Top 11 Best Class D Amplifiers For Home Audio In 2021


Class D amplifiers are cherished for their efficiency, which makes them lightweight and allows them to run cooler than their linear counterparts (class A, B and A/B). A major concern with class D amps is that they don’t offer the same audio fidelity as linear amps. However, the improvement of class D technology and error reduction has allowed them to break into the Hi-Fi market.

Choosing the best class D for your home audio setup can be tedious. In this article, we’ll discuss the top 11 best class D amplifiers for such applications.

The top 11 best class D amplifiers on the market are:

  1. S.M.S.L AD 18
  2. Crown XLS 150
  3. NAD D3045
  4. Heaven 11 Billie
  5. Hegel H95
  6. Bel Canto C5i
  7. Lyngdorf TDAI 1120
  8. Lyngdorf SDA 2400
  9. Bel Canto REF600M
  10. Legacy Audio I-V2
  11. Bel Canto Black EX Integrated

Of course, it’s worth mentioning that any “best of” article will be subjective. I’ve done my best to create this list objectively, but I’d completely expect the next person’s list to have different options (though hopefully, it wouldn’t be too different).

Let’s discuss each amplifier on this list (in ascending order based on price) and the reasons why they are the best.


S.M.S.L AD 18 ($144.99)

The first thing that strikes you about this S.M.S.L AD 18 (link to check the price on Amazon) is that it is very small and lightweight. Indeed, you can hold the entire system in the palm of your hand. That being said, don’t let the size fool you since this is an amplifier that’s powerful enough to run 80 watts into 4 Ohm speakers.

S.M.S.L AD 18

To begin with, the seamless NFC connectivity makes it a great unit to have at close range. With this technology, if you have a compatible phone, all you need to do is place it over the logo (with Bluetooth enabled), and it will pair automatically. It even offers remote control.

The equalizer is a great feature to allow you to shape the sound further in case you have different speakers. But options don’t end there; you can choose even the colour of the display.

Finally, the BT, USB (to use it as a standalone DAC), coaxial, optical, and subwoofer connections make this a very versatile amplifier to take anywhere.

At less than $200, this small digital amplifier packs everything you might need. No, it is not an audiophile-ready apparatus, but it will get the job done.

Specs & Connections

  • Power: 40 Watts (8 Ohms) 80 Watts (4 Ohms) per channel
  • Headphone output: Yes
  • Analog inputs: 1 (labeled as AUX)
  • Digital inputs: 1 optical, 1 coaxial, and 1 USB
  • Sample rate: 192 kHz/24 bits
  • Speakers supported: 2
  • Bluetooth capability: Yes

Crown XLS 1502 ($449)

Unless you haven’t been to any live gigs in your life, you might know Crown from making outstanding, utterly durable, and dependable PA gear. They have been making the power amplifiers for stadiums for decades, and their new Class-D line lives up to those expectations.

Crown XLS 1502

To begin with, the biggest asset for the Crown XLS 1502 (link to check the price at Sweetwater) is clarity. Indeed, when you take a power amp that can deliver over 1,000 watts when bridged, and you crank it, what you usually get is distortion. In this case, and thanks to the DriveCore technology, the signal remains punchy and clear to the maximum.

For this model, in particular, Crown implemented a LED display that can be disengaged for dark venues. On top of that, and to protect speakers, the Peakx Limiters can maximize output without damaging them. Finally, on the back, an XLR, RCA, and a ¼” inputs offer lots of flexibility.

On the not-so-good side of things, the only thing that this unit lacks is the output for a subwoofer with a hi-pass.

This is a professional-grade unit that could power anything from a live PA to your favourite turntable without much stress. Whether it is for audiophiles or professional musicians, Crown delivers with a weight of only 3.5 kilograms.

Specs & Connections

  • Power: 1050 Watts (8 Ohms bridged) 1550 Watts (4 Ohms bridged) per channel
  • Headphone output: No
  • Analog inputs: 1 XLR, 1 RCA, and 1 1/4″
  • Digital inputs: None
  • Sample rate: Not applicable
  • Speakers supported: 2
  • Bluetooth capability: No

Crown Audio is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 11 Best Power Amplifier Brands In The World.


NAD D3045 ($749)

Not many amplifiers (Class-D or not) can be used vertical or horizontal. This is by no means a minor detail because you can put the NAD D3045 (link to check the price on Amazon) on a bookshelf and utilize virtually no space. Plus, since it features a remote control, you can change settings from the couch easily.

