Best stereo amplifiers under $500

A ‘warm’ Welcome to the world of audiophiles. Since you’re searching for a stereo amplifier, you might already know a bit or a lot about HiFi systems. It is quite true that you don’t have to spend a ton of money to get what you want. Going by the 80/20 rule, you get 80% of hifi results with 20% of the expenditure. After that, it mostly will be in the diminishing return category. There are plenty of integrated amplifiers across the budget. But, a $500 stereo setup is a good start for beginners and moderate audiophiles. Today we are going to see the Best stereo amplifiers under $500.

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Lets dive in.

Best stereo amplifiers under $500
Best stereo amplifiers under $500

Best stereo amplifiers under $500

Cambridge Audio AXR100

Cambridge Audio produces some nice pieces of equipment for the money. Often, this gem of a company is underrated. Cambridge Audio AXR-100 one of the best stereo amplifiers under $500 for smooth British sound. It not only sounds great but looks great too. The build quality is fantastic. All these make Cambridge Audio AXR 100 the best stereo amplifier under $500

Sound quality

The sound is a classic British sound. The quality is fantastic and it is fairly transparent too. The bass, mid, and treble are balanced. It is punchy in the mid-bass section and very expressive in the mid-range. The highs are a bit rolled off but not excessively. The tone is the warmer side of neutral. The unit has 100 watts per channel at 8 ohms. It is not a regular AVR spec with 100 or 200-watt output. It outputs a proper 100 watts of AB power. And that makes a difference. The suit also has a huge toroidal transformer that caters to its huge power requirements.

It has two sets of binding posts and you can connect it to two sets of pairs of speakers all at the same time. It also has inbuilt tone control and balance control. The unit has a display that shows volume. There is a remote controller that comes with a pair of batteries. The amplifier also has a USB port but that is only for service.

The DAC section is very good with Wolfson DAC. The amp has a coaxial input and two optical inputs in the day section. It has three analog inputs one tape out. It also comes with a turntable preamp section. It is not some run off the mill kind of preamp but a very good one. Fortunately, there is a sub out. The crossover is set at 200 Hz.

What makes it a receiver is the presence of the radio built-in. The quality is reasonably good. There are spots for the antenna is given. The receiver also has a Bluetooth receiver v5.0. they are very good for casual playback.

Pros

  • Sound quality
  • 100 Watts RMS
  • Display
  • Build
  • Bluetooth

Cons

  • No USB connectivity
  • Remote is cheap
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NAD C 316BEE V2

Nad C 316 BEE V2 used to be a go-to amplifier before the introduction of the Cambridge Audio AX series. Nad C 316 BEE is a descendent of the legendary NAD 3020 and it does stand for its reputation. Be is audio quality or fame, it has it all. It has 5 analog inputs and a tape out. It has a headphone output too. It comes with remote control. All in all, it is the best mini stereo amplifier

Sound Quality

As you’d expect, the sound quality is phenomenal. The sound signature is the warm side of the neutral with a slightly higher treble. It makes the sound very lively. The midrange is forward and therefore the vocals sound upfront. But the sound is sweet. The bass is good and impactful. The sound stage is a bit narrow but the imaging is fantastic. The dynamics are great. Although it is a 40-watt amplifier, it has about 90 watts of dynamic output.

Pros

  • Dynamic sound
  • Precise
  • Great sound quality
  • Lively performance

Cons

  • Soldered power chord
  • No built-in DAC
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Denon PMA-600NE

Denon makes some nice amplifiers in the market. Denon PMA-600NE is no exception. It is made solidly and has good build quality. The buttons and knobs have brilliant feedback. 

It has 44 watts at 8 ohms and 70W at 4 ohms. This is plenty. And for the love of God, it has a subwoofer out too. There is a remote and the volume knob is motorized. The source can be selected from the remote. The tone controls are not remote operable. There is a digital bypass button the bypasses all the digital circuits for a clean analog sound.

