Best Budget Stereo Amplifier (2022): Top 15 Audiophile Picks
A pair of great speakers without the right amplification is like Bonnie and Clyde without Clyde or Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hide without Mr. Hide. If you want to listen to good music, you need to have a good stereo amplifier, too, and that’s true. There are some things you can’t do with just any amplifier and any pair of speakers, like connect them together. It has to be the right kind of amplifier. It has to be strong enough to drive the speakers, and it has to be able to provide clean power without making noise or making other sounds. There are a lot of things to think about when you buy an amplifier. Here are some of the things you should look for: If you want to know everything you need to know about the best budget stereo amplifiers in 2022.
As a rule, some of the best low-priced stereo amplifiers can also be found that give you the most value for your money. In the old days, if you had a lot of audio equipment around, it was easy to tell that you were a fan of music. However, technology is all about making things easier to find and getting rid of a lot of clutter. People had a powerful pair of speakers or headphones, a stereo receiver, maybe even a Bluetooth receiver, a pre-amp that let them choose inputs and change the volume, and a power amplifier that drives the audio device. They also had a power amplifier. Stereo Amplifiers are used to play music in two different ways. As a good thing, you don’t need all of that to have a good time listening today.
As long as you have good speakers or headphones, you’ll be all set. For the speakers, you can check out our picks for the best studio speakers as well, as well. Modern home stereo amplifiers take over for all of the things we talked about in the previous paragraph. However, high-quality audio gear can be pricey, as is the case with these items. A stereo amplifier adds more detail and loudness to sources that don’t have a lot of power. Make sure you have this if you want to use headphones or speakers with your blu-ray player, turntable, desktop set-up, or something else that plays music. Better and louder sound is possible because of this.
What Kinds of Stereo Amplifiers Are There?
Stereo amplifiers are classified into two types based on the functions they perform: power amps and integrated amps. A stereo amp’s primary function is to amplify the audio signal coming from the audio source (or from a preamp) and drive the speakers. This function is performed by both power amps and integrated amps. However, this is where the job of power amplifiers ends, whereas integrated amplifiers have a few more responsibilities. Integrated amplifiers also include a built-in preamp and, in some cases, a DAC. As a result, integrated amplifiers are essentially 2-in-1 or 3-in-1 devices that must convert the digital signal, prepare it for amplification, and amplify it. It is a much more difficult and demanding job than that of a power amplifier.
So, which is better: a power amplifier or an integrated amplifier? If you ask an audiophile, he will tell you to go with a power amplifier and purchase a preamp and DAC separately. If you have the money and space for such a system, using three separate units for three separate jobs is the preferred method. However, this does not rule out the possibility of purchasing an integrated amplifier. A great integrated amp, like a high-end power amp, can cost $10,000 or more and sound fantastic. Some argue that integrated amplifiers can sound just as good as dedicated power amplifiers. Another advantage of integrated amps is their low cost; most budget stereo amps on the market are actually integrated amps. Based on the amplifier circuit design, stereo amplifiers can be classified into four groups/classes.
Class-A, Class-B, Class-AB, and Class-D are the most commonly used classes. Class A amplifiers provide the best audio fidelity and sound quality. They are the type that audiophiles prefer. The main drawbacks of these amps are their low efficiency, high heat dissipation, and high cost. Class-B amplifiers are a subset of Class-A amplifiers. They are more efficient, but their sound is more distorted. Class-AB amplifiers, as the name implies, combine the best features of Class-A and Class-B amplifiers, but they still don’t sound as good as Class-A amplifiers. Class-D amplifiers are the most efficient and the least expensive, but they do not sound as good as Class-A amplifiers. The majority of low-cost stereo amplifiers are Class-D.
The Purpose of a Stereo Amplifier
A stereo amplifier’s main function is straightforward: it receives an audio signal from the preamp (power amplifiers) or a source device (integrated amplifiers), amplifies it, and sends the amplified signal to the speakers. Making an amp that does its job efficiently and effortlessly is not so simple. Making a budget stereo amplifier that provides superior performance at an affordable price is even more difficult. These amplifiers will be the focus of this article, and we will attempt to explain all of the benefits and drawbacks of budget stereo amplifiers, as well as discuss prices and present you with our selection of the six best budget stereo amplifiers in 2022.