NAD D3045

The one thing in this department that this well-intended combo is lacking is Bluetooth connectivity for bookshelf speakers. Speaking of which, the HDMI (ARC) output is great for home theatres but is a two-channel, not a surround system, so you can only connect stereo speakers.

Finally, the bass boost can be great for those who love modern music relaying on beats with a heavy kick drum, but it might be a little too modern sounding for some purists. On the other hand, the fact that there is a dedicated phono input with ground connection will make those purists happy.

This combo is lightweight, relatively small, and very capable but not audiophile territory. The company could have taken the design a little further; nevertheless, as it is, it is a winning deal for any living room.

Specs & Connections

  • Power: 60 Watts (8 Ohms) 120 Watts (4 Ohms) per channel
  • Headphone output: Yes
  • Analog inputs: 3 including phono with ground
  • Digital inputs: 2 optical, 1 coaxial, 1 USB, 1 HDMI (ARC)
  • Sample rate: 384 kHz/32 bits
  • Speakers supported: 2 featuring a pre/sub out
  • Bluetooth capability: No

NAD Electronics is featured in the following My New Microphone articles:
Top 11 Best Power Amplifier Brands In The World
Top 11 Best Desktop DAC (Digital-Analog Converter) Brands


Heaven 11 Billie ($895)

What would happen if you get the best of the old school of Hi-Fi audio (AKA tubes) and mix it with Class-D power precision? Well, the result is a robot with a soul. Let’s introduce you to Heaven 11 Billie (link to check the price at Heaven 11), the best of both worlds.

Heaven 11 Billie

If there is a word to define the design of this amplifier is minimalism. There are absolutely no labels in the front part, and the oddly-shaped volume control turns the apparatus on and off. On the back panel, things are very different, and every input and output is perfectly labelled.

Speaking of the back panel, audiophiles will celebrate the dedicated phono input with ground connection. Moreover, the Billie features an MM phono preamp built-in and, if you think about it, it is part of “the best of both worlds” statement.

Do the tubes enhance nuances in the sound? Well, that is something you have to test by yourself. On paper, they do make a big difference.

As for the cons, there is no remote control, and you can get a little hiss from tubes because they are not silent audio elements by design.

If you are into minimalism and design, no other amplifier in this list looks as beautiful as this one. On the other hand, the lack of remote control and front tags make it a little less than comfortable.

Specs & Connections

  • Power: 60 Watts (8 Ohms) 120 Watts (4 Ohms) per channel
  • Headphone output: Yes
  • Analog inputs: 3 including phono with ground
  • Digital inputs: 2 optical/SPDIF
  • Sample rate: 192 kHz/32 bits
  • Speakers supported: 2 and a preamp out for a subwoofer
  • Bluetooth capability: Yes

Hegel H95 ($1,599)

The Hegel H95 (link to check the price at Hegel) is a state-of-the-art integrated amplifier featuring enough specs under the hood to be the go-to option for more than one audiophile. That being said, some shortcomings in that territory could be a deal-breaker for some people.

Hegel H95

To begin with, the huge frontal OLED display is great and includes all the vital information you need at all times. Also, the upgraded DAC used by the company in this unit is a welcome upgrade. Don’t forget that this amplifier is mostly intended for those who want to make the best out of their digital music collection.

Speaking of which, the USB connection available will not support files above 24 bits, making it impossible to play hi-res DSD files through the amp. On the other hand, with 3 optical, 1 coaxial, 1 USB, and 1 network connection, you have more than enough I/O resources.

Hegel didn’t have purists in mind when designing this amplifier but did a great job bringing the best of Class-D amplification to a relatively affordable, sturdy, and powerful unit. If you want a do-it-all integrated amp, you might have to keep on looking. On the other hand, it works wonders with the given inputs.

Specs & Connections

  • Power: 60 Watts (8 Ohms) 106 Watts (4 Ohms) per channel
  • Headphone output: Yes
  • Analog inputs: 2
  • Digital inputs: 3 optical, 1 coaxial, 1 USB, and 1 network connection
  • Sample rate: 192 kHz/24 bits
  • Speakers supported: 2
  • Bluetooth capability: No, it features a streaming module available through Ethernet, AirPlay, or UPnP apps

Bel Canto C5i ($1,895)

The Bel Canto C5i (link to check the price at Dedicated Audio) was designed for the audiophiles’ free time. How so? Well, its compact, option-rich design, accessible price, and outstanding sound quality make it the ideal travel companion to listen to music with great quality everywhere.

Bel Canto C5i

To begin with, the minimalist design in the front with the big display is great for sitting on a shelf or next to your laptop. On top of that, the ability to plug from a computer to a turntable (featuring a ground connection) and the remote control make it also great for a living room.

