Best Stereo Amplifier under $500

Written by Michele Zangrandi

When you’re looking for a stereo amplifier that is both high-quality and affordable, it may be difficult to know where to begin. Below, we have provided a buying guide and some reviews of our favorite options to help you find the best stereo amplifier under 500. Keep reading if you’d like to learn more.

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The Best Stereo Amplifiers Under $500 Reviewed

Buying Guide

What Exactly is an Integrated Amplifier?

If you’re looking for the best value when it comes to stereo power amplifiers, you’re probably going to want to go with an integrated option.

These convenient amplifiers house two main components in one system, as opposed to having each component in its own housing. In an integrated amplifier, the stereo power amplifier and the preamplifier and housed together. The main difference between these two components is this:

  • The stereo power amplifier is what actually powers your speakers by providing wattage.
  • The preamplifier is where the input from any of your audio sources is directed as it reaches the amplifier.

Having these components in one chassis instead of two allows the entire amplifier to be controlled more easily, even for beginners. This guide will help you find the best integrated amplifier under 500.

Why Use a Stereo Amplifier

With an amplifier, you can create powerful audio from a less than powerful source. If you connect an audio source, such as a computer, television, phone, smartphone, etc., directly to a speaker, the speakers can only play the audio at a certain volume and quality level. Even if the speakers are high-quality, they can’t perform up to their potential when connected to a low-power input source.

Best Stereo Amplifier

An amplifier acts as a middle man between these two devices. The input audio source is made more powerful, or amplified, before it is delivered to the output speakers or headphones. This allows you to get the most out of your audio and experience high-quality sound the way your speakers were intended to deliver it.

What to Consider Before Buying a Stereo Amplifier

Input Connectivity Options

Before buying a stereo power amplifier, it is important to consider how exactly you’d like to connect your music or audio source to it. Here are a few connection options that you’ll typically see with integrated amplifiers:

Best Stereo Amplifier under $500
  • Wired Connection: While a lot of options these days feature wireless connections, some do still require actual input and output cables between the amplifier and the music or audio source.
  • Wi-Fi Connection: Some stereo amplifiers can be connected to via your wireless internet connection. Simply connect both the audio source as well as the amplifier to your wi-fi router, and you’ll be able to stream from online.
  • Bluetooth Connection: Some amplifiers are Bluetooth compatible, allowing you to stream music or audio on them from any other Bluetooth compatible device.

Output Compatibility

Once you know that the amplifier you are considering allows for you to input and stream audio in the way that best suits you, you’ll want to see if it has output options that work for you.

Not all amplifiers offer the same output features, so it’s important to keep in mind how you typically stream your audio. Here are the common output options you can look for when buying a stereo amplifier:

  • Speaker Connectors: If you’ll be playing music on speakers, look for an amplifier with a speaker connection. A lot of options will even include two separate output port pairs for speakers, so you can power speakers in another room as well.
  • Subwoofer Connection: If deep and rich bass is what you’re after in your audio, then an amplifier with subwoofer compatibility may be what you’re looking for.
  • Headphone Output Jack: If you spend a lot of time listening to your audio or music with headphones on rather than through speakers, then it’s important to choose an amplifier that actually includes a headphone jack. Not all do.

Size

Most stereo amplifiers, especially in the under $500 price range, are relatively small. Still, size can be an important thing to consider before your purchase if you want a certain number of connections options or are fitting the amplifier in a tight space.

A larger amplifier obviously can fit more input and output ports along the back side of the housing. These can be a great option if you want the most versatility out of your amplifier or if you intend to stream audio from or to more than one source or device.

A smaller amplifier will offer less versatility, but this won’t matter much if you find one with exactly the input and output options you intend to use. They are a great option for smaller spaces.

Integrated vs. Pre/Power Amps

The primary advantage of an integrated amp is that it does two jobs at the same time, namely the work of the power amp and the pre-amplifier. Finding the best integrated amplifier under 500 means you’ll be getting this dual-capacity benefit built into your new system. In most cases, integrated amps use just one power supply for both functions, but that’s now always true. It depends on the system.

