Best Mini Amplifiers in 2024 [Buyer’s Guide and Reviews]

Best Mini Amplifiers [Buyer’s Guide And Reviews]

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Seems like everybody I know these days is tricking out their home offices. And not really just these days – in fact, the rise of telecommuting and working from home has been pretty dramatic for years and years now, and the money people are saving by, for example, not commuting or eating lunch in pricey downtown restaurants, they are happy to put into their workspace at home.

One of the most popular, and most rewarding, ways people are improving their offices is with great sound – indeed, good quality desktop stereos have become an enormous market lately. This helps explain why so many manufacturers are concentrating on developing and making amazing mini-amplifiers these days, compact integrated stereo amplifiers that are often equal to much larger (and sometimes even much more expensive) amps.

So today we are going to get into the very best desktop amplifiers on the market now, with this all-new 2023 buyer’s guide to the best mini amplifiers available. In this article we’ll try to answer some basic and often asked questions like:

  • Are mini amplifiers any good?
  • What is the best mini amplifier on the market today?
  • Who makes the best compact stereo amplifier?
  • Who makes the best bluetooth mini amplifier?
  • What is the best desktop amplifier for speakers?
  • Are there any true audiophile mini amplifiers?
  • Will I still have room for my Zen garden?

What Is a Mini Amplifier?

Ready for a truly blinding insight? Mini amplifiers are amplifiers that are, well, mini. Just remember to always come to Speakergy first for such amazing informational and educational tidbits!

Seriously, though, what we’re talking about today is a small amplifier – say, no more than 8 inches wide, and often even a lot smaller – that can fit on a desk’s surface, a bedside table, a kitchen counter, or really any small or tight space. 

And although there is also a huge market for desktop and compact amplifiers that are made just for driving headphones, in this article we are focusing on the more powerful amps – still often just as tiny, but with enough power to drive not just headphones but normal passive speakers as well.

Mini amplifiers may be small, but they can have quite a lot of power, and the best mini amplifiers can have a sound that rivals more old-school full-sized units, as well as all of the newest, coolest, and most high-tech features and designs.

What Should You Look for in the Best Mini Amplifier?

High tech features are definitely important – even necessary – to lots of people, and can make your new mini amplifier a lot more versatile – and a lot more fun!

But some people actually prefer the most basic amplifiers – those which have nothing more than audio inputs (which can be used with your computer’s headphone jack, a TV, a CD or MP3 player, or tons of other gear with simple audio outputs), outputs for speakers and volume control. Ok, maybe a power switch, maybe some tone controls, but no Bluetooth, no streaming, no DAC (digital to analog converter) – just pure, sweet audiophile sound.

And really, people who are looking for the best amplifier for their desktop may be using their computer as the central entertainment source and control center, and don’t really need their amplifier to do much of anything – except, of course, to make their speakers sing!

So here I’ll list out the most important features you want to look for in the best compact amplifiers, but keep in mind that some of these may or may not apply to you:

  • Power – at least enough to play your speakers as loud as you want – minimum of probably 20-30 watts a channel. Don’t be fooled, though! Sometimes even really good amps that claim to have 100-200 watts of power may not play as loud or dynamically as a great amp with only 20-30 watts.
  • Volume Control – believe it or not, some amps don’t have this, because you can control volume from your computer, but a normal volume knob is so nice to have, and IMHO it’s silly not to include it.
  • Analog Audio Inputs – the normal “line in” inputs, which take the signal from a headphone jack, MP3 or CD player, tape deck (remember those?) or any other analog audio or audio/video device.
  • Digital Inputs – this means a special input jack – often some sort of USB connector – which takes digital signals, like from your computer, and runs them through a built-in DAC (digital to analog convertor) to make them into a normal analog music signal.
  • Tone Controls – while I wouldn’t get an amp that doesn’t have a volume control, tone controls (like bass, midrange and treble) are a bit more optional – especially given the quality of digital graphic equalizers like you probably already have on your computer/music player. Still, nice to have.
  • Bluetooth – here’s one that everybody will tell you that you absolutely must have, but really, must you? If you are running from a desktop computer, not really, since the computer itself can connect to Bluetooth headphones and speakers, but for other types of set-ups, like from your TV or CD player, or as part of a traditional stereo system (that is, any system that doesn’t have another Bluetooth transmitter), Bluetooth is pretty vital. 

But really, while features and conveniences can be great to have, and are sometimes necessary, at the end of the day what we really want from the best compact stereo amplifiers is great sound and great reliability – and, of course, great value!

How Can You Find the Best Mini Amplifiers on the Market Today?

Once you have an idea of what features you want and need on your new amplifier, and your budget, it is a simple matter of selecting the best amp in that range. Or at least it should be! 

