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15 ‘must-hear’ super-integrated amplifiers

  • Go hard or go home. The clarion call of the maximalist audiophile compiling an audio system for ultimate sound quality irrespective of its floor- and rack-space requirements, the hairball of interconnects that joins one component to another or the numerous credit card swipes that brings them home – see above. A solid understanding of how to mix and match components is mandatory. Understanding equates to experience. Experience takes time.

    Enter the minimalist, drawn to audio systems where the box count is driven south for shorter signal paths, fewer interconnects and fewer power cables. The ultimate in minimalist hi-fi system design is to put amplifier, DAC (and sometimes streaming board) inside the loudspeaker. Find our list of ‘must-hear’ active loudspeakers here.

    But what about minimalists who prefer not to have electronics and transducer housed in the same enclosure? Or those whose mains power outlet arrangement won’t accommodate two physically-separated active/powered loudspeakers? Or those whose loudspeaker preference doesn’t come as an active variant?

    Now we look to the integrated amplifier to do the heavy lifting: where pre- and power amplifier are conjoined internally to be fed by a single transformer. Add any combination of network streamer, DAC or phono stage – at least two of the three – and we have the super-integrated amplifier to which we just add loudspeakers. The (majority of) component matching is done for us.

    This is not intended as a ‘best of’ list. What follows are fifteen super-integrated amplifiers, fourteen of which have previously featured on this website and one that I have in my review crosshairs. The list is sorted by ascending RRP to provide something that should pique the interest of every minimalist hi-fi buyer.

    Let’s roll…

    NAD D 3020 v2

    Price: US$399
    Power: Class D, 40wpc into 8 Ohms / 4 Ohms
    DAC: 24bit/96kHz – coaxial, TOSLINK, USB
    Streamer: aptX Bluetooth
    Phono stage: MM
    Headphone output: 3.5mm
    Additional points of interest: vertical form factor, touch controls
    P/review: The NAD D 3020 v1 was reviewed here and here and here and here.

    PS Audio Sprout 100

    Price: US$599
    Power: Class D, 50 wpc into 8 Ohms / 100 wpc into 4 Ohms
    DAC: 24bit/384kHz, DSD 128 – USB, TOSLINK
    Streamer: Bluetooth
    Phono stage: MM
    Headphone output: 6.4mm
    Additional points of interest:
    P/review: The first generation Sprout was previewed here, here and here. The Sprout 100 was previewed here.

    Peachtree nova150

    Price: US$1599
    Power: Class D, 150 wpc into 8 Ohms / 250 wpc into 4 Ohms
    DAC: 32bit/384kHz, DSD – USB, coaxial, TOSLINK
    Streamer: ‘optional Bluetooth’ (TBC)
    Phono stage: MM
    Headphone output: 6.4mm
    Additional points of interest: Dy-NEC USB input for iOS devices, dedicated headphone circuit, unique styling
    P/review: here

    Rotel RA-1572

    Price: US$1699
    Power: Class A/B, 120wpc into 8 Ohms
    DAC: 32bit/384kHz and ‘DSD’ – USB, coaxial, TOSLINK
    Streamer: aptX Bluetooth
    Phono stage: MM
    Headphone output: 3.5mm
    Additional points of interest: Balanced inputs, LAN-accessible iOS remote control
    P/review: here

    Naim Uniti Atom

    Price: £1999
    Power: Class A/B, 40wpc into 8 Ohms
    DAC: 32bit/384kHz, DSD128 – coaxial, TOSLINK, (optional) HDMI, Ethernet, WiFi
    Streamer: aptX Bluetooth + Apple AirPlay, Spotify Connect, Google Chromecast, UPnP, Roon Ready, vTuner
    Phono stage: None
    Headphone output: 3.5mm
    Additional points of interest: incredible volume control, backlit RF remote, dedicated smartphone apps
    P/review: here

    MOON Neo Ace

    Price: US$3499
    Power: Class A/B, 50wpc into 8 Ohms
    DAC: 32bit/384kHz, DSD256 – USB, coaxial, TOSLINK, Ethernet, WiFi
    Streamer: aptX Bluetooth + UPnP, vTuner Tidal (via Moon MiND app)
    Phono stage: MM
    Headphone output: 6.4mm
    Additional points of interest:
    P/review: here

    AURALiC Polaris

    Price: US$3799 US$2999
    Power: Class D, 120wpc into 8 Ohms / 180wpc into 8 Ohms
    DAC: 32bit/384kHz, DSD512 – USB, coaxial, TOSLINK, AES/EBU, Ethernet, WiFi
    Streamer: Bluetooth + Apple AirPlay, Spotify Connect, Lightning DS (Tidal, Qobuz, UPnP), Roon Ready
    Phono stage: MM
    Headphone output: None
    Additional points of interest: 2.5” SSD/HDD can be fitted to undercarriage, front and rear USB inputs for external storage devices
    P/review: here