The unit has a built-in DAC which consist of 2 optical connection and 1 coaxial connection. The quality is pretty good. There its also an mm Phono preamp built-in. Bluetooth is available as well. As mentioned, there are tone controls too. It makes a brilliant package for the money paid.

Sound quality

The sound is a typical Denon style. The highs are smooth and have a rounded edge to it. It might be a little less in details but not at all fatiguing. I think that is more important. The midrange is lush and warm. It has a meaty, juicy lower midrange. The bass is strong with a hefty to it. To sum up, it has a smooth presentation with a lot of muscular sounds. This makes it one of the Best stereo amplifiers under $500.

Pros: 

  • smooth and muscular sound
  • good sound quality. 

Cons: 

  • narrow sound stage
  • Thin power cable
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Marantz pm 5005

Marantz has always a place in the audiophile world. Their range of products and range of prices together is much exciting. They don’t cheap out on the quality parts but keeps up their reputation for high-quality components and audio despite the price range. Marantz pm 5005

is a great start for budget audiophiles.

Marantz pm 5005 has 6 inputs. It has a power of 40 watts each at 8 ohms. It is a pure analog integrated amplifier. The DAC is absent. It is a good thing as the digital path doesn’t meddle with the analog signals and create noise. It takes a good effort and engineering designs to put a DAC inside an amplifier, properly.

The amp looks very good. It has to big control knobs. One to select the source and another one to control the volume. The volume pot is motorized. It comes with a remote with which you can change the volume from the couch. It also has tone controls from bass and treble. There is a source direct button, which bypasses the tone control for better sound if tone controls are not needed. There is a knob for balancing left and right. Additionally, there is a loudness button which increases the bass and trebles further for low volume listening. You can connect two pairs of speakers to it. Those can be toggled using A and B buttons.

Sound quality

The amp sounds nice and smooth. It is a bit bright in nature. You gotta pair it with slightly warm speakers and this amp will sing in full glory. The mids are expressive and beautiful. Male and female voices sound fantastic. It has superb bass as well. Kind of a bit heavy yet reasonably fast bass. 

Pros: 

  • Good sound
  • Looks great
  • Build quality is good

Cons

  • no toroidal transformer
  • No DAC built-in.
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Yamaha A-S301BL

Yamaha A-S series is one of the most sought after amps in the audiophile market. Their budget offering is no slouch. It punches more than its price. The amp looks beautiful and expensive. The front looks like their big brothers. It has got several inputs and a built-in DAC. It also has a phono preamp built-in. It also has two pairs of binding posts. The power cord feels a little cheap though. There is even a USB port.

On the front, there is a power button, a selector switch for A and B audio. Then there are bass treble and balance knob. Also, there is a loudness knob. They look super cool. There are two dials. One is a source selector. The other one is a volume pot. Both are built well. Down the dials, there is a pure direct button that bypasses the tone controls.

Sound quality

The sound quality is very good and it has got terrific ratings all over the internet. The sound is full-bodied and strong. It is a typical Yamaha sounding amplifier. The bass is strong and heavy with a good weight to it. The bass is reasonably articulate. The mids are very very beautiful and warm. Yamaha excels in mids and it is evident here. The Treble is nice and detailed. Overall, the sound is fantastic for its price. It is simply one of the best budget stereo amplifiers

Pros

  • Pros
  • Inclusion of DAC
  • Great sound with hefty bass

Cons:

  • Cheap power chord
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Conclusion

You don’t need a high budget to set up an audiophile system. You can save the money by selecting the Best stereo amplifiers under $500 and spend the rest on speakers, source, etc. The amplifier stated above are a few of the best stereo amplifiers under $500 or even more. Of all the amplifiers, I choose Cambridge Audio AX-R 100 as the best stereo amplifier under $500 for its lush sound, punchy bass, and smooth treble. Thanks for reading.