Power Amplifiers VS Integrated Amplifiers
Power amplifiers and integrated amplifiers are the two types of stereo amplifiers. Power amplifiers must only do one thing: receive the incoming audio signal from the preamp or DAC/Preamp and send an amplified signal to the speakers. Integrated amplifiers are a little busier because they combine an amp and a preamp in one box. In some cases, a DAC is built right in. They amplify the audio signal and drive the speakers, but they also receive signals from various audio sources (CD players, music streamers, turntables, and so on), process those signals, and, in some cases, convert all digital signals to analogue. So, which is better, power amps or integrated amps?
Most audiophiles will argue that having a separate amplifier, preamplifier, and DAC is a better option because it allows for better signal processing and cleaner output. This is a valid point in general. A well-executed integrated amp, on the other hand, will provide you with an amazing experience and will usually cost less than three separate units. So, if you’re looking for a less expensive option, an integrated amp is the way to go. But, when it comes to stereo amplifiers, what is considered affordable?
Top 15 Budget Stereo Amplifiers in 2022 – Full Review
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Top Budget Stereo Amplifiers in 2022 – Full Review
#1. Best Stereo Amplifier Under $150 – Sony STR-DH190
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Sony STRDH190 is our top pick for under $150. It’s a stereo amplifier that has a lot of analogue inputs and can power up to four speakers (only two can be powered at the same time).
The speaker wire, stereo RCA cable, phono cable with grounding wire, and 3.5mm audio cable are all included in the package. You don’t need to buy anything else. As a bonus, it comes with a nice-looking remote, an FM antenna that can be taken off, and a user manual that is easy to read. The STR-DH190 looks a lot like some Sony AV receivers, but there are fewer buttons and fewer connections. In terms of size, it’s very small (5.25in). It should fit in any TV cabinet. It’s always like this: All of the controls are on the front, and all of the inputs are on the back. The front panel has a few simple controls (volume dial, input selector, tuning buttons, Bluetooth button, etc.) Also, there is a 6.35mm headphone jack and a 3.5mm input on the front.
Among the things on the back of the device are an analogue phono input and four spring-clip speakers. There are also four RCA stereo inputs, a USB port for service, an FM antenna, and a USB port for connecting the device. The amplifier can run 6-16 speakers. It can put out 100W per channel when it’s driving two 8-ohm loads at 1kHz, and it can do that with two 8-ohm loads. This lets you connect up to 4 speakers (two pairs). However, you can’t run power to all of them at the same time (only one pair can be powered at once). When you want to switch between two pairs, just press the speaker button on the front panel or the remote button that looks like it.
Other than analogue connections, the STR-DH190 has a built-in FM radio and can be used with Bluetooth (Bluetooth 4.2). The Bluetooth connection works perfectly and has a stable performance range of 30ft. The remote that comes with the TV comes with a lot of advanced settings. You can change the bass and treble levels, turn on the PURE DIRECT feature, and more.
The USB port on the back can’t play music. A bad thing about spring-clip terminals is that they don’t work with banana plugs and aren’t very good. Lacks an AM radio tuner.
#2. Best Stereo Amp Under $200 – Yamaha R-S202BL
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The Yamaha R-S202BL stereo amplifier is similar to the previous Sony stereo amplifier. They have many similarities, such as Bluetooth connectivity and the same power output. The built-in AM tuner on the Yamaha amp gives it an advantage over the previously reviewed Sony amp, which has phono inputs.
The Yamaha R-S202BL, like the Yamaha AV receivers, is small and elegant. It has a stylish brushed aluminium housing. The unit is relatively thin (5.5in) and should fit into the majority of TV cabinets. The package includes FM and AM antennas, a remote (with batteries), and a user manual. Unlike the previous Sony amp, this one does not include any audio cables or speaker wire; you must purchase these separately. A slim LCD display is located on the front panel (shows frequency, mode, and settings). A series of control buttons (power, speaker selector A/B, bass/treble adjusters, input selector, tuning buttons, and so on) are located beneath the display. A headphone output (6.35mm) and a large volume dial are also located on this control panel.
