In the final installment of our “Best Integrated Amplifiers” Series, we take a hard look at a wide range of components with a heavy emphasis on products made across the pond in both Japan and Europe.
North American audiophiles will bemoan the absence of Pass Labs, Boulder, McIntosh, Bryston, Mark Levinson, and Conrad-Johnson — the criteria for making the list includes hands on experience and many months of listening. If we didn’t listen to it — we don’t know how it sounds.
All of these were designed to work in the context of $10,000 to $30,000 systems and represent some of the best sound we’ve heard in many years. We do wish that all of them offered internal phono preamps; it does seem silly to us that consumers should be asked to pay up to $6,000 for an integrated amplifier and have to source a comparable phono stage to complete the system; but that’s where we are in 2022.
Rotel Michi X3
Almost bulletproof in its construction (UPS driver complained about the weight), the Rotel Michi X3 delivers power, clarity, a firm grasp of the bottom end, and the ability to drive almost anything. The price has jumped almost $300 since our review (now selling for $5,299 / £4,699) but that has been the case with most products in the category; we do wish that Rotel had included support for MC cartridges as well, but the X3 is a superbly designed piece of kit.
For more information read our hands-on review of the Rotel Michi X3.
The Trilogy 925 integrated amplifier comes from a small British manufacturer and is the priciest on our list at £13,250 ($17,250 USD). Pair it with ProAc’s flagship K10 floor standing loudspeakers ($47,400) and you’ll have an audio system the envy of all others, says Tarun.
The Trilogy 925 boasts a unique design that’s fully balanced and symmetrical with 6H6П super tubes for pure triode Class A offering 135 watts of power into 8 ohms. Oddly, it won’t check the boxes of the specification obsessed, but its grip, control and warmth are unmatched.
For more information: trilogyaudio.com
Cambridge Audio Edge A
The $6,499 Cambridge Audio Edge A leaves almost nothing on the floor when pressed with difficult loads; it drives bookshelf loudspeakers, planar speakers, and large floor standing loudspeakers with a sense of purpose, clarity, and control. We wish there was a dedicated phono stage considering the price.
The construction quality and attention to detail in the design is about as good as it gets; the amplifier just does everything you ask of it with finesse, a huge soundstage, and surprising amount of warmth.
Where to buy: $6,499 at Crutchfield
Musical Fidelity Nu-Vista 600
At $7,290 / £5,699, the Musical Fidelity Nu-Vista 600 is the beefiest of the group weighing nearly 70 lbs (31kg). It’s also the second most powerful at 200 watts per channel at 8 ohms.
Pair the Nu-Vista 600 with KEF Reference Loudspeakers and they’ll absolutely be singing, according to Tarun.
Where to buy: $7,290 at Amazon | Adorama
Cyrus Audio i9-XR
Priced at $4,499 / £3,295, the Cyrus Audio i9-XR is another unique, newly redesigned amp offering up 91 watts per channel into 6 ohms. Strip away the quirky industrial design and operation, and you are left with a very confident sounding amplifier that takes on all comers in the clarity and dynamics departments.
It isn’t the warmest sounding presentation in the world, but matched with something like the Wharfedale Linton, Spendor Classic Series, or anything from ProAC — the Cyrus Audio i9-XR deserves very serious consideration. The MM phono stage is superb by any measure.
Where to buy: $4,449 at World Wide Stereo
Sugden Anniversary 50
The Sugden Masterclass ANV-50 Integrated Amplifier (£4,565 / ~$6000) was released in celebration of the British company’s 50th Anniversary. With a Class A design offering 50 watts per channel into 8 ohms, it’s not the most powerful of the group, but works extremely well with jazz, chamber music, acoustic pop and folk.
For more information: sugdenaudio.com
Rega Aethos: Honorable Mention
The $5,395 Rega Aethos can compete with almost anything on our list and in some circumstances — bests them all when it comes to the flow and texture of music. Not including an internal phono preamp has become a trend sadly, and adding Rega’s best option makes this a $10,000 investment. The Aethos is one of Rega’s finest products and far more muscular than one would think based on the specifications.
Also see our audiophile system builder series featuring the Rega Aethos to learn what loudspeakers and components work well with it.
Where to buy: $5,395 at Audio Advice
Click play at the top-of-the-page or watch the video discussion on YouTube between Tarun, A British Audiophile and Ian White, eCoustics Editor-in-Chief for more details about each of their choices.
Continue reading our picks for best integrated amps at lower price points:
- Best Budget Integrated Amplifiers 2022 (Below $1,000)
- Best Mid Tier Integrated Amplifiers 2022 (Below $3,000)
- Best Mid Tier Streaming Amplifiers 2022 ($1,000 to $4,000)
See all Best Right Now product awards in more categories.
April 23, 2022 at 4:33 am
If amps could laugh, the Anthem STR would be in hysterics.
April 23, 2022 at 1:34 pm
It’s very clear that we are only discussing amplifiers that we’ve listened to over the past 12 months.
But yes…the Anthem amplifiers are excellent. I used to own an Anthem AVR.
April 23, 2022 at 2:53 pm
It’s a good list of mid-fi amps, but not really any high end performers here. I hope you keep doing this and reach out to guys like Ayre and Boulder for future lists.
April 23, 2022 at 10:55 pm
“but not really any high-end performers here…”
If the Cambridge Edge A or Rega Aethos are mid-fi…I don’t know what to say.
$6,500 is decidedly high-end by any measure and just because an amplifier is expensive doesn’t make it good.
I would take the Cambridge Edge A, Rega Aethos, or Trilogy over 95% of what is currently available in the integrated category.