A good integrated amplifier is the most important part of your sound system or home theater system. It allows you to control the various inputs, get the right tone and gives the system volume.
It is what drives the whole system. You do not have to spend a fortune to get a quality option. We take a look at the 5 best-integrated amplifiers under $500.
- Comparison table
- What is an integrated amplifier?
- Is an integrated amplifier better than separate components?
- What inputs do I need to look for in an integrated amplifier?
- What other factors do I need to consider?
- The 5 Best Integrated Amplifiers Under $500:
- 1. Yamaha A-S301BL Natural Sound Integrated Stereo Amplifier
- 2. Onkyo A-9110 Home Audio Integrated Stereo Amplifier
- 3. NAD – D 3020 v2 Hybrid Digital Integrated Amplifier
- 4. Teac AI-301DA-BK Integrated Amplifier
- 5. Pioneer Elite A-20 2-Channel Integrated Amplifier
- Final thoughts
We searched far and wide to find the very best integrated amplifiers under $500. After extensive research, we found what we believe to be the best of the best. This table highlights some of the key features. Further down, we review each one in detail.
|Product||Yamaha A-S301BL||Onkyo A-9110||NAD – D 3020 v2||Teac AI-301DA-BK||Pioneer Elite A-20|
|Wattage||60 W + 60 W||50 W + 50 W||30 W + 30 W||60 W + 60 W||50 W + 50 W|
|Frequency||10 Hz: 100 kHz||20 hz–20 kHz||20 Hz – 20 kHz||20 Hz-20 kHz|
|Dimensions||17.13 x 15.25 x 6 inches||5.1 x 13 x 17.1 inches||8.6 x 7.4 x 2.3 inches||8.5 x 10 x 2.4 inches||14.17 x 17.12 x 5.03 inches|
What is an integrated amplifier?
In some sound systems, the preamp (preamplifier/control amplifier) and the power amp are separate units. The preamp allows you to control the input sources and has controls for volume, balance, tone, and equalization.
The power amp, as the name suggests, gives the sound from the preamp sufficient power (wattage or volume) to send out to the speakers. In an integrated amplifier, these 2 units are combined into one device.
Is an integrated amplifier better than separate components?
Both have their pros and cons. For most home users an integrated amplifier is better as they are more affordable and are more compact. Having separate components gives you a bit more flexibility.
What inputs do I need to look for in an integrated amplifier?
This really depends on what you intend to connect to the integrated amplifier. You want to be sure you are ready for new developments or components you do not currently use but might in the future.
These are the main inputs to consider:
- RCA audio inputs – most common for most audio components
- RCA phono input – if you intend to use a turntable that does not have a phono preamp
- Balanced XLR audio inputs – these are for top of the range audio components
Digital audio inputs
DAC or digital-to-analog converter. The main types of digital audio inputs are:
- Optical (Toslink)
- USB Type B – To connect to a PC
- USB Type A – To connect to a USB storage device
- Ethernet – for network connections
Many components and gadgets now connect wirelessly which is convenient and allows you loads of freedom. Save the hassles and restrictions of wires with a wireless connection:
- Bluetooth – This has been around for some time and continues to improve. It can give you wireless connectivity to headphones, speakers, and other devices. It also allows you to stream audio from smartphones, tablets, computers, and other sources.
- WiFi – WiFi will allow you to connect to your local wireless network to share media from other connected devices.
What other factors do I need to consider?
There are several factors to think about. Size and shape are important, depending on where you wish to place the unit. Power or volume is also important. Think about the speakers you intend to use or purchase to use with the amp. Also look at the build quality and materials, design, quality, and reputation of the manufacturer.
The 5 Best Integrated Amplifiers Under $500:
- Decent power output
- Multiple analog and digital input and output options (including phono and TOSLINK)
- Subwoofer output
- Anti-resonance base
- Quality build
- Pure Direct mode
- A/B or A + B speaker switching
- User-friendly remote
- Auto Power Standby
- Some found issues with the subwoofer output
- No display
- Lacks integrated Bluetooth
- Remote might be a bit basic for some users
Topping our list is this superb option from market leader Yamaha. This quality product certainly qualifies as one of the integrated amplifiers under $500. In fact, it is quite a bit less than our $500 cap for this review.
Yamaha is a trusted brand that has been in the business for many years. They know what they are doing. This model is a top-seller and receives many positive reviews from happy customers.
The amp has 2 channels each delivering 60 watts. You have a lot of freedom with the speakers you choose but quality options will deliver the clarity and depth the A-S301BL is capable of. ToP-ART “Total Purity Audio Reproduction Technology” is a Yamaha proprietary circuit design for enhanced quality. The pure direct mode also offers improved sound quality and is helped by the anti-resonance base to keep everything running smoothly. Materials and workmanship are of a high standard.
You get multiple analog inputs including a phono input for the vinyl fans. There is a subwoofer output for those that want more in that range, digital coax options, and a TOSLINK optical output. This gives you many options and great flexibility. You can create a basic sound system or a more advanced full home system incorporating a range of devices.
Related: Speaker quality is all-important. Boost the performance of your integrated amplifier with a Floorstanding Speaker.
- Stylish design
- Top-quality capacitors
- 5 x RCA inputs
- Phone input
- Pre-out outlet
- Powerful bass
- Subwoofer outlet
- Easy to use the remote control
- Good range
- No DAC
- Some found the display to be confusing
This popular integrated amp is highly rated and receives many rave reviews. It delivers 50 W per channel and has a range of advanced components and design features that make for clear quality sound. Connect the right speakers and you are in for impressive audio and sufficient power and volume.
