If you’re listening to audio from loudspeakers, it’s practically guaranteed that there is a power amplifier in the audio signal chain. If you can’t see the amplifier unit, it’s probably built into the active speaker. If the speaker is passive, it will require a power amplifier. This article is about the latter of the two cases.
The power amplifier(s) of an audio setup are essential in getting the best results. Choosing the right amplifier for your loudspeakers and overall sound system is a big decision. There are so many options out there when it comes to choosing a power amplifier. In this article, we’ll talk about the best and most prominent brands/manufacturers to look out for when choosing the best power amp for your setup.
The top 11 best power amplifier brands are:
- Crown Audio
- NAD Electronics
- Cambridge Audio
- Rega Research
- Pass Labs
- Linear Tube Audio
In this article, we’ll discuss each of these brands in greater detail and explain why they belong in the top 11 best power amp brands. For each brand I’ll share the country of origin; a bit of history; an example of a best-selling or flagship model, and a link to the official website.
Crown Audio is an industry leading amplifier manufacturer. The company designs and produces amps for cinema venues, installed sites, touring rigs, portable PA and commercial audio.
With a passion for innovation and decades of experience, Crown Audio has made a name for itself as a go-to brand for power amplifiers in home, commercial and large PA applications.
Crown’s philosophy is to design, build and service each of their product as if they were the customer. This additional care and attention to detail have been paramount in Crown’s longevity as one of the best power amplifier manufacturers on the global market.
Crown International was founded in 1947 as “International Radio and Electronics Corporation” by Clarence C. Moore in Elkhart, Indiana, USA. The company was acquired by Harmon International (a subsidiary of South Korean Samsung Electronics) in 2000. Today, Crown Audio is headquartered in Los Angeles, California, USA.
Parent company: Harmon Internation (Samsung Electronics).
Niles Audio has been at the forefront of audio equipment innovation since its early days in the late 1970s. The company made a near-immediate impact on the industry with its development of the home audio speaker selection control systems.
Since then, Niles has become somewhat synonymous with high-end home audio solutions. This is apparent in their incredible home entertainment power amplifiers, many of which integrate with lighting and climate control.
So if you’re looking for a power amplifier that will fit your new home theatre or entertainment room, Niles will more than likely have what you’re after (and probably more)!
Noteworthy amplifier: Niles SI-2150 (link to check the price on Amazon).
Niles was founded in 1978 in Miami, Florida, USA. Linear LLC (now known as Nortek Security & Control) acquired Niles Audio in 2005. Today the company is headquartered in Carlsbad, California, USA.
Parent company: Nortek Security & Control.
McIntosh is one of, if not the top manufacturer of tube amplifiers and is certainly deserving of a spot on this list. The company also designs excellent solid-state models that maintain the high level of quality expected from McIntosh products.
With well over half a century of experience, McIntosh has made a name for itself as a manufacturer of some of the finest quality home audio products in the world. The company has set the standard very high for performance, reliability and service.
McIntosh spends extensive time conceptualizing and designing their power amplifiers to be the best they can be for the customer in mind. They constantly push the envelope to exceed their own standards and this dedication can be heard for itself by simply listening to one of their many power amplifiers.
Noteworthy amplifier: McIntosh MC152 (link to check the price at Crutchfield).
McIntosh Laboratory was founded in 1949 by Frank McIntosh in Birmingham, New York, USA. The company is still headquartered in Birmingham today.
NAD Electronics is a well-respected manufacturer of amplifiers, turntables, DACs, headphones, and more. The company’s affordable, high-quality amplifiers have made them a favourite of many Hi-Fi fanatics and their power amplifiers have put them on this list!
In fact, the NAD 3020, produced in the 1970s, is one of the best-selling hi-fi amplifiers to ever hit the shelves. This block buster of a power amplifier gave NAD its name as a high-end manufcaturer with affordably priced products.
Since then, the company has continued on its path of excellence, producing many more amplifiers for the audiophile’s home sound systems.
Noteworthy amplifier: NAD D 3020 V2 (link to check the price on Amazon).
New Acoustic Dimension was founded in 1972 by Dr. Martin L. Borish in London, England. In 1991, NAD was acquired by the Danish firm AudioNord and was subsequently sold to the Lenbrook Group of Pickering, Ontario, Canada in 1999. Today the company is headquartered in Pickering.
Anthem designs its products to give users the most advanced tools available to easily connect, control, optimize and power all of their entertainment systems. The power amplifier is at the heart of many systems and Anthem has a fantastic selection of high-quality amps to choose from.
Anthem expertise in the field has allowed them to constantly innovate their designs to keep up with the times with plenty of proprietary technology to include in their amplifiers. Their power amplifiers are top-level in terms of reliability, functionality and performance-to-price.
All Anthem amplifiers are engineered and built in-house with hand-selected components and incredible attention to detail.
The result is a boutique-like performance at a large scale manufacturer’s price.
Noteworthy amplifier: Anthem STR (link to check the price at Crutchfield).
