What Hi-Fi (UK)

HI-FI AMPLIFIERS

THE BEATING HEART OF YOUR HI-FI SYSTEM

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Onkyo A-9010 £229

Best stereo amplifier under £300, Awards 2017 ★★★★★

Our favourite budget amplifier, this is arguably the most entertaini­ng affordable amp around. It is agile and has a wicked sense of rhythm. Power 44W Inputs Line-in x5, MM Outputs Headphone

Rega io £379

Best stereo amplifier under £400, Awards 2020 ★★★★★

Those who are happy with a no-fuss, purely analogue amp and who prioritise entertainm­ent should arguably consider the io their number one choice. Power 30W Inputs Line-in x2, MM Outputs Headphone

NAD D 3020 V2 £399

September 2018 ★★★★★

A very likeable effort that features a full-bodied sonic performanc­e with fine timing and dynamics and lots of useful features.

Power 30W Inputs Line-in, MM, optical, coaxial, BT Outputs Headphone

Marantz PM6007 £499

Best stereo amplifier £400-£600, Awards 2020 ★★★★★

Clearer and punchier than its Award-winning predecesso­r, Marantz’s latest entry-level amplifier never puts the formidable 6000 Series dynasty in doubt. Power 45W Inputs Line-in x4, MM, coax, optical Outputs 6.3mm h’phone

Rega Brio £599

Best stereo amplifier £400-£700, Awards 2018 ★★★★★

An upgrade on the Brio-r, this incredibly talented stereo amplifier offers a sound that’s subtle, precise and engaging.

Power 50W Inputs Line-in x4, MM Outputs 6.3mm headphone, record

Cambridge Audio CXA61 £750

Best stereo amplifier £600-£800, Awards 2020 ★★★★★

Justifies the price premium over the Audiolab 6000A and the Rega Brio by delivering a superior combinatio­n of sonic ability features and build quality Power 60W Inputs Line-in x4 Outputs Preamp, speaker x2, headphone

Musical Fidelity M2si £799

September 2019 ★★★★★

It doesn’t have the feature list of many of its rivals, but the M2si counters with an impressive­ly refined and entertaini­ng performanc­e Power 76W Inputs Line-in x5 Outputs Preamplifi­er, tape loop

Rega Elex-r £949

Best stereo amplifier £700-£1500, Awards 2018 ★★★★★

Arguably the best-value amp Rega makes, with insight and a precise handling of rhythms that’s hard to better even at double the price. Power 72W Inputs Line-in x4, MM Outputs Preamp

Cambridge Audio CXA81 £999

Best stereo amplifier £800-£1500, Awards 2020 ★★★★★

Class leaders are constantly being replaced in hi-fi – but rarely is it done so soundly as by Cambridge Audio’s CXA81 integrated amplifier

Power 80W Inputs Line-in X4,XLR, USB Outputs Pre, sub, headphone

Naim Nait 5si £1099

January 2015 ★★★★★

Naim’s starter amp is an exceptiona­lly polished performer which combines drama with the insight and subtlety to match the very best. Power 60W Inputs Line-in x3 Outputs Headphone

Moon 240i £1990

Best stereo amplifier £1500-£2500, Awards 2018 ★★★★★

A gorgeous piece of kit that puts in a stunningly revealing and dynamic performanc­e. The Moon 240i is in a class of its own. Power 50W Inputs Line-in x2, MM, optical x2, coaxial x2 Outputs

Naim Nait XS 3 £2199

Best stereo amplifier £1500-£2500, Awards 2020 ★★★★★

A fit and forget product in the best sense, the Nait XS 3 slots into your system and does just what you want – delivers music with emotional impact intact. Power 70W Inputs Line-in x4 Outputs Preamplifi­er, headphone

Roksan Blak £2799

Best stereo amplifier £2500+, Awards 2018 ★★★★★

A well equipped all-rounder with a powerful and energetic sound.

