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A Great Amp Will Supercharge Your Sound

Stereo amps are an essential addition to any music lover or entertainer's place. They go a long way in amplifying the audio quality of your music player or whatever device you're playing music from, making for a comprehensive musical experience. If you're ​searching for headphone amps check out our guide here.

Photo of all the best amplifiers

No.1 (Best)

No.2 (Runner Up)

No.3 (Best Value)

No.4 (Cheapest)

Choosing the right amp is imperative to enjoying stunning sound quality on a consistent basis but there are quite a few variables to consider when choosing one. Considerations can include the size of the space, the sound quality you're after, your budget and of course, all the other technical aspects that go into making a quality amplifier. Let's look into the types of amplifiers on the market first, to get an idea of what's available. If you're ​searching for car amplifiers click the link.

Top Rated 8 Amplifiers of 2018

1. Niles SI-1650 16-Channel Fully-Configurable Power Amplifier

This sought-after multi-channel amplifier is super easy to setup and boasts beautiful sleek design and convenient functionality. Its features include powerful sound output capability, with a whopping but balanced 50W to 100W RMS per channel.

It has been tested to meet the quality standards of some of the top manufacturing countries in the world, from Australia, to the EU and USA. You can even use subwoofers with this, thanks to a low THD+N. Definitely a must have for professional musos, or anyone wanting to entertain with exceptional quality sound.

Pros

  • Super easy to understand, with minor tech capabilities required to assemble
  • Features up to 16 channels, some of which you can combine into singular outputs when necessary
  • Subwoofer compatible with low THD+N filters for great uninterrupted sound quality
  • You'll enjoy the unique web browser which allows you to individually configure the channels with ease and efficiency
  • The audio circuits have been constructed using the best parts on the market, including superior capacitors, 1% Metal Resistors and large heat sinkers for distinct and undisturbed sound

Cons

  • You can only configure it after switching the power on and interacting with it
  • You'll have to login within the first 2 minutes of switching on to avoid automatic disconnection
  • It can be difficult to connect directly and it’s usually easier to just use the web configuration instead

This powerful amp comes with all the features you need to enjoy great sound in your home theatre system. Experience less sound impedance with low TDH+N and circuitry with first-rate phase properties. Its control plates are made with 13-inch black steel, and with 11 channels for sound output, you'll always have a connection point for your audio device.

Other notable features include a sturdy chassis with impressive mechanical capabilities and heavy insulators to block outer noise vibrations. Then there's the Anti-Resonance Technology aka A.R.T, which is a wedge that protects all the delicate parts and circuits inside the amp. You can now achieve bi-amping in addition to the 11 channel outputs, which makes for enhanced cinema execution, bringing the best out of your speakers.

Pros

  • Outstanding power capabilities with a super clean sound for loud volumes in both movies and music
  • Superb connection flexibility, thanks to the 11 channel output which can transmit great sound quality from any source
  • Multi-faceted sound filtering components, from the strong chassis, to the Anti-Resonance Technology, black steel control plates on the bottom and heavy insulator to block external noise all make for clear, uninterrupted sound integrity
  • Five additional bi-amping configurations have been made available for improved sound dynamics
  • The amp automatically turns the power off after 8 hours to save power, thanks to Auto Power Standby, which saves energy and money

Cons

  • Some customers have experienced quality issues with the hardware part of this amp within weeks of purchase
  • Customer service could be improved
  • Although great for super advanced home systems, this amp doesn't work that well with more demanding circuitry

With this amp, you get great value for money with inputs for TV and Blu-ray Discplayer and a superb A.R.T. Base. It also comes with speaker terminals for A, B, A+B. The design is modern and elegant with sleek gold plated details outlining the input channels.

Also featured, is an Auto Standby function that will switch the amp off after 8 hours if left unattended. You can even connect your turntables and play vinyl records in either digital or analog form, with an MM Phono cartridge.

Pros

  • Dynamic but clear sound quality
  • Multiple connection terminals from sub woofers to speakers, turntables, Optical and Coax connectors and wireless streaming through YBA-11 BLUETOOTH wireless adapter
  • Sophisticated and modern design with aluminum finishes and gold plated details
  • Energy and money saving Auto Standby technology
  • Dual heat sinks to keep out unwanted sound vibrations

Cons

  • The downside of the power saving Auto Standby is that it can cause the amp to turn itself off while you're still listening, which can be frustrating
  • Doesn't come with a USB audio source terminal

With this stereo amp, you get analog inputs, as well as inputs for A and B speakers, subwoofer Phono, digital Coax and Optical output with an MM Phono cartridge for vinyl records. While a 60W x 60W power output makes for balanced sound between the base, middle and evens out those often problematic high pitches.

