Best amplifiers 2024: Powerhouses up to $10,000

Until recently, Class A equipment cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, but today the ice has broken – and great-sounding amps can be bought for much less. Read our analysis of the selection of power amplifiers priced from five to ten thousand dollars.

1. Manley Laboratories Mahi

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1. Manley Laboratories Mahi

Price: 6,599

Pros – velvety sound

Cons – not suitable for low impedance speakers

Verdict – it’s hard not to fall in love with such a tube sound

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A tube classic “for all time” – the Manley Laboratories Mahi uses four EL84 pentodes, the power of the model is 14 – 41 W depending on the type of switching (in triode and ultralinear modes, respectively) and the speaker impedance (the device is ideally suited for working with a load with a resistance of 6 ohms and is not recommended for speakers with impedance significantly lower than 4 ohms). Despite all the limitations, if the device is installed correctly, it can hit you in the heart, offering an incredible seamless, “mercurial” sound.

2.Ayre VX-8

2. Ayre VX-8

Price – 6,800 US dollars

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Pros – JFET amplification, solid design

Cons – relatively high price

Verdict – a step forward for Ayre

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The younger Ayre VX-8 uses developments from the company’s top line of current amplifiers (JFET amplification); there is also linear power regulation with zero feedback and a Double Diamond output stage. The printed circuit boards are also our own, made of fiberglass and resin, thick and made to last – in general, everything literally screams about quality. Despite only 100 W at 8 ohms of power, the sound of the model amazes with its detail, enthusiasm and sparkle.

3. PS Audio Stellar M1200

3. PS Audio Stellar M1200

Price: 6,998

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Pros – the combination of lamps and D-class works effectively!

Cons – microdynamics are not ideal

Verdict – a device that will rock any speakers with “one left hand”

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The compact PS Audio Stellar M1200 visually contrasts strongly with the older “fat boys” from the company – well, it uses a cascade based on a Psvane 12AU7-TII lamp and a class D assembly from ICEpower. This is a real beast – the power is 600 W at 8 Ohms and 1,200 W at 4 Ohms! The device’s ability to control “crowbar” speakers is fantastic, but the best part is that in the pursuit of “power” they didn’t throw out the baby – the temporal accuracy of the device seems excellent, except that by the standards of a true High End it is slightly lacking in microdynamics.

4. Feliks Audio Arioso

4. Feliks Audio Arioso

Price – 7,495

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Pros – 3D sound

Cons – 8 W amplification “not for everyone”

Verdict – tube breakthrough of the year

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Small Polish tube amplifier – only 8 W per channel with Electro-Harmonix EH Gold 300B tubes. It would seem that against the background of modern mastodons it should give in, but the device copes even with speakers with a resistance of 4 Ohms and provides an incredible amount of sound information, simply “completing” the sound picture in comparison with many competitors. Lamp apparatus of the XXI century!

5. Rotel Michi S5

5. Rotel Michi S5

Price: 7,499

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Pros – stunning power, fantastic dynamics

Cons – the scene depth is a little lacking

Verdict – An amplifier that is worth every penny invested

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Rotel’s new Michi series takes the stars out of the sky – if you’re shopping for a power amplifier, the S5 may well be the end point. 500 W per channel at 8 ohms and 800 W per channel at 4 ohms, natural temporal picture, surprisingly tangible stage (albeit not as huge as on devices with a price ten times more), clear and coherent performance on any genre – praises you can sing for a long time. For your money – just a gift.

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6. LKV Research Veros PWR+

Price – 10,000 US dollars

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Pros – the combination of a kilowatt power supply and combined D-amplification has paid off

Cons – none

Verdict – don’t believe in class D? Check out LKV Research Veros PWR+!

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The top model from LKV Research, the Veros PWR+ power amplifier combines a discrete Class A assembly, Purifi Class D modules and a three-transformer amplification circuit (with a central kilowatt toroidal trans). Something similar is used in the French Devialet components, only they use a switching power supply. LKV Research Veros PWR+ is completely devoid of the “patina” of digital amplification. It sounds like a genuine Class A mastodon – warm, rich and gentle. And 221 W at 8 Ohms will satisfy even the most demanding audiophiles.

7. McIntosh MC462

7. McIntosh MC462

Price – 10,000 US dollars

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Pros – a genre-bending device with luxurious presentation

Cons – nothing

Verdict – this amplifier “with arrows” is a benchmark in its price

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McIntosh’s most powerful stereo driver, the new MC462 delivers 450 watts per channel into 2, 4, or 8 ohms. The amplifier “with arrows” operates in the AB class, but in a very tricky way – each individual phase of the signal is amplified by a full push-pull output section (in fact, two full-fledged push-pull amplifiers work in each channel, and their outputs are combined using autoformers). The sound of the McIntosh MC462 gives no reason for criticism – this mastodon flaunts excellent dynamics and outstanding detail.

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