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Editors’ Choice: My Favorite Integrated Amplifiers of 2022

The integrated amplifier market is evolving and that’s a very good thing for audiophiles looking in 2022.

Cambridge Audio Edge A Integrated Amplifier Lifestyle

2022 was a really good year for those looking at the network amplifier, receiver, and integrated amplifier categories; there has never been an easier time to assemble a true high-end system with some great options as the hub.

The industry is moving away from expensive separates to network amplifiers and integrated amplifiers that support streaming for the simple reason that consumers are demanding it.

Our list is a reflection of that new reality. The criteria for making the list in 2022 was a lot of listening time. 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 $2,000 to $20,000 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.

Design Considerations

Build quality matters. Circuit design does too. And most importantly, equipment matching to speakers and other devices matters more than one would think.

Do not be seduced or turned off by power ratings. Some loudspeakers only require a few watts into an 8 ohm load, while others require an amplifier that can double its output into 4 ohms and is stable at that impedance. You are more likely to damage a loudspeaker with less power than more.

Should you go with a tube or solid-state integrated amplifier? Tube amplifiers certainly require more hands-on maintenance and it is incorrect to state that all tube amplifiers have a “warm” or “rich” sound. Not all solid-state amplifiers are neutral sounding; we can think of more than a few that are darker or warmer sounding than some tube amplifiers. 

Remember to budget accordingly when building your stereo system. This guide should provide a great starting point for building your first stereo system or upgrading an existing one. 

Whether you’re looking for a purist integrated stereo amplifier or one packed with features, we think these are some of the best to buy right now for the money.

Best Under $500

Cambridge Audio AXA35 ($349)

Cambridge Audio AXA35 Integrated Amplifier Front
Cambridge Audio AXA35 Integrated Amplifier Front Rear

Pros: Solid build quality, above average phono stage, warm tonal balance, excellent choice for 2-way bookshelf loudspeakers under $500

Cons: Bottom end can be slightly loose sounding, not a lot of detail on top

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Learn moreSee our full review.

Where to buy: $349 at Amazon | Crutchfield

NAD C316BEE V2 ($499)

NAD C 316BEE V2 Stereo Integrated Amplifier Front View
NAD C 316BEE V2 Stereo Integrated Amplifier Rear View

Pros: Solid phono stage, more power than ratings would suggest, warm tonal balance, good built quality 

Cons: No wireless capabilities or subwoofer output, bottom end could have more impact

Learn moreSee our full review

Where to buy$499 at Amazon | Crutchfield

Best Under $1,000

Rega IO ($725)

Rega io Integrated Amplifier Front
Rega io Integrated Amplifier Rear

Pros: Minimalist design, solid build quality, above average MM phono stage, tonal balance is perfect for more neutral sounding loudspeakers 

Cons: Limited power, no DAC or streaming capabilities 

Learn moreSee our Rega IO Audiophile System Builder

Where to buy: $725 at Amazon | Turntable Lab

Rotel A11 Tribute ($799)

Rotel A11 Tribute Integrated Amplifier Front
Rotel A11 Tribute Integrated Amplifier - Back

Pros: Minimalist design, very solid MM phono stage, above average power for the price point, clean and transparent sounding, Ken Ishiwata magic

Cons: No DAC, power might not be enough for some larger bookshelf speakers or mid-range floor standing loudspeakers 

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Where to buy$799 at Crutchfield

Audiolab 6000A ($995)

Audiolab 6000A Integrate Amplifier Front Black
Audiolab 6000A
Audiolab 6000A Integrate Amplifier Rear Black

Pros: Powerful, excellent transparency, detail, pacing, can be used as an integrated amplifier, pre-amplifier, or power amplifier 

Cons: No USB digital input, rather lean tonal balance require careful system matching 

Learn moreSee our full reviewSee Tarun’s video review.

Where to buy$995 at Amazon | £649 at Amazon.co.uk

Best $1,000 to $3,000

Rotel A14MKII ($1,599)

Rotel A14MKII Integrated Amplifier Front Black
Rotel A14MKII Integrated Amplifier Back

The A14MKII is an updated version of Rotel’s best-selling A14 integrated amplifier that has a lot of power under the hood. The chassis doesn’t give way just how much grunt there is under the ventilated top cover but it’s there. 

Utilizing circuit design technology from Rotel’s Michi Series and hand-selected critical components supported by countless hours of acoustic tuning and bench testing, the A14MKII Integrated Amplifier is a significant upgrade over the previous generation. 