But in actual practice, there are so many different brands and models of mini amplifiers on the market today, all with online marketing that makes them sound like the most amazing product ever made. When they all seem to have features NASA would be jealous of a couple of decades ago, enough power to push stadium stacks, and all of those flashing lights, dials, and meters, how could you possibly choose one from another?

Don’t worry – that’s where we here at Speakergy come in. After having had the distinct pleasure of listening to lots and lots of mini amplifiers, of all types and at all price levels, we have put together a list of our lucky 7 top recommendations – the best compact amplifiers you can get, from super-cheap to still remarkably affordable, specially chosen to offer the best and most important features, great quality and great value and, naturally, the best sound you can get.

I’ve listed these seven choices for best desktop amplifiers below, from least to most expensive, but if you want to cut to the chase here’s the cheat sheet:

  1. Best Super-Cheap Mini Amplifier: Nobsound Mini Bluetooth 5.0 Power Amplifier
  2. Best Budget Mini Amplifier: Fosi Audio BT20A Bluetooth 5.0 Stereo Audio 2 Channel Mini Amplifier
  3. Best Mini Vacuum Tube Amplifier: Douk HiFi Stereo Bluetooth 5.0 Vacuum Tube Mini Amplifier
  4. Best Mid-Range Mini Amplifier Overall: Loxjie A30 Desktop Stereo HiFi Audio Power Amplifier
  5. Best Sounding Mid-Range Mini Amplifier: Audioengine N22 Mini Desktop Audio Analog Class AB Stereo Amplifier
  6. Best Mini Amplifier Overall: S.M.S.L SA400 High Resolution Mini Power Amplifier with Bluetooth, Remote Control
  7. Best Sounding Mini Amplifier in 2024: NAD D 3045 Compact Hybrid Digital DAC/Amplifier

Any one of these would be an excellent choice, and a great amplifier to have in your office, in your bedroom, or anywhere where space is at a premium – or, actually, anywhere at all! So now let’s get into a little more detail for each one of these gems, in our 2023 buyer’s guide for the best compact stereo amplifiers.

The Best Mini Amplifiers Now: A Buyer’s Guide and Review for 2024

Best Super-Cheap Mini Amplifier

At a Glance

  • Power Output: 50 Watts Per Channel
  • Bluetooth: 5.0
  • Analog Inputs: Aux Line Level
  • Digital Inputs: USB & Bluetooth
  • Headphone Output: No
  • Footprint: 2.75 by 3 Inches

I wanted to start off this buyer’s guide for the best small and desktop amplifiers in 2024 with a super-cheap amplifier that would satisfy even the most discerning listeners, and choosing the winner was easy and obvious – the Nobsound Mini.

A tiny amp, the Nobsound Mini is also almost ridiculously cheap and seems to all appearances to be also very, very basic. But in fact, the wee package has a pretty powerful amplifier (rated 50 watts per channel), 5.0 Bluetooth, accepts both analog and digital inputs (from Bluetooth or a USB connector), and sports heavy-duty gold plated audiophile speaker connectors on the back. 

Well made, reliable, and surprisingly great sounding – for the price and for its size – this Nobsound Mini stereo amplifier won’t push most speakers to painful volume levels and isn’t really for large spaces or outdoors, but for moderate to fairly loud levels it delivers rich, detailed and dynamic stereo. A real steal, and the best cheap mini amplifier on the market today!

Best Budget Mini Amplifier

At a Glance

  • Power Output: 100 Watts Per Channel
  • Bluetooth: 5.0
  • Analog Inputs: RCA Line Level
  • Digital Inputs: Bluetooth
  • Headphone Output: No
  • Footprint: ~ 6.5 by 6.5 Inches

That any amplifier that is so small and so inexpensive can get such consistently high customer ratings on Amazon (4.6 stars with almost 5,000 reviews!) says a lot. And I, having the opportunity to really play with this Fosi Audio BT20A over a long period, can definitely confirm all the hype – this little guy is an amazing mini amplifier, that sounds great, works perfectly, and will really push almost any speaker to excitingly high volumes.

At the highest levels you will, especially with extremely high-quality sources of well-recorded music, notice a tiny bit of congestion and strain compared to the more expensive units on this list of best mini amplifiers – that is to be expected. But what I couldn’t possibly expect is how great the sound is – with music or movies – compared to other amps in this price range.

An extremely simple unit, with one set of analog signal inputs, one set of speaker outputs, volume, bass and treble, and a power switch – and that’s it! – the almost spartan design belies the sophistication inside, with 100 watts a channel of power, low distortion and very low noise, outboard DC power supply for even lower noise and interference levels, and a long-range 5.0 Bluetooth receiver.

The Fosi Audio BT20A probably won’t be winning any beauty contests anytime soon, but it is a well-made, well-designed basic amplifier with amazing sound and my choice for the best budget mini amplifier.

