A modern audio system should not only sound good. In this case, you can hardly achieve incredible results without an amplifier. Customers usually prefer solutions with easy connection properties. In turn, devices with compact bodies and at affordable prices are the winners of choice.
To combine all these requirements in a single product may seem Mission Impossible. However, the reality pleases us with enormous technological progress. Nowadays, even the most demanding customer can be easily satisfied.
In this overview we have prepared a list of universal and versatile products to upgrade your stereo system. It will be a simple challenge to select the best integrated amplifier under $500. Are you ready to make the fastest shopping ever? Let’s go!
Table of Contents
- Editor’s Choice
- The Second Solution to Go for: Onkyo A-9110
- The Third Solution to Go for: Yamaha A-S301BL
- The Fourth Solution to Go for: Onkyo M-5010
- The Fifth Solution to Go for: Pioneer Elite A-20
- Buyer’s Guide
It is always easier to get a deeper insight in the data when it is structured compactly. The following table highlights basic features of the top 5 amplifiers.
The First Solution to Go for: BT20A by Fosi AudioDo you want to discover a needle in a haystack? Continue reading this article and check out which benefits you can get from amplifiers along with affordability.
If you have ever looked at amplifiers at Amazon before, you have probably run into Fosi Audio because they make some really good devices with a very compact size and attractive body while keeping the price at a low percentage.
If you want to make a beneficial investment, you just cannot pass this product by. Firstly, you will spend less than $100 for it. Secondly, Amazon surprises each customer providing a 5% coupon. Finally, you can buy a kit of this Fosi Audio amplifier and bookshelf speakers or preamp and save 8% on the purchase. Shopping has never been such a pleasant thing, isn’t it?
Even though it is super cheap, BT20A has an all-metal body. In terms of durability, this is one of the best decisions possible. With its compact and lightweight chassis, this product can boast of several location opportunities. Even if you decide to place it on a bookshelf, it will not be a problem at all.
Moreover, this powerful solution is a great match for several devices. Having 100 watts RMS per channel, this best integrated amplifier under $500 2019 is capable of connecting to computers, tablets, speakers, etc. Tired of endless wires and long installation sessions? No problem. With the Bluetooth 4.2 technique you can listen to your favorite music just with the help of streaming. These features only prove how versatile this amplifier is.
What is outstanding about this product is its bass and treble volume control. The latter function will help you out if you have some old speakers, and they do not really sound that great.
The manufacturer also provides customers with an 18-months warranty. So if you feel the product does not bring joy and delight but problems only (that is a rare chance, but still), you can return it.
All in all, BT20A by Fusi Audio is definitely a solution to go for since it is reliable, affordable and durable. With this item, you will get a life and ear-catchy sound, as well as combinability with several devices (for instance, due to the RCA input). Enjoy!
Be careful with the kind of cables used: do not use too high of a gauge (the max is 16 gauge; we recommend using banana plugs)
The Second Solution to Go for: Onkyo A-9110
The first thing that strikes the eye is a strict front panel with a large volume selector in the middle. It may seem the chassis is made of aluminum. However, the material used here is metalized plastic of premium quality. The entire assembly is solid. To say the manufacturer has paid a lot of attention to details means to keep silent. Frankly speaking, tactile and visual sensations can hardly prove this model belongs to a budget range of products.
Due to the easy-to-use front panel and the intuitively convenient location of the buttons, this integrated amplifier definitely can minimize and even eliminate the number of troubles during the learning curve and setting-up process. For instance, the product is equipped with a monochrome single-line display. It shows the active inputs. To the right of it, there is a rotary input dial. Just pin it around so you get to the desired input. The front panel can also boast of its headphone socket.
The heart of Onkyo A-9110 is a powerful transformer, large capacitors, output stages on discrete elements, and a thick aluminum cooling radiator. Without a doubt, this suite of tools contributes greatly to the stable and long-term functioning of the device.
With the A-9110 remote, you can control all the amplifier’s parts. Moreover, using the manufacturer’s proprietary RI link, you can actually control one of Onkyo CD players as well.
In addition, this model differentiates with the special technology of phase matching bass. The best way to describe it is to think of it as an intelligent loudness control. When using an average control mechanism, the major drawback is that you get a phase shift in the low frequencies. And this problem can occur even up to 300 Hertz. In turn, this issue is detrimental to one of the most important areas, namely, the vocals. As a result, the sound becomes blurry and muddy with a lack of detail. PM Bass by Onkyo has been designed to eliminate all of this muddiness.
