My journey/deep dive of researching Integrated Amps around $100-$150

Hey all.

The best bang for your buck, with the most features, when it comes to integrated amps, in this price range, seems like:

S.M.S.L. AD18 or Topping MX3 or Klipsch Powergate (bonus points because of the apparent price drop) or the Runner Up: Micca OriGain. The Micca didn’t win because there’s no headphone out and no bluetooth.

The MX3 has some rich features, and Zeos was losing his mind over it, but the amp has the lowest output out the four. The Klipsch seems like a really awesome product, but their phone app and software integration (playfi) has been buggy. With all of these boxes being very small, it’s the biggest. But with the internal power supply taken into account, it’s still pretty small. The SMSL AD18 doesn’t really have too many negatives, but the Klipsch and Topping having a bit more features.The Micca OriGain is mentioned because it’s the cheapest, and seems solid. But no bluetooth :frowning:

Features winner:

  1. Klipsch Powergate (bonus points for phono. bonus points retracted because of playfi)

  2. Topping MX3

  3. S.M.S.L AD18 (bonus points for sparks)

  4. Micca OriGain

Power: according to Amazon or Parts Express or the Make’s website 1.Klipsch Powergate = 100 watts a side 2. S.M.S.L AD18 = 80 watts a side 3. Topping MX3 = 40 watts a side

Price on 12/5/2019 on Amazon:

  1. Micca OriGain = $99.99

  2. Topping MX3 = $110.49

  3. S.M.S.L AD18 = $125.994.Klipsch Powergate = $149.99Best Product for the Micca RB42s?Probably the Klipsch Powergate or SMSL AD18. It seems like it’s a size of the unit and “learning curve” debate at the point.

Best Product for the Micca OoOs?I’m getting a pair, that’s why I didn’t all this research hahah and still don’t know what I should pick. The Topping seems like it’s the one I would want but it’s apparently underpowered for the OoO. The Klipsch has a name, and I believe a better amp. The SMSL is teeny, and cute, and has sparks. I’m upset no really has reviewed the Klipsch on Youtube, because it is such a weird specialty box.

What did I miss, what do yall think?

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My powergate took a crap on me, and the replacement one ended up not working more after it bricked itself on a firmware update. It also ran incredibly hot and I don’t think I would recommend it because of reliability and QC

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My Powergate is still going strong, i added two small little fans, one on either side to push air thru the chassis to keep it cool, which i basically leave on low and almost never turn off.
AC Infinity MULTIFAN S5, Quiet…

It has excellent synergy with a pair of Klipsh RP600M’s and provides all the music I could ask for in my bedroom system. (YMMV) The subwoofer output is excellent and i love having the ability to adjust the volume on the sub at my fingertips. I really don’t care that ASR rated the DAC poorly, it sounds great to me. I managed to get the Play-Fi feature to work and i run Tidal thru it using a small samsung tablet dedicated just for that job. I would NOT recommend this amp at its full $500 MSRP retail cost. At under $175 it’s well worth it if it doesn’t blow up on you, remember Klipsch will NOT honor ANY warranty on this amp if you did not pay full retail on it. (I think i read that somewhere…)

My SMSL AD