• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). Come here to have fun, be ready to be teased and not take online life too seriously. We now measure and review equipment for free! Click here for details.

Any good budget stereo amps?

rickoo111

New Member
Joined
Dec 9, 2018
Messages
3
Likes
0
#1
I have been looking through these forums and it seems like literally every stereo amp performs bad....the thing is my budget is $300 because I spent a lot on a DAC and speakers so anything you guys can recommend for a desktop setup?

Since it's a desk setup watts is not that important nor is in-built dac since I have my own high performance dac so I need something that can output clean to get the very best from my speakers (Klipsch RP150M)

It doesn't have to have a headphone amp.

I don't mind buying second hand.
 

DonH56

Major Contributor
Technical Expert
Patreon Donor
Joined
Mar 15, 2016
Messages
2,477
Likes
2,337
Location
Monument, CO
#2
Emotiva makes a number of fairly inexpensive amplifiers: https://emotiva.com/ There a a number of other low-cost amplifiers, some in kit form, but I have no experience with them.

One thing not clear to me: Are you looking for a basic power amplifier, or an integrated amplifier with volume and tone controls and such?
 

Jorj

Active Member
Patreon Donor
Joined
Jan 26, 2018
Messages
253
Likes
244
Location
Washington, DC
#3
If it were me, I would look into the various Class D amps, and perhaps even a DIY kit, if you're of the tinkering type. My thinking is that on a desk you want small size and low heat-signature. I think Behringer has a mix of both Class D and AB in your price range.

In general, Topping has shown their products to be well engineered and measured. I've not read much about their PA3, but it seems to check all the right boxes for your purpose, and retails for right at $100.
 
Joined
Nov 5, 2018
Messages
60
Likes
57
Location
Snohomish, WA
#4
I have an SMSL AD18 that I use to run my desk speakers, Paradigm Atom V5, very good sound fed from my PC sound card, even better from a good dac. The cost on these is very reasonable in my opinion, 140 on amazon, cheaper on massdrop when they hit. Take a look online to see all of the features.
 

rickoo111

New Member
Joined
Dec 9, 2018
Messages
3
Likes
0
#5
Emotiva makes a number of fairly inexpensive amplifiers: https://emotiva.com/ There a a number of other low-cost amplifiers, some in kit form, but I have no experience with them.

One thing not clear to me: Are you looking for a basic power amplifier, or an integrated amplifier with volume and tone controls and such?
Integrated amplifier ideally, reading about some of the amps mentioned in this thread and I don't see many nice things said about them in reviews.
The SMSL AD18 seems decent from everything I have read about it so I will probably end up getting that or the Onkyo A-9010 unless you or anyone else can recommend anything better for my kind of budget.
However if I went with the AD18 and used the S/PDIF output on my DAC to the AD18 coax input would it be worthless using my DAC connecting it in this way because it's my understanding most class D amps have a built in DAC, would I be better using S/PDIF out from my computer motherboard directly to the coax input on the amp?
Sorry for all the questions I'm just a little confused if using the dac I bought would benefit me if I went with the AD18 amp.
 
Last edited:

bravomail

Active Member
Joined
Oct 19, 2018
Messages
190
Likes
76
#6
for 300 I'd try Yamaha receiver, stereo or whole cahoona AV receiver. I had mixed experience with all-in-one units like Ad18 - mine was Alientek D8. Straight out of computer thru SPDIF to Alientek - it sounded weak, powerless, mids were somehow not rendered properly. However fed thru some DAC and then into its analog input - it worked A-OK. Part of the problem, I think, is weak Power Supply and my insensitive speakers.
 

GGroch

Active Member
Patreon Donor
Joined
Apr 7, 2018
Messages
179
Likes
242
#7
You have a lot of choices that should work great because your Klipsch Speakers are very easy for amps to drive..and because you already have a DAC. I have owned an AD-18 and agree with bravomail that it does not sound like a good choice for your use. It is designed to do EVERYTHING in a really tiny package...and as a result does not do anything really great...and is harder to operate because you have so many menus to go through to change things line bass/treble. It does not sound like you have a space problem...so the Onkyo A-9010 would be great. You could save a little money and get just as good an amp in the Emotiva BASX-A100....but with it you just have a volume control and a single input.

In my decktop audio I also have efficient bookshelf speakers (JBL) and a good DAC. I wanted something small... so I have used a couple of Class D amps. I have an FXAudio FX 502SPro which was reviewed here (not a great review) but works great for me. Another Class D Amp that I like a bit better is available only on eBay... An "Indeed 2018 Indeed Class D Amp TDA7498 MKII" Both of these sound better to me than the AD18...but like the Emotiva they just have a volume knob and a single input. Fine for me (I control everything from my computer/DAC)...but not as full featured as the Onkyo.
 

rickoo111

New Member
Joined
Dec 9, 2018
Messages
3
Likes
0
#8
You have a lot of choices that should work great because your Klipsch Speakers are very easy for amps to drive..and because you already have a DAC. I have owned an AD-18 and agree with bravomail that it does not sound like a good choice for your use. It is designed to do EVERYTHING in a really tiny package...and as a result does not do anything really great...and is harder to operate because you have so many menus to go through to change things line bass/treble. It does not sound like you have a space problem...so the Onkyo A-9010 would be great. You could save a little money and get just as good an amp in the Emotiva BASX-A100....but with it you just have a volume control and a single input.

