There are two new winners, plus two familiar fascias back for a repeat win. Most importantly, there should be something for everyone – and every amp here will deliver class-leading sound when partnered with suitably competent components.
The most affordable stereo amp in this year’s Awards list is the Onkyo A-9010. You’ll get change from £200 (just), which doesn’t happen very often when it comes to five-star hi-fi amps, and from seeing and hearing it, you really wouldn’t guess it was quite so cheap.
It’s solidly built and looks presentable enough, plus you get a phono stage for connecting a turntable and a headphone out. And it sounds superb for the money: entertaining, energetic and expressive. A worthy winner and a fine budget amplifier.
We’d understand if you were tempted to spend a little more on our Product of the Year, however. It’s the £500 Cambridge CXA60. The company may have dropped ‘Audio’ from its brand name but there’s no loss of sonic prowess here, thanks to attacking treble notes and deep bass.
There are digital inputs and a hi-res DAC – something not offered by the Onkyo – and you can add the £70 BT100 dongle if you want Bluetooth streaming. The Arcam A19 may sound more mature and more refined, but it’s more expensive and doesn’t offer the digital connections. So we plumped for the Cambridge – and we’re very happy we did.
Our two most expensive winners are both from Rega and both repeat Award-winners – a testament to their enduring quality.
The Rega Elex-R weighs in just under £1000 and delivers an agile, articulate sound with the bonus of a fine phono stage. One of the most talented sub-£1000 amps we’ve ever heard, it was no surprise it managed to fight-off strong competition, such as the Naim Nait 5si.
And it’s a double win for Rega, with the premium Elicit-R delivering “a masterclass in detail retrieval and timing” to win the best amplifier under £2000 title. Something like the Roksan K3 may sound a little more full-bodied but there’s no arguing with this Rega’s transparency.
Four of the best stereo amplifiers on the market right now, then, and four which will take some beating when the 2016 Awards roll around…
MORE: Awards 2015: Best stereo amplifiers
See all our What Hi-Fi? Awards 2015 winners