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Learn more about Audio Amplifiers

What is an audio amplifier for speakers?

The names and functions of some stereo components can verge on the arcane, but an amplifier is straightforward. It’s exactly what it sounds like: a component that takes the electrical signal from a connected device, amplifies it, then sends the signal to connected speakers to produce audio.

What’s the difference between an amplifier and a receiver?

Going back to the golden age of home stereo systems, amplifier and receiver were often used interchangeably. A receiver is built around an amplifier, but it also incorporates additional features—traditionally an AM/FM receiver (which is where the name comes from).

What are the different types of home audio amplifiers?

A standard configuration for listening to music is a stereo, two-channel amplifier, which means the amplifier drives a pair of speakers (although these will usually have an output for a subwoofer as well). For surround sound and home theatre setups, a multi-channel amplifier can support as many as seven channels. For small spaces, a mini HiFi amplifier lets you enjoy top quality audio without the compromises of using an all-one system.

Audiophiles who prefer listening to music with headphones often choose a headphone amplifier. This device increases the strength and detail in the signal from a connected music source, making the headphones sound far better.

A wireless amplifier will feature integrated support for audio streamed from devices using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, instead of requiring a physical connection.

In addition to a wide range of home audio amplifiers, Best Buy also carries amplifiers designed for use in a car, as well as musical amplifiers.

Features of the best HiFi amplifiers

There are many features and capabilities to be aware of when choosing an amplifier.

Most people will choose an integrated amplifier, which means the various stages of amplification are all contained within a single unit. Power—measured in Watts—basically equates to how loud it can get. When driving a pair of identical speakers, a 75W amplifier will be capable of much more volume than a 25W amplifier. That does get a little more complicated when you connect multiple speakers, though, as the power is then further divided (the power rating is often listed as watts-per-channel to reflect this). Just as important as total power output is THD or total harmonic distortion. The lower that number the better, as it means the amplifier is reproducing the audio more accurately.

Speakers are an important consideration. You want enough outputs for the number of speakers you want to drive, and those outputs also need to match the impedance of your speakers (usually either 8-ohms or 6-ohms). You’ll also want to make sure the HiFi amplifier you choose has the inputs for all your sources—including PHONO if you want to connect a turntable and Bluetooth or Wi-Fi if you want to use it to stream audio.