Audiophile Amplifiers

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November 21st Written by 


Bryston, Tact, Spectron and Hypex Audio are the best amplifiers we’ve encountered over the past decade but for some very different reasons. 

The amplifiers most would recommend without hesitation for anyone for anything would be Bryston. They sound great, they’re extremely well built and reliable and they have the best warranty in the business. If this sounds like “no one ever went wrong buying a Honda”, it is a little bit. But it’s no backhanded compliment. Have you taken a look at the 2013 Accord lately? 

Brystons are the amplifiers for audio connoisseurs too practically minded to be fanatics. Simply a great company to deal with. 

True fanatics can step up to Spectron. Loved by both tube and transistor enthusiasts, the Spectron amps produce huge amounts of power with an incredible level of transparency and detail. If you want to be able to read every last note on the page, Spectron will deliver them in large black print. Just make sure you have a backup amp in the garage. That John Ulrick and Spectron have not flooded the world with D1 amps is one of the great tragedies of hifi history. 

The Tact amps have been just super clean and powerful and we used them because of their built-in crossovers. ALL AMPS SHOULD HAVE THESE. But I digress. An extremely well built product with extremely refined, detailed sound and lots of power. Doesn’t grab me quite the way the Spectrons do but a great amp with unique capability. When plugged into their preamp with room correction, in a nice correctable room, the bottom end is unsurpassed. A steep learning curve. 

For the diy crowd, the Hypex amps are superb and come in a large number of configurations, some with built in crossovers.  Great stuff to work with.

Crown amplifiers have long been a mainstay of the pro sound industry but (as with most sound reinforcement gear) the sound quality has been improving dramatically.   If you are looking to drive your subwoofers with clean, cheap, abundant and reliable power check out the new digital Crown XLS amps.

Receivers are another category but don't dismiss their audiophile credentials.  The top end receivers from a number of manufacturers will raise a sweat on the brows of a good many audiophile amplifier designers.  Onkyo in particular has  a history of building really sweet amp sections into its receivers.  We used the Onkyo 818 in one of our demo rooms at the Axpona Chicago Audio show in March, 2013 and the system (under $10,000 complete) drew raves and a lot of listening time from people who spent the weekend evaluating 6 figure and up ultra audio packages.


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