There are AM and FM connectors on the back, as well as four pairs of RCA inputs, one pair of RCA outputs, and four spring-clip speaker terminals. The R-S202BL is compatible with 2-8 speakers. It can deliver up to 100W per channel (with two 8-channel drives, 40Hz-20kHz, and 0.2 percent THD). You can connect up to four speakers (two pairs), but you can only listen to one of them at a time. In addition to analogue connections, this unit has Bluetooth connectivity (Bluetooth 4.1 with EDR) and built-in AM/FM tuners. The Bluetooth connection provides satisfactory performance.
The included remote controls the bass and treble levels, adjusts speaker balance (L/R), memorises up to 40 radio presets, and controls Bluetooth playback. There are no digital inputs. There are no phono inputs. The speaker terminals are spring-clip. The terminals are made of plastic and do not appear to be very durable. They are also incompatible with banana plugs.
#3. Best Cheap Stereo Amplifier – Fosi Audio BT10A
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The Fosi Audio brand is a generic one. It may not be as well-known or trusted as Sony or Yamaha, but it nonetheless produces high-quality inexpensive amplifiers. The TB10A is one of the smallest and most affordable desktop stereo amplifiers available. It’s simple to assemble and is ideal for a pair of modest desktop or bookshelf passive speakers.
The amp features a sturdy aluminium chassis and is extremely compact (far smaller than the previous two amps). It has a detachable power cable as well as a user manual. There are no audio cables provided. The power switch is located on the front panel, along with a small power/source indication and three dials (treble, bass, volume). One 3.5mm audio input, a detachable Bluetooth antenna, two pairs of 5-way binding posts (compatible with banana plugs), and a DC input are all included on the back panel. 2-8 speakers can be used with the unit.
The reported maximum power output is 50W x2 (presumably at 8), but there is no information in the manual regarding this. This device is only useful for small, inexpensive passive desktop speakers. The Fosi BT10A will not suffice if you have a pair of huge bookshelf speakers. With the exception of the 3.5mm audio connector, this device has a built-in Bluetooth receiver that supports Bluetooth 5.0 and has a range of up to 50 feet. There is only one AUX connection; there are no RCA or other audio inputs. Larger bookshelf speakers can’t be driven because the amplifier isn’t powerful enough. There is no support for aptX/aptX HD.
#4. Best Stereo Amplifier Under $500 – Marantz PM5005
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Our top pick for under $500 is the Marantz PM5005. This amplifier is also one of the greatest audiophile stereo amplifiers for the money. It isn’t particularly powerful (40W x 2 into 8), but all of the circuits are totally analogue, and the sound quality is superb. On our list of the 6 best affordable stereo amplifiers in 2021, this is undoubtedly the best-sounding amp. A detachable power cable, a remote (with batteries), and a user manual are included with the Marantz PM5005. It boasts a sturdy and beautiful design, with an easy-to-use control panel on the front and all inputs on the rear.
Because the unit is so little (4.1in), it should be easy to find a suitable location for it. On the left end of the control panel is an input selector, and on the right end is a volume dial. The rest of the control buttons and knobs, as well as a nice-looking LCD status/source indicator, are in the middle. Bass, treble, and balance changes are all controlled by three little dials.
There’s also a SOURCE DIRECT button and a speaker selector (A-B). There are dedicated phono inputs and three extra RCA inputs on the back panel. You also get dual RCA recording inputs and outputs (for Recorder 1 and 2). Two sets of 5-way binding terminals compatible with banana plugs are included in the PM5005. Up to four speakers (2 pairs) can be connected, but only one pair can be powered at a time (or you can bi-wire one pair). The amplifier can be used with four to eight speakers. It can output up to 40W per channel (when two 8 channels are operated at 40Hz-20kHz with a THD of 0.01 percent).
