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Top 8 desktop amplifiers for compact stereo systems

Choosing the best desktop amplifiers of 2023
Choosing the best desktop amplifiers of 2023

The fashion for cabinet or desktop stereo systems has returned to us again. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, minisystems made of separate components that could not only be installed on your desktop, but also taken with you on trips, were very popular. A new round of popularity has occurred in the last few years – half-format amplifiers are increasingly found on sale. Today’s miniature devices often have built-in wireless adapters on board and have very serious power.

Our rating contains the most interesting compact amplifiers of 2023, the models are arranged by increasing price.

8. Fosi Audio BT20A Pro

8. Fosi Audio BT20A Pro

Price – $99

Pros – high power in a compact size, low price, possibility of upgrading the op amp

Cons – not the most expressive mids

Verdict – a very powerful and compact amplifier for a reasonable price

The miniature device is capable of developing power up to 300 Watts per channel with a load of 4 Ohms and is built on the TPA3255 amplifier module from Texas Instruments, operating in class D. The operational amplifiers in the preliminary section can be replaced at your discretion with models such as MUSES02, OPA2134PA, OPA2604AP . The Fosi Audio BT20A Pro provides a pre-amplifier output via a 3.5 mm mini-jack connector. The signal source is connected to a pair of RCA connectors, the input sensitivity is standard studio 0.775 V. On the front panel, in addition to the general volume control, there are tone control knobs; a Bluetooth adapter version 5.0 is used for wireless connection.

7. xDuoo MT-605

7. xDuoo MT-605

Price – $140

Pros – hybrid amplifier, very compact size, high-quality components

Cons – none

Verdict – maximum sound at the lowest price

The amplifier has a hybrid design – the preliminary section is built on a 12AU7 double triode, the output stages operate in class D and are made on an integrated TPA3116 assembly from Texas Instruments. The circuit uses high-quality components, such as Vishay and Rubycon capacitors. The amplifier output power is 30 watts per channel into a 4 ohm load. The dimensions of the amplifier are 120 x 67 x 114 mm, weight – only 390 grams (without power supply).

6.SMSL AO200 MK2

6. SMSL AO200 MK2

Price – $249

Pros – high-quality components, remote control, built-in equalizer

Cons – practically none

Verdict – a well-equipped, inexpensive amplifier

The amplifier can output up to 85 Watts into 8 Ohms and up to 160 Watts into 4 Ohms; it is built on the MA5332MS integrated assembly from the German company Infineon, which is highly energy efficient. The volume control is made on NJW1194 manufactured by Japanese JRC. The amplifier body is made of aluminum alloy; there is a liquid crystal display on the front panel, which displays not only the volume level, but also the equalizer settings. The analog signal to the amplifier can be supplied through balanced inputs on XLR connectors, as well as unbalanced ones on RCA. The RCA line output is designed to connect an external active subwoofer. The model has a built-in Bluetooth adapter, as well as a USB-A port. Amplifier dimensions – 210 x 196 x 41 mm, weight – 1.6 kg.

5. Topping PA7 Plus

5. Topping PA7 Plus

Price – $549

Pros – XLR connection, solid power, multiple gain levels

Cons – nondescript design

Verdict – a good option for speakers that are not the hardest to swing

The Topping PA7 Plus amplifier has an output power of 135 watts into 8 ohms with a THD of less than 1%, with a 4 ohm load this figure increases to 245 watts per channel. For connection to a preamplifier, there are a pair of unbalanced RCA jacks and a pair of balanced TRS/XLR combo jacks on the rear panel. The switch between the two operating modes is located on the front panel. The speaker cables are connected to a pair of screw terminals. The amplifier is equipped with an attenuator, which can be bypassed using a special switch. Input sensitivity is 2 V when connected to an unbalanced input and 4 V when connected to a balanced input.

4. Topping LA90 Discrete

4. Topping LA90 Discrete

Price – $799

Pros – discrete output stage circuit, operation in bridge mode, chassis made of machined aluminum panels

Cons – dimensions are already close to a full-size component

Verdict – classic analog amplifier in a compact package

The Discrete suffix means that the amplifier uses NFCA’s proprietary discrete circuit. The model is distinguished by solid power – up to 66 Watts per channel at a load of 8 Ohms and up to 120 Watts at 4 Ohms. The amplifier can operate in conventional stereo and mono bridge mode, in which the power reaches 220 watts at 8 ohms. Two gain levels are available, switchable on the rear panel, as well as the ability to bypass the volume control. The amplifier housing is made of CNC-machined aluminum panels, and massive radiators ensure efficient heat dissipation from the output transistors. To connect signal sources, three pairs of combined balanced XLR/TRS connectors are provided.



Price – $990

Pros – all-tube path, wireless adapter, dial indicators

Cons: heavy weight

Verdict – a beautiful and good sounding tube amplifier

Among desktop amplifiers there are also tube models. This model is built on 12AX7, 12AU7 and 6N14 tubes and produces up to 11 Watts per channel; on the rear panel there are separate acoustic terminals for connecting speakers with a resistance of 8 Ohms and 4 Ohms. The power and output transformers are wound at the company’s factory, the bandwidth of the output transformers is 10 – 65,000 Hz. The front panel has illuminated dial indicators, and a remote control is included. In addition to analog RCA inputs, there is a Bluetooth adapter with support for the aptX codec. With dimensions of 220 x 295 x 250 mm, the amplifier weighs 12 kg.

2. Soncoz SGP1

2. Soncoz SGP1

Price – $1,100

Pros – classic design, work in class AB, arrows!

Cons – only balanced connection

Verdict – Ideal AV amplifier for a compact system

The amplifier is available in black and white colors and operates in class AB. On the front panel there is a large window with arrow indicators of the output power level, illuminated by orange LEDs. The amplifier power is 120 Watts at a load of 8 Ohms and 240 Watts at 4 Ohms. The only input connectors are a pair of balanced XLRs. The model’s power supply is built according to an original design that allows all elements of the circuit to enter operating mode in 1 minute, which reduces the heating requirements. The device has dimensions of 350 x 260 x 125 mm and weighs 8 kilograms.

1. Matrix Element P2

1. Matrix Element P2

Price – $1,580

Pros – thoughtful design, anti-vibration mounts, impressive power in bridge mode

Cons – a little expensive

Verdict – stylish and powerful amplifier in class D

Enclosed in a flat housing, the amplifier is capable of delivering up to 230 watts per channel into a 4-ohm load in stereo and up to 850 watts into 4 ohms when bridged. When loaded into 8 ohms, output power is 110 watts in stereo mode and up to 500 watts in bridged mode. The amplifier body is made of thick aluminum panels; special supports with ceramic balls are responsible for suppressing vibrations. With dimensions of 340 x 259 x 58 mm, the weight of the device is 3.7 kg. For connection to a preamplifier, there is an unbalanced RCA input and a balanced XLR input on the rear panel. Another XLR connector is designed for connection in monophonic bridged mode. The amplifier is equipped with high-quality acoustic terminals WBT-0703 Cu.

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