The look is clean and neat making it attractive and easy to operate. It has a slightly retro look and feel to it but with a sleek modern twist. While this could be classed as a budget integrated amplifier you would not know by looking at it or using the controls. The remote control is also easy to operate.
Onkyo opted to do away with the DAC featured on their earlier A-9010. While this may disappoint some users they chose to put top-quality Nichicon’s Fine Gold capacitors into the unit. This, they feel, would make a significant improvement to the quality and performance of the amp. Many agree.
The balance of the components and design features are not too shabby either. It has a powerful quality transformer and “Wide Range Amplification Technology” for stability and consistency. It delivers quality over a wide range of frequencies making it flexible enough for most audio needs. A notable example is the bass boost which offers excellent clarity even at very low volume.
- Compact vertical design
- aptX Bluetooth Streaming
- Asynchronous DAC
- Multiple connectivity options
- Great for vinyl
- Good frequency range
- IR remote
- The design will not appeal to all and might be hard to place in certain environments
- The I/O ports are a bit close together
- The lightweight might cause it to vibrate
- Could do with a bit more power
The first thing you will notice about this amp is a compact vertical design. While this might appeal to many some will prefer a more traditional layout. It makes the ports a bit close together but in certain environments, the compact design will be a perfect fit. It is not like you need to fiddle with inputs and outputs much after the initial set up.
More important is the performance and features. Both are impressive. It delivers 40 W per channel so is not the loudest amp but offers quality and clarity across a wide range of frequencies. You can enjoy all styles of music and other audio formats in clear crisp sounds. It is also highly effective for use with a turntable for the die-hard vinyl lovers.
Feature-wise, the aptX Bluetooth streaming stands out. Most integrated amplifiers in this price bracket lack this feature and it is becoming increasingly important to have. The D 3020 v2 also features an asynchronous DAC (24-bit/96k). This gives you the freedom to connect to a wide range of devices both now and in the future. You can control all of the inputs and functions form the handy IR remote.
Music fans that use mostly digital formats will love this amp as will those that value vinyl. If you are looking for mainly analog use you might find this amp a bit limiting. Overall, it is a great amp at a very good price. Most customers that invested in the D 3020 v2 are over the moon with the performance and quality.
- Bluetooth with apt codec
- Quality DAC
- DSD file management software
- Asynchronous USB
- Quality materials and workmanship
- Professional look
- Full rich sound
- Great value for money
- No regular phone I/O
- Will only work with 2 speakers at once
- Selecting the source can only be done on the panel
Teac is another trusted and popular brand and the AI-301DA-BK is a highly rated top seller. It is feature-rich and will serve you well now and into the future. It delivers an impressive 60W per channel and has a decent range.
There are several impressive features of the integrated amplifier. The Bluetooth playback feature performs well and has apt codec. Then there is the “Burr-Brown PCM1795” DAC. The AI-301DA-BK also has an asynchronous USB input.
Lovers of technology and digital inputs will love this model. You will also get the software from Teac to pull the DSD file from your PC for the DAC. The software is free.
The amp is solidly built and easy to use. It comes with decent remote control. The features speak for themselves and the feedback is overwhelmingly positive. There is very little not to like about this quality integrated amplifier. Very few options in this price range can compete in terms of features and technology.
Related: If you like this model you are probably a bit of a tech fan. You need a fast and powerful laptop to go with this amp. Check out the Best SSD Laptops article.
- Trusted and experienced brand
- Solidly built using quality materials inside and out
- Decent volume
- Quality rich sound
- Elegant design
- Phono input
- A/B speaker switching
- IR Remote control
- Value for money
- No integrated Bluetooth (can be added)
- Some reports of overheating after extended use at high volume
Pioneer is a well-established brand and they have been around since 1938. They have established a good reputation for quality and reliable products. The A-20 is an affordable integrated amplifier delivering 50 W each on the 2 channels. Paired with the right speakers it delivers quality audio and a volume that is more than sufficient for most home users.
Looking at, using, and listening to the quality audio you would not expect it to be in this low price bracket. You get a lot of bang for your buck with this system. It is a good-looking and solidly built amp with a somewhat minimalistic design. Simple, elegant, and functional.
If you are looking for lots of flashing lights and plenty of controls this one is not for you. There are dials for volume, balance, and tone. There is a loudness button, speaker selector, and a direct mode button. There is also a jack for headphones.
In the rear, you get 6 analog inputs, one of which is a phono input, a control in/out, an output for tape, and 4 pairs of bindings posts.
The A/B or A + B speaker control options make this handy and versatile. It can be used to connect to other rooms or outdoors. It comes with an IR remote control.
Related: If you want to have your sounds outdoors, check out the Best Outdoor Speakers article.
Related: While many of these integrated amplifiers do not come with built-in Bluetooth, that does not mean to say you cannot add it to give you the freedom and functionality. Take a look at the Best Bluetooth Transmitters. They are affordable and will make your amp more versatile.
Now that you have the low-down on the best integrated amplifiers under $500 you will be able to make an informed decision and invest in the best one for your needs. These are all great quality products at a fair price.
Give some thought to the type of media and attachments you wish to use with the integrated amplifier as well as the speakers. Consider what features are important for your needs this will guide to the best choice for many years of enjoyable music and audio appreciation.
This article was last updated on September 1, 2020 .
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