In my decktop audio I also have efficient bookshelf speakers (JBL) and a good DAC. I wanted something small... so I have used a couple of Class D amps. I have an FXAudio FX 502SPro which was reviewed here (not a great review) but works great for me. Another Class D Amp that I like a bit better is available only on eBay... An "Indeed 2018 Indeed Class D Amp TDA7498 MKII" Both of these sound better to me than the AD18...but like the Emotiva they just have a volume knob and a single input. Fine for me (I control everything from my computer/DAC)...but not as full featured as the Onkyo.
Thank you!
I decided to get the Onkyo a-9010 UK model since space is not a issue and my speakers are easy to drive.
 
Joined
May 30, 2018
Messages
62
Likes
28
Location
Switzerland
#10
Was at a hi fi store today with a very large selection and regardless of price it struck me how most amps, even stereo amps seem oversized. Are there any valid technical reasons for this or is it just a fad? If they could up their game just a little, the new Chinese brands could really be an alternative.
 
Joined
Nov 21, 2018
Messages
53
Likes
72
#11
Was at a hi fi store today with a very large selection and regardless of price it struck me how most amps, even stereo amps seem oversized. Are there any valid technical reasons for this or is it just a fad? If they could up their game just a little, the new Chinese brands could really be an alternative.
Almost certainly a hi-fi anachronism. Everyone wanted stackable components even if they were from different manufacturers.
 

Sal1950

Major Contributor
The Chicago Crusher
Joined
Mar 1, 2016
Messages
4,912
Likes
2,118
Location
Central Fl
#12
it struck me how most amps, even stereo amps seem oversized
As in physical size?
Class A and A/B amps require large power transformers, power supply capacitors, and heat sinks sized to their power demands.
CLass D are whole different animals and can be sized very small in comparison.
 

Sal1950

Major Contributor
The Chicago Crusher
Joined
Mar 1, 2016
Messages
4,912
Likes
2,118
Location
Central Fl
#13
Almost certainly a hi-fi anachronism. Everyone wanted stackable components even if they were from different manufacturers.
That too, and std rack mount sizes are 17" wide.
 
Joined
May 30, 2018
Messages
62
Likes
28
Location
Switzerland
#14
As in physical size?
Class A and A/B amps require large power transformers, power supply capacitors, and heat sinks sized to their power demands.
CLass D are whole different animals and can be sized very small in comparison.
Yes, physical size.
So, simple laws of physics. My Teac is smaller but just 35W. Those amps in the showroom looked nice, better built than the small class D amps, for sure. The class Ds from Denon, Pioneer and other mainstream manufacturers may represent a compromise for people like me size-wise...
 
Joined
Nov 30, 2018
Messages
64
Likes
70
#15
There's quite a few reasonably sized and weight class D-based amps out there now with the icepower and hypex modules. One of the smaller implementations I've found is Ghent Audio's stuff. The class AB stuff is all ridiculously huge and heavy though, it's true.
 

Dismayed

Active Member
Joined
Jan 2, 2018
Messages
195
Likes
109
Location
Boston, MA
#16
You could pick up an Adcom GFA 535 II or GFA 545 II on eBay for a few hundred $$$'s.
 
Joined
Nov 2, 2018
Messages
10
Likes
14
#17
Emotiva makes a number of fairly inexpensive amplifiers: https://emotiva.com/ There a a number of other low-cost amplifiers, some in kit form, but I have no experience with them.

One thing not clear to me: Are you looking for a basic power amplifier, or an integrated amplifier with volume and tone controls and such?
I recently picked up an Emotiva BasX A-100, which I'm using in a desktop system driving Kef Q150's. Definitely worth looking at if you don't need source switching. Completely subjective, but to me seems to perform better than other cheap amps I have - Sure tripath boards, TPA3255, Dayton APA150 etc. Just a basic no-nonsense ClassAB amp.
 

Saddart

New Member
Joined
Dec 8, 2018
Messages
2
Likes
1
#18
any recommendation for amps with a sub-out, currently i am using the AD18 but wanna try something with a little more cleaner power!
 
Joined
Nov 21, 2018
Messages
53
Likes
72
#20
mx3 seems like the ideal desk solution if it performs well.
That's what I'm thinking. It solves all of my needs for a bookshelf system: Bluetooth, DAC, amp. Nice to have digital inputs and a headphone amp for other purposes, too. Also curious to hear about whether or not that little antenna results in increased Bluetooth reception as that is the one complaint I have about my Logitech Bluetooth receiver (and BT devices in general).
 

Similar threads

Top Bottom