what hi-fi 19 best amplifiers

wenger2015 posted:

In my experience some reviews are paid for..... and some are not.

Is that 'experience' real-life, actually lived experience; or 'this bloke down the pub's friend of his neighbour's cousin's mate read about it on the internet' experience? Can you name names? I think everyone would be very interested in knowing more about the brands and title involved.

Shall I wait with bated breath, or not bother?

feeling_zen posted:

Like many here, the A60 was my first proper amp.

But all with a grain of salt. The 282, for example, has not been reviewed in the English language press to the best of my knowledge. It can only be a list of what graced their desk.

given how well regarded it is in the Naim line-up, it's quite strange it's never been reviewed ?

the 202 and 252 got the what hi-fi reviews (both 5 stars)

Why 19 amps I ask myself. Answer: because What Hifi is a random list generator. And here is the proof:-

12 of the listed amps are from this century. Ok.

What HiFi have another feature called the best amps of the 21st century, featuring 13 amps. Ah, that list  goes up to 2017, whereas the 19 best in the past 40 years only goes up to 2016, so, I hear you assume, that accounts for the difference, 12 in each list to 2016 then. Yes, indeed ...but here is the amazing fact: not a single amp appears in both lists! 

Conclusion: What Hifi is a random list generator, and you can safely ignore any and all inclusions or exclusions, and so no need to sell off your current amp to buy one from the list(s).

Kevin-W posted:
wenger2015 posted:

In my experience some reviews are paid for..... and some are not.

Is that 'experience' real-life, actually lived experience; or 'this bloke down the pub's friend of his neighbour's cousin's mate read about it on the internet' experience? Can you name names? I think everyone would be very interested in knowing more about the brands and title involved.

Shall I wait with bated breath, or not bother?

In my humble opinion it’s always best to just make up ones own mind. 

 

wenger2015 posted:
Kevin-W posted:
wenger2015 posted:

In my experience some reviews are paid for..... and some are not.

Is that 'experience' real-life, actually lived experience; or 'this bloke down the pub's friend of his neighbour's cousin's mate read about it on the internet' experience? Can you name names? I think everyone would be very interested in knowing more about the brands and title involved.

Shall I wait with bated breath, or not bother?

In my humble opinion it’s always best to just make up ones own mind. 

I was told by a rep of a British brand that regularly gets 5 stars in What HiFi, that money does not change hands. However, they went on to admit that there is a clear relationship with ratings and how much face time they put in at the publication's offices, the fancy dinners they take staff to and how chummy in general they get with the publication staff and the fringe incentives they creatively come up with.

And no, the name of the brand cannot be pried out of me.

feeling_zen posted:
wenger2015 posted:
Kevin-W posted:
wenger2015 posted:

In my experience some reviews are paid for..... and some are not.

Is that 'experience' real-life, actually lived experience; or 'this bloke down the pub's friend of his neighbour's cousin's mate read about it on the internet' experience? Can you name names? I think everyone would be very interested in knowing more about the brands and title involved.

Shall I wait with bated breath, or not bother?

In my humble opinion it’s always best to just make up ones own mind. 

I was told by a rep of a British brand that regularly gets 5 stars in What HiFi, that money does not change hands. However, they went on to admit that there is a clear relationship with ratings and how much face time they put in at the publication's offices, the fancy dinners they take staff to and how chummy in general they get with the publication staff and the fringe incentives they creatively come up with.

And no, the name of the brand cannot be pried out of me.

But I can think of some very large market positioning  organisations in the Corporate space where exactly the same principle applies... 

JedT posted:

Money doesn't have to change hands directly does it? It just becomes apparent that if you don't advertise regularly you don't get reviewed much.

Linn and Rega spend virtually nothing on advertising in any publication these days, and don't seem to have any trouble getting coverage or good reviews...

...another conspiracy theory bites the dust.

this list make me smile, they are ridiculous; there is no such ranking, there is the best amplifier that works best with the speakers that are most suitable specs for them and the rest of the set up. 

you can make a list of the best selling amplifiers but not the best ones in an absolute way

I agree. I would never have a second thought about buying a component that was poorly reviewed if it worked in a system.

