Originally Posted by commsysman
I suggest that you consider the Music Hall A15.2 integrated amplifier.
IMO it is the best-sounding amplifier you can get for under $800, and Music Direct has it for only $499; a great deal.
It has 75 watts per channel and also has a built-in phono preamp.
Optical digital audio inputs have repeatedly been been evaluated by professional reviewers as having lower audio quality compared to standard analog inputs. I suggest you avoid them if possible.
I believe that the above comment distracts its readers from the best possible sound quality in their system a number of different of easily quantifiable ways.
The comment about "Optical digital audio inputs have repeatedly been been evaluated by professional reviewers as having lower audio quality compared to standard analog inputs" is meaningless because somewhere someplace a professional reviewer sometime has recommended everything from soup to nuts. When abused digital can be sonic poison and when the right solution they can be like money from heaven. Equally true of analog. It is all about the right tool for the right job!
First off I don't deny that Music Hall A15.2 is a good sounding integrated amplifier as far as it goes which is like going back to about 1975. Rather, I feel that it lacks important features that just about anybody assembling a modern system needs.
(1) The recommended equipment lacks digital inputs. I've found that just about everybody who is building a modern music system today is going to be wanting to get involved with music sources that have digital outputs. The right tool for this job is a digital input and no analog input is going to beat it because going analog just adds another necessary conversion from analog to digital to the system.
(2) The recommended equipment lacks bass management. I've found that a great many people have music systems with speakers that have significant limitations in bass dynamic range.
(3) The recommended equipment lacks an automated facility for system optimization. I've found that a great many people have music systems with speakers and other components that would benefit from an automated facility for system optimization (YPAO, MCACC, Audyssey).
(4) The recommended equipment lacks the ability to be upgraded to an effective multichannel system.
What this is really all about is a traditional approach to sound quality versus a modern approach to sound quality. Your money, make your choices. However it is 2012 going on 2013 and 1975 type solutions seem to be on their way out.