The a25.3 is the latest integrated amplifier from Music Hall. This $650 integrated amplifier produces 50 watts of power per channel into 8 ohms, and 75 watts per channel into 4 ohms, and it comes equipped with Bluetooth, a moving magnet phono stage, as well as two analog inputs, an analog output, and a digital optical input. The a25.3 (buy at Amazon) is in an extremely competitive segment of the market, as many companies have similarly priced integrated amplifiers, so let’s see how this one stacks up, as I’ve been fortunate enough to review some of the best in this category recently.
What Makes the Music Hall a25.3 Integrated Amplifier Special?
- I have reviewed a few different integrated amplifiers recently, and this is easily the best looking one that I’ve tested. The gold accents against the black brushed aluminum provides a nice touch and really makes the amplifier look more expensive than it is.
- The amplifier comes with a line out if you decide that you want to add a separate amplifier for more power. Most people, dependent on room size, of course, will find the 50 watts per channel plenty sufficient, but if you want to upgrade the amplifier and keep this as a preamp, you have that option.
- Bluetooth is a very nice feature at this price.
- The build quality well above the standards I expect at this price point.
Why Should You Care About the Music Hall a25.3 Integrated Amplifier?
Music Hall has been producing quality products for the last 25 years, and at this price point, the a25.3 integrated amplifier has everything most people could hope for from a just-add-source-and-speakers audio system. It has enough power for most modern speakers and an appropriate number of inputs for the majority of users. The thing that I think really sets this piece apart from its competition, though, is how good it looks. I don’t think many people will get complaints from their significant others if this shows up in the living room.
Some Things You Might Not Like About the Music Hall a25.3 Integrated Amplifier
- There isn’t a dedicated subwoofer output. You can work around this with the line out, but it would have been nice to have a dedicated lineout for a subwoofer.
- There is only one digital input, and it’s optical. While most streamers, CD players, and other digital components support optical out, not all of them do. Some rely on coaxial, for example, which isn’t supported here. I can appreciate why Music Hall may have chosen to use just the one digital input to help keep the cost down, but I would have liked to see the addition of a coaxial in.
- Music Hall doesn’t specify the version of its Bluetooth receiver, but it doesn’t seem to be version 5, and there doesn’t seem to be support for any advanced BT codecs like AAC or aptX, much less LDAC or LHDC.
Listening to the Music Hall a25.3 Integrated Amplifier…
The Nine Inch Nails track “She’s Gone Away” (buy at Amazon on Vinyl), from their 2016 EP Not the Actual Events, is a mostly ambient track with all kinds of small details nestled throughout the mix, including various amounts of distortion and other sounds layers though the soundscape. The songs on this album were made as the first part of what was intended to be a trilogy of EPs from the band. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross were also making music for the Ken Burns series The Vietnam War, and this cut also made an appearance on the television show Twin Peaks. Even with all of the different sounds going on in the track, and even at louder volumes, the track didn’t feel like it was lacking in anyway. Additionally, the moving magnet phono stage that is built in didn’t add any noticeable noise.
“Until the End of the World” (Buy at Amazon) by U2 is a lively track from their 1991 classic album Achtung Baby. Achtung Baby is what I would think of as U2 in their peak years, with both this album and The Joshua Tree (buy at Amazon) coming in a four-year span. Both of these albums were produced by the duo of Danial Lanois and Brian Eno in both Berlin and Dublin. This certainly isn’t the most popular track off of this album, but it adds a certain layer of dynamics with The Edge’s guitar often playing in the higher octave’s and deeply layered in reverb that really make this track memorable. When you listen to this track you can hear all of those effects very clearly, and while this one certainly doesn’t push you with its dynamics, the clarity I heard though the amplifier was notable.
Another track I listened to was “The Perfect Crime #2” by The Decemberists (buy from Amazon on Compact Disc). This lively track from this often-folk inspired band appears on their major-label debut The Crane Wife. I could really feel the space between the instruments, with the keyboard, guitar, bass and, drums never feeling like they were squished together or muddied in any way. The vocals from frontman Colin Meloy have some reverb effects to them, but remain clear as he provides his signature ultra-literal vocals, which provides an added layer of storytelling to the track. This is another solid example where the a25.3 integrated amplifier performs admirably and allows your speakers to be at their best without ever getting in the way, sonically speaking.
Does the Music Hall a25.3 Integrated Amplifier Have Any Resale Value?
I would expect the a25.3 to hold its value nicely. It is well built and well featured, with enough power that most audiophiles will be able to continue to enjoy it well into the future. The other factor that plays into this, though, is that it is inexpensive enough that if you choose to go in a different direction further down the road, maybe you just move this piece into your garage, or somewhere else in your home.
Who Is the Competition for the Music Hall a25.3 Integrated Amplifier?
The PS Audio Sprout100 ($799 buy at Amazon) will likely continue to pop up as a competitor in this space. It is about one-third the size and it produces a similar amount of power at 50 watts per channel into 8 ohms and 100 watts per channel into 4 ohms. It also has USB connection if you want to connect your phone, tablet, or laptop directly in. It does, however, have fewer analog inputs and it’s a little more expensive in comparison with the Music Hall a25.3.
If you have a little more budget, the ELAC Discovery Series DS-A101-G ($850 buy at Amazon) is an interesting piece. It produces slightly less power, but it will allow you to stream over Wi-Fi, has Spotify Connect, Apple AirPlay support, and supports Roon. Additionally, it also has both optical in and coaxial in, as well as a dedicated subwoofer out, which are nice additions.
Another integrated amplifier you might consider in this space is the Denon PMA-600NE ($499 buy at Amazon). This integrated amp is a little less expensive but has many of the same features and it delivers a similar amount of power. This integrated amplifier also features three digital inputs and a dedicated subwoofer output if those are things you’re looking for.
Final Thoughts on the Music Hall a25.3 Integrated Amplifier
This price segment for integrated amplifiers is one of the most competitive, which means that you are going to have plenty of choices. The Music Hall a25.3 integrated amplifier (buy at Amazon) makes a case for why it should be the right one for you. The issues I had with this piece were small, and while I would have loved to see additional features like a dedicate subwoofer out, you can still use a subwoofer with the line out, and most digital devices feature optical out. At the end of the day the package that is here is one that is worth considering if you’re in the market. You have enough inputs to add a turntable, a CD player, and a streamer, enough power to push your speakers, Bluetooth connectivity, and you can also use the line-out to turn this into a preamplifier if you want to add more power down the road. All while priced very competitively, which again should make this a piece of gear that you should be checking out if you’re in the market for an integrated amplifier.