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Classé Sigma 2200i Stereo Integrated Amplifier Reviewed
Dennis Burger reviews Classé's Sigma 2200i integrated amplifier, which embraces some features not commonly found on an integrated amp--like HDMI video switching and AirPlay support. Read More
Wadia a102 Stereo Amplifier Reviewed
Wadia Digital was founded in 1988 by engineers formerly from 3M (Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company) who believed in the betterment of digital audio reproduction through research and development and the application of state-of-the-art technologies. Wadia may have been a... Read More
Home Theater Review's Best of 2016 Awards
'Tis the season for Home Theater Review's annual best-of list, where we select the best products we've reviewed in the past 12 months. Read More
Linear Tube Audio ZOTL40 MK.II Stereo Amplifier Reviewed
After my amazing experience reviewing the MicroZOTL2.0 preamplifier back in May, I was informed by Mark Schneider, owner/engineer of Linear Tube Audio, that he was coming out with a tube amplifier based on the same David Berning ZOTL design. The... Read More
Pass Labs INT-60 Integrated Amplifier Reviewed
Terry London explores the Pass Labs INT-60, a 60-watt integrated amplifier (the first 30 watts are pure Class A) with balanced inputs and outputs. Read More
Pass Labs XA30.8 Stereo Amplifier Reviewed
Ben Shyman explores the XA30.8 from Pass Labs. This 30-watt stereo amplifier is a Class A solid-state design with an MSRP of $6,800. Read More
Lyngdorf Audio TDAI-2170 Integrated Amplifier Reviewed
Greg Handy reviews Lyngdorf Audio's TDAI-2170 integrated amplifier, which is rated at 170 watts per channel and has a modular design that allows for different input/output configurations. Read More
Rotel RC-1590 Stereo Preamplifier and RB-1590 Stereo Amplifier Reviewed
Greg Handy reviews the new RC-1590 stereo preamp and RB-1590 stereo amplifier from Rotel. See how the dynamic duo performs in this week's featured review. Read More
Red Dragon Audio S500 Stereo Amplifier Reviewed
Bob Barrett reviews the $1,999 S500 stereo amplifier from Red Dragon Audio. This small 12-pound amplifier uses an S-Pro2 Class D amplifier module and is rated at 2 x 250 watts at eight ohms. Read on to see what Bob thought of its performance. Read More
Magnus Audio MA-400 Stereo Amplifier Reviewed
At the beginning of last year, I reviewed the superlative-sounding Canary Audio reference KD-2000 DSD tube DAC. Canary Audio designs and builds tube-based equipment. However, the company also has a solid-state division that is called Magnus Audio. All of Canary/Magnus... Read More
Home Theater Review's Best of 2015 Awards
It's that time of year again--time for the HomeTheaterReview.com staff to pick the products that we feel represent the best of the best from all of our 2015 reviews. We've covered a variety of categories and price points. See if your faves made the list. Read More
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Everything You Need To Know About Audiophile Amplifiers1.0 Overview
2.0 Types of Power Amplifiers
1.0 Overview of Stereo Power Amps for Home Theater
2.1 Class A-B Amplifiers
2.2 Class A Amplifiers
2.3 Tube Amplifiers
2.4 Class-D Digital Amplifiers
2.5 Monoblock Amplifiers
2.6 Power Regeneration
Power amplifiers boost the signal from a preamp to levels that a loudspeakers system can use to make a powerful audio experience. There are various technologies of amplifiers that are use. Most amplifiers are stereo amps thus can boost the amplitude of a stereo audio signal. Mono or monoblock amps are one channel amplifiers and are found mostly on the high end of the amplifier food chain.
2.0 Types of Power Amplifiers
2.1 Class AB
Class AB amplifiers are considered to be a traditional amplifier. They can be either a tube or solid state design. They can be balanced (XLR) or unbalanced in operation. In solid state designs are known for their heat sinks, large torioidal transformers and overall weight. Class AB amplifiers are still the preferred choice of audiophiles because of their powerful, clean sound but digital amplifier designs have made significant improvements in the past few years. At the ultimate level, there are now hybrid audiophile grade class AB/digital amps.
2.2 Class A Amplifiers
Class A amplifiers were at one point the audiophile's choice but their low power, ultra-high heat output, often large size and huge incoming power requirements (240 volt is best for class A amps) have seen them fall out of favor. Their pure sound is hard to argue with but they don't easily keep up with the needs of film sound track playback. They also sound best when "warmed up" for hours. They also have no real ability (by design) to do anything but to run at full power thus their draw from the wall is as strong as you can find. The analogy used by many to describe a Class A amplifier is that it is like a faucet that is turned all the way on.
2.3 Tube Amplifiers
Tube amps are the most alluring and sexy of the amp technologies. The glow of the vacuum tubes, the warm analog sound and the overall musicality make a tube amps something every audiophile should own at least once in his life. Tubes have many drawbacks once you get past the siren song of their appeal. They create a lot of heat. They have very little power compared to solid state (class AB) designs for the same money. Tube amps need constant biasing or adjustments or they will perform poorly in a matter of weeks. They need time to warm up to sound good. They need to have the tubes carefully replaced every few hundred hours of operation.
2.4 Class D Digital Amps
Digital Amplifiers are all the rage these days -specifically ones based around the Bang and Olufsen ICE chip. These amps are ultra-quiet and very low distortion. They are small, create barely any heat yet pump out incredible volumes of power compared to more traditional class AB and tube amps. Digital amps are popular in powered subwoofers and even in some receivers. The downside to digital amplifiers is that they tend to lack the musicality and weight of a traditional amp. They are just missing the musical gravitas at this point of their development. Hybrid digital amps like the Mark Levinson No. 53s are showing some new twists that hope to bridge the two designs to provide the best of both worlds even if it costs $25,000 per channel of amplification.
2.5 Monaural (Monoblock Amplifiers)
Monoblock or mono amplifiers are often the preferred choice of audiophiles and used in the most demanding home theater playback systems. Mono refers to the idea that one physical amplifier is designed to power one audio channel. The main advantage of mono amplifiers is the concept that each channel of audio gets its own power supply thus can provide more accurately and effectively the power needed in an audiophile or 7.1 speaker system as the source material demands. Some audiophile brands make dual or even tri-mono amplifiers which house multiple mono amps in the same chassis yet retain the advantages of the mono design. This normally comes at a significant cost premium. Monoblock amplifiers are commonly found in all varieties of amplifier including tube amps, solid state amps and even class D "digital" amplifiers.
2.6 Power Regeneration Inside High end Amplifiers
The highest end amplifiers on the market today offer their own internal AC power regeneration right inside of the amplifier. You do not need a PS Audio or Audiophile APS Pure Power device for your monster audiophile amplifiers. Top amps from the likes of Krell and Mark Levinson are coming with power regeneration right in the amp itself and the results allow for the last level of extreme performance and refinement for the world's most expensive amplifiers.