Amps - Best for Under $500


Mike Bott
Unregistered guest
I am looking to buy a new Amp, but I have no clue what to do. I have always enjoyed friends' NAD receivers, so that's where I'm leaning to (without any sufficient stereo-based knowledge).

I need help. Can somebody recommend some really excellent amps for under $500, and the best places to get 'em?

Thanks a lot

ps I saw a post on here that mentioned a 'Stereophile list for recommended components', where would I find this?


Bronze Member
Username: Nm2285


Post Number: 52
Registered: Aug-04
You'll find the recommended components at . Are you looking for multichannel or 2 channel amps? Receiver, integrated, or just power amp?

NAD is certainly an excellent company and will probably be the best value under $500.

Mike Bott
Unregistered guest
I am so out of the loop on stereo equipment that I really don't know the difference between multichannel and 2 channel amps. Can you explain?

I need an amp for home CD and record listening. I want a nice clean full sound.

Multi channel is used for a home theater set up. Will it be strictly 2 channel or will you be watching movies? Then you would consider an 3, 5 or 7 channel amplifier.

Bronze Member
Username: Varney

BirminghamEngland, UK

Post Number: 56
Registered: Sep-04
It's the price tag which is important here in your choice. It may limit you somewhat, but this does not mean you won't get quality.

Consider this: You can buy a multichannel amp, on which to build a home theatre system for the future, but below $500 (which I think would be around £200 of my pounds....?) I think you are going to get something cheap, feature-full - and therefore possibly quite nasty. That is just my opinion. The truth in that really depends on how fussy you are.

We have two ears (well, most people I know!). In my books, that means you only really (and I mean essentially) need two speakers! If that makes sense to you, then you'll go out and buy the best possible amp unit with a single speaker output - and I'd personally reccomend looking at NAD products to do the job for you.

Put it this way - most CDs (and your older collection will fall into this category) are recorded in a good old, two channel, stereo format.

Pipe the most amount of cash you have available in your budget into this simple set up and you will not be dissapointed, that's for sure. Features can always wait till you win the lottery or get a pay rise - IF it's quality you want. Do that, and you are really paying for a robust set of power-transformers, good innards and cabling which are essential to a good sound.

That said - don't just buy something because it's expensive - not always the best route. That clean, full sound will come NAD shaped I can garauntee that - but let your ears be the judge before you buy. Cambridge Audio also do a very nice range of amps to suit your budget. Many are bi-wirable and this is definitely a feature worth having. It means you'll have the option to use bi-wirable loudspeakers - but you can always upgrade those in the future.

I find these makes do justice to the music, because it's all there. No cloudiness in the bass, when it goes 'oomph'. It's hard, clean and controlled. Textures and detail really come through.

Of the two makes I like, Cambridge Audio can sound weak with the 'wrong' speakers, but with a pair of Gale 3040's it's pure magic. NAD is chunky and aggressive and will sound reasonable even on less great speakers.

Oh, and make sure you either get something with an inbuilt phono stage for your records. Cambridge sell them seperately and will fit them for you. Older NADs always came ready fitted with them - ergo: value for money - which has always been a NAD trademark since they began. Check with your dealer to make sure the impedance of your current speakers is okay to use with either, unless you get one that is impedance switchable.

So, that's my opinion for you. See if you can get some others and see what they say. Happy shopping!

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