(2009) Power Amplifiers $5000 and Under


Price: $4990 per pair

Website: www.belcantodesign.com

Bob said: The REF500 monoblocks delivered on [their] promise of low noise, as evidenced by good detail retrieval and heft amidst notable dynamic drive and power.

Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: “Ice, ice, baby.” But not too cold at all.


Price: $4695

Website: www.powermodules.com

Vade said: So: fairly priced, terrific sounding, trivially easy to set up and maintain -- what are you waiting for?

Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: Statement class-A sound without the statement price.


Price: $4195

Website: www.bryston.com

John said: I think I’m in love. An amplifier I’d already thought great has been improved without sacrificing any of the sonic attributes that made the original so outstanding. Every difference I heard between the 4B SST and 4B SST2 was a change for the better.

rc 70x80

Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: Evolution of a classic.


Price: $4850 (add $3850 for Maximum Dynamic Headroom Reservoir)

Website: www.genesisloudspeakers.com

Albert said: I’m delighted to say that, for my taste in music, class-D has finally arrived. Gary Koh has created something special with the Genesis Reference GR180, and the sound quality it conveys is simply outstanding for its price.


Read the Ultra Audio review.

The gist: This D gets an A.


Price: $2200 (KT77 tubes add $120)

Website: www.je-audio.com

Vade said: At its $2200 price ($2320 with KT77 tubes), the VS70 has to be considered an outright bargain. And while my over-five-times-as-expensive reference system sounded a bit better in some respects, it surely didn’t sound five times better.


Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: Beauty not only skin deep.


Price: $2250

Website: www.parasound.com

Jeff said: The Parasound A 52 is one of the finest multichannel power amplifiers I’ve used in my system, with sound qualities on a par with those of more expensive amplifiers. It had me asking myself, Why spend more? This is one amplifier I can recommend with no reservation whatsoever.


Read the Home Theater & Sound review.

The gist: Solid value at a competitive price point.


Price: $4450

Website: www.sunfire.com

He said: The puckish Bob Carver has done it again: an amp that shape-changes between two great but different types of sound (tube and solid state), has plenty of power and a nice, long warranty, and at a fair price. It all adds up to another in the long line of winning Carver amplifier designs.

Read the SoundStage! A/V review.

The gist: Bob Carver doing what he’s always done: making really good amplifiers.


Price: $199

Website: www.trendsaudio.com

Roger said: The SEs cost significantly more than the earlier Trends products I’ve heard and admired, and with higher cost come higher expectations of sound quality -- in that regard, these models delivered.

Read the GoodSound! review.

The gist: For compact spaces and budgets.

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