Best Mini Vacuum Tube Amplifier

At a Glance

  • Power Output: 160 Watts Per Channel (4 Ohms)
  • Bluetooth: 5.0 with apt-X
  • Analog Inputs: RCA Line Level and Phono
  • Digital Inputs: Bluetooth
  • Headphone Output: No
  • Footprint: 4.5 by 6.5 Inches

I had the extreme pleasure of owning and using a pair of Mcintosh mono tube amplifiers for several years, and during that time became very familiar with the wonderful “tube sound” so many audiophiles rave about.

And while those legendary amps are as good as it gets (and, to be fair, can cost many times the price of this little Douk), I am pretty amazed at how close the Douk X1 mini tube amplifier comes – with a truly magical, warm, rich and liquid quality that makes any music, or any speaker, sound incredible. No, not a Mac amp, but still a true audiophile experience for people with limited space and limited money.

While the appearance is pretty vintage, the Douk X1 does have a Bluetooth 5.0 receiver in addition to analog audio inputs, as well as bass and treble controls and a bass-boost circuit (and a bypass switch for purer sound), and even special high-sensitivity inputs for a turntable. But more importantly, the X1 has a musicality and beauty of sound that nothing anywhere near this price can come close to. In fact, while other inexpensive tube amps come with cheap, compromised tubes, the Douk comes with the excellent Sylvania JAN 5654 tube set, for an even sweeter sound.

Douk makes great amplifiers, no doubt about it, and many of them could have made it onto our list of the best compact amplifiers for 2024, but the Douk X1 is a standout even for them, and a truly special amp. It is a clear and easy choice for the best vacuum tube mini amplifier and is emphatically recommended.

Best Mid-Range Mini Amplifier Overall 

At a Glance

  • Power Output: 40 Watts Per Channel (8 Ohms) :: 80 Watts Per Channel (4 Ohms)
  • Bluetooth: 5.0 with apt-X
  • Analog Inputs: RCA Line Level
  • Digital Inputs: Optical, USB & Bluetooth
  • Headphone Output: Yes
  • Footprint: 6 by 6.5 Inches

Surprisingly, perhaps, there are a lot of very similar amplifiers in this price range – all of which seem to offer a fairly staggering array of features and tech, as well as great sound and plenty of power. So, what makes the Loxjie A30 stand out in such an impressive crowd? One word: sound!

That said, the A30 still has all of the features you might want or need, including:

  • 5.0 Bluetooth supporting full-resolution apt-X
  • Extremely high resolution sampling – up to 32 bit/384K
  • Analog and digital inputs, including RCA, optical and USB
  • Excellent headphone amplifier and circuitry, with full-sized jack
  • Superb low-noise, anti-jitter Hyperstream DAC
  • Smart and easy to use display and controls, including remote

…and all of this (and a lot more) works flawlessly, and gives you complete flexibility and control in pretty much any imaginable scenario or system setup.

But the real joy of the Loxjie A30 is not all that tech – well, let’s say instead that it is a different kind of tech, truly advanced internal circuitry which is all about providing the best listening experience possible.

The A30’s Merus Audio Eximo amplifier chip is a very high-efficiency stereo amplifier circuit that offers exactly the power you want just when you need it and has multistage switching to eliminate noise, interference, heat, or power consumption at any level of amplification. The result is extremely clean, dynamic, and exciting sound, with a clarity and warm musicality few amplifiers in this range, can come close to.

I have listened to so many amps in this range, and to be honest quite a few of them are pretty amazing, but the Loxjie A30 is on a different level – the best controls, features, and functionality, surprisingly excellent fit, finish, and reliability, beautiful design, and absolutely incredible sound. Easily the best value mini amplifier on the market today, and a supreme value!

Best Sounding Mid-Range Mini Amplifier

At a Glance

  • Power Output: 22 Watts Per Channel
  • Bluetooth: No
  • Analog Inputs: RCA & Aux Line Level
  • Digital Inputs: None
  • Headphone Output: Yes
  • Footprint: 2.8 by 5.5 Inches

A decidedly premium-feeling product, with a sleek, small, minimalist appearance, the Audioengine N22 mini integrated amplifier has a surprisingly high level of fit and finish for the money. Fortunately, the audio circuitry is of equally high quality, and for an inexpensive amplifier, the N22 has absolutely amazing sound.

It is easy to understand how such a small and inexpensive amp can sound so good, though – the Audioengine N22 doesn’t devote any resources, engineering, space, or circuitry to high-tech features. There’s no Bluetooth, no digital to analog convertors, no display or remote control. It doesn’t even have a built-in power supply, the engineers smartly elected to use a separate outboard power brick to eliminate heat and noise.

What the N22 does have is the audiophile-level pure analog power, analog inputs, and speaker outputs, a volume control, a headphone jack, and that’s about it. Oh yeah, and lots of beautifully clean, dynamic, and musical power! In fact, while smaller amps that claim to have a lot more wattage often have trouble driving most speakers, the N22 will push even low-efficiency speakers to really loud, exciting levels, and is also great for larger spaces or even outdoors.