Best Stereo Amplifier under $500

What goes on inside your integrated amp system? For starters, you’ll get volume control, with two key additions: source switching and amplification. Most people who own integrated amps say the beauty of the devices, asides from technical features, is simplicity. That’s because everything happens in one box.

The cost advantages of integrated amps makes sense for dollar-conscious consumers. You can power your speaker system and augment any home theater or multi-zone arrangement with ease.

RMS vs. Peak Wattage

Without getting lost in the weeds of technical jargon and deep science, it’s essential to understand the basic definitions of a couple of key terms, “RMS” and “peak wattage”. Part of the quest to find the best integrated amp under 500 is knowing terminology. The two terms noted above are handy to know when you set out to match the most suitable speakers to your particular amplifier. Here’s what they mean:

The letters RMS stand for “root mean square,” or more specifically, the total amount of continuous electric power that a specific speaker can accommodate. “Peak wattage,” on the other hand, pertains to the one-time burst of maximum power that a speaker can accommodate. Peak wattage only refers to quick bursts while RMS is related to continuous power flow.

For example, if your speaker system is has a rating of “Peak: 90W, RMS: 40W,” that means your system can handle a short burst up to 90 watts but works well with continuous power of 40 watts. When you purchase a sound system, be sure to find out both values for the speakers that are included.

Wireless Connectivity

Wireless connectivity is the wave of the future and is already available for most systems. If you are looking for the best integrated amp under 500, you’ll have plenty of wireless options. The question is why should you aim for an all-wireless audio system? Not only are wireless speakers trendy and fashionable, they offer a simple, clean solution to wire messes that plague so many studios.

best integrated amplifier under 500

Because wireless speakers use either radio or infrared transmitters, you never have to worry about tripping over a wire connector or having a messy studio due to bundles of wires everywhere. Additionally, it’s simple to move a wireless component whenever and wherever you want, without having to deal with the hassle of unplugging and untangling a bunch of wires.

And because these sleek devices have no wires, you’ll never be in danger of tripping and getting injured. Now will your dog or cat be tempted to chew on those stringy little things that look like mouse tails! The human ego being what it is, if you own wireless speakers, you’ll enjoy regaling your friends and visitors with the details of how infrared and digital transmission works. There’s no question that among the best integrated amplifier under 500, the wireless speaker feature is one of the coolest benefits of all.

Should You Get a DAC?

When you’re shopping for the best integrated amp under 500, you’ll wonder whether you should get a digital-to-analog converters, also known as a DAC for short. These efficient pieces of technology morph your digital content directly into analog. That way, your stereo system is able to boost its sound and send that sound through your speakers. Actually, many devices you own already include DACs, namely your blue-ray player, computer, phone, laptop, receiver, clock radios, wireless speakers, and more.

best integrated amplifier

So, what’s the point of acquiring an external DAC? The answer is two-fold, because you need an external DAC to do a couple of things: to eliminate issues with background hissing, or a so-called “noise floor.” Second, an external DAC can clean up various problems with sound quality as it pertains to the conversion process from digital to analog.

Fortunately, you don’t need to be a trained sound engineer to spot these problems. For example, when your playback audio content is quiet but you can still hear a light hissing, you should consider getting an external DAC. The truth is this: external DACs come in handy for lots of audio issues and can only add to your overall sound quality.

The Best Stereo Amplifiers Under $500 Reviewed

#1

Denon D-M41 Home Theater Mini Amplifier

This stereo amplifier by Denon is slim yet durable, making a great fit for small spaces and home cinemas. Constructed with high-quality audio components and a vibration resistant housing, this is an amplifier that can withstand rich and powerful audio inputs with ease.

This option is also extremely versatile when it comes to input source compatibility. It allows for input connections from coaxial cables, optical cables, and pretty much any wired audio source you can think of. Additionally, the amplifier is Bluetooth compatible. This allows for it to connect easily and wirelessly with your smartphone or other Bluetooth device.