    Hegel H190

    Price: US$4000
    Power: Class A/B, 150wpc into 8 Ohms / 250wpc into 4 Ohms
    DAC: 24bit/192kHz – USB, coaxial, TOSLINK, Ethernet
    Streamer: Apple AirPlay, Spotify Connect, UPnP
    Phono stage: None
    Headphone output: 6.4mm
    Additional points of interest: AirPlay is in-house coded (not off-the-shelf)
    P/review: here

    Gold Note IS-1000

    Price: €4999
    Power: Class A/B, 125wpc into 8 Ohms / 250wpc into 4 Ohms
    DAC: 24bit/19kHz, DSD64 – coaxial, TOSLINK, Ethernet, WiFi
    Streamer: Apple AirPlay, Spotify Connect, UPnP, Tidal/Deezer/Qobuz (via mConnect app), Roon Ready
    Phono stage: MM/MC
    Headphone output: None
    Additional points of interest: balanced inputs, switchable damping factor, choice of DAC chips
    P/review: here and here

    Lyngdorf TDAI-3400

    Price: €4999
    Power: Class D, 200wpc into 8 Ohms / 400wpc into 4 Ohms
    DAC: 32bit/384kHz, DSD 128 – USB, coaxial, TOSLINK, AES/EBU, Ethernet, (optional) HDMI
    Streamer: Bluetooth + Spotify Connect, Roon Ready, UPnP
    Phono stage: None
    Headphone output: 3.5mm
    Additional points of interest: RoomPerfect™ room-correction, optional ‘high-end’ analogue input module, digital coaxial output, front panel USB socket reads storage devices
    P/review: here

    Naim Uniti Nova

    Price: £4199
    Power: Class A/B, 80wpc into 8 Ohms
    DAC: 32bit/384kHz, DSD128 – coaxial, TOSLINK, (optional) HDMI, BNC, Ethernet, WiFi
    Streamer: aptX Bluetooth + Apple AirPlay, Spotify Connect, Google Chromecast, UPnP, Roon Ready, vTuner
    Phono stage: None
    Headphone output: 3.5mm
    Additional points of interest: incredible volume control, backlit RF remote, dedicated smartphone apps, front and rear USB storage connection, microSD card slot
    P/review: not yet…but eventually…

    Micromega M-One 150

    Price: €6190
    Power: Class A/B, 150wpc into 8 Ohms / 300wpc into 4 Ohms
    DAC: 32bit/768kHz – USB, coaxial, TOSLINK, AES/EBU, I2S (HDMI), Ethernet
    Streamer: aptX Bluetooth + UPnP, Apple AirPlay
    Phono stage: MM/MC
    Headphonne output: none
    Additional points of interest: Balanced inputs/outputs, Room EQ, optional RAL colour finishes
    P/review: here

    Vinnie Rossi LIO

    Price: US$8460 (depending on configuration)
    Power: Class A/B, 25wpc into 8 Ohms
    DAC: 24bit/192kHz; DSD via DAC 2.0 – USB, coaxial, TOSLINK
    Streamer: None
    Phono stage: MM/MC
    Headphone output: 6.4mm or XLR
    Additional points of interest: modular design, high current ultracapacitor power supply
    P/review: here, here, here, here, here and here

    Devialet Expert Pro 220

    Price: €7990
    Power: Class A/D hybrid, 220wpc into 6 Ohms
    DAC: 32bit/192kHz, DSD64 – USB, coaxial, TOSLINK, AES/EBU, Ethernet, WiFi
    Streamer: AirPlay, Spotify Connect, UPnP, Roon, Devialet ‘Air’
    Phono stage: MM/MC
    Headphone output: None
    Additional points of interest: SAM speaker ‘correction’, bi-directional USB (for source digitisation), powerful online configuration tool, superb volume knob on remote control, firmware upgradable
    P/review: The Expert 200 was reviewed by yours truly for 6moons here

    Bel Canto Black ACI 600

    Price: US$25,000
    Power: Class D hybrid, 300wpc into 8 Ohms / 600wpc into 4 Ohms
    DAC: 24bit/192kHz, DSD64 – USB, coaxial, TOSLINK, AES/EBU, Ethernet
    Streamer: Roon Ready, UPnP and Tidal (via Seek smartphone app)
    Phono stage: MM/MC
    Headphone output: 6.4mm (on rear panel)
    Additional points of interest: MQA support, ‘Tilt control’ EQ, bass management system for external subwoofers, USB port for storage devices, separate headphone amplifier circuit, firmware upgradable
    P/review: here and here

    John H. Darko

    Written by John H. Darko

    John is the editor of Darko.Audio, from whose ad revenues he derives an income. He is an occasional contributor to 6moons but has previously written pieces for TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile. John used to live in Sydney. Now he lives in Berlin.

    Follow John on YouTube, Vimeo and Twitter

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