Crowdstorm's stereo amplifier guide
Welcome to Crowdstorm's guide to buying yourself a new amp. Whether you're looking for a budget model or the latest top-end Marantz amplifier, we're here to help. A solid stereo amplifiers should last you years – which means that when you need to buy a new one, you can find yourself out of touch with the latest standards.
With Ohms, Watts, inputs and who knows what else on the list of specs, where are you going to start? Hopefully we can point you in the right direction, leaving you with the best stereo amplifier you could’ve wished for.
You'll also find the deals we offer are available directly from your favourite trusted retailers, both online and on the high street. So once you've found your perfect amp you can buy direct form here, and with confidence.
Comparing hi-fi amplifiers
There’s a vast range of stereo amplifiers out there, so good comparison can be problematic. The best place to start is to give yourself a price range, leaving you many less models to try and compare.
Stereo amplifier prices range massively in the UK, with top models from the likes of Dennon and Yamaha costing around £1,000. But at the other end of the scale, these same firms are putting out highly regarded amps for just over £200. But you can pay as little as £50 for a budget amp.
Only you will know your own budget, but in a reasonably sized room and with good equipment plugging into it, you’re unlikely to need to go to the £500 mark.
Finding the best stereo amplifier: key features
There will of course be lots of bells and whistles to consider (every from colour and size to the importance of a remote control and headphone socket!) but when it comes to actual tech specs, these are the things you really need to look out for:
- Watts: Wattage is the classic number that manufacturers brag about on a stereo amplifier, but in most cases this is smoke and mirrors. If you have good speakers 25-40 watts per channel will comfortably be sufficient for pushing a stereo sound around a 20x20ft room. If an amp has higher wattage at the same price point as a lower wattage piece of kit, it’s likely the one with higher wattage has less quality elsewhere – which is likely to mean lower quality in even large rooms. Look for ‘watts per channel’ and if you’re happy with your current speakers, go for a WPC amp slightly higher than your speakers can manage; this will ensure your stereo amplifier is powerful enough to put great sound through the speakers without damaging them.
- Ohms: As with wattage, you want your stereo amplifier’s ohms rating (typically 4 or 8 ohms) to match up with your speakers: a four-ohm amp will happily deal with two eight-ohm speakers.
- Inputs: Think carefully about what you’re going to want to power through your amplifier. If it’s going to go in the front room, for example, you may as well put your TV, DVD, even games system and MP3 player through it. Each of these is going to need a channel, so be sure to buy a stereo amplifier with enough inputs.
- Multichannel or two-channel: If you want to hook up your home theatre, with surround sound and the like, you’re going to need to go for a multi-channel amp (7.1 surround sound, for example). If it’s purely for your music, a two-channel stereo amplifier will do the job just fine. You can often plug more speakers than two into a two-channel amp – it just means that it’s only going to pump out stereo sound.
- HDMI, Dolby and THX: Again, look out for these if you want to hook up to your TV and DVD player, as well as any other devices with HDMI cables.
Digital media amplifiers
As digital media continues to take over, amps and mini-amps are hitting the market designed specifically to compliment newer formats.
You can find stereo amps with built-in USB sockets and SD card readers, which are capable of immediate playback of MP3 and WMA files.
What to do next
While you’ll likely find the best prices if you buy online, it is well worth reading some stereo amplifier reviews before you commit. But once again, read around the subject and be sure the people who are reviewing them are on your wavelength – we really can’t over emphasis the worth of some good research.
Once you’ve made your decision, you simply click through from here to the retailer’s own website and go through their payment process – it couldn’t be simpler. At Crowdstorm we don't take a commission from you: we rely on advertising income from the retailers, so it's win-win!