My wife and I decided to move the surround sound from the living room to the office/family room in the basement giving me the glorious task of picking a stereo amp to drive the SDA-CRS+ to use with TV. I was using an old Onkyo Reciever for my stereo setup, but it broke when we moved into our house.
I came up with a list of priorities:
1. We wanted our budget to stick around $300.
2. I wanted something reliable that could be turned on and off a couple times a day.
3. Easy to set-up and use - no menus or programming.
4. Stereo Output - no surround sound
5. relatively small to easily fit in a small piece of furniture.
6. Remote control (to turn down volume for TV commercials.)
Comparing online, there were NAD Onkyo and Yamaha units fit these criteria. The deciding factor was that I had purchased a Cambridge Audio amp that was 35 watts for an office I work out of that I loved. Go with what you know right?
It fit all the criteria and shines at creating a believable sound-stage. The CRS speakers do match up well with the type of sound the Topaz produced. (they are still original with the silver tweeter and some amps play them a bit bright.) I really like the way the system sounds. After re-watching several favorite movies, the biggest difference between this and the onkyo was how clear "whispers" are. On the NFL channel there is an Under Armor commercial with Cam Newton and the whispering voice in the background is completely understandable where it wasn't before. though the 35 watts is not incredibly powerful, I feel like there is more power and confidence behind the sound then with the reciever. It is dynamic when something loud happens like an explosion, enough to make me jump a little.
I wish it did have more juice. On a scale of -70db to 0db, I regularly play it between -33db to -27db. For the NFL draft party we hosted last night, there were moments where it felt like the crowd completely drowned out the audio and it was around -20db. Our living room isn't meant to be a loud A/V environment though. That is downstairs. Also, of minor inconvenience; we both wish it had a on/off button on the remote. The remote has a lot of useless buttons as it is also meant to control the Cambridge Audio CD player (sold separately). We also would prefer the mute button to reduce the volume 20db then completely turn the sound off.
The Topaz AM10 met my criteria and sounds pleasant. When you first plug it in and use it, it does sound a little thin; but after 20hours or so, started to settle in and deliver a full complete sound. I enjoy the feel and functionality of the controls. It looks like professional equipment and the machined aluminum face is tight and crisp. This amp doesn't have a ton of power, but it is dynamic and creates a great sound-stage.
I love listening to it.
If anyone out there is considering purchasing a humble yet confident integrated stereo amplifier, I would recommend the Cambridge Audio Topaz-AM10