what hi-fi 19 best amplifiers

Why surprised?

I knew it was special the first time I heard one and compared it to other recent Naim amps.

I can't get over how great it sounds with my recently purchased Proac speakers, phenomenal combination. Sometimes while listening, I'll just sit and shake my head in disbelief.

Congratulations to Naim for having two amps on the list, but from me personally, they really did an exceptional job with the SN2.

badlands posted:

Why surprised?

I knew it was special the first time I heard one and compared it to other recent Naim amps.

I can't get over how great it sounds with my recently purchased Proac speakers, phenomenal combination. Sometimes while listening, I'll just sit and shake my head in disbelief.

Congratulations to Naim for having two amps on the list, but from me personally, they really did an exceptional job with the SN2.

What Proac speakers? Curious how they compare to Dynaudio. I think you used to own Dyns. 

Agree Badlands -I think the SN2 is a cracking amp. I remember reading one review for it which said, "for most people this will be all the amplifier anyone could ever need".  I've had mine two years and have absolutely no desire to upgrade. Its an end game amp as far as I'm concerned. Its a beautifully balanced amp that manages  musicality and detail.  

For a 2 box system it will be interesting to compare the SN2 + NDX2 against the N272 + NAP250. Pretty sure I know what the answer to that will be...

I've owned a large number of Naim amps over the past 30 years and I knew the Supernait 2 was a bit special when I heard it. It definitely makes it tough to turn the music off. It's the kind of amp that stands out easily from other amps at it's price, and is one of Naim's high points in design for me.

SongStream posted:

What Hifi? gives a glowing review and five stars to just about everything.  Meaningless nonsense.  Their comments on the SN2 I wouldn't argue with, but then they say the same thing about everything else.

Unfortunately your absolutely right, all reviews are based on money paid by advertisers.... 

wenger2015 posted:
all reviews are based on money paid by advertisers.... 

Eleven of the 19 amps cited were manufactured prior to this decade. The eldest, the NAD 3020, is 40-years-old.  Why would advertisers pay to make mention of obsolete gear?

Nait XS should be worth a mention as well. 

My fondest memories of other amps i owned about ten years ago are with Arcam A60, very sweet presentation and very enjoyable at low listening levels. The other one a Cyrus 5 i owned  like interim amp in a second system

Regards

Roberto

joerand posted:
wenger2015 posted:
all reviews are based on money paid by advertisers.... 

Eleven of the 19 amps cited were manufactured prior to this decade. The eldest, the NAD 3020, is 40-years-old.  Why would advertisers pay to make mention of obsolete gear?

If readers are told NAD was really good 40 years ago then now it must be amazing? Unfortunately that’s the way it works in the uk.

wenger2015 posted:
SongStream posted:

What Hifi? gives a glowing review and five stars to just about everything.  Meaningless nonsense.  Their comments on the SN2 I wouldn't argue with, but then they say the same thing about everything else.

Unfortunately your absolutely right, all reviews are based on money paid by advertisers.... 

I'm afraid that's something of an internet myth, propagated over and over again. 

Just one example to totally refute this: Rega get plenty of reviews of their products (especially in WHF), almost always glowing and 5 stars, and yet have always had a policy of not spending any money on advertising. 

1GiantLeap posted:

Agree Badlands -I think the SN2 is a cracking amp. I remember reading one review for it which said, "for most people this will be all the amplifier anyone could ever need".  I've had mine two years and have absolutely no desire to upgrade. Its an end game amp as far as I'm concerned. Its a beautifully balanced amp that manages  musicality and detail.  

For a 2 box system it will be interesting to compare the SN2 + NDX2 against the N272 + NAP250. Pretty sure I know what the answer to that will be...

If you get the speaker matching right, your answer will be correct.

I have to agree with many comments here regarding the SN2. Almost 4 years in for me and I also still regularly shake my head in disbelief at the sound the system makes. 

I love the fact that 1 box can produce this wonderful musical experience each time I listen and one can only congratulate Naim for designing and manufacturing it!