That being said, what can be lacking for audiophiles is the fact that no DSD files can be played. This is because the maximum sample rate is 192 kHz and 24 bits. On the other hand, those 24 bits are way more than the regular computer out will give you. Moreover, you can still hook up your turntable and listen to your favourite records pumping 120 watts per channel at 4 Ohms.

Although some purists might find it lacking because it can’t play any DSD files, this integrated amplifier is an affordable, easy to carry (and use) solution that can power very demanding speakers.

Specs & Connections

  • Power: 60 Watts (8 Ohms) 120 Watts (4 Ohms) per channel
  • Headphone output: Yes
  • Analog inputs: 2 including phono with ground
  • Digital inputs: 2 optical, 2 coaxial, and 1 USB
  • Sample rate: 192 kHz/24 bits
  • Speakers supported: 2
  • Bluetooth capability: No

Lyngdorf TDAI-1120 ($2099)

Lyngdorf, as an audio brand, has been making top-end sound products for a lifetime. Sadly, the high price tags largely kept them from consumers. That was until the Lyngdorf TDAI-1120 (link to check the price at Noteworthy Audio) came out. This is what Hi-Fi technology for the masses sounds like.

Lyngdorf TDAI-1120

To begin with, the second you unbox this unit, you come across a professional, balanced microphone intended to work with the Room Correction technology. This will help you set your optimal listening spot to have the best listening experience possible by calibrating the system. For the price tag, this is nothing short of astonishing.

On top of that, the streaming capabilities include Spotify Connect, DLNA Support (UPnP), Tidal Connect, Internet Radio (vTuner), Chromecast built-in, Airplay 2, Local file playback (USB), and the unit is also Roon Ready. Furthermore, you can stream to it using Bluetooth and connect it to your Wi-Fi network as well.

The only field in which this integrated amplifier can be a little faulty is in the power amplification stage. But again, if you are an audiophile who owns more expensive systems, you can use the Lyngdorf TDAI-1120 as a preamp and enhance your current system.

Simply put, no other company comes even close to offering this many features and sound quality at this price point. Moreover, hooking it up to a larger system could make this the ultimate enhancement for your living room too.

Specs & Connections

  • Power: 60 Watts (8 Ohms) 120 Watts (4 Ohms) per channel
  • Headphone output: Yes
  • Analog inputs: 2 including phono with ground connection and an XLR for the calibration mic
  • Digital inputs: 2 optical, 2 coaxial, 1 USB-B, and 1 HDMI (ARC)
  • Sample rate: 384 kHz/32 bits
  • Speakers supported: 2 featuring a preamp out for a sub as well
  • Bluetooth capability: Yes

Lyngdorf SDA 2400 ($2,749)

Our last Lyngdorf model featured all the needed specs for audiophiles to stream and play their music like never before. But, it lacked some power. What if you could use another Lyngdorf product and have the ultimate audiophile experience?

Lyngdorf SDA 2400

Well, for starters, the Lyngdorf SDA 2400 (link to check the price at HiFi Heaven) is a super compact and utterly powerful device not only offers up to 400 watts in 4 Ohms. It also features dual balanced XLR inputs for turntables to sound at their absolute best. Moreover, it also features a coaxial and a digital input to connect it to your TV or favourite video device.

Finally, you can daisy-chain it with as many as you like to create the most pristine, Hi-Fi wall of sound imaginable.

As a standalone unit, this Lyngdorf might not be an astonishing piece of equipment, but coupled with the TDAI-1120 can turn into the ultimate Hi-Fi system.

Specs & Connections

  • Power: 200 Watts (8 Ohms) 400 Watts (4 Ohms) per channel
  • Headphone output: No
  • Analog inputs: 1 analog unbalanced (RCA), 2 XLR balanced (left and right)
  • Digital inputs: 1 optical, 1 coaxial
  • Sample rate: 192 kHz/24 bits
  • Speakers supported: 2
  • Bluetooth capability: No

Bel Canto REF600M ($2,495 EACH)

Those looking for a power amplifier offering no bells or whistles but with enough Class-D power to bring down the walls of their homes might find it here.

Bel Canto REF600M

To begin with, the Impedance Optimized Input stage (Bel Canto’s proprietary technology) ensures that the dynamics of the original recording shine through from the groove to the speaker. On top of that, the WBT NextGen connectors remain gain-free and transparent even at peak volume (if that ever happens).

But what makes the Bel Canto REF600M (link to check the price at Dedicated Audio) so special? Well, it can deliver 600 watts weighing only 7 kilograms. Before the existence of Class-D amplification, that was impossible.