So not the choice for anybody who wants all the bells and whistles, the Audioengine N22 is really a purist amplifier for the audiophile who has limited space and limited money. For the desktop, it works beautifully from the headphone jack of your PC or laptop, and you can use the computer for any and all controls and functionality.

Any of the less expensive choices in our list of best mini amplifiers for passive speakers have pretty amazing sound for the money – and they all, for my money, can blow away the similarly priced competition – but the Audioengine N22 is a next-level product, with clearly a superior sound that is more accurate, more musical and more engaging. It is easily the best sounding affordable compact amplifier on the market in 2024, and highly recommended!

Best Mini Amplifier Overall

At a Glance

  • Power Output: 230 Watts Per Channel
  • Bluetooth: 5.0 with apt-X
  • Analog Inputs: XLR Balanced & RCA Line Level
  • Digital Inputs: Bluetooth
  • Headphone Output: Yes
  • Footprint: ~ 8 by 9 Inches

Like the stellar NAD amp below, I should clarify right away that this stunning sounding and brilliantly designed SMSL amplifier is a bit bigger than other recommendations on our list of best compact amps for speakers. It is, in fact, slightly over 8 inches in width, so takes up a bit more real estate on your desk – but with a sound like this, who needs a keyboard, or a mouse, or a computer, or a coffee cup? Well, maybe a coffee cup…

And, like the NAD, the SMSL amp is a truly best of class product, with superb audiophile sound quality – really smooth, detailed, and open, but still warm and musical and never, ever bright or harsh. In fact, the larger chassis allows for the best components and circuitry (much of it discreet) as well as really hefty, high-quality power supplies, which allow the SA400 to put out up to 230 watts of real power per channel!

Intelligent controls and a beautiful display give you unprecedented control over all aspects of audio playback, yet are amazingly easy to use. And with full high-resolution aptX Bluetooth, both balanced and regular line-level inputs, and gold plated speaker outputs – not to mention the superb audiophile components throughout – the sound of the SA400 has to be heard to be believed.

So, the S.M.S.L. SA400 represents, to me, the perfect combination of the most important tech, the best components, circuitry and design, the highest material quality overall, and sweet, musical sound – all of these don’t often come together in even very expensive full-sized hi-fi amplifiers, but here find a perfect balance.

If you have the room and can push the budget a bit, don’t hesitate – the SA400 trounces anything else – at any size – at this price point, and is a beautiful sounding amp!

Best Sounding Mini Amplifier

At a Glance

  • Power Output: 60 Watts Per Channel
  • Bluetooth: 5.0 with apt-X
  • Analog Inputs: RCA Line Level & Phono
  • Digital Inputs: Asynchronous USB, Coax, Optical, HDMI Audio Return
  • Headphone Output: Yes
  • Footprint: ~ 3 by 9 Inches

Make no mistake – the NAD 3045 is quite large for a compact stereo amplifier. But with its smallish footprint (it’s less than 3 inches wide) the D 3045 is still a great choice for all but the smallest or most crowded desks, and can really fit in and work almost anywhere.

And that extra size pays astonishing dividends in terms of performance. Although the rated 60 watts per channel is not that much more than even some super-tiny amps, this is NAD power, developed using pure class D circuitry and beefy, high current power supplies. Even the most power-hungry speakers will just light up, with ease, detail, dynamic energy, and excitement that no smaller amp can provide, and any speaker can be pushed to thrillingly loud and clear levels.

All the high tech features are in place as well, including:

  • Two way high resolution aptX Bluetooth, for both driving Bluetooth devices and receiving streaming signals
  • Digital inputs and high quality DAC convertor, with 24/192 hi-res, DSD and MQA support
  • Phono input for turntables, as well as normal line-level analog inputs
  • HDMI return, for convenient and high quality audio for movies and videos
  • Built in audiophile headphone amplifier with low impedance circuitry

…and lots, lots more!

If you’re looking for an amplifier that you can slip into your pocket or one that costs less than dinner at many restaurants these days, this beauty is not for you. But if you want the perfect balance between size and performance, in a true audiophile compact amplifier that will still work well on a desk or in a cramped space, you can’t possibly do better than the NAD D 3045 compact hybrid DAC integrated amplifier. With the very best sound, features, material quality, and long-term reliability, this is not just the best mini amplifier on the market today, but one of the finest, and most beautiful sounding, amplifiers for under a thousand dollars.

Thanks for reading our latest article – The Best Mini Amplifiers Now: A Buyer’s Guide and Review for 2024 – and make sure to check out the Speakergy website for lots of other great buyer’s guides, tutorials, and informational articles. And, most importantly, good gaming!

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