The amplification circuits are all made of analogue components. The SOURCE DIRECT function is available on the PM5005. When enabled, this feature works in the same way as Sony amps’ PURE DIRECT. It bypasses the volume and tone control circuits, resulting in a considerably cleaner, unfiltered sound. Additional features include the ability to change the bass and treble settings as well as the sound signature to your liking. You can also change the balance (L-R).
#5. Best Desktop Stereo Amplifier Under $200 – Audioengine N22
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The Audioengine N22 is a great amplifier for your desktop setup if your budget is under $200. It’s small and slender, with a straightforward control system and a wide range of networking options. It also functions as a headphone amplifier.
The Audioengine N22 comes complete with a stand, speaker wire (16 AWG), RCA cable, AUX cable, and power adapter. Because it’s designed to sit on your desk, within reach, this item doesn’t come with a remote. The amp is designed to be used vertically, which is why it includes a stand. It has a modest appearance yet is highly appealing. The design of the front panel is quite simple.
A volume dial is located in the middle, a power indicator is located at the top, and a headphone output is located at the bottom. There are two inputs on the back: RCA and 3.5mm. There’s also an RCA line out, a power input, a USB connector (for charging phones/tablets exclusively), and gold-plated 5-way binding posts. The amplifier can be used with four to eight speakers. The continuous power output per channel is 22W (both channels powered at 20Hz-20kHz, THD 0.1%). The maximum power output is 40 watts. This amp is recommended for use with Audioengine’s P4 speakers.
The N22 contains a built-in Bur-Brown OPA2134-based headphone amplifier that can handle a wide range of headphones, including the most demanding. For larger and more demanding bookshelf speakers, the unit is insufficient. The Audioengine N22 does not have Bluetooth capability. Although Audioengine produces various high-quality Bluetooth receivers, they are sold separately.
#6. Best Desktop Stereo Amplifier Under $500 – NAD D 3020 v2
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The NAD D 3020 v2 outperforms the Audioengine N22. It’s a desktop stereo amp, but it’s more adaptable, has Bluetooth, and more power. The NAD D 3020 v2 is one of our favourite desktop stereo amps. Like the N22, it’s a headphone amp.
The NAD D 3020 v2 comes with a detachable power wire, a tiny remote, an AUX-to-RCA connection, and a user manual. The rest are sold separately. The amplifier is elegantly designed. It should be arranged vertically to save space. On the front, there’s a volume dial (top), 6 LED lights (for source, volume, and BASS boost), a Bluetooth connection indicator, and a headphone output. On the top are two touch-sensitive buttons: power/standby and S (source). All connections are on the back panel, which is cluttered.
It has an MM phono preamp so you may connect your turntable directly. On the back of the unit are gold-plated binding posts and a subwoofer output (compatible with banana plugs). The amplifier supports 4-8 speakers. It can deliver 40W per channel (two 8-loads, 0.1 THD, 20Hz-20kHz). The NAD D 3020 v2 also has Bluetooth with aptX compatibility. Inbuilt 24bit/96kHz DAC ensures high-quality music even when used with Bluetooth.
The remote is easy to use. It lets you change the fundamental parameters (volume, source selection, playback controls in Bluetooth mode). The remote simply controls the BASS BOOST. No specific bass/treble controls. This inexpensive stereo amplifier can also serve as a headphone amplifier, even with 600 watt headphones.
What to Expect from a Budget Stereo Amplifier?
To be sure, a $200 or $300 stereo amp is not going to deliver audiophile performance. At this price point, you may anticipate a few analogue inputs, possibly even phono inputs, Bluetooth connectivity, and a maximum power output of 100W per channel (tested with eight loads across the whole audible spectrum). Stereo amplifiers priced between $300 and $500 are typically more adaptable. Some even include digital inputs (optical, coaxial, USB). The majority of them also include Bluetooth connectivity and have a maximum output power of 100W per channel (as measured with eight loads across the whole audible spectrum).
As the price rises, you may receive additional inputs or a larger power output, but you may also have the same versatility and power output but with significantly improved sound fidelity and overall performance. It is dependent on the stereo amplifier you select. We choose to put the maximum at $1,000 for the sake of this essay. That may not seem budget-friendly, but it is, especially when you consider how much a great stereo amp may cost. Now that you’re aware of what to anticipate in terms of performance, connectivity, and audio quality, have a look at our list of the ten best budget stereo amplifiers. The list is separated into two sections: the best values under $500 and the greatest values under $1,000. Simply select a budget limit and choose a category that fits inside it.