It’s happy to work with a wide range of systems and musical genres too. Power 150W Inputs Balanced XLR, line-in x3, MM, USB, aptx Bluetooth

Rega Aethos £2999

Best stereo amplifier over £2500, Awards 2020 ★★★★★

The Aethos retains all the verve of Rega’s establishe­d affordable integrated­s, but adds a huge dose of extra clarity, precision and muscle to the recipe. Power 125W Inputs Line-in x5 Outputs Preamp, headphone

Naim Supernait 3 £3499

Best stereo amplifier over £2500, Awards 2019 ★★★★★

In adding a good-quality MM phono stage and tweaking the power amp section, Naim has made a great amplifier even better

Power 80W Inputs Line-in x5, MM, XLR Outputs Subwoofer, headphone

Leema Tucana II Anniversar­y Edition £4995

March 2017 ★★★★★

It looks no different to its 2010 incarnatio­n, but this remains a top-class amp that works across a wide range of systems and music. Power 150W Inputs Line-in x7 Outputs Preamp

Luxman L-509X £8500

June 2018 ★★★★★

Much more than an expensive retro throwback; its blend of build, features and performanc­e is hard to better at this price. Power 120W Inputs Line-in x6 Outputs Headphone, preamp

Audio Research GSI75 £14,998

April 2017 ★★★★★

This can stand toe-to-toe with the finest pre/power combos at this price; it’s a well equipped one-box solution for high-end purists. Power 75W Inputs Line-in x3, MM, MC, USB Outputs Headphone

Burmester 808 MK5 £28,000

February 2013 ★★★★★

Burmester’s masterpiec­e may be decades old but a string of upgrades have kept it relevant. Sound quality remains exceptiona­l. Inputs Line-in, MM, MC (optional) Outputs Balanced, single-ended

Nagra Classic Pre/power amp £29,000

August 2018 ★★★★★

Rivals have more muscle, but once in full flow the Nagra lets the music take centre stage. One of the finest pre/powers money can buy.

Power 100W Inputs Line-in x5, phono, XLR

Marantz SA-10 £5999

April 2018 ★★★★★

One of the best digital source components around. Its unfussy dispositio­n allows it to sound at home across a wide range of systems.

Type CD player Outputs Coaxial, optical

Chord Blu MKII £7995

January 2018 ★★★★★

The most informativ­e and enjoyable sound we’ve heard from the CD format. Partner it with the DAVE and we doubt you can do better. Type CD transport Outputs Coaxial x2 Inputs Coaxial, USB

Chord Qutest £1195

Best DAC £500-£1200, Awards 2020 ★★★★★

As with the 2Qute, the Qutest is a superior DAC which sets a new benchmark at this price with its clear and precise performanc­e.

Inputs Coax x2, opt, USB Size 4 x 16 x 7cm Res 32-bit/768khz PCM, DSD512

Chord Hugo 2 £1799

Best DAC over £1200, Awards 2020 ★★★★★

The Hugo 2 has a hefty price tag but, at this level, there isn’t another DAC near that can communicat­e so unambigiou­sly or so effortless­ly. Inputs Coax, opt, USB, BT Size 2 x 10 x 13cm Res 32-bit/768khz

Chord DAVE £7995

Awards 2016 ★★★★★

The uniquely named DAVE costs a lot, but we’d argue it’s the best DAC money can buy. Build quality is excellent and the sound is very special. Inputs Coaxial x2, opt x2, XLR Size 6 x 34 x 15cm Res 32-bit/768khz

DCS Rossini Dac/rossini Master Clock £22,608

July 2018 ★★★★★

An expensive Dac/clock combinatio­n that justifies its price tag with a performanc­e of exceptiona­l detail, organisati­on and fine dynamics. Inputs Coaxial x2, opt x2, USB x2 Res 24-bit/384khz

Nagra HD DAC/MPS £23,600

September 2018 ★★★★★

An effort that boasts a natural, fluid and informativ­e sound. If you’re in the market for the ultimate DAC, this would certainly be a frontrunne­r. Inputs Coax x2, opt, AES/EBU x2, USB Res 24-bit/384khz

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