What is an integrated amp?


John B
I'm sort of a newbie so excuse my ignorance.

Does it have the ability to decode DTS etc? if so are there any 5,6 or 7 channel integrated amps out there?


to my knowledge, an integrated amp is primarily a stereo amp that will accept a tuner/CD/video/phono/tape input and amplify that signal into 2 speakers.

A receiver on the other hand is what you are talking about. Dolby Digital &DTS decoding and can also provide amplification to 5 or more speakers.

John B
Was Nakamichi the only one to offer what I decribed above? This is the only one I could find.

An integrated amp can be bought in either stereo or in multi-channel A/V formats.

An integrated amp consists of a stereo or multi-channel amplifier connected in one housing to either a stereo or A/V pre-amp.

The pre-amp may or may not have a tuner.

So there are a number of 5,6, and 7 channel integrated amps with a/v capabilities. For most people I would stay away from integrated amps. Either go separates or get a/v receivers.

Integrated amps usually aren't that powerful or give you much bang for the buck.


If you are very fond of Nakamichi products and want multi-zone amplification--I guess there is nothing wrong with this item. But I know I would much rather pay $1050 for a brand new NAD T762 receiver that also has a built-in tuner (an integrated amp with a tuner is a receiver).

Depending on your speakers I might also prefer the Pioneer Elite 53tx or the 55tx.

What also concerns me is the fact that I didn't notice any video component inputs/outputs. It just listed S-Video and composite---not good for high quality (and especially HDTV) video watching.

But I am sure the Nakamichi is a good conversation piece and you'll probably never meet anyone with this item. It is like owning a Saab :-)

I am confident the audio section is quite good. And Nakamachi products (when they are working well) are usually lot of fun and also pleasing to the eye.

John B
Thanks G-man. I think I'll go in the direction of seperates. I want a tuner that will really make the music dynamic or no tuner at all. Thats what got me thinking about the integrated amps because even the NAD tuner section on their T7X2 series receivers is sub-par.

So why pay for something that I won't enjoy listening to? I listen to music about twice as much as video. Yes, the new top receivers have done well in the area of video decoding and swicthing and thats something I'll have to look at too.

I'm still in the planning stages. Starting from scratch and trying to learn all the good and bad from each name.

I wasen't really interested in that Nakamichi. Thats the only 5.1 integrated I saw that had DTS built in. Quality issues and you points lead me to believe that it's not THE one for me.

Sadly, there are very few truly excellent tuners being made. One of the great tuners ever made was the McIntosh MR-78 which was designed years ago by Richard Modaffieri (excellent engineer). Most A/V receivers have poor to average tuner sections.

Maybe you can find a used MR-78 at a site such as or some other used Stereo site or magazine classifieds.

Two very good inexpensive tuners (as far as separates are concerned) are the Yamaha TX-950 and the Harmon Kardon TU-9600 (which I bought at least 10 years ago).

So many $1,000+ tuners are worse than the two I mentioned above.

Believe it or not the Blaupunkt Alaska RDM 168, which is a car receiver has a wonderful tuner and makes a great add-on to a good separate system. It has unbelievable selectivity and sensitivity and has a great AM section too. This is truly rare. Tuners just seem very difficult to build well (as far as good overall performance). And since most people don't use them for critical listening (like they did years ago), most receivers (even the very expensive ones) skimp on them.

Of course, going the separates route is rather expensive. Getting the HK tuner or the Blaupunkt and attaching it to the Nakamichi would give you an excellent quasi receiver. Even better would be to get a good separate amp (like an Adcom or an Outlaw Audio) an adding the excellent Outlaw Audio Pre-amp. But this gets expensive---around $2K with the tuner. But it beats any receiver out there in good music performance and then you will have a far greater tuner than any receiver under $4k.

Of course, an alternative is to buy a fairly good receiver and add-on a separate tuner(if you aren't totally pleased with the receivers tuner section).

John A.
Before HT, an "integrated amplifier" was an amplifier with both pre-amplifier and power-amplifier stages in one box, rather than as "separates". Each of these sort of amplifier (pre; power; intergrated) could be mono (single channel) or stereo (two channel). Two separate power amps, one for each channel (left and right) for stereo, made a pair of "monoblocs". The pre-amp, or pre-amp stage of an integrated amp, had the input selector and volume control, plus any tone controls, mono/stereo switch, filters etc. The power amplifier usually didn't have controls except on/off, and amplified the signal enough to drive speakers.

If an integrated amplifier also had a radio tuner (AM/FM etc) as one internal input to its pre-amp stage, then the whole thing became a "receiver". Stereo receivers were usually less than the sum of their parts, with compromises. Nowadays, "AV receivers" or "Home Cinema/Theater receivers" have all that, but with 5.1 channels (or more) instead of just one (mono) or two (stereo). They are also less obviously inferior to "separates". Even 5.1 separates are still around. They tend to be expensive.

Going back, there was also a trend to put power amplifiers inside speakers. These were called "active loudspeakers" because they took a signal from a pre-amp, amplified it themselves, and needed a separate mains supply; you didn't need a separate power amp. These speakers still exist but are rare outside high-end audiophile systems, with one exception: the subwoofer. Almost everyone's subwoofer today is an active loudspeaker; it contains its own internal amplifier, a good idea since it is the low frequencies that demand a lot of power. So the subwoofer is today usually taking its signal from that one channel at the output of the pre-amplifier stage of an AV receiver. If you decide, instead, to connect the powered sub to the speaker terminals of the power amplifier stage of your AV receiver, the sub is still working as an active loudspeaker, using its own amp to power itself, then passing on the power-amplifier stage signal to the passive main speakers. There were once passive subs (with no internal amp) that would always have to work at the speaker stage.

I am not disagreeing with G-Man. He is correct; I am just trying to clarify. The terminology is becoming confused and confusing because it is not used consistently, and that is not always easy to do.
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