Advice on buying an amplifier
The first decision you need to make when buying an amplifier is: integrated amplifier or pre-amp/power-amp combination? If your amplifier budget is less than 700 euros (780 US dollars), then you don’t have to make this decision – an integrated amp is your main option.
If on the other hand you can afford or are allowed to spend more, then of course a pre- and power-amp combination gives you significantly greater flexibility if you are contemplating “upgrading” your system at some point in the future. The way your hi-fi chain sounds can also be influenced with a greater degree of sensitivity – thus for example you could combine an “analytical” pre-amp with a more “warm-sounding” power-amp.
As with all other hi-fi components, the following applies when you buy an amplifier: avoid unnecessary expense. Why bother with a phono-input amplifier if you don’t own a single record? Why do you need a digital-input amp if you already have a 2000-euro DAC in your rack? And why do you need an amplifier that can fuel two pairs of loudspeakers if you only have a single pair?
Another important issue is what level of performance you require: that depends primarily on the size of your space and on your loudspeakers. A high-efficiency loudspeaker featuring 94dB sensitivity generates the same acoustic pressure at 20 watts of output as an 85dB loudspeaker at 160 watts (!). Granted those are extremes. To be on the safe side you should factor in at least 2 x 60 watts at 8 ohms for a 30-square-meter (nearly 323 square feet) lounge including average-efficiency loudspeakers. In case of doubt then go for a bit more.
However there is also the minor matter of your favorite style of music to consider. If your audio consumption consists solely of audio books and chamber music, then you can deduct around 20 percent from the output you have calculated – if however you are a doom metal fan, then you should add another 50 percent…