Sonic Frontiers Inc. (the original owner of the Anthem brand) was founded in 1988 by Chris Johnson and John Sloan in Ontario, Canada. Toronto-based Paradigm Electronics acquired Sonic Frontiers and the Anthem brand in 1998. The company is now headquartered in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.
Anthem is also featured in My New Microphone’s Top 11 Best AV Receiver Brands In The World.
Cambridge Audio is another excellent power amp manufacturer that prides itself on giving listeners the best possible sound at the fairest possible price. This mission is apparent in all of Cambridge Audio’s equipment, including, of course, its power amplifiers.
This award-winning company is dedicated to providing powerful amplifiers with incredible detail. Amps that can be turned way up without losing any balance in the sound.
You can be sure that Cambridge Audio power amplifier will provide unadulterated and true representation of what the artists intended, only louder! This puts them in the top 11 best power amplifier brands on the market.
Cambridge Audio began life as a division of Cambridge Consultants in 1968. As the name suggests, it was founded in Cambridge, England. Today the company is headquartered in London, England, United Kingdom.
Cambridge Audio is also featured in My New Microphone’s Top 11 Best Headphone Amplifier Brands In The World.
Rega Research is probably best known for its turntables. However, this company is also a manufacturer of fantastic Hi-Fi audio equipment including power amplifiers.
Rega has built up a respectable range of power amplifiers designed to integrate perfectly into any Hi-Fi audio system.
Their power amps are designed and built with practicality and sonic perfection in mind and tend to punch well above their price class.
Noteworthy amplifier: Rega Osiris (link to check the amplifier out at Rega’s official website).
Rega Research was founded in 1973 by Tony Relph and Roy Gandy in Essex, England, United Kingdom.
Parasound is a top choice for consumers looking for professional sound in power amplifiers. The company is absolutely devoted to producing equipment with top-tier sound at affordable price points.
Parasound puts each of its power amplifiers through extensive testing to ensure only the best of the best make it to market. Not only do we get a power amp at an incredible deal but we get a piece of equipment that will last a long time in our sound setup.
Uncompromised quality and customer service (even post-sale) are at the heart of the Parasound philosophy, giving them a spot of the list of the top power amplifier brands in the world.
Noteworthy amplifier: Parasound New Classic 275 V2 (link to check the price on Amazon).
Parasound was founded in 1981 by Richard Schram in San Francisco, California, USA, where the company is still headquartered today.
Schiit is a well-respected American-made audio equipment manufacturer that has impressive power amplifiers in its product selection.
Every Schiit product is carefully designed and manufacturer in California and all outsourced parts are produced to the highest of standards in the United States.
All Schiit power amplifiers are designed for longevity and ruggedness that is rarely seen in the life of a power amplifier. This over-designing, if you will, has made Schiit amplifiers some of the longest lasting on the market.
Each power amplifier is built by hand and required to pass intense testing before ever being put on the market. The customer service and support are also top-notch to ensure the best ongoing results possible with the purchase of a Schiit amplifier.
Noteworthy amplifier: Schiit Ragnarok (link to check the price at Schiit’s official website).
Schiit was founded in 2010 by Jason Stoddard (formerly of Sumo) and Mike Moffat (formerly of Theta) in Valencia, California, USA, where the company is still headquartered today.
Schiit is also featured in My New Microphone’s Top 11 Best Headphone Amplifier Brands In The World.
Pass Laboratories is one of the best in the business when it comes to designing and manufacturing solid-state amplifiers.
Their Class-A and Class-AB power amps are among the best in the world and have placed Pass on this list!
A great deal of effort, skill and innovation go into each Pass power amplifier. These attribute show in the wonderful-sounding units with the Pass logo. The same amps that are enjoyed by audiophiles around the world.
This brand is committed to improving each and every day, innovating their amplifier techonology in doing so. The results are incredible-sounding amps and, more importantly, happy customers.
Noteworthy amplifier: Pass Labs X350.8 (link to check the price at USA Tube Audio).
Pass Laboratories was founded in 1991 by Nelson Pass. The company is based in Auburn, California, USA.
Linear Tube Audio
Linear Tube Audio is a high-fidelity audio manufacturer with the mission of bringing life back to music with affordable products. Their esteemed power amplifiers suggest this mission is continually accomplished.
Each and every LTA amplifier is designed with ZOTL technology. ZOTL is a David Berning patent with a complex design that effectively combines “tube tone” with “solid-state detail”. Since the debut of ZOTL technology, LTA has been the only company able to successfully manufacture the Berning patent at a commercial scale.
This unique technology doesn’t only make LTA power amplifiers unique but it also produces incredible sonic performance in each and every one of LTA’s power amps.
The completely American-made power amps of LTA are among the best in the world, delivering tube-like character with the precision of solid-state electronics with the help of the amazing ZOTL technology.
Noteworthy amplifier: Linear Tube Audio ZOTL40 Reference (link to check the price at LTA’s official website).
Linear Tube Audio was founded in 2015 by Mark Schneider in Takoma Park, Maryland, USA, where the company is still headquartered today.
Linear Tube Audio is also featured in My New Microphone’s Top 11 Best Headphone Amplifier Brands In The World.