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The 6 best budget stereo integrated amplifiers under $500

If you just entered the world of high-fidelity sound, chances are you’re reluctant to spend thousands of dollars on a high-end audio system.

Luckily, the market has never been so diversified and abundant, with endless options for new audiophiles on a budget.

That’s why today we’ll take a look at some of the best integrated amplifiers you can get for less than $500. This article aims at showing you can achieve a great sound without breaking the bank.

An integrated amplifier is not just a convenient solution to simplify the setup process of your sound system, it’s also a device that can enrich your listening experience and elevate the quality of your listening sessions by adding a new character to the music and allowing you to make adjustments to create the ideal sound you envision.

This article is part of a series dedicated to the best amplifiers to buy in 2024. If you’re looking to upgrade your existing gear or are willing to spend more than $500, check out our list of the best stereo integrated amplifiers of 2024.

About the author

I’m a musician, audio engineer, and audiophile. Over the years, I developed a critical ear that helps me identify the characteristics of audio gear and whether it can be used in professional setting, pleasant listening sessions, or both. Being a musician, I’m also intrinsically broke, meaning I’m always on the lookout for products that offer great value for money.

hi-fi setup with budget integrated amp
Image: Yamaha

How we chose the amplifiers on this list?

I chose integrated amplifiers that deliver a great sonic experience despite being budget-friendly.

Although multiple connectivity options and a built-in phono stage are important (and some of the products below do offer these options), my main focus was on audio performance across different genres and with different speakers.

These are the best budget stereo integrated amplifiers under $500:

  1. Yamaha A-S301
  2. Cambridge Audio AXR85
  3. NAD D 3020 V2
  4. Denon PMA-600NE
  5. Fosi Audio BT30D Pro
  6. Audioengine N22

Yamaha A-S301 5.0

  • Power: 60 W + 60 W
  • Digital inputs: Optical, coaxial
  • Bluetooth: No
  • Phono stage: Yes
Yamaha A-S301 stereo integrated amplifier
Image: Yamaha

Yamaha’s A-S301 is an excellent all-in-one solution for music enthusiasts and those looking for an integrated amp for their home theater. The A-S301 comes with plenty of digital and analog connectivity options, a phono input for your turntable, and a remote control to adjust your sound from a distance.

Yamaha A-S301 amp inputs and outputs
Image: Yamaha

Yamaha is well known for constantly pushing the technological boundaries further, and even the budget-friendly A-S301 features some cutting-edge innovations.

The ToP-ART (Total Purity Audio Reproduction Technology) mitigates signal interference by combining a symmetrical amp layout with an anti-resonance design. Furthermore, the A-S301’s Pure Direct mode shortens the signal path by removing unnecessary circuits from the process, enhancing the clarity and fluidity of audio reproduction.

For the price, the Yamaha A-S301 offers exceptional audio quality and plenty of customization and connectivity options to enjoy music at its finest.

What we like

  • Great connectivity.
  • Advanced technology.
  • High-quality sound.
Buy Yamaha A-S301 from: AmazonCrutchfield

Cambridge Audio AXR85 4.5

  • Power: 85 W + 85 W
  • Digital inputs: None
  • Bluetooth: Yes
  • Phono stage: Yes
Cambridge Audio AXR85 stereo receiver
Image: Cambridge Audio

You can’t go wrong when you buy a stereo amplifier designed by Cambridge Audio, and the AXR85 is the embodiment of the quality provided by the iconic British manufacturer. The sound reproduction is sublime, with a balanced transient and a warm sound that makes it ideal for both audiophiles and casual listeners.

As opposed to the other integrated amplifiers in this list, the Cambridge Audio AXR85 is a stereo receiver, meaning it also comes with an FM/AM tuner that’ll surely intrigue radio enthusiasts.

If you want to find out more about the differences between receivers and amplifiers, check out my recent article on the matter.

Cambridge Audio AXR85 inputs and outputs
Image: Cambridge Audio

Four analog RCA inputs, a built-in phono stage, and seamless Bluetooth connectivity make the AXR85 the perfect option for the modern music listener who wants to explore digital and physical sound libraries.

Finally, the intuitive tonal controls offer endless customization options to create the perfect sound in your listening room.

What we like

  • Effortless sound customization.
  • Built-in phono stage.
  • Bluetooth connectivity.

What we don’t like

  • Bulky when compared to similarly-priced models.
Buy Cambridge Audio AXR85 from: AmazonCrutchfield

NAD D 3020 V2 4.5

  • Power: 30 W + 30 W
  • Digital inputs: Optical, coaxial
  • Bluetooth: Yes
  • Phono stage: Yes
NAD D 3020 V2 stereo integrated amplifier
Image: NAD Electronics

The minimalist, unconventional design with a brushed aluminum faceplate and single control knob makes the NAD D 3020 V2 a one-of-a-kind integrated amplifier. However, behind its apparent simplicity, this amp has a lot to offer to both audiophiles and casual listeners.