This amplifier is great for those who prefer analog devices, as it can be switched easily with the turn of a knob between Bluetooth and analog mode. This eliminates any weird frequency interference from input sources when used with an analog device.

The sound quality this amplifier creates is excellent, powering a wide range of speakers with 70 watts at 6 ohms. The music and audio being output by this device will be clean, rich, and powerful.

4.3 of 5.0 Stars
PROS
  • High-quality, durable internal audio components
  • Versatile in terms of input source compatibility
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Rich and clean output audio
CONS
  • Some issues with overheating
#2

Yamaha A-S301BL Natural Sound Integrated Stereo Amplifier

This Yamaha stereo amplifier is sleek in design and simple to set up and operate, making it great for first time amplifier buyers. Despite its simplicity, it delivers audio that is warm, rich, and loud – the way your speakers were intended to deliver it.

The amplifier can connect to two separate pairs of speakers as well as a subwoofer, making it a fantastic option for music enthusiasts and home theater setups. The audio from the speakers will sound multi-dimensional, putting you right in the middle of the experience.

As far as input goes, this amplifier features ports for both coax and optical inputs for TVs, Blu-Ray players, and similar devices. It i a great option if you are using wired and digital audio sources.

The Yamaha amplifier is also extremely durable, featuring high-quality audio components, heat sinks, and a durable, anti-resonance base housing. You won’t need to replace or frequently repair this product, so it’s a great value.

4.6 of 5.0 Stars
PROS
  • Constructed with durable, long-lasting, and high-quality materials
  • Connects to two pairs of speakers as well as a subwoofer
  • Simple to set up and operate
  • Multi-dimensional audio experience
CONS
  • Doesn’t provide very powerful bass
#3

DENON PMA-390RESP Integrated Amplifier

This Denon amplifier is a great option for anyone looking for versatility, simplicity, and a wide range of output options. It has the ability to play audio within a wide range that goes up to 100kHz, so it will be compatible with a lot of different types of speakers and setups.

The components of this amplifier are all constructed using high-grade materials. The speaker terminal, specifically, is durable and resilient, so it can handle audio that is loud and bass heavy with ease. Anti-vibration materials are used from the housing to the internal circuit, so the audio produced is crisp and clean regardless of volume or power level.

This amplifier is an ideal option for anyone who plain and simply wants to use speaker coax wires for their audio input devices. It is not Bluetooth or wireless compatible. However, the back side of this amplifier features a wide range of input ports for all of your wired devices, included speakers and subwoofers.

The mid-range on this amplifier is where it truly shines, making it a great option for everyday music listening with crisp, clear, and warm vocals. It may not be a great fit for large, high power speakers, but it will last for years and years to come with regular mid-range use.

The amplifier housing itself it relatively small, allowing it to fit well in tight spaces. It pairs nicely with bookshelf speakers and is sleek enough in design to not be distracting or bulky in appearance.

4.2 of 5.0 Stars
PROS
  • Small, sleek, and great for tiny bookshelf spaces
  • Incredible quality for mid-range audio and vocals
  • Constructed with durable, anti-vibration materials
CONS
  • Not very powerful outside of mid-range audio
  • Not Bluetooth or wireless compatible
#4

Sony STRDH190 2-ch Stereo Receiver

This Sony stereo amplifier offers a wide range of input compatibility. It works over Bluetooth with your digital media for streaming, but it also connects easily with wired devices and even vinyl turntables.

While so many people enjoy the rich, warm, and classic sound of vinyl records, traditional turntables don’t offer a lot of volume or power. With this Sony amplifier, you can power your vinyl player directly into high-quality, powerful speakers for a fantastic audio experience.

This amplifier’s Bluetooth connectivity comes with additional features, like the ability to turn the system on directly from your smartphone or other Bluetooth connected device.