Customers would often come in who just wanted to demo What Hi-Fi 5 star components. And back in the 90's Linn was king of the 2-3 star review. I often had to explain to customers that these publications like What Hi-Fi are emphatically NOT in the Hi-Fi industry.They're in the journalism industry and as such what they write about Hi-Fi is not gospel. If you could convince them to put their rolled up copy of WHF down and hear what was playing in the dem room, you were over the big hurdle.

Of course there was a sufficient enough number who'd never let WHF out of their death grip and so staying in business meant stocking a strategic selection of 5 star winners we happened to also like.

Reading them is interesting. What Hi-Fi is like the HiFi publication equivalent of the National Enquirer. As such, there's a certain childish fun in reading it and looking at their winning product lists. But I'd not take anything it says seriously. 

 

Kevin-W posted:
JedT posted:

Money doesn't have to change hands directly does it? It just becomes apparent that if you don't advertise regularly you don't get reviewed much.

Linn and Rega spend virtually nothing on advertising in any publication these days, and don't seem to have any trouble getting coverage or good reviews...

...another conspiracy theory bites the dust.

I just searched for Naim and Linn on the WHF website

47 reviews for Naim. 17 for Linn.

Linn makes speakers and turntables as well as amps and streamers. It's not an obviously smaller product range.

You don't think ad spend makes a difference?

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...

At the moment, this is my thought, IF i decide to move beyond a Nova (i love the one box approach/compromise - been and done the two five tier racks full of Naim), looking at an NDX2 and SN2 demo and 272/250 (out of interest).

Does anyone have a NDX/SN2 and any of those progressed to an NDX/272/250?

I want to keep my box count to less than 2, ideally 1  but demo's are dangerous territory, especially combined with toe tapping dealers.

JedT posted:
Kevin-W posted:
JedT posted:

Money doesn't have to change hands directly does it? It just becomes apparent that if you don't advertise regularly you don't get reviewed much.

Linn and Rega spend virtually nothing on advertising in any publication these days, and don't seem to have any trouble getting coverage or good reviews...

...another conspiracy theory bites the dust.

I just searched for Naim and Linn on the WHF website

47 reviews for Naim. 17 for Linn.

Linn makes speakers and turntables as well as amps and streamers. It's not an obviously smaller product range.

You don't think ad spend makes a difference?

There are possibly plenty of reasons for this, not directly related to the amount a manufacturer advertises with a particular magazine. For example, some manufacturers are sometime reluctant to submit items for review, particularly when it might be judged outside of a sympathetic system context. Also magazines mostly tend to want to review what's new rather than existing established models, although of course there are always exceptions to this.

I did once hear something quite interesting though from someone in the industry who would know such things; In the UK, if a hifi magazine reviews a new piece of Naim kit, and in particular if that piece of kit is put on the front cover, then that magazine usually sells more newsstand copies than normal.  I found that fascinating.

JedT posted:

I just searched for Naim and Linn on the WHF website

47 reviews for Naim. 17 for Linn.

Linn makes speakers and turntables as well as amps and streamers. It's not an obviously smaller product range.

You don't think ad spend makes a difference?

No I don't. It's worth noting that Linn issues new products and lines far more infrequently than Naim. So there's less stuff to review.

And as Richard notes above, certain manufacturers - Linn included - are reluctant to submit products for review; and apart from the LP12, Linn sees its products working within the context of a complete system, which makes reviewing more difficult.

As I said, your conspiracy theory is paper-thin. And I have worked in the newspaper and mag industry for 30 years (incuding to Editor level) so I know how these things work. And they don't work in the way you seem to think they do.

Richard Dane posted:

I did once hear something quite interesting though from someone in the industry who would know such things; In the UK, if a hifi magazine reviews a new piece of Naim kit, and in particular if that piece of kit is put on the front cover, then that magazine usually sells more newsstand copies than normal.  I found that fascinating.

That wouldn't surprise me @Richard Dane.

Established editors have a good feel for which covers shift the biggest numbers of units. This is why, say, women's mags feature Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle on their covers a lot these days; and why music mags like Uncut or Mojo will have at least one Floyd, Zep or Beatles cover a year - because these get people picking up copies on the news-stands.

Here in the UK, Naim is a 'superstar' brand with a big following. For many hi-fi buffs, it's catnip, as a music mag with Pink Floyd on the cover would be to a rock fan. If I were the editor of a hi-fi mag, and Naim had released a new amp or streamer, I would almost certainly put it on the cover. Whether the company had advertised or not, as one of an editor's duties is to shift as many copies as possible.