You also get 8 hour Auto standby which makes for great power efficiency. The design is a bit more traditional with clearly marked controls and inputs. But don't let the plain and simple designing fool you, this one’s got a silver hairline finish and super high end knobs that make for smooth handling.

Pros

  • This is a very powerful amp with impressive distortion isolation technology that delivers powerful sound
  • It's really easy to operate, thanks to the clearly marked buttons and simple design
  • The sub woofer terminal allows you to increase the base quality of the sound without affecting the overall integrity of the file
  • You can connect speakers from two different systems with the A, B and A+B terminals
  • The amp has Bluetooth capabilities allowing you to stream and play music from any compatible mobile device

Cons

  • If you're finicky about style then the vintage design with plastic knobs might just be a turn-off
  • The USB interface can be a pain to work with
  • It is on the pricier side

This amp comes with Darlington circuits, digital inputs with 96kHz/ 24-Bit capabilities and five analog inputs with one output. Expect mind blowing sound quality with 75W capacity and super low (0. 08%) THD and 8 Ohms.

It has a smooth design with gold plated inputs so you can clearly see where your CD player, tuner and loud speakers go. With the combined power of DIDRC and the Darlington Circuitry, noise distortion is eliminated, leaving only clean and powerful sound output

Pros

  • Comes with a built in preamp to connect with turntables
  • It also has easy to connect sub woofer plugs
  • Remote controllability means you can operate it from afar, great for mobility
  • Great price point and value for money
  • This is an ideal and versatile purchase for vinyl heads who also want to use it on their home theatre system.

Cons

  • The control icons can be difficult to see and read because of the black plated face
  • The bright blue light that come on when the amp is switched on can be annoying, especially when watching a movie at night, and unfortunately it’s impossible to dim them down
  • The integrated sound quality can use some improvement

Another great bargain, this Onkyo amp has a slick futuristic design that'll fit in perfectly with your modern home theatre system or turntable setup. Included in the features are 75W Channels with low TDH, an Impedance Switch through which you can regulate the Ohmic resistance, and 3 Stage Inverted Darlington Circuits to help reduce the noise distortion throughout.

Pros

  • It features 11 channels that transport pure sound with super low distortion levels
  • With this, you don't get any delayed speaker connection, its just seamless and quiet
  • It's well constructed with sturdy materials, and definitely made to last
  • It generally improves sound quality of speakers without compromising the quality of the sound, and you won’t have to turn the volume super high it get it either
  • It's super easy to setup and configure

Cons

  • It doesn't come with a remote control
  • Unlike other modern systems, this doesn't shut down by itself no matter how long it stays on

This elegantly designed Sherwood amp comes with digital tuning cognition which makes for seamless preset and auto scanning. The vintage solid block design of this amp adds to the reliability of its sound channelling abilities. You can connect to various sources with 3 audio inputs, 2 outputs and a Phono Input, and a 100W power output for unparalleled sound power.

This amp also has an AM-FM tuner as well as Bluetooth. Other features include a headphone output jack, a sleep timer, fluorescent display and you can control the lighting through System Illumination Control.

Pros

  • The sleep timer makes it energy efficient and convenient for you
  • The Bluetooth capability means that you can stream and play music online as well as from any mobile device you choose
  • It's compatible with various components of the home theatre system from Blu-ray players to DVDs, CDs, laptops, game consoles, satellite, cable, and even old school cassette and VCRs!
  • You can easily switch between these different formats without disturbing the sound or sacrificing the quality
  • It comes with a remote control with even more features for your listening pleasure

Cons

  • Crosstalk capabilities could use some improvement
  • There is room for improvement to their shipping service as well, at times the amp arrived with incomplete components

They say dynamite comes in small packages, and the same can be said about this cute but versatile stereo amp. It's ideal for home entertainment, with Bluetooth streaming capabilities as well as 100W sound power and perfect TDH levels.

It comes with a thin, credit card shaped remote control from which you can find l the controls clearly marked, including selection of your audio source, volume, standby button and more. This is a great amp for home use.