Thank you very much Naim

SongStream posted:

What Hifi? gives a glowing review and five stars to just about everything.  Meaningless nonsense.  Their comments on the SN2 I wouldn't argue with, but then they say the same thing about everything else.

Fact is they don't.Spendor d1 3stars,Rega isis 4 stars etc...A lot more.

I have been following WHF? for over thirty years and I consider them to be one of the best hi-fi magazines of all time. Yes they can get the odd review wrong that goes against my experience with a certain product when I have gone and purchased it on the back of one of their recommendations but in the main, they are spot on!

I really hope they keep going. I rather enjoy reading their yearly awards magazines too and think that they give everyone a fair crack of the whip. Of course, there is always the Bristol show to look forward to each year as well.

Long live WHF? magazine!

wenger2015 posted:
SongStream posted:

What Hifi? gives a glowing review and five stars to just about everything.  Meaningless nonsense.  Their comments on the SN2 I wouldn't argue with, but then they say the same thing about everything else.

Unfortunately your absolutely right, all reviews are based on money paid by advertisers.... 

Christ, not this old lie again.

No, the reviews are not based on advertising. I don't work for WHF?, I rarely buy it nor do I have any kind interest in Haymarket (the publisher) but I have worked in magazine and newspaper publishing since 1988 and it does not work this way.

WHF? does not give five star reviews for everything, even a cursory glance at the website will demonstrate that. Given the constraints that publishers are under these days, it makes more sense to fill the limited amount of editorial space available with good reviews than bad ones (and the poorer quality or less interesting kit just doesn't get a mention or gets shoved onto the website, where space is unlimited). If you were an editor you'd understand this, and you'd also understand that trust between a title and readers is paramount. If reviews were paid for by advertisers, the mag would lose credibility and readers (who are not stupid and can spot this  kind of thing a mile off) would desert in droves and the title would fold. 

And to take an example of a glowing review in the mag, the Klimax'ed LP12 got a rave review (last July IIRC). When was the last time Linn advertised in WHF (or any other mag)? Years ago I suspect...

Stop spouting such ill-informed, lazy, untrue crap. And if you have proof that reviews in this mag are paid for by advertisers, let's see it. But I suspect we won't, because you don't have any.

The best that you can hope for from any Hi-Fi comic is if you are able to identify a reviewer who seems to share similar 'tastes' to your own, then anything they like might be worth you putting on a shortlist of things to try; otherwise, forget it (IMO).

I don't understand why some seem to hold what is written 'as gospel'? At best, it's the subject opinion of an individual, based upon their likes/dislikes, nothing more, and beyond hearing more equipment than the average person, a reviewer's opinion is worth as much/little as anyone else's (IMO).

Ah for the good old days of (the much maligned by some) Hi-Fi Review...

An area where I know magazines are just infomercials = Wine.

HiFi, I am not at all sure about. There IS lots of great sounding kit out there, in the right system - which is the rub. A friend who does reviews tells me that when something comes by him that is bad he just returns it to the manufacturer with his comments.

What a great article. I am not at all sure of the more recent amps, and there are plenty of amps I would include in such a list but this is a great starter for ten, and kicks off a nice debate. So what would I include? I think there should be something from Quad, McIntosh & Nelson Pass.

M

Stephen Tate posted:

I have been following WHF? for over thirty years and I consider them to be one of the best hi-fi magazines of all time. Yes they can get the odd review wrong that goes against my experience with a certain product when I have gone and purchased it on the back of one of their recommendations but in the main, they are spot on!

I really hope they keep going. I rather enjoy reading their yearly awards magazines too and think that they give everyone a fair crack of the whip. Of course, there is always the Bristol show to look forward to each year as well.

Long live WHF? magazine!

Indeed, one of the 2 best hi-fi magazines out there.

The other being (for me) - stereophile. 

