The Best Stereo Amplifiers

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 Onkyo M-282 amplifier is a low-cost amplifier that leaves out a lot of knobs and whistles. The concentration here is sound performance — the sound is very clear, with low noise, and free of distortion even at loud passages. It’s a good choice if you just want to drive two bookshelf speakers or floor-standing speakers. Overall, you get excellent performance from amplifier that cost less that $200.
The Onkyo M-282 amplifier is available at Amazon for about $188.

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.

The Pyle Home PCA1 amplifier is available at Amazon for about $27.


Comments 1

  1. Hi Justin, I’m looking to buy a new amp for my setup, so looking for review now. I’m keen on the Marantz, but this post is 1 year old. Is there a better model out there this year?

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