Selecting the model, you will prefer quality at a definitely low price. This best integrated amplifier under $500 possesses 50 watts per channel (overall, it has two of them).
All in all, the Onkyo A-9110 integrated stereo amplifier is a precious gift for those who would like to join the Hi-Fi sound reality, without spending significant resources.
The Third Solution to Go for: Yamaha A-S301BL
Buying Yamaha A-S301BL, you achieve 60 watts RMS per channel, a wide range of frequencies to operate, inputs to connect numerous devices. Even though it is not the most powerful amplifiers on the market, the item gives a wonderfully rounded and deep sound.
The company pleases with its A-S301BL stereo amplifier as it has got various amazing features that just can’t be ignored. For instance, the solution can boast of its pure direct mode. Its functioning allows achieving a greater sound purity. To help with a problem of sound resonance, the system possesses ART anti-residents and tough feature.
This amplifier allows you either to have a single set of speakers, two separate pairs, or you can bi-wire a single pair.
In general, bi-wiring essentially means that you are sending the same audio signal twice: once to the high-frequency driver, the tweeter, and once to the low-frequency woofer. Some people say it improves sound quality. But it is a controversial statement since you need to use twice the amount of speaker cable.
Bass and treble controls deserve extra mentioning. Not only do they apply +10 dB boost and -10 dB cut, which is quite normal and expected, but they do it at 20 Hertz for the bass and 20 kilohertz for the treble. This means that you can boost the super low bass and incredibly high treble. Overall, you get a more realistic presentation.
On the front panel, there is also a dial for balance control. With its help, you can select how much sound is coming out of each speaker. Another great control mechanism is the input selector. You just turn the knob, and the LEDs light up depending on which source is selected. Here, you have eight different options, including coaxial and phono inputs. By the way, with the help of the latter element, you can plug your turntable directly into the amplifier without need to buy a separate pre-amp.
Using optical and coaxial digital inputs, you can connect the amplifier to your TV and Blu-ray player. Flexibility in every element, isn’t it?
Now, have you ever tested listening to the speakers at a really low volume? It is somewhat annoying, isn’t it? That is not a surprise since our ears perceive less high and low frequencies and more midrange in quiet sound. To counteract this, Yamaha has provided a loudness control. What it does is reduces the 1 kilohertz component of your music by up to 30 dB.
All in all, if you are a bit of beginner audiophile and you just want an awesome sounding two-channel system to play your favorite songs, then Yamaha A-S301BL would be a great centerpiece for it. Since it is a well-built product, we assure you will get years of enjoyment out of this equipment.
The Fourth Solution to Go for: Onkyo M-5010
Overall, this amplifier indeed features up to 75 watts of analog power output per channel. Working at 8 ohms, total harmonic distortion measures just 0.08%. Besides, the product can boast of its circuitry. With the two transistors, you end up with a super high gain. Due to the three-stage inverted Darlington circuitry, the amplifier gets more power to minimize distortion.
The Darlington configuration gets its name from Sydney Darlington who developed the circuit back in the early 50s, before transistors were even common out there. He was also active in the war effort, developing radar and guidance systems.
This stereo amplifier has got a sturdy chassis. The latter element allows alleviating any chance of resonance.
With the Onkyo device, you can easily manipulate the speaker impedance. The special button at the back panel allows you to switch between 4 and up to 16 ohms.
The unique feature of this equipment is multi-zone audio delivery. Due to the daisy-chain connection of the selected elements, you are able to send music from your entertainment system to individual speakers. Whatever you are listening to in a living room can be mirrored on speakers in other premises.
With this best stereo integrated amplifier under $500, you get the opportunity of bi-amping. In this perspective, you are actually doubling the amplification that is streaming to one speaker.
The Onkyo device also features an input level knob. Due to it, you can adjust the volume as you want. However, it does not allow controlling volume for each channel individually.
All in all, you can take advantage of the pure high reducing sound that this amplifier produces to live in your house.
The Fifth Solution to Go for: Pioneer Elite A-20
One of the industry leaders in high-performance audio presents the following device to take a closer look – Pioneer Elite A-20 model. Combining technological power with a timeless design, built on a foundation of natural sound for authentic audio representation, this product delivers exciting dynamic audio with refined beautiful appearance.
The Elite range connotates the high end of the Pioneer production. It is definitely cut above the regular Pioneer brand in build, quality, and appearance of this device.
