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.
QUAD Vena II
$1295 ($1395 with optional case)
The QUAD Vena II is small and gray with a matte finish, though the optional case adds a very nice gloss. The amp is rated 45Wpc into 8 ohms, and includes a phono section, two analog inputs, a pre-out, and a plethora of digital inputs. The QUAD strikes the perfect balance between classic analog inputs and modern digital capabilities. The Vena II is surprisingly engaging with a big, bold, somewhat warm sound, regardless of whether you’re in the digital or the analog domain. That flexibility is key to the Vena II, and why it’s highly recommended.
Rogue Audio Sphinx
$1495 ($1595 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.
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.
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.)