Price: $29,500 per pair
Pete said: With the Twenty-series models, and particularly the MX-R Twenty monoblocks, I’m convinced that Ayre Acoustics has closed the gap between tube sound and solid-state sound.
The gist: New version of Ayre’s flagship amplifier delivers the goods.
Hans said: Benchmark Media Systems’ modest-looking little AHB2 power amp may be hi-fi’s biggest bargain. It is one of the -- if not the -- quietest, most resolving amps I’ve heard. Time and again, without ever having intended to, I wound up hours deep in listening to the fringes of my music collection, thanks to the AHB2’s reference-level transparency and obscene athleticism. If ever there were a giant-killer of an amp, this is it.
The gist: Revolutionary for the price.
Roger said: Judging the Cyrus Stereo 200 by looks alone, you might think it would prove a capable but somewhat polite-sounding amplifier in the sub-100Wpc range -- the sort of power amp that many associate with British high-end audio. But after hearing all that fantastic, powerful, natural sound coming from such a small package, you’d probably do a double take -- as I did.
The gist: The Cyrus take on class-D amplification is a smashing success.
Doug said: Although the H30 is the biggest, most expensive product Hegel Music Systems makes, it nonetheless carries on the company’s tradition of high performance and high value -- not because it’s cheap, but because it can stand alongside the best amps made, even those costing much more.
The gist: Super-powerful amp for a vivid musical experience.
Doug said: The M-900u is the best-sounding power amp I’ve ever heard. While its price of $19,900 might seem high if you look only at the specs, it isn’t when you examine how the M-900u is built, or -- especially -- when you listen to it. The M-900u is one of the best values in high-end amplifiers.
The gist: Doug’s favorite amp.
Aron said: During my time with Simaudio’s Moon Evolution 760A, I was reminded of what an exceptionally well-engineered and -constructed amplifier can provide, aesthetically and sonically. The finesse with which the 760A consistently balanced power, transparency, dynamics, tonal colors, and dimensionality, all against near-silent backgrounds, was spellbinding.
The gist: Don't let its compact dimensions fool you -- it’s a powerhouse.
Thom said: I’ve rarely heard an amplifier of such power and such finesse. Throw big rock anthems at it and it handles them with no sweat. Feed it something detailed, and it preserves the delicacy. With their C 275BEE, NAD and Bjørn Erik Edvardsen have hit one out of the park.
The gist: Classic NAD strengths in a powerful, affordable package.
Jeff said: Although in some areas, such as the midband, [it] can be bettered by far more expensive electronics, the [M22] easily hung in there in such areas as bass tightness and depth.
The gist: Powerful, solid-sounding Hypex-based stereo amp with great bass.