Not so long ago, if you wanted to get superior sound quality you had three options: tuners, pre-amps, and power amps. In recent years, the integrated amplifier has emerged as yet another option. Most people looking for the best audio sources find themselves dragged into the integrated amplifier vs power amplifier debate.
To make the appropriate choice, you should arm yourself with the right information where each device is concerned.
Here, we’ll highlight some products with the best sound quality and break down what each amp style has to offer.
The PYLE PTA4 is a budget-friendly power amp in a class of its own. Though small in size, it houses enough power to work on any stereo system. In terms of features, it easily beats many of its counterparts in the same price range.
When it comes to power supply, the PYLE PTA4 comes through with 120 watts per channel (2), giving you all the output you could want.
In addition to offering basic level volume control, you also get full treble and bass control as well. Combined with its 4-speaker output, Left and Right RCA inputs, and beautiful LED output display, you can easily achieve balanced connections on all fronts.
The device includes digital audio inputs and a CD input as well.
Thanks to this range of features, this device is able to seamlessly recreate your audio’s musicality, making the PYLE PTA4 a true masterpiece.
Do you want hundreds of watts of sound power at your disposal?
Do you prefer audio equipment with an extensive range of features?
If you answered “Yes” to all the questions above, then the AIYIMA A07 is the best power amplifier for you!
According to the manufacturer’s specs, this amp has a max output of 300W. What they don’t specify is that this is true for only one component of the amplifier – the amp chip. Despite these exaggerated claims, this little amp still gives excellent audio output for indoor sound systems.
With the AIYIMA A07 you will get a simple and beautiful design along with some of the best tube preamps for enhanced audio quality. It is compatible with many devices and is perfect for a home environment.
One drawback to this option is that the amps only comes with a DC 32V 5A power adapter.
You’d have to get a DC 48V with at least a 7A current for this power amplifier to truly shine as a powerhouse sound source.
Released earlier this year, the Nobsound Mini Bluetooth 5.0 power amplifier is a trendsetter. The build of this equipment has been streamlined such that it’ll comfortably fit in the palm of your hand. But don’t let its small size fool you, the audio output holds its own, making it a fitting addition to this list.
Bluetooth power amps have a bad rep because of how they tend to muddle sound quality. However, this system carries the best and latest in Bluetooth technology, so you can expect your audio will always come out crisp and clear!
Aside from Bluetooth, the Nobsound Mini offers AUX and USB support as well. It can also double as your PC sound card.
Remarkably easy to operate, this is arguably one of the best budget-friendly, Bluetooth power amplifiers on the market at the moment.
To start, this amp not only sports Bluetooth 5.0 capabilities but also comes with a wide range of connectivity features like a 3.5mm AUX cable, SD card support, and even a USB Port. It also boasts a high-power transformer to blast quality audio through your speakers.
To sweeten the deal, this stereo receiver comes with Class AB functionality, giving you the option to run your pair of speakers independently or together in one go!
And unlike the other items on our list so far, this powerful amp comes with a remote control allowing you to tweak its settings from a distance.
All of this is complemented with a very bright LED display so you can see what you’re doing at all times. Little wonder is the first choice of most audio industry aficionados.
While its design and even the LED setup might appear retro, the performance of the Rockville RPA is anything but! It produces phenomenal sound and takes audio customization to the next level with its abundance of features.
Again, we have to point out that this product probably doesn’t offer anywhere near the massive amounts of watt power promised. That being said, you will get you money’s worth with this power amp.
The Rockville RPA gets a nod of approval from us because it does more than just focus on sound quality, it offers durability as well.
The computer-controlled IC circuitry ensures the longevity of your stereo if it gets too hot or suffers a minor power surge.
For power and reliability, only a few products in its price range offer what the Rockville RPA does.
Integrated Amplifier Vs Power Amplifier – Everything You Should Know
If you’re faced with the choice of an integrated amplifier, pre-amplifier, and a standard amplifier, you might struggle to decide which is the best for you.
Let’s break down each of these options!
What’s a Pre Amplifier?
Simply put, this is a type of device used to switch between different sound sources. It essentially boosts the voltage gain of your audio signal so that it can be better enhanced by an amplifier.
There are different types of preamplifiers. These range from color and digital to solid-state and tube preamps.
External preamplifiers (like tube amps) are commonly used because they’re more consistent and improve sound quality and character.
What’s an Amplifier?
While a pre amplifier optimizes voltage gain, it doesn’t do much for current gain, hence the need for a power amplifier. A power amplifier can boost current gain, driving out a much higher number of watts from a single pair of speakers (or more).
You might be thinking: why bother looking for the best power amplifier then? Why isn’t there a single pre amp and power amp combination stereo you can get? Why even is there a power amp separate system?
It’s because the circuitry of a preamplifier is very delicate. So, simply combining a standalone preamp with a power amp will cause a lot of noise and signal interference.
Because of this, both pre-amp and power amp are treated as separate devices.
Why Use a Preamp and a Power Amp?
This combination helps give your speakers the much-needed power supply without causing any clipping or noise interference.
Even though both systems are often treated as separate devices, it’s often a good idea to connect the two. This is because by doing so, you get:
- Zero “popping” sounds when you use your speakers.
- A rich, fuller sound.
- More realism from the sound signature.
- A superior tone to even older music.
- Deeper and tighter bass sounds.
- Lesser risk of blowing your speakers out.
What’s an Integrated Amplifier?
This is the result of when a pre-amp and power amp is combined into one single package. The resulting stereo receiver may or may not draw power to the pre amp and power amp from the same source.
These systems have become increasingly popular in recent times because of the unique sound experience they provide.
Which is Better?
Using sound quality as the only metric, a power amp is better.
This is because integrated amplifiers have limited power, making a power amplifier a more potent device. As such, the sound that a power amp produces is usually very robust.
You also get a measure of versatility with power amps as you can add a pre-amp or extra amplifier as you see fit.
This isn’t to say that integrated amps aren’t without their benefits though.
They help you reproduce sound and control volume, something no power amp can do. Also, because they come with a built-in preamp, you can use them to control bass and eliminate distortion.
What’s more, even though integrated amps come with a built-in preamp, they’re usually more budget-friendly, compared to power amps.
1. Can I Use an Integrated Amp as a Power Amp?
Yes, you can.
However, in many cases, you would have to use the HT bypass input to skip the built-in preamp section of the device. But ultimately, how easily you’re able to use an integrated amp as a power amp depends on the integrated amp in question.
2. Can I Add a Power Amp to an Integrated Amp?
Yes, you can.
But adding power amp to integrated amp isn’t easy or straightforward. If these devices aren’t properly hooked, you could get an increased noise floor and very loud distortion.
3. Why Use a Preamp and a Power Amp?
Because it adds a lot of colorful characteristics to the sound that will come out of your speakers.
Most items, like your DVD/CD player and phonograph, have limited output and may even require equalization circuits otherwise they won’t be properly picked up by power amps.
With a preamp in the mix, you’re afforded tone controls and the voltage gain needed to produce clear and precise sound.
Now you know what each device brings to the table in the integrated amplifier vs power amplifier debate, we hope you now have a better idea of which equipment will better serve your audio setup.
If you’d like a few more pointers, we’re always happy to help!