Integrated Amplifiers Buying Guide

Like if this guide is helpful
Integrated Amplifiers Buying Guide

Integrated amplifiers are a piece of stereo equipment which contains both an audio preamplifier and a power amplifier in one complete unit. Most amplifiers today are integrated and they are purchased from many high street retailers, stereo shops, electronics stores, and department stores. Shoppers can also find integrated amplifiers online at many different electronics, warehouse, and outlet websites, and eBay has a wide selection of integrated amplifiers to fit every budget and style, as well as offering different integrated amplifiers for different types of use.

While an integrated amplifier usually provides much better sound quality than a receiver, it usually is not quite as good quality as a separate preamplifier and a power amplifier. However, having an integrated amplifier saves a little on space as it is one unit instead of two. Most integrated amplifiers have many different inputs for components such as DVD players, CD players, and other auxiliary sources. When adding an integrated amplifier to a stereo system, buyers need to compare brands and features, and ensure that the integrated amplifier is compatible with their existing stereo equipment.

What an Amplifier Does

An amplifier is the main component of any stereo system, without an amplifier, there is no sound at all. This is because an amplifier takes a low-level signal from a stereo component such as a tape deck or CD player and amplifies it to a higher capacity, so that it is heard through speakers. There are three main types of amplifiers available, power amplifier, preamplifier, and integrated amplifier.

Power Amplifier

A power amplifier takes a signal from a preamplifier and then boosts, or amplifies it so that it is heard through speakers. A power amplifier is useless without a preamplifier.

Preamplifier

This amplifier actually has two roles. It works as a switch to connect all of the source components together such as the tape deck, the CD player, the television, and the turntable, and allows users to choose which source to listen to. Once the source is selected, the preamplifier controls the volume that is heard through the speakers, but, in order to do that, the preamplifier needs to be attached to a power amplifier.

Integrated Amplifier

An integrated amplifier is basically a preamplifier and a power amplifier built into one unit. Because it is one unit rather than two, an integrated amplifier is often a good quality piece, but at a much lower cost than purchasing the two units separately. The main disadvantage with an integrated amplifier is that the preamplifier and power amplifier cannot be upgraded separately.If one or the other components need to be upgraded, the entire unit has to be replaced.

Facts to Consider When Buying an Integrated Amplifier

There are many different facts which should be taken into consideration when buying an integrated amplifier. Of course budget should be the first consideration; a good integrated amplifier cost varies depending on the quality. There are also many other facts that need to be taken into consideration, such as power output, impedance, and classes of integrated amplifiers..

Power Output

An integrated amplifier has to have enough power to drive the stereo speakers at the desired levels without damaging the amplifier or the speakers. When considering the power output, remember that more power is better. If the amplifier is too powerful it may not cause any damage; however, if the amplifier is too weak, the speakers and amplifier can become damaged.

Impedance

Impedance is a very important specification and should always be taken into consideration. If the stereo speakers are 8 Ohms, then almost any integrated amplifier works, because most any amplifier can handle this load. However, if the speakers are 4 Ohms, then before purchasing an integrated amplifier, double-check that the impedance curve does not fall below 3 Ohms. This is because an integrated amplifier sometimes has problems handling an extremely low impedance load.

Integrated Amplifier Classes

Integrated amplifiers are divided into classes, with each classification relating to the design and efficiency of the integrated amplifier. There are many different integrated amplifier classes, however, the three main integrated amplifier classes are class A, class B, and class D.

Class A

Class A integrated amplifiers are inefficient and only output about 30 watts of power. However, they do offer a very pleasant and musical sound. Class A amplifiers tend to run hot because the transistors conduct electricity for the full cycle of input signal. Because of this, Class A integrated amplifiers typically waste about 4-5 watts of heat energy for every watt of output power. They are also usually very heavy and large.

Class B

The Class B integrated amplifiers are more efficient, with an output of between 40-45 watts of power. Class B amplifiers use different parts of the circuit to process the positive and negative parts of the signal. Because of this, output devices are able to turn on and off as needed. Class B amplifiers run much cooler than Class A amplifiers, but the sound quality is not quite as high.

Class D

Class D integrated amplifiers are often called digital amplifiers, but most Class D amplifiers do not run in true digital mode. When class D integrated amplifiers are in use, the output devices are quickly turned on and off at least two times per cycle, and depending on their frequency, they can be switched on or off thousands of times per second. Class D integrated amplifiers are extremely efficient and usually run at about 80-90 per cent efficiency.

Class AB

Class AB integrated amplifiers combine the best operating features of both Class A and Class B amplifiers. The main benefits of Class AB integrated amplifiers are cooler running temperatures and better sound quality.

Popular Integrated Amplifier Brands

An amplifier is a stereo component which every stereo must have in order for sound to be produced through the speakers. While there are different types of amplifiers, integrated amplifiers are the most commonly used for home stereo systems. There are many different manufacturers which make integrated amplifiers, and they include:

Of course, while the above list encompasses most of the more well-known manufacturers of integrated amplifiers, it does not list all of the lesser-known manufacturers. When buying an integrated amplifier, it is sometimes best to purchase one from the same manufacturer as the main stereo components; doing this helps to ensure compatibility.

Buying Integrated Amplifiers on eBay

Buying integrated amplifiers on eBay is very easy. You can start your search on the eBay homepage, and if you are not sure of the specific brand or type of amplifier you are looking for, you can simply type "integrated amplifier" into the search bar located at the top of the page. The resulting page brings up a list of all the integrated amplifiers currently listed on eBay. You can browse or refine your search using the menu. Searching this way gives you a very long list of items for sale which is sometimes a little overwhelming. However, if you prefer a specific brand, you can easily narrow down your search by typing the brand name into the search bar. For example, if you are looking for a Sony amplifier, type in "Sony integrated amplifier", and this gives you a much shorter list of integrated amplifiers which are only made by the Sony company. From there you can refine your search further by using the menu to choose audio inputs, audio outputs, condition, number of channels, RMS power, and much more.

Once you find the item you wish to purchase, be sure to read through the product description thoroughly to ensure that it has all of the features and functionality which you are looking for. Remember to also check to see if the product includes any wires and cables, and a remote control if the unit is a remote unit.

Conclusion

Amplifiers are essential in stereo systems if you want to be able to hear any sound at all. An integrated amplifier contains two different components, a preamplifier and a power amplifier. Almost all amplifiers today are integrated, and they are often less expensive than purchasing the two components separately. Integrated amplifiers provide better sound quality than receivers, but the sound quality is not usually quite as good as separate preamplifiers and power amplifiers.

When purchasing an integrated amplifier, there are many different details which have to be considered. You have to take into consideration your existing stereo equipment to ensure that the integrated amplifier is compatible. You also have to consider audio inputs and outputs, number of channels, RMS power, and class of the amplifier. You should also consider price and functionality of the integrated amplifier. While an amplifier with a lot of features and functions may be nice, it does cost more, and some of the features are not needed if you already have other stereo equipment. When choosing an integrated amplifier, opt for a brand name which you know and trust, and then search on eBay for that particular brand of integrated amplifier. This helps keep costs down, and it allows you to compare different integrated amplifiers side by side before you commit to a purchase.

Have something to share, create your own guide... Write a guide
Explore more guides