Only very high-quality parts are used in the Pioneer amplifier. Careful selection and numerous tests add a lot to the general durability of the item. In turn, this feature also allows the best integrated amp under $500 to deliver audio that will astound you effortlessly.
When it comes to specifications, the amplifier runs at 50 watts per channel at 4 ohms and 35 watts RMS at 8 ohms. There is a separation between the amplifier and power supply sections. A stable transformer and an aluminum front panel are the results of following the quality standards.
The toolbar on the front panel is easy to remember and use. There you can find the input selector, volume control, balance control for left and right channels, as well as bass and treble controls. With the help of a direct source button, you are to bi-pass any internal processing.
The Pioneer equipment can be easily connected to other compatible audio components such as CD player or audio tuners. Even with such a massive connection, you can still enjoy a powerful sound experience on your own.
Moreover, there is an optional Bluetooth dongle that you can purchase and connect to the Bluetooth port.
All in all, it is maybe not the most powerful product on the list, but sometimes less is better. This amplifier by Pioneer is able to run numerous speakers and match different impedance balance.
Power Is Above All
Many people often make a mistake believing that the only factor to take into account when purchasing an amplifier is power. However, it is not the full case.
Of course, this parameter is incredibly important. Choosing an amp, you should pay attention to the RMS power provided by the manufacturer and combine that to the power of your stereo system at home.
The Deeper Insight
If you do not want to lose the chance to purchase the best integrated amplifier, you are to check how many inputs and outputs the amp of your dream has. It is important to know beforehand if the chosen amp is compatible with all the elements of your audio system. Finding this out, you will be able to predict the necessity of purchasing extra cables and connectors.
Forget about Counting Wires
For some people, it may be hard to install an amplifier even having the detailed manual on their hands. In this perspective, it would be obviously awesome to choose the device with the ability to accept music streaming. For instance, a nice and surely practical solution is the built-in Bluetooth or at least the port for its connection. Wireless listening to your playlist just with your iPod and amp — what can be better than that?
The Number of Channels
Each type of amplifier is aimed at different needs. It is natural, right? So when selecting the perfect match, you need to determine which function your amplifier is going to perform. If you want to use this equipment for subwoofers connection, give your preference to monoblocks. If you are interested in a solution for speakers, choose two and more channel amplifiers.
In case if you go beyond just connecting to speakers or subs, give a try to integrated amplifiers.
Control and Adjustment
When it comes to the installation, the majority of amplifiers pleases with easy and well-thought-out setting up. However, the situation can change radically when you try to adjust the amp’s performance to your needs. To avoid possible problems beforehand, take care of the presence of all the necessary control buttons and dials. They are to simplify your cooperation with the equipment greatly. For instance, with the impedance switch, you can expand the amplifier’s suitability to several speakers as for their impedance balance.
1. What are the advantages and disadvantages of different circuit topologies like class AB and class D?
In simple words, the task of an amplifier is to amplify an electrical signal. Each class performs this function. What is the difference then?
When it comes to class AB amplifiers, the name is somewhat self-explanatory: it is a hybrid of class A and class B. With the class A device, whenever you switch it on, it will give you all the power that is capable of delivering. Whereas with a class AB amp, when you turn it on, some of that power will be available all the time. The cool thing about this is that you can get all the advantages when listening at low and medium volumes or having high-power efficient speakers from A class, as well as when listening dynamic and deep sounds from class B. Less distortion is guaranteed.
Class D uses output transistors so they are solid-state devices. This allows more portability, including the ability to run off of battery power. Aside from cool operation, these amplifiers are also strong enough to power just about any load. On top of that, they exhibit excellent bass control.
2. What is an integrated amplifier?
An integrated amplifier is somewhat similar to receivers. While receivers consist of three components in one box, namely a preamp, an amplifier, and a tuner, integrated amps do not have radio built-in.
3. What is the damping factor in amps?
In its simplest form, the damping factor is a way of identifying output impedance of a power amplifier. The lower the output impedance of an amplifier is, the greater its ability to drive or control equipment without something coming back and controlling it is.
All in all, we have prepared for you a top-5 list of products where each of them is the best integrated amplifier under $500. With its own benefits and drawbacks, we can highly recommend each of the five solutions to go for. First of all, being produced by reputable companies, their quality is guaranteed with the use of top-notch materials and following advanced control and adjustment configurations.
Apart of the enormous quality, you have lots of productive functions in compact chassis at an affordable price. What are you waiting for? Check out how much power you can get with each of the amplifiers on the list!