maneuver for the professionals.
For a hi-fi system, modern amps are the most effective type of accessory. If you don’t have a lot of money to spend on a top-of-the-line system, deciding on a high-quality integrated amp for your home’s audio system might be a hassle. However, you can refer to the above-mentioned tips and tricks at any time. Soon, you’ll be able to locate the best integrated amplifier under $1000.
Additionally, instead of regularly replacing low or medium-quality amplifiers, you may be able to save money by utilizing the integrated ones. Simply find a match for your system and consider the power output. In that way, opting for budget integrated amplifiers will save you a lot of headaches.
Expert Tip About Integrated Amps
If you want to connect anything to the amp, you’ll need to know its inputs and outputs. Consider the amp’s power output as well as how you prefer to enjoy your favorite tracks. Also, there’s no need to spend money on an end-of-the-line amplifier just to never fully use it.
Did you know?
Even if you play it every day, a solid integrated amp may endure for more than 30 years.
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John Fleming is the senior editor for Audiophilez.com, covering everything from headphones to smart speakers. He is a graduate of Music Production and Technology. Before Audiophilez, John began his career as a staff writer for two different magazines, where he became a skilled storyteller across different mediums. When he isn’t writing, he can be found biking, reading books, and playing the piano.