80 watts/channel (8 ohms) of power makes this rather slim amplifier surprisingly powerful with bookshelf loudspeakers. It’s not going to drive 85 dB (4 ohms) loudspeakers into oblivion but the Rotel amplifier is not afraid to be driven hard. My experience with 4 pairs of loudspeakers did not require raising the volume that high to achieve very satisfactory listening levels. 

The internal MM phono stage is decent; it’s not going to replace a $500+ dedicated phono preamp but it certainly works better than most I’ve tried in a lot of AVRs or integrated amplifiers below $800. 

The more affordable A14MKII does more than just deliver a sliver of that; it’s clearly one of the best and most capable integrated amplifiers below $2,000 on the market. The review sample is headed back to Japan, but I’ll be ordering one for myself in the very near future. Absolutely too good to not have in my home with both the Q Acoustics 3030i and Wharfedale Diamond 12.1 bookshelf speakers in my office system. 

Learn more: See our full review.

Where to buy: $1,599 at Crutchfield

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Schiit Ragnarok 2 ($1,699)

Schiit Audio Ragnarok 2 Integrated Amplifier

The Ragnarok 2 continues Schiit’s mission of offering American-made equipment that is both modular, well designed, and affordable. There are two versions of the Ragnarok 2; the first is a “Just An Amp” version with no phono preamp or DAC, and the “Fully Loaded” version which includes both. 

Can you drive the Magnepan LRS with the Ragnarok 2? Indeed you can but it doesn’t really shine unless you raise the volume above conversation levels. 

Does it work rather well with much easier loudspeaker loads? Beyond what one could expect for the asking price. 

Schiit Audio Ragnarok 2 Integrated Amplifier Rear

The switched stepped volume control makes noise. It’s a sound that you start to ignore because the sound quality is so good. It’s an amplifier that is both incisive and warm sounding and incredibly poised with all genres of music. It could use more control in the low end and the 60 watts/channel in 8 ohms (100 watts/channel into 4 ohms) doesn’t always feel as robust as it should. 

The kicker is the balanced headphone amplifier that is better than anything in its price range and you have an American classic that is worth every penny. 

Where to buy$1,699 at schitt.com

Marantz 40n Integrated Amplifier ($2,499)

Marantz Model 40n Network Integrated Amplifier Front Black

It’s probably a sign of the times that “vintage Marantz” is one of the most searched topics on this website and on a lot of Hi-Fi Forums. Vintage Marantz equipment has definitely become more expensive over the years; perhaps not as expensive as vintage McIntosh but there are a lot of audiophiles willing to spend money on some of the classic pieces from the 1960s and 1970s.

The $2,499 Marantz Model 40n Integrated Amplifier is not your father’s Model 2270 and for a new generation of listeners focused on wireless streaming, home theater, and vinyl playback, it represents a rebirth of the brand that Saul Marantz launched in 1953 in New York.

Marantz Model 40n Network Integrated Amplifier Rear

The new Marantz Model 40n shares a very similar aesthetic to the Model 30 Integrated Amplifier and I’m definitely a fan of the industrial design. 

The price doesn’t faze me having listened to two different systems with loudspeakers that were far more expensive than the amplifiers; the 70 watts per channel, Class A/B integrated amplifier had zero issues driving either loudspeaker and I slightly surprised by the depth and width of the soundstage watching clips from Jurassic World.

Having just reviewed the Marantz CD60 CD Player, I already know how this scenario is likely to play out in the coming months in my living room; plans are underway for a system consisting of the Model 40n, CD60, and a pair of loudspeakers that are slated to arrive in a few weeks from England.

Where to buy: $2,499 at marantz.comAmazonCrutchfield 

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Best Over $3,000

Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition ($3,799)

Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition Front

While listening to the Naim Audio Uniti Atom HE Streamer at Focal Powered By Naim Houston, we were struck by the most obvious use for the product.

Streamer. DAC. Preamplifier.

I was also still recovering from the Howdy Hot Chicken Sandwich that I had consumed only hours earlier and needed to sit down and calm down. Beyond hot. 

I will agree that the name is slightly odd considering there is already a Naim Uniti Atom and there is no question that it will cause confusion for people who will think that it includes a power amplifier for your speakers. It does not. 

You can add a power amplifier to it if you already have one and a pair of passive loudspeakers.

Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition Back

The headphone amplifier is significantly better than the one inside the original Uniti Atom. By a rather large margin. Naim wants you to use the Uniti Atom HE with a pair of Focal headphones so don’t misunderstand the primary purpose of the product, network streamer and headphone amplifier.

