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What Are The Best Stereo Amplifiers
Selecting the very best stereo amplifiers for both your needs and budget can be a tough job. There is a massive number of options on the market, making it difficult to make the right choices. The advent of online shopping makes this task far more tricky than it may have been in days gone by, where a visit to your local hifi showroom armed with a CD or stack of vinyl to audition the range of available options was not only a great way to spend an afternoon, but also perhaps the best way to get the best amplifier.
Before we explain the different models on offer, let's take a look at some key amplifier facts.
When looking at amplifiers, take a look at your speakers. You need to match the amplifier's power to the output of your speaker in order to get the best results. Look for an amplifier that can provide you with power that is twice the speaker's continuous power rating.
For example, if your speaker has nominal impedance of 8 ohms and a program rating of 350 watts, you should ensure your amplifier can produce 700 watts of power into an 8-ohm load. When looking at stereo speakers, your amp should be rated at 700 watts per channel, again into 8 ohms.
An amp with additional headroom helps you make sure that the signal that goes to your speakers remains clean and undistorted. Headroom is the difference between the normal level of operation of the amplifier and the maximum level that can be achieved without the signal becoming distorted. If enough headroom is not present, you will find that loud signals will begin to clip and distort.
Music tends to have wide variations in its dynamic range, as do movies; without that additional headroom, your listening pleasure is likely to be hindered.
Pre amp and Power amp or Integrated unit?
A pre amp is designed to take the low-level signal from your music or sound source and prepare it for the next phase of amplification. You may find that some network music players already have a preamp built in, so check carefully before you buy one.
A power amplifier is where the heavy lifting takes place to get your sound signal to a level where it can be listened to. The weak signal that comes from the pre amp gets driven through the power amplifier in order for it to have the power to be heard through the speakers.
Integrated amplifiers have pre amp and power amp stages in one unit. Generally speaking, integrated amplifiers don't do the job as well as separate units, but if you are on a budget or space is limited, this could be a great option for you.
Let's take a look at some great-sounding options for your home.
The NAD D3020 V2 Digital Amplifier has inputs for a range of digital and analog sources. The integrated USB input comes with an asynchronous mode, which provides a fantastic "shock absorber" to smooth out jitters from computer sources.
This integrated amplifier allows multiple sources to be connected, including CD and DVD players as well as Apple TV or cable receivers. Bluetooth capability allows music to be streamed directly from smartphones and laptops.
The AVM PA 30.3 Preamplifier/DAC takes its design from a legendary preamp from the early 1990s. The AVM V2 was revered for its ability to produce true fidelity across a range of sources. While some features, such as the top-quality phono input, remain from the V2, other aspects, such as the Bluetooth 4.2 with high resolution and digital inputs, bring the 30.3 right into the 21st century.
This ultra-modern preamp provides fantastic quality sound with great versatility. To top it all off, the controls and functions have been designed to be intuitive to use.
When looking for a dedicated stereo power amp, you should look for something that matches the power output and impedance of your speakers. The Linn Majik 2100 is a 2x100 watt power amplifier, which provides efficient yet flexible power options.
If you need more channels, the Linn Majik range is available in different configurations, with up to 6 different channels in the same unit.
In short, when you are looking for a new amplifier, consider how much average power you need while ensuring there is sufficient headroom to allow for a clean sound to be created, even at high volumes.