Essentially, it’s a sleek-looking, small-footprint hybrid Class A/Class D integrated amplifier/DAC that combines Class A warmth and resolution with Class D speed, power, and efficiency. The well-conceived IDA-8 delivers substance with plenty of gusto—and does so from an astonishingly quiet background. A great-sounding, stone-cold bargain, and a 2016 Golden Ear Award recipient.
The A14 amplifier has a moving-magnet phonostage, a very capable DAC that can play DSD and (some) PCM music files, an aptX Bluetooth connection, a front-panel USB connection so you can play the music stored on your smartphone, and a headphone amplifier to drive your favorite cans. It’s rated at 80Wpc. The A14 has a punchy bass with detailed mids and sweet highs. It also does a good job of tracking rapid changes in dynamics. Most surprising, however, is the truly excellent soundstaging, which competes well against some of the most expensive gear available today.
Rogue Audio Sphinx
$1395 ($1495 w/ remote)
Rogue products have, like their moniker suggests, usually gone their own way in design, price, and value. The Sphinx integrated amplifier may be the most roguish of the lot. This is the first Class D amplifier (actually a hybrid with a pair of 12AU7 tubes in the preamp section) that RD feels offers true world-class sonics. Includes a very fine discrete headphone amp and a phono section that is worth the asking price all by itself. TAS’ 2013 Tube Integrated Amplifier of the Year.
Coincident Speaker Technology Dynamo 34SE MkII
The Dynamo offers an alternative to the traditional 300B-based single-ended-triode amplifier, using, as it does, a triode-connected EL34 pentode; MkII features a larger power transformer and twice the energy storage. Driving a high-sensitivity, high-impedance speaker (96dB/8-ohm minimum), it is capable of an explosive first watt. Superlative soundstage transparency combined with 3-D image outlines produce a strong sensation of being there.
Wyred 4 Sound mINT
Rated at 100Wpc, Wyred 4 Sound’s mINT (Mini-Integrated Amplifier) isn’t simply a Class D integrated; it also sports a built-in DAC with three digital inputs (USB, TosLink, and coax), a pair of analog inputs, and a dedicated headphone amp. The mINT has an easy, natural musicality, along with good pace and drive. Dynamic range is somewhat limited, as is ultimate volume, but the mINT is consistently able to draw you into the music, no matter the type.
Naim Nait 5si
One of the great bargains in high-end audio, this latest version of the Nait 5i brings more than a taste of expensive separates to a mid-priced integrated amplifier. The Nait is sweet without sounding rolled-off, presents a huge sense of space, tremendous separation of images, and, most importantly, sounds like music. In production in updated versions since the 1980s, the Nait’s iconic status is deserved. (Recently updated to the 5si.)
A do-everything DAC coupled with a 200Wpc Class D integrated amplifier in a sleek package that would look good in any system, the IDA-16 plays music files ranging up to 384kHz sampling rates for PCM and DSD256. Delicate, detailed highs were smooth, continuous, and very extended. Bass was also extended, with tons of impact. The midrange lacked just a smidgen of the detail in other, more expensive amplifiers. A ton of value for the price.