These 5 best stereo amplifiers of 2022 will please all astute music lovers and audiophiles – they range from reimagined classics to ultra powerful hybrid designs.
Getting lost in the infinite details of research can become overwhelming when looking for the best stereo amplifiers, but we’ve been leading in the Hi-Fi world for years which means that we’ve spent thousands of hours comparing products for you so we can better educate your choices.
In that vein, we’ve narrowed the exhaustive list down to the five best stereo amplifiers because we know that everyone approaches sound differently, whether you’re an audiophile who can take an amp apart and put it together again, a music lover who can detect the slightest differences in sound quality, or simply a music enthusiast who just wants to hear big sound go boom.
The power of an amplifier is a game changer, and a good one can make sound compelling, but a great amplifier fills any room with superior, always balanced sound.
The McIntosh MC3500 is a gorgeous reimagining of a classic, in fact the original is probably what most people visualize in their head when they are asked to think of what their parent’s amplifiers looked like. The original was featured on stage in 1969 at the historic Woodstockmusic festival, and went on to influence generations, but the latest model isn’t your grandpa’s amp.
The iconic McIntosh team was inspired by the 2019 celebration of Woodstock’s 50th anniversary and went to work redesigning the amplifier with modern technology, launching what is now a serious competitor on the market. We’re not joking when we say the MC3500 Vacuum Tube Amplifier Mk II might blow your socks off if turned up high enough. McIntosh says this model “incorporates everything we have learned about vacuum tube amplifier design since the 1960s,” and it is crafted to deliver 350 Watts into 2, 4, or 8 Ohms using McIntosh’s signature Unity Coupled Circuit output transformer so this level of power can be sent to virtually any speaker.
The retro-modern look is distinct, and features a power output meter with an attractive blue tint, and is front and center whereas its predecessor was smaller and set to the side. The glow of the unit is nostalgic for anyone with memories of past generations with a sound system at home. Further, the brushed metal exterior is up to today’s interior design standards and the unit could be featured front and center in any living room or home theater.
If you turn the EVO 300 Hybrid up, you’ll be impressed with one of the most massive sounds on the market and it’s all thanks to what’s inside – disassembled, every piece from top to bottom is of the highest quality, they didn’t take any shortcuts on this masterpiece.
The EVO 300 Hybrid is known for the best of tubes and the best of solid-state, and features a fully dual mono design with truly refined power supplies making it a popular option for a price-conscious audiophile that refuses to compromise on sound.
Where many amps fall short is in their tech designed for headphones, which if you think about it are just small speakers that don’t need as much power. This model provides one of the best headphone amp options, so it can provide quality sound, even suitable for the elegant planar headphones.
Aside from the previously mentioned wizardry, the EVO 300 Hybrid does a good job of reducing source impedance while also lowering noise, so ultra high quality bandwidth and fidelity is produced. In other words, unlike other amplifiers, this model marries the technical and the sonic aspects flawlessly.
This amplifier comes in two finishes (black and silver), and the visible tubes are not just functional, but a nice aesthetic design touch. Some amplifiers are a bit bulky visually, but this design is half the weight of many others and can easily slide into any decor theme without intruding.
3. McIntosh MA9500 Amplifier
This burly beast is loaded with 300 Watts per channel and McIntosh’s signature Autoformer™ guarantees that your speakers always draw the full 300 Watts whether they have 2, 4 or 8 Ohm impedance. Compared to the award-winning MA9000 which this model replaces, filter capacity has been doubled, reducing distortion and improving bass playback and control.
The MA9500 has a sophisticated rear panel featuring six digital inputs and ten analog inputs (yes, even RCA inputs), allowing for a diversity of impressive quality connections that may be limited on lower end models. Impressively, the phono inputs have adjustable loading so you can fine tune the sound of your vinyl records. And baller alert: This model even has gold-plated speaker binding posts to prevent erosion and to ensure your speaker cables won’t come loose (and cause a short).
Another appealing feature is their Power Guard® invention which dynamically adjusts input levels to offer maximum output as it monitors input and output signals. We love this technology because it nixes harsh distortion and clipping, both of which are famous for reducing a speaker’s lifespan.
For ease of use, we are enamored with the fact that all inputs can be configured with custom names, and this model includes a balanced and unbalanced output so audio can be sent to another power amplifier.
As with the McIntosh MC3500, you’re set to enjoy a dose of nostalgia with the blue-tinted glowing watt meter and modern metallic accents. What we’re also excited about with this amplifier is their “Home Theater PassThru” which makes it a seamless integration to any home theater. It’s chock full of powerful features that will make this an instant classic.
Let’s go ahead and get the Ro-tel tomato jokes out of the way, shall we? Because this impressive amplifier wants to come live in your home and shake the drywall off of the studs and should never be mistaken for spicy tomato chunks. Offering 1080 watts into 8 Ohm and 1800 watts into 4 Ohm, it’s no joke.
The company proclaims this model is “engineered with care,” and we couldn’t agree more. Equipped with an array of 32 high current output transistors that diminish the load on each individual component and sustain the proper energy and timing throughout the stages of amplification. The M8 is an overperformer – it even comes with Ethernet connections so your streaming service of choice doesn’t have to skip a beat.
We’re fascinated by a Japanese design that is sent to the UK for final acoustical tuning, it’s not a pairing that is traditional in the industry, but the results are decisive.
If we had to use one word to describe M8, we would choose control. It is simply the best descriptor for the M8 as Rotel describes it is “powered by a pair of custom engineered, low noise, in-house manufactured toroidal transformers supported by 4 British patented slit foil, high efficiency, low ESR bulk storage capacitors for impactful bass with exceptional control under extreme loading conditions.” Like we said – control.
What stands out about the M8 goes beyond sound, it even flirts with art as the industrial style design with a chassis of 4-mm-thick anodized aluminum and a 2mm-thick tempered-glass front which boasts a high resolution display. It is sleek, understated, and dignified in its appearance.
Be still, my geeky heart, the Naim Uniti Nova is a tech audiophile’s dream, marrying impeccable sound with the demands of tech consumers. This jewel of modernity is well regarded as an all-in-one, as it is integrated with a streamer built in, a five inch LCD screen, and an intuitively built app to control the entire experience from your mobile device of choice.
Forget a cd player, this bad boy is wi-fi connected, but you might be surprised to learn that it currently offers integrated Spotify, Apple Music, TIDAL, and Qobuz, plus comes with Chromecast already built in and Bluetooth playback. Additionally, it supports Google Assistant and Apple Siri so you can be in full control from any room. And don’t worry, you can store up to 20,000 tracks to a local USB connected storage device in case your internet is ever down. See what we mean about geeky heartedness?
They’ve thought of everything techy, it even has a proximity sensor that lights or dims the screen depending on where you are in the room. But this amplifier isn’t just remarkable because it has all of the workings a tech fiend would need, it also produces room-filling rich sound we’re in love with.
The Uniti Nova perfectly masters range frequency with beautiful deep bass and crisp treble that perfectly compliment each other, and this model is known for a rhythmic balance that seems effortless. It’s even aptX HD enabled, for a stunning sonic experience. One of the top five of the year, it is a gorgeous build that will compliment any system, with a tech twist that will easily win over the American market.