BEST BUDGET STEREO AMPLIFIERS UNDER $300
#1. Yamaha R-N303BL – Best Budget Stereo Amp Under $300
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The Yamaha R-N303BL is a highly acclaimed and adaptable stereo amplifier. It’s ideal for large systems with mixed analog/digital sources. The Yamaha R-N303BL can be used in a multiroom speaker system with other MusicCast-enabled Yamaha speakers. Remote, batteries, removable Bluetooth/Wi-Fi antenna, documentation and warranty are included with R-N303BL. It looks like many other Yamaha stereo amps and AV receivers.
Controls for input selection, bass, treble and volume are located on the front panel. The integrated remote makes controlling everything much easier. It’s packed and it takes a while to get used to the controls, but it gets easier.
The amplifier has many inputs. There’s one MM phono, three RCAs, one RCA out, digital optical, and coaxial. The unit also contains AM/FM antenna connectors, an Ethernet port, and a headphone OUT on the front panel. R-N303BL has Bluetooth and wifi connectivity (only 2.4GHz, not dual-band). The MusicCast app allows you to wirelessly broadcast audio from Spotify, Pandora, Tidal, SiriusXM, and other streaming apps. It also works with additional MusicCast speakers, amps, and AV receivers to create a multiroom system.
Hemp amp features 24bit/192kHz DAC built-in. It can play lossless files (ALAC, FLAC). It plays DSD files (up to DSD128). It works with Alexa and Google Assistant. With 0.2 percent THD, the RMS power output is specified at 100W per channel. The unit features two speaker connections for connecting two sets of speakers. Only one pair can be active at a time, and you can switch between them using the control panel’s A-B controls.
#2. Sony STR-DH190 – Best Budget Stereo Amp Under $150
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The STR-DH190 is a stereo amplifier that is both versatile and powerful. It contains phono inputs and Bluetooth connectivity, among other things. It’s not quite as good as the old R-N303BL, but for less than $150, you can’t really ask for much more. The amplifier is equipped with a remote control and an FM antenna. It can be controlled by pressing the buttons on the front panel or by using the remote control. They are both simple to use and quick to respond. Each of the eight inputs and outputs on the STR-DH190 is divided into four groups, each of which has four pairs of inputs and one pair of outputs. There is also an AUX input on the front panel and one headphone output (front panel).
The amp also includes a USB connector, however it is not intended for music playback; rather, it is intended for firmware updates exclusively. Last but not least, the gadget is Bluetooth-enabled. It has Bluetooth 4.2 technology, which has a good range and provides perfect functioning. If you enjoy listening to music on the radio, you’ll be pleased to know that the unit includes an FM tuner (but lacks an AM tuner). With less than 0.09 percent THD, the RMS power output is rated at 90W per channel (two 8-channel amplifiers pushed across the 20Hz-20kHz range at 90W per channel). The amp is equipped with two sets of spring-clip terminals, allowing you to connect two speaker sets to it simultaneously.
#3. Cambridge Audio AXA35 – Best Low-Profile Budget Amp Under $350
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If you want to start listening to high-quality stereo music, the AXA35 is a good way to start. It’s not as versatile or powerful as the other two, but it has a “cleaner” signal and better audio quality. It’s a good choice for small, high-end desktop speakers. Compact and thin, the Cambridge Audio AXA35 has a silver finish and is very easy to move around with. The front of the phone has all the buttons, a simple display, one headphone OUT, one AUX IN, and a volume dial on the front. You can also use the remote that comes with the TV to change all the settings.
The back of the amp has one MM phono input, four RCA inputs, one RCA output, and a USB port that can charge your phone while you listen to music (allows you to connect a USB-powered Bluetooth receiver or Google Chromecast). One of the two channels has an RMS power output of 35W. It drives two 8-inch channels with less than 0.15 percent THD across the range from 20Hz to 20kHz. The advertised frequency range is from 5Hz to 50kHz (-3dB). The sound is punchy, accurate, and balanced, with a clear and detailed midrange that makes it stand out.
