Integrated Amplifier/DAC Reviews

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Rafe Arnott  |  Jun 15, 2018
Some prefer to pair their whisky with food and while I am a fan of that, a good whisky with outstanding high-fidelity gear is a pairing I often prefer.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Aug 31, 2017
"Comparison is the death of joy"—Mark Twain

"The biggest troublemaker you'll probably ever have to deal with watches you shave his face in the mirror every morning."—Anonymous Cowboy

I recently reviewed a half dozen all-in-one devices that come in in roughly the same ballpark price-wise. While they're all all-in-one, they don't all offer the same thing, feature-wise. So let's begin with a picture that should help explain things (and save me a lot of jawin').
Michael Lavorgna  |  Mar 02, 2017
Peachtree Audio 2.0
What's 2.0? The short answer—improvements (here's the longer answer). Late last year, David Solomon rejoined Peachtree and the company made some other (major) changes; a new engineering team was brought on board to create the new Nova line of amplifiers (nova150, nova300, and nova500) and manufacturing of the Nova line was brought back from China to Canada. The new nova300 is an integrated amplifier putting out 300wpc (into 8Ω/450wpc into 4Ω) of ICEpower, sports the ESS Sabre32 9018MKII Reference Sabre DAC, a phono amp, a headphone amp, and, when dressed in the Gloss Ebony Mocha, some super-fine curb appeal.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Apr 09, 2015
photo credit: April Music

All-In-One Music Center
If we look at the Aura Note's anatomy, we can conjure up a whole host of music playing possibilities. If we step back and look at the Aura Note's exterior, we see a device deigned for people who value such things as industrial design (I do). Taken as a whole, those looking for an attractive one-box solution may have found their ideal dancing partner.

Michael Lavorgna  |  Feb 12, 2015
Teac
The TEAC Corporation, a $1.2 billion manufacturing company headquartered in Japan, was founded in 1953. The TEAC division is in the "field of music and audio" and they've pioneered many a product for the studio and home. I was mightily impressed with their UD-501 Dual-Monaural PCM/DSD USB DAC (see review) and the new Teac AI-301DA, which wraps up 22 Watts (into 8 Ohms) of Class-D ICEpower (50ASX2-SE), a 32/192 and DSD 5.6MHz capable BurrBrown PCM 1795 D/A converter, aptX Bluetooth, and a headphone amp into a relatively small package, carries on this tradition.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Feb 05, 2015
The Sprout Vision
I see it, I hear it, I like it. Sprout plays vinyl and digital (up to 24/192), let's you stream to it via Bluetooth from your smartphone while pumping out 32 watts of Class D power per channel into 8 Ohms (50W into 4). It delivers all of this in a small, simple, attractive package and it costs $799. What more do you need to know?
Michael Lavorgna  |  Nov 26, 2014
Sonos
Do you watch TV? Sports maybe? If so, you've probably spotted one of the Sonos commercials. White immaculate rooms are suddenly filled with liquid color, with flowers, or with paint spatters until the rooms are transformed. By music. Cool. And its cool for a few reasons; the message, the presentation, and the fact that a hi-fi company can afford to advertise on network TV during high profile/price sporting events. I'd imagine that Sonos is the only company to come through AudioStream to be in a position to pull that off.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Aug 12, 2014
The Little Integrated Amplifier/DAC That Could
The Sony UDA-1 incorporates a 20W x 2 Class AB amplifier (into 4 ohms) and a 24/192 and single and double rate DSD capable DAC (Burr-Brown PCM1795) into a handsome black or silver aluminum covered chunky little chassis. 20 Watts isn't much power but if you have speakers that aren't very demanding, and my DeVore The Nines at 91db and 8 ohms aren't, you can get away with 20 Watts. As a matter of fact, the little UDA-1 from Sony drove The Nines to my sonic satisfaction. There are however some operational quirks you must contend with if you use a Mac to get the most of outta that DSD DAC.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 21, 2011
I'll start by saying I've been a fan of 47 Labs designs from the first time I saw and heard the 4706 Gaincard and 4713 Flatfish. It helped that Herb Reichert wrote about the 47 Labs Gaincard (Listener, volume 5, number 2 Spring 1999) since he was a favorite writer on Hi-Fi and someone I felt I could relate to in ways that included non-Hi-Fi stuff (now that I've had an opportunity to meet Herb on a few occasions, I discovered I was righter than I knew). If a minimal design aesthetic appeals to you in a general sense, i.e. you enjoy the work of Ray and Charles Eames, Donald Judd, Ad Reinhardt, the Bauhaus, etc., then the design approach of Juni Kimura should tickle a similar fancy. Juni Kimura's quote, "Only the simplest can accomodate the most complex" adorns the 47 Labs US Distributor's home page.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 27, 2011
I have a bunch of confessions to make the first being I used to frown on docks in amps. I viewed them as a blemish on the face of serious listening, an affront to our finer sensibilities. This impulse to look at things that make life easier with scorn (screw caps, auto-focus, stretch-waist jeans [actually, they deserve our scorn]) as we age is something we need to fight with all the force our gray hairs and beer bellies (I'm not saying you have one but I know I do) can muster. Listening to music is supposed to be fun, dammit!
Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 24, 2012
A Grand Integrated
400 watts per channel into 8 ohms of Class D B&O ICEpower® and 650 watts into 4 ohms. Add a galvanically-isolated Asynchronous USB DAC capable of handling up to 24-bit/192kHz data, a preamp with optional tube buffer, a bunch more digital and analog inputs and analog outputs including a headphone amp, wrap it all up in a very solid aluminum chassis and you have yourself one honey of a package. Just add music and you can drive even unreasonable speaker loads into gut-wrenching musical glory.
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