Bluetooth and multiple digital connectivity options, a phono input, and a pair of analog stereo RCA inputs should give you everything you need to enjoy your music library across various media. However, it’s the sound quality that’ll leave you speechless.

Thanks to the patented hybrid amplification technology, the D 3020 V2 delivers a unique sound signature, transparent yet so dynamic that it’ll galvanize your listening sessions.

What we like

  • Detailed sound stage and a vibrant sound.
  • A refined look.

What we don’t like

  • The ultra-minimalist design might not be everyone’s preference.
Buy NAD D 3020 V2 from: AmazonCrutchfield

Denon PMA-600NE 4.5

  • Power: 45 W + 45 W
  • Digital inputs: Optical, coaxial
  • Bluetooth: Yes
  • Phono stage: Yes
Denon PMA-600NE stereo integrated amplifier
Image: Denon

NE stands for New Era, and this new series by the renowned brand Denon is a testament to their commitment to creating the perfect audio gear for a new generation of audiophiles.

Whether you want to listen to music on vinyl, CD, or streaming services, the PMA-600NE has everything to take your listening experience to the next level.

Denon PMA-600NE amp inputs and outputs
Image: Denon

What stands out in the PMA-600NE is the attention to detail Denon put into every aspect of this integrated amp. The pure analog setting ensures vinyl lovers can feel the warmth and analog vibe of their records by disabling digital circuitry.

Plus, Denon’s Advanced High Current (AHC) circuit magnifies the vibrancy of the soundscape, creating the dynamic and energetic sound Denon is renowned for.

What we like

  • An all-in-one solution for your audio system.
  • Great sound.
  • Plenty of connectivity options.

What we don’t like

  • The dynamic and vibrant sound of Denon’s amps tends to sacrifice transparency.
Buy Denon PMA-600NE from: AmazonCrutchfield

Fosi Audio BT30D Pro 4.0

  • Power: 165 W + 165 W
  • Digital inputs: None
  • Bluetooth: Yes
  • Phono stage: No
Fosi Audio BT30D Pro stereo integrated amplifier
Image: Fosi Audio

Fosi Audio is becoming a household name in the world of entry-level amplifiers thanks to good-quality products that cost $100 or less, making them an attractive option for audiophiles-to-be.

The BT30D Pro is one of their high-end amplifiers and comes packed with Bluetooth and RCA input options that’ll suit most people’s needs, as well as audio quality that’s more than enough to upgrade your casual listening sessions. Plus, the bass, treble, and sub controls can help you craft the perfect sound in no time.

However, as you might expect, you get what you pay for. The output power is nowhere near the advertised 165 W, but it’s certainly enough to fill a small room or office with pristine background music.

Fosi Audio BT30D Pro amp inputs and outputs
Image: Fosi Audio

All in all, the compact and modern design, transparent reproduction, and intuitive tonal controls make it an excellent option for those who want to explore the world of sonic accuracy without spending hundreds of dollars.

What we like

  • Affordable.
  • Intuitive tone controls.
  • Bluetooth connectivity.

What we don’t like

  • Not powerful enough for large environments.
Buy Fosi Audio BT30D Pro from: Amazon

Audioengine N22 4.5

  • Power: 22 W + 22 W
  • Digital inputs: None
  • Bluetooth: No
  • Phono stage: No
Audioengine N22 desktop amplifier
Image: Audioengine

While the world of music reproduction is becoming more complex by the day, some companies opt for a return to a most basic design, though without compromising audio quality.

The Audioengine N22 is perhaps the perfect epitome of this minimalist approach to high-fidelity sound, with a compact, vertically-oriented design that can fit virtually anywhere, from the office to packed bookshelves.

A single knob for power and volume and a pair of RCA analog inputs – that’s all this amplifier offers, and sometimes that’s just all we need to get the most out of our listening sessions.

The 22 watts per channel, combined with the excellent sound signature provided by the N22, can bring to life an immersive sonic experience in any small environment, and the carefully-crafted real-wood enclosure will please the eye and enhance the sonic characteristics of your music.

What we like

  • Unique design that fits anywhere.
  • Outstanding audio quality for the price.

What we don’t like

  • Basic customization and connectivity options.
Buy Audioengine N22 from: AmazonCrutchfield

Final thoughts

And that’s all you need to know about the best integrated amplifiers under $500. Choosing your first amp can be a daunting task, but remember that there’s no golden rule when it comes to achieving the perfect sound.

Choose an amplifier within your set budget and compatible with your existing gear, and over time, you’ll be able to learn more about what you need from your hi-fi system and upgrade accordingly.

Happy listening!

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