#4. Marantz PM5005 – Best Budget Stereo Amp Under $500
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Like the Cambridge Audio AXA35, the Marantz PM5005 is an entry-level hi-fi amplifier that can be used to play music. It has a little more power, more analogue inputs, and less distortion than the AXA35. The PM5005 is a good-looking, low-profile amp that can connect to a lot of different things. The buttons and dials are all on the front panel. There is a button for each adjustment, so you can set the bass and treble levels or change the volume in one step. Is there a fully-functional remote that comes with the package? Amplifier: It has one MM-phono input, three inputs, and two outputs.
It also has RCA inputs and outputs. This means you can connect two pairs of speakers to the amp. It has two sets of five-way binding posts, so you can do this. You can only use one speaker at a time. Finally, the front of the PM5005 has a headphone jack. The RMS power output for each channel is 40W per channel (two 8-ohm channels driven across the 40Hz-20kHz range with less than 0.06 percent THD), which is 40W for each channel.
It can also be used with 4 speakers (55W per channel). The amplifier gives you clear, transparent, undistorted, and correct sound. You can use the SOURCE DIRECT FUNCTION to get louder and unfiltered sound. It bypasses the volume and tone controls and improves the sound quality.
#5. Denon PMA-600NE – Best Budget Stereo Amp Under $400
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In terms of stereo amplifiers under $400, the Denon PMA-600NE is a strong contender. On the front, there is an easy-to-use control panel, and on the back, there are an astounding amount of connectors. A remote control is included as well. One MM phono input, three RCA inputs, and a recording RCA input and output are all provided by the amplifier. Two TOSLINK inputs and one coaxial input are also provided.
Each of the front-panel speakers comes with one 6.35mm headphone output. One speaker pair can be connected to PMA-600NE’s single set of speaker connectors. Spade lugs and banana plugs are both supported by the 5-way binding posts. You have a pre-output for a powered subwoofer in case you want to install one. It’s possible to connect the amp to a Bluetooth device. An integrated 24-bit/192kHz D-A converter is included. For each channel, the RMS power output is 45W (two 8-ohm channels pushed across the frequency range 40Hz-20kHz with less than 0.07 percent THD).
The sound quality is excellent, and it’s really precise. Analog and Source Direct are the amp’s two unique modes of operation. PMA-600NE’s Analog mode transforms it into an all-analog power amplifier (it turns off all the digital inputs and Bluetooth when listening to analogue audio sources). In order to get the best sound possible, the Source Direct ignores volume and tone settings.
#6. Marantz PM6006 – BEST BUDGET STEREO AMPLIFIERS UNDER $1000
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In comparison to the PM5005, the PM6006 is an improved variant. It has a similar power output and design, however it has a greater number of ports. The amplifier is incredibly thin and small. Volume, balance, bass, treble, and the input selector are all located on the front of the device. There is a single 6.35mm headphone jack on the bottom left. Two TOSLINK and one coaxial digital input are located on the back panel, along with one phono jack, four RCA inputs, and a recording RCA output.
There are no AM or FM tuners, Bluetooth, or Wi-Fi built in. High-quality lossless files (up to 24bit/192kHz) can be played on the amp’s built-in DAC. DSD files can also be played (up to DSD128). A total of 40W (two 8-ohm channels pushed across the 20Hz-20kHz frequency band with less than 0.08% THD) is delivered per channel. The five-way binding posts on your speaker terminals allow you to connect two sets of speakers (only one pair can be driven at a time).
The Source Direct function is present in the PM6006 as well. Bypassing the amp’s volume and tone controls is the only way to use this feature. As a result, audio fidelity and volume will be much improved.
