Graham said: The Octave Audio V 40 SE is more than a bit special. It combines the grip and drive of a much more powerful amplifier with levels of transparency and detail that you’d be happy to find in a far more expensive product. It appeals to both the heart and head, and delivers a sound that modernizes traditional notions of what a tube amplifier at this price point can be and do.
The gist: The line between tubes and solid state continue to blur.
Philip said: A buyer of the Aura separates will be treated to a highly engaging sound whose warmth, midrange clarity, and solid low end offer all the ingredients of a wholly involving listening experience. The fact that they also offer so much functionality and connectivity is just the icing on the cake. Some of their competitors would be wise to follow their example.
The gist: Lifestyle mixed with audiophile.
Randall said: It brought music alive in my room in a way that moved me. And that’s perhaps the highest compliment I can pay it. The Audia Flight Two is a great performer at a fair price, and one that I could enjoy listening to for a long, long time.
The gist: Not a Ferrari, but an Italian beauty nonetheless.
Kevin said: The Audioengine N22 is a terrific little component and an incredible value. It's small, inexpensive, and ridiculously easy to use.
The gist: The amp to get for a portable hi-fi system.
Michael said: The Katlas offers high-end performance at a price that won’t have you asking yourself What did I just do? I laud Blue Circle Audio for their accomplishment at the price -- every integrated amplifier I know of that’s as good costs more. Audiophiles who want to step up from mid-fi to high-end performance without breaking the bank should consider the Katlas. It deserves a very serious listen.
The gist: A standout in a crowded field?
Randall said: The Boulder 865 is the most detailed and transparent integrated amplifier I’ve heard over the past year: Its highs and lows were impressively extended and detailed, and its midrange was very smooth and natural. If I were banished to a desert island and could bring only one integrated amplifier with me, the Boulder 865 would be it. It’s the best option I know of for someone who doesn’t want separates but still wants reference-grade sound.
The gist: A reference for integrated-amp performance.
Roger said: Though most high-end audio manufacturers may have abandoned the budget market, Cambridge Audio continues to produce many products in this category, and have imbued their entry-level Azur 350A integrated amplifier with levels of performance and quality that belie its $499 price. If you're looking for an integrated amplifier for a modest yet still audiophile-approved system, the Azur 350A is an excellent choice.
The gist: Cambridge: Still catering to audiophiles with a solid integrated under five bills.
Philip said: With its neutrality, transparency, and power, I think you’ll find your listening experience infused with the sort of energy and excitement that will remind you why you got into this hobby in the first place. Add the fact that it comes with a plethora of upgrade options and a lifetime warranty, and the B-130 could be the last integrated amplifier you’ll ever buy.
The gist: Unique features, sleek look, great sound.
Doug said: This isn’t an integrated amplifier that just equals what separates can do, not to mention any integrated amplifier I’ve heard; it exceeds what they can do. Nor can you dismiss the D-Premier’s beautiful styling, excellent build quality, compact design, and easy operation. It’s the combination of all of that with outstanding sound that makes the D-Premier not only unique, but one of the very best products on the hi-fi scene today.
The gist: A landmark product.
Kevin said: Leema Electro Acoustics has done a really good job with the Tucana II. It’s a first-class component whose performance approaches that of some of the best integrated amplifiers out there. Such performance, however, comes at a price: $4777. But if you can afford it, and if you value ample power, excellent transparency, and clean sound across the audioband, then I highly recommend you listen to the Tucana II.
The gist: Another really good integrated amp in a crowded field of competitors.
Colin said: The MD 309 is a superb integrated amplifier that, in the area of audio performance, must be one of the very best. Yes, the machine has quirks; but it can be forgiven some of these because, for its primary mission of the faithful reproduction of music, it was an excellent performer with nary a significant problem anywhere in the audioband. If all you care about are excellent sound and having enough power to de-orbit a small moon, then the Magnum Dynalab MD 309 is worth your serious consideration.
The gist: Battleship of an integrated.
Uday said: You may or may not have that problem, but if you’re in the market for a new integrated amplifier, I strongly urge you to consider the Elegance MC 701. It’s just that good. Even if you’re not in the market, check out this paradigm-shifting component, which achieves outstanding sound at a real-world price. Value just got redefined.
The gist: MBL for the masses.
Graham said: The Logos is a very good integrated amplifier that has been engineered with care to a high standard of sound quality. I enjoyed it immensely, its innately musical soul never failed to please, and it looks better than an audio component has any right to.
The gist: It looks as sweet as it sounds.