This year, we found that Onkyo and Harmon Kardon are the brands that produced the best budget stereo amplifiers. Above the $500 level, your best bet is a amplifier like the Marantz PM6004 Integrated Amplifier. It received What Hi-Fi’s Product Of the Year in 2011.
See also our master list of American-made amplifiers and audio products on Reactual.
The Best Budget Amplifier: Onkyo M-282
Rating: Average of 4.2 out of 5 stars from 39+ reviewers on Amazon
The Marantz PM6004 Integrated Amplifier
The Marantz PM6004 Integrated Amplifier is probably the favorite audiophile amplifier that sells for under $600. Audiophile report that the sound is full and clear, with a wide and deep soundstage, and accurate bass.
Design-wise, the Marantz 6004 amplifier is a big step-up from the older Marantz 6003 amplifier. What Hi-fi? says the PM6004 is very tough – if not impossible – to fault at this price. They say:
Marantz has instigated a thorough overhaul, ditching the integrated circuits of the past in favour of separate preamp and power amp sections built entirely from discreet components.
Digital Trends also gave this amplifier a 9/10 score.
The Marantz PM6004 Integrated Amplifier is available at Amazon for about $600.
The Best Mini Amplifier: Pyle Home PCA1
Rating: Average of 4.6 out of 5 stars from 90+ reviewers on Amazon
If you need a mini-amplifier, and are not particularly concerned about audio fidelity, this Pyle amplifier is a good choice. Selling for about $30, this is a really basic unit but it does get the job done. I’ve had this amplifier for 5 years — I use it to power speakers connected to my television. So far I’ve had to problems with . Others seem to agree — it gets 4.6 out of 5 from 90+ reviewers.