Pros

  • You can stream music from any Bluetooth enabled device be it a PC, laptop, Smart phone or tablet
  • It's small in size and compact enough to fit effortlessly into your small home office or reading nook as your music companion
  • It has impressive noise filtering technology that removes noise distortion from any source, even from Bluetooth audio devices
  • Its power efficiency settings means that it'll power down after 15 minutes of no Bluetooth audio
  • It comes with an option to use a line input just in case the Bluetooth function isn't working properly

Cons

  • Unfortunately this doesn’t come with banana plugs to connect speaker wires
  • The Auto-Sleep function with a 15 minute window can be frustrating at times when you don't want it to switch off but have left the amp unattended
  • There's audible white noise every time you connect this to a battery operated line input
  • The Bluetooth music stream feature is a great innovation, but it's quite glitchy and causes interruptions every few minutes or so

Types of Amps

PA Amps:

These are the types of amps you'd expect to find as part of a pro music player's arsenal, typically they're used in nightclubs, large venues and even in stadium shows. They come with the capacity to deliver massive amounts of sound power, with a per-channel range of 250 to 3000 watts.

Standalone stereo amps:

These are pretty simple to understand and are typically used to connect speakers to a particular device like a laptop or tablet for example. Perfect for personal use or small spaces.

Tube Amplifiers:

Tube Amplifiers deliver excellent sound quality, thanks to the tubular structure's precise and detailed transportation of different sound nuances. You can use these on a single stereo amp and they're usually found in more upscale audio set-ups.

Powered A/V Receivers:

This particular type of amplifier comes as part of a receiver with versatile channels that allow you to play both video and audio concurrently. These are ideal for large scale entertaining on the home front.

Mono and Multi-channel amps:

As the name implies, mono amps have only one channel through which sound can travel, whereas multi-channel amps give you more options. With the latter, you can enjoy up to 15 channels delivering high quality sound at once. An immersive experience, by any standards.

How To Choose the ​Right Music Stereo Amplifier For You

There are so many options to choose from with just as many, if not more features to consider. These aspects can make the task of shopping for an amp quite complicated. Luckily for you, we've compiled a detailed list of the most key specifications that play a huge role in determining an amp's sound. Here are some important specs to consider when shopping for an amp.

  • Power Output:

The amount of power output you need in an amp depends on factors like the size of your speakers and the room where you'll be playing the music from. The bigger the space and speakers, the more volume capacity is needed.

To be more specific, you can get decently surround sound quality for a small gathering with 10W, whereas 100W would be more suited for larger venues with more space for the sound to travel. Also make sure that your speakers can handle the sound output capacity of your amp, meaning, your speakers shouldn't blow up when the volume is at its highest. Your amp wattage should be similar to your amplifiers'.

  • Total Harmonic Distortion and Noise aka THD + N:

What this basically means is that you need to consider the amount of distortion, if any, that the amplifier is going to have on the sound.

Too much will disturb the integrity of the audio, whereas a lower THD+N will deliver the sound in its accurate form. It's also important to ensure that the quality of your speakers matches your amp so that they deliver pleasurable listening.

  • Signal to Noise Ratio aka SNR:

The signal to noise ratio refers to the magnitude of usually undetectable sound such as the humming noise of the electronics, in comparison to the music that you'll be playing through the amp.

Obviously you want to hear the music coming through clearly, with little to no disturbance from any background noise. When it comes to SNR, it's best to go with bigger numbers for clear sound delivery.

  • Crosstalk:

You'll notice when playing music through headphones, for example, that you hear certain instruments in the left ear, while the right ear carries more of the soloists’ vocal instrument.

Being a single audio output, amplifiers need to integrate these two aspects of left and right, while still maintaining the alteration for proper sound quality.

So you’ll want to make sure that your amplifier maintains the right-left sound dichotomy which is achieved through the recording process, in order to seamlessly appreciate the individual instrument's contribution to the overall composition. As a rule, the larger the crosstalk number after the crosstalk minus sign, the better.

  • Input signal/ Links:

The important thing to remember here is that the more inputs your amplifier has, the more you'll be able to connect and plug in. Generally, your amp would need to have a USB port for PCs and laptops, a Phono port for turntables and a standard 3.5 mm for mobile devices like mobile phones and tablets. Each of these will deliver a unique sound from the other, but they should all be catered for through your amp.

Interested in stereo receivers?

​If you are interested in purchasing a receiver, we recommend reading our reviews of the best stereo recievers.

Conclusion

Audiophiles rejoice! With so many options to choose from, there’s definitely an amp for everyone. From high-end and high-capacity ones, to compact and sleek designed ones that are perfect for the modern home system setup. Whatever your preference or budget, you’re sure to find an amp that you can rock to with. On a final thought, if you want to see our reviews on any other sound related products check out our homepage for the list of everything we review.

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