Another thing that makes the Naim Audio Uniti Atom HE stand out is the control app. We had a rather in-depth discussion with the folks from Naim in Houston and they explained some of the backend architecture of their app for the Uniti Series products and what they have in the long-term pipeline to make it the best of its kind. 

If you’re considering adding Apple Music and Spotify HiFi in the future to your mix of streaming platforms, Naim plans on being one of the high-end brands to deliver the best streaming experience regardless of platform. We are no longer convinced that Spotify is going to get into the hi-res audio arena but the Uniti Atom HE is prefect for TIDAL and Qobuz.

Where to buy: $3,799 at Amazon | Crutchfield

Rotel Michi X3 ($5,299)

Rotel Michi X3 Integrated Amplifier Back
Rotel Michi X3 Integrated Amplifier Back

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.

Cambridge Audio Edge A ($6,499)

Cambridge Edge A Integrated Amplifier Front
Cambridge Edge A Integrated Amplifier Rear

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. 

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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. 

Learn more in our video discussion with A British Audiophile.

Where to buy$6,499 at Crutchfield

Cyrus Audio i7-XR ($3,799)(Sale ongoing — see below)

Cyrus Audio i7-XR Integrated Amplifier Front

Priced at $3,799, the Cyrus Audio i7-XR is another unique, newly redesigned amp offering up to 52 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 i7-XR deserves very serious consideration. The MM phono stage is superb by any measure.

The regular price for the i7-XR is $3.799.99 (US)

Although clearance sale pricing may vary depending on region and exchange rates, for UK customers, the sale price is £1,499 (£1,000 off) and US customers can get their hands on one for $2,229 ($1,570 off)

Learn more: See our full review.

Where to buy

US price: $2,229 ($1,570 off)

Unison Research Triode 25 Integrated Amplifier ($4,499)

Unison Research Triode 25 Integrated Front Angle Black

Italians make beautiful things. The Unison Research Triode 25 Integrated Amplifier ticks off every box and then some.

I have long held the belief that audio components reflect the culture of the people behind them; the Italian obsession with design, craftsmanship, beauty, and quality is reflected in many of the products that are produced by brands like Audio Analogue, Opera, Gold Note, Sonus faber, and Unison Research.

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Italians care about the little things that make their cars, clothing, shoes, cuisine, wine, firearms, and Hi-Fi components very different; strip away the design beauty, and one is left with products that not only strive to be unique, but are often temperamental, seductive, and quite emotive.

Unison Research Triode 25 Integrated Amplifier Rear

The Triode 25 can sound very bold with high sensitivity loudspeakers, but also charm the pants off a depressed Italian football fan with layers of detail, resolution, and wonderful presence with the human voice.

It draws you into every track in a way that kept me up most nights and I can’t say that about too many amplifiers that I’ve heard in recent years.

The Unison Research Triode 25 is certainly not inexpensive at $4,499 USD, but it is a very strong performer that keeps getting better with each passing day.

This one might be a keeper. 

Viva Italia.

Learn more: Read our full review.

Rega Aethos ($5,395)

Rega Aethos Integrated Amplifier Angle
Rega Aethos Integrated Amplifier Rear

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

Related Reading:

6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. David

    December 13, 2022 at 6:03 pm

    Ian,

    No Yamaha? WTF?! 😉

    David

    • Ian White

      December 13, 2022 at 6:41 pm

      David,

      They didn’t respond to requests for review samples. How can I tell you what something sounded like if I never heard it?

      We’ll try again in 2023.

      Best,

      Ian White

      • David

        December 14, 2022 at 12:06 am

        Ian,

        Sorry. I was totally messing with you. Apparently, you didn’t get the humor here and the connection to my WTF comments on another Ecoustics article. I hope this further helps your Google SEO. Another wink, just to make sure you get my meaning. 😉

        David

        • Ian White

          December 14, 2022 at 3:39 am

          David,

          LOL.

          It’s been a long 2022. I might have “WTF” t-shirts made now.

          😉

          Ian White

  2. Randall

    December 16, 2022 at 1:30 am

    Hi Ian,
    Any of these integrateds have a mono switch? I think I already know the answer but just checking. BTW, I enjoy the YT videos with you and Tarun. Thanks.
    Randall

    • Ian White

      December 16, 2022 at 1:48 am

      Randall,

      Greatly appreciate that you are enjoying the videos with Tarun.

      I don’t believe that any of them do offer a mono switch.

      Best,
      Ian White

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