If you have a lot of different audio equipment that you’d like to input into the amplifier, you’ll like that there are four separate input ports for your analog devices. You can leave them all in the amplifier at all times and easily cycle through to the input option you want to use.

4.4 of 5.0 Stars
PROS
  • Both Bluetooth and analog compatible
  • A great option for vinyl record players
  • Variety of different input ports
  • Can connect to two separate pairs of speakers
CONS
  • Not great for powerful bass
#5

Onkyo A-9110 Home Audio Integrated Stereo Amplifier

The Onkyo A-9110 stereo amplifier is a great option for anyone who wants rich and powerful bass boost in their audio without the vocals or other ranges losing their clarity. It features a phase matching bass boost system, which eliminates the phase shifting that typically happens when bass is enhanced.

The amplifier housing itself is also designed in a way that keeps music crystal clear despite how high or how low the volume is set. It has been constructed with thick and rigid materials that absorb vibration, lowering the amount of resonance in your audio.

Although this amplifier Onkyo A-9110 is not wireless or Bluetooth compatible, it does feature five separate RCA input ports to allow you to connect a variety of different audio devices and equipment. It is great for those who want to truly enjoy analog sound the way it was meant to be heard, without any type of frequency interference.

4.7 of 5.0 Stars
PROS
  • Great for analog enthusiasts
  • Durable and thick chassis reduces resonance in audio
  • Super clear and powerful bass booster
  • Simple to operate
CONS
  • Not wireless or Bluetooth compatible
#6

Parasound Z Amp v3 90W Two Channel Zone Amplifier

The Parasound Z stereo amplifier is a sleek and compact option, but its size doesn’t mean that it isn’t powerful. It offer 45 watts of power at 8 ohms and can power devices in multiple rooms. It fits discreetly into your audio system without causing a bulky appearance.

This amplifier includes a headphone output jack, which makes it a great option for PC systems and gaming, where someone might like to be completely immersed in their audio experience.

This budget stereo amplifier delivers high-power audio to two speakers at a time, and each individual channel has its own control knob for perfect customization and settings control. Your audio won’t suffer from any interference noise or distortion, making this a great option for professional home studios.

4.6 of 5.0 Stars
PROS
  • Compact and sleek in design for tight, discreet spaces
  • Amazing quality for the price
  • Headphone jack for personal and PC use
  • Each channel can be individually controlled
CONS
  • Not wireless or Bluetooth compatible
#7

Marantz PM5005 Entry-Level Integrated Amplifier

This stereo amplifier from Marantz features a wide variety of 6 input ports. Each port is gold plated, allowing for the best possible signal without any connectivity issues with your audio devices. A headphone amplifier jack is featured on the front of the chassis, making this a great amplifier both for loudspeakers as well as a more immersed individual listening experience.

This amplifier is rated at 40 watts per channel at 8 ohms or 55 watts per channel at 4 ohms. It has A and B output ports for two separate pairs of stereo speakers. Switching between the two sets is simple and requires just the push of a button on the amplifier’s face. Additionally, a phono input is included on this amplifier, allowing it to connect easily with vinyl record players.

This amplifier can work in Source Direct mode, allowing for deeper, clearer, and louder immersive audio quality without the need to connect to a subwoofer. It offers a high-quality and powerful audio experience from just about any type of connected device.

4.4 of 5.0 Stars
PROS
  • Gold plated input ports for best possible signal
  • 6 different input ports and a headphone jack
  • Source Direct mode for clearer, louder sound
CONS
  • Doesn’t perform the best when listening to loud bass

Conclusion

While we love every option on this list, we recommend the Parasound Z Amp v3 90W Two Channel Zone Amplifier as the best integrated amplifier under 500. It is a budget stereo amplifier that won’t break the bank, but it works incredibly well for its affordability and compact size.

We also think this is the best stereo amplifier under 500 because it fits in small spaces, can be used in a professional home studio setting, and is simple enough to operate for basic everyday use. It is extremely versatile and a great amplifier solution no matter what your needs are.