I rarely buy hi-fi rags but when I do, it's usually because Linn or Naim (or some outrageously expensive product I could never afford)  are on the cover; or because I'm in the market for a new bit of kit and I want to see what's out there.

feeling_zen posted:
Reading them is interesting. What Hi-Fi is like the HiFi publication equivalent of the National Enquirer. As such, there's a certain childish fun in reading it and looking at their winning product lists. But I'd not take anything it says seriously. 

 

So are you saying that - to take a selection of products WHF has given five-star reviews  to in the past year or so - the Marantz SA-10, Klimax LP12, Naim SN2 and Rega P6 are all rubbish? Because I have heard all of them and they are all excellent.

Also the Enquirer is a celebrity gossip mag. WHF is not. They have absoloutely nothing in common, other than they're both printed on paper, with ink.

Innocent Bystander posted:
Obsydian posted:

I want to keep my box count to less than 2, ideally 1  but demo's are dangerous territory, especially combined with toe tapping dealers.

I think the Muso or Qube are the only Naim products that fit for a box count of one.

I went from Muso to Atom to Nova  to keep the one box approach.

Obsydian posted:
Innocent Bystander posted:
Obsydian posted:

I want to keep my box count to less than 2, ideally 1  but demo's are dangerous territory, especially combined with toe tapping dealers.

I think the Muso or Qube are the only Naim products that fit for a box count of one.

I went from Muso to Atom to Nova  to keep the one box approach.

But I assume you have a pair of loudspeaker boxes, making 3 in all (maybe a NAS too?) 

Kevin-W posted:
feeling_zen posted:
Reading them is interesting. What Hi-Fi is like the HiFi publication equivalent of the National Enquirer. As such, there's a certain childish fun in reading it and looking at their winning product lists. But I'd not take anything it says seriously. 

 

So are you saying that - to take a selection of products WHF has given five-star reviews  to in the past year or so - the Marantz SA-10, Klimax LP12, Naim SN2 and Rega P6 are all rubbish? Because I have heard all of them and they are all excellent.

Also the Enquirer is a celebrity gossip mag. WHF is not. They have absoloutely nothing in common, other than they're both printed on paper, with ink.

But as I pointed out earlier, WHF is not exactly consistent in its awards of ‘best’...

Whether that is related to ads of the day, the whim of whoever is picking, a random product sorter, or something more scientific I have no idea.

Kevin-W posted:
feeling_zen posted:
Reading them is interesting. What Hi-Fi is like the HiFi publication equivalent of the National Enquirer. As such, there's a certain childish fun in reading it and looking at their winning product lists. But I'd not take anything it says seriously. 

 

So are you saying that - to take a selection of products WHF has given five-star reviews  to in the past year or so - the Marantz SA-10, Klimax LP12, Naim SN2 and Rega P6 are all rubbish? Because I have heard all of them and they are all excellent.

Also the Enquirer is a celebrity gossip mag. WHF is not. They have absoloutely nothing in common, other than they're both printed on paper, with ink.

Absolutely not saying that at all.

What I am saying though is that you get Jo Public who wants 5-star rated CD Player X, 5-star rated amp Y, and 5-star rated speakers Z, with no regard for listening to anything else (because they didn't get 5 stars) and no regard for whether those chosen components work well together, and ultimately no regard for their own ears. I think it is fair to say (although sounding a bit judgemental, I'll stand by this) that we all know the percentage of the population who care enough about music to buy a proper hifi is, and has always been, incredibly small. And within that small group, the percentage who are not morons is, well... it's about the same as the percentage of the general population who are not morons - which if the IQ bell curve with 100 smack in the in middle is actually accurate (and I doubt it is but I'll use it anyway even though I don't beleive in IQ) that means 50%. Being an audiophile has no bearing on intelligence any more than liking football makes you a good footballer.

I've heard plenty of WHF 5-star items that sound amazing. I've owned a couple. But not because of WHF - because "I" liked them. I've also heard WHF 5-star components that were utter crap and 2-star components that were fantastic (of which I have also bought a few in my time).