Finally, the back panel only offers a set of left and right speakers, an RCA, and an XLR connection; power at its finest and easiest lives inside this unit.

Although the REF600M can’t be used as a standalone unit, it can work wonders to add pristine-clean Class-D muscle to your favourite preamp and sound system.

Specs & Connections

  • Power: 300 Watts (8 Ohms) 600 Watts (4 Ohms) per channel
  • Headphone output: No
  • Analog inputs: 1 XLR, 1 RCA
  • Digital inputs: None
  • Sample rate: Not applicable
  • Speakers supported: 1
  • Bluetooth capability: No

Legacy Audio I-V2 ($4,350)

Seeing this kind of product from a brand like Legacy Audio is a confirmation that Class-D amplification “made it to the big leagues”. Indeed, looking at the Legacy Audio I-V2 (link to check the price at HiFi Heaven) and the entire line of these multi-channel power amps is proof that there are no limits to what this technology can do.

Legacy Audio I-V2

What made this revolution possible was the existence of ICEdge technology. Although not developed by the company, it allows the unit to run cool while pumping 1,000 watts of pure Class-D power to the speakers.

Moreover, based on the digital precision that this technology can provide, Legacy Audio created an amplifier with a close-to-zero noise level that, as a result, gives more dynamics to the resulting sound.

In other words, you can listen to complex music at very high volumes without turning it into a muddy music-listening session.

Although it is almost flawless, the only thing it might be missing for many people is the capability of hooking up dual speakers per channel without having to buy the i-V4.

If you want the best, most pristine, and transparent power that money can buy to run your preamp or turntable, this might be the best Class-D power amp in the market today.

Specs & Connections

  • Power: 610 Watts (8 Ohms) 1000 Watts (4 Ohms) per channel
  • Headphone output: No
  • Analog inputs: 1 XLR and 1 RCA per channel
  • Digital inputs: None
  • Sample rate: Not applicable
  • Speakers supported: 2
  • Bluetooth capability: No

Bel Canto Black EX Integrated ($14,999)

Looking at the price tag, it wouldn’t spoil any scoops to say that Bel Canto completely redefined the idea of D-Class amplifiers with the Bel Canto Black EX Integrated (link to check the price at Dedicated Audio). Indeed, Bel Canto’s goal with this unit was to put digital technology in the service of music. And they did achieve it.

Bel Canto Black EX Integrated

To begin with, the number of digital and analog inputs allows this piece of equipment to answer all your needs in terms of audio. You can stream through it or play your vinyl records, and the result will be almost identical. This is because, in its interior, the Black EX has a software-controlled MM/MC phono stage.

Moreover, the company managed to create a circuit that could a-synchronically re-clock all inputs to the advanced DAC system with 0.001% of distortion and 126dB of dynamic range.

Plus, all the unit’s features can be operated using the SEEK app, from the remote or directly from the front panel. In other words, the ease of use in this unit is right there with the sound quality, which is not so common in audiophile territory.

Also, if you are a purist who loves vinyl records on your headphones, the integrated headphone amp has enough juice to power even the most demanding pair. Select the output from the SEEK app and leave the headphones connected.

The list of features could go on forever but would never match the quality of this unit. Feel free to check the Bel Canto website to earn more.

Forget about all your preconceptions about Hi-Fi audio and Class-D amplifiers because Bel Canto just created an apparatus that redefined the category.

Specs & Connections

  • Power: 250 Watts (8 Ohms) 500 Watts (4 Ohms) per channel
  • Headphone output: Yes with headphone amplifier
  • Analog inputs: 3 including phono with ground
  • Digital inputs: 1 optical, 1 coaxial, 1 USB-B, 1 USB-A, 1 AES, and 1 Ethernet port
  • Sample rate: 384 kHz/32 bits
  • Speakers supported: 2 featuring a preamp out for a powered sub
  • Bluetooth capability: Yes

Choosing the best power amplifier for your car, home sound system, or pro audio application can be a complicated assignment. For this reason, I’ve created My New Microphone’s Comprehensive Power Amplifier Buyer’s Guide. Check it out for help choosing the best power amp for your applications.


This article has been approved in accordance with the My New Microphone Editorial Policy.

Arthur

Arthur is the owner of Fox Media Tech and author of My New Microphone. He's an audio engineer by trade and works on contract in his home country of Canada. When not blogging on MNM, he's likely hiking outdoors and blogging at Hikers' Movement (hikersmovement.com) or composing music for media. Check out his Pond5 and AudioJungle accounts.

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