#7. Yamaha A-S501BL – Most Versatile Stereo Amp Under $600
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Designed by Yamaha, Yamaha A-S501BL comes with a remote control. Input/volume knobs, bass/treble/balance buttons, speaker a/b selectors, the power button, and an IR receiver are all located on the front panel. Additionally, there is a single headphone jack on the panel. One phono input, five RCA inputs, and two RCA outputs are located on the back of the unit. One digital input is optical and the other is coaxial. For charging purposes, there is a USB port on the rear (not for music playback). There are two speaker terminal sets on this amplifier (compatible with spade lugs and banana plugs).
It is possible to connect two sets of speakers and play them simultaneously. Subwoofers can be added to your system via the amp’s preamp output connector. When operated across the 20Hz-20kHz frequency range with a THD of less than 0.019 percent, the RMS power output is 85W per channel. Yamaha’s Pure Direct function is similar to Denon and Marantz’s Source Direct. Audio signals bypass the volume and tone controls when activated, resulting in louder, more distinct sound. Clean, undistorted, and neutral sound is provided by the Yamaha A-S501BL. It’s well-written, open, and a lot of fun.
Buyer’s Guide – Things to Look for When Buying a Stereo Amplifier
When it comes to stereo amplifiers, inputs/outputs and power output are absolute musts. Depending on your needs and preferences, you should also look for an amplifier with some extra features (such as AM/FM tuners, built-in Alexa/Chromecast/Airplay, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, multiroom functionality, and so on).
What is Considered Affordable When It Comes to Stereo Amplifiers?
Power amplifiers and stereo amplifiers have a wide range of prices. Some high-end amplifiers cost well over $10,000 (for example, the Goldmund Telos 7 NextGen costs over $12,000). Many high-end amplifiers cost more than $100,000 (Goldmund Telos 3500+, Dynaudio Arbiter, Naim Statement), however these are mainly monoblocks (one amplifier is responsible for one speaker only).
Fortunately, a large variety of stereo amplifiers are available for less than $1000, $500, or even $100. So, the good news is that you don’t have to sell your property in order to purchase a stereo amplifier. So, when it comes to stereo amplifiers, what is considered budget-friendly? We opted to set our cap at $500 for the purposes of this study, however an entry-level audiophile-grade amp may cost up to $1,000.
You don’t need the most versatile amp. You only need something that works with your setup. No need for phono inputs if you don’t have or don’t want a turntable. It’s nice to have, but not required. Then you don’t need 5 or more analogue sources. Look for a stereo amp with a USB port to connect your PC/Mac. Need additional digital sources? Look for digital (optical/coaxial) inputs.
Outputs are simpler. Most speakers come with one set of terminals. Cheaper amps have spring-clip connections. These terminals only work with bare wires and are fragile. Choose a product with 5-way binding posts that accept banana plugs and spade lugs. These binding posts are usually more adaptable. There are several amps that have two sets of speaker terminals.
Bluetooth is becoming more common in stereo amplifiers (even the cheapest ones). Wi-Fi and other functions are still reserved for more expensive amps ($500+). Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity are both useful extra capabilities that can be useful in certain scenarios.
A stereo amplifier has to be able to work with the speakers that you already have. Ideally, it should be able to drive them with ease and not get too hot even when they’re at their most loud. Make sure your speakers can handle the power and impedance, and then check your amp’s specs and look for the power output for the impedance you want to use. This way, you can find something like that.
Some manufacturers only give power outputs for 6 speakers, but other manufacturers give power outputs for 4 and 8 speakers as well. Even if you don’t know what kind of impedance is used to measure the power output of the product, don’t take the product description numbers for granted. Also, it’s important to know whether the power output is measured at 1kHz or across the whole range of sounds that we hear. The same is true for THD values, too. Two or more amps must have the same impedance and frequency when you compare them to each other.
Modern stereo amplifiers have many more functions. These options, like Bluetooth and wi-fi, are optional but can be quite beneficial in certain situations. Amplifiers with AM/FM tuners are the most common. Multiroom capabilities, Airplay and Chromecast support, Alexa built-in, and other advanced features are normally found in more expensive stereo amplifiers.
What is the Best Budget Stereo Amp and What are the Best Brands?