I was of course exaggerating a little in saying they give 5 stars to nearly everything.  And I'm not one who buys to it being advertising related, but their top accolade does seem to be given away rather easily.  There are 5 star awards that completely baffle me, including in the top 19 amps.  Roksan Caspian M2, what are they talking about?  Even that KI-Sig Marantz thing wasn't much to rave about either in my view.  CD63 KI-Sig, different story, and yes they liked that too.  They're not a favourite for me, but then I only look at the website now and again, and haven't bought the printed magazine, or any other, for years.  When I did regularly buy Hifi comics, Hifi World was my personal choice, and I followed their advice many times and quite successfully.    

Many years ago I auditioned the original Supernait (with Dac) , in comparison with Nac202/Nap200 combination using Dynaudio Focus 220 speakers.  The Supernait sounded fine but in comparison to the Pre/pow combination it sounded rushed and a the detail of instruments were a little more vague.  The combination was more relaxed with details being more defined.  In fairness to WHF review which gave four stars got the sound quality description  of the Supernait was about right.  What frustrates me with WHF is their limited and rather shollow choice of brands chosen for reviews, unlike their equivalent WHF in other countries around the world. 

As did I. I purchased one of the early ones, which my brother inherited and still runs very well to this day. In fact, I also still use an 8000A in a bedroom system to this day. 

A game changer at its price level when it came onto the scene, and pretty much bullet-proof in respect of its build quality. 

It was almost universally exceptionally well received when it was first released, but my recollection is that one or two specific hi-fi magazines (that tended to recommend early Naim, Exposure, Musical Fidelity (A1 & A100), Cyrus or NAD amps to the exclusion of almost anything else) fairly quickly began to completely rubbish it, suggesting not only that it was not a match for their favourites, but also that no one in their right mind should consider buying one. I really struggled to understand this opinion.

 

Nice and justified to see the A&R A60 make the list.  I had one of those, too. It trounced many other amps which purported to have more power.  I seem to remember needing to keep a few spare fuses nearby for 'enthusiastic' listening sessions, though.     

I tried and tried to get on with the Audiolab 8000a. It was nicely built, reliable as anything, and was always quiet, flexible, highly competent. The first one I had was an early example bought secondhand. It stood in for many others when away for servicing, valve changes, repairs etc.. I admired it, respected it, but love it..?? No. So When I was given a later black model... Still no. So when, in a trade, I got one of the last before the TAG purchase. Still no. But oh how I wanted to love it. But the sad fact wS that even a NAIT or an ION Obelisk 3x or even an A&R A60 were just more fun and more engaging. 

It seems worthwhile to mention here that a number of manufacturers will not deliver their products to magazine reviewers. That requires the reviewer to purchase the product should they wish to review it, which rarely if ever happens. Ergo, these manufacturers reserve an unbiased objectivity to the ear of the potential buyer, save for forum feedback. Plenty of non-mainstream hidden gems out there, especially when considering speakers, cables and TT carts.

Richard Dane posted:

I tried and tried to get on with the Audiolab 8000a. It was nicely built, reliable as anything, and was always quiet, flexible, highly competent. The first one I had was an early example bought secondhand. It stood in for many others when away for servicing, valve changes, repairs etc.. I admired it, respected it, but love it..?? No. So When I was given a later black model... Still no. So when, in a trade, I got one of the last before the TAG purchase. Still no. But oh how I wanted to love it. But the sad fact wS that even a NAIT or an ION Obelisk 3x or even an A&R A60 were just more fun and more engaging. 

The trick with the Audiolab 8000A was to use a CD player that tended towards a 'wayward' presentation - e.g. an Exposure 2010s.  This also applies to the 8000S and 8000Q which were better, mainly because the TL072 was replace with a OPA2134.

That approach 'kicked it into life" while it also ameliorated the excesses of the Exposure CD (particularly at HF and ultrasonically) - the result was surprisingly well balanced.

^ The 'trick' I found with the Audiolab 8000a was to avoid it at all costs  - horrible thing, IMO. Toss-up between it and the Pioneer A400 for 'Worst Amp' I've heard.

Seems people really hear things very differently.

Part of life's rich pageant, I guess.

Likes (0)
×
×
×
×