Like I said, to keep the punters happy and maintain some integrity, you try and find enough of these components that you like and can stand by. Some dealers I know would just make sure they stock all the 5-star components and would stand by nothing and just let the magazine do the selling. As internet shopping invaded hifi too, those dealers have had a tougher time than most and many aren't around.

Being a reviewer or hifi salesman must be an awful job. Certainly I have purchased equipment reviewed in magazines but only after listening.

When you hear of loudspeakers being voiced to stand out in the showroom, reviewers writing without taking them out of the boxes, that was a long time ago, in the days when bandwagon makers were derogatorily called box stuffers and the reviewer had a monthly target for short reviews. Then the customer relies on the expert!!!

I remember lugging my amp to a store to listen to a five star pair of speakers and being disappointed enough to write to the magazine. The response- I had made a poor choice in amp!

Then whilst making a purchase in another store, a man walks in and asks to hear this months latest cassette machine and after one track says he won't buy it because you could hear the Dolby pumping,  a quote from a review. What I didn't know until after he left, he did this every month, but what I saw and was puzzled by until this was explained, they had played him a CD.

 

Bring back "The Flat Response" 

I bought some Royd Eden's that were reviewed by Adam Meredith of this parish for the much missed HFR.  An honest appraisal and I kept them for years, only parting with them owing to a move around of my system.  I wish I'd have kept them now. 

Kevin-W posted:
JedT posted:

I just searched for Naim and Linn on the WHF website

47 reviews for Naim. 17 for Linn.

Linn makes speakers and turntables as well as amps and streamers. It's not an obviously smaller product range.

You don't think ad spend makes a difference?

No I don't. It's worth noting that Linn issues new products and lines far more infrequently than Naim. So there's less stuff to review.

And as Richard notes above, certain manufacturers - Linn included - are reluctant to submit products for review; and apart from the LP12, Linn sees its products working within the context of a complete system, which makes reviewing more difficult.

As I said, your conspiracy theory is paper-thin. And I have worked in the newspaper and mag industry for 30 years (incuding to Editor level) so I know how these things work. And they don't work in the way you seem to think they do.

Possibly . I do have two friends and a cousin who have edited magazines (not HiFi ones I have to admit) so I do have an inkling. 

I don't know if anyone else remembers this but back in the 90s, Naim gear got VERY little coverage in WHF and didn't advertise. I used to read WHF then and when I bought my first Naim product (a Nait 3 from Acoustica) I had only dimly heard of the brand. I was more familar with Linn that appeared more often.

In the decade that followed Naim ads appeared more often, Linn ads a bit less and I used to see more Naim product reviews. 

I accept (to Richard's point) that this could just have been more a reflection of product strategy (Naim looking to refresh more often, Linn focusing on single brand systems) but the two trends were definitely in sync.

JEDT, I'm not sure about that; the 3 series introduced during the '90s got plenty of coverage in WHF, which made sense as it was affordable and very, very good.  The NAIT 3 and CD3 were regulars of many group tests and system reviews.

Conversely, during the '80s Naim advertised fairly regularly in WHF (those classic ads that are so fondly remembered) and you didn't see many Naim reviews at all, although the brand did get mentioned quite a bit in recommendations for readers letters (as did Linn with the Sondek).

So, I just don't think it's possible to make a strong case for any direct correlation between ad spend and reviews.

hey ho

I didn't really start this thread for a debate over what hi-fi.

anyway I would take a review of what hi-fi more seriously than the people accusing them, any day of the year.

I am not naive or gullible, but over the years, I found auditioning many of the 5 star what hi-fi rated products, that they write get most reviews quite well.

It is worth remembering that reviews on what hi-fi or stereophile are just an encouragement to get into a showroom to audition. If you don't like it, then it's just a difference of opinion, and life goes on.

Can we talk about amplifiers now?

Yes analog, we can. What I find a shame is that there is no Technics amp in the list. Technics was crafting amps by hand in the seventies and eighties which are still way better than any amp of these days.

Technics invented many technologies and is maybe the most important company ever in hifi.

I'm a little surprised the Naim NAC 92 and 90.3 never made it onto their list, they were a killer combo! 

I remember back in the day WHF writing something along the lines of "this combo is worth every single penny from the doyen of British amp makers". Now, you don't read that sort of thing very often these days but it did sway me into going out and buying my very first Naim amp after an audition at my local dealer and needless to say, it blew my socks off! 

 

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