Because we all have various speakers and components in our stereo systems, there is no such thing as a universal stereo amp. So here are our picks for the finest affordable stereo amplifiers. Check it out and discover something that meets your needs and budget. It’s also difficult to single out a few brands. Great manufacturers abound. Yamaha and Sony are the finest choices if your speakers aren’t overly demanding. If you have $500 or $1,000 to spend, you have more options. The list goes on and on.
Budget Stereo Amplifiers- FAQs
Q:How do I choose a stereo amplifier?
When you buy a stereo amplifier, you need to think about your budget, performance, sound quality, and how many inputs there are. When you’re on a tight budget, you have to pick your fights. Among other things, one amplifier might have a lot of inputs and not sound very good. You need to figure out which features and aspects are most important for your use case.
Q:Do expensive amplifiers sound better?
This one defies objective response. In the audio realm, price increases are usually due to better internals. This is what differentiates sound quality. While higher-end amplifiers sometimes sound better, it relies on the components, fine-tuning, and sound signature. Brand image and recognition are also factors. Newcomers often make the error of underpowering their equipment. Don’t overspend on speakers, but do pick an amp that suits your budget and can power your gear.
Q:How much should I spend on speakers vs AMP?
The thing is, when it comes to spending money on an amp and speakers, there is no magic ratio. In general, you should spend as much money as you can afford on speakers. They will have the greatest influence on sound quality. When it comes to the amp, it’s critical to get something that can easily power your gear.
Q:Do amplifiers actually improve sound quality?
This is a common question among newcomers. Yes, amplifiers improve sound quality, and the difference can be significant. This is because it increases the audio system’s power headroom. A good amplifier will allow you to listen to music at higher volumes without distortion. This is what most people mean when they say amplifiers improve sound quality. Some units can even change the sound signature depending on the model.
Q: What is the best budget stereo amplifier?
We can’t give you a single answer for a variety of reasons, including price differences, power output differences, and the fact that different integrated stereo amps have different inputs. So, what is ideal for me or you does not have to be ideal for everyone. The best advice we can give you is to scroll up and look through our list of the 6 best budget stereo amplifiers in 2021 until you find something that appeals to you.
Q: Which stereo amplifier brand is the best?
Because there are so many great brands, it’s impossible to single out just one. Marantz, Sony, Yamaha, Cambridge Audio, NAD, and other brands are among our favourites when it comes to low-cost amplifiers. High-end manufacturers such as Naim, Goldmund, Gryphon Audio, Dynaudio, Etheraudio, Ultrasound, Allnic Audio, and others produce a plethora of incredible expensive amplifiers.
Q: Can amplifiers improve sound quality?
There is a significant difference in sound quality between a good and a bad amplifier. A good amplifier will produce a much cleaner, undistorted signal while introducing no artificial noise. A bad amp will provide power, but it will also alter the signal, possibly introducing additional noise, and completely ruining the listening experience. So, yes, a good stereo amplifier can enhance sound quality.
Q: How do I choose an amp for my speakers?
Several factors are vital. Since this is a guide to the finest budget stereo amplifiers, the first consideration is cost. Then you must decide between an integrated amp and a power amp. An integrated unit is beneficial if you have limited space or don’t want to deal with multiple components and wires. The third factor is power output — the amplifier must always give enough power to the speakers.
Q: Are tube amplifiers better than solid-state amps?
To be honest, the adjective “better” does not do justice to tube amplifiers. They are distinct. However, it is difficult to assert that one type is superior than the other. It’s simply a matter of personal preference. Tube amplifiers typically provide a warmer tone, which some people prefer. However, this does not mean that solid-state amplifiers are too analytical or lack personality. Again, it’s a matter of personal preference.
Summary – Best Budget Stereo Amplifiers
Based on the technology used to amplify the signal, you can make a difference between solid-state and tube amps. Solid-state amps use electronics for amplification while the tube amps use vacuum tubes. Solid-state amps are cheaper which means that most budget stereo amplifiers are actually solid-state amps. So, to conclude – the majority of amps on our list of 10 best budget stereo amplifiers are integrated solid-state Class-D or Class-AB amps. A few amps priced under $1000 are Class-AB integrated solid-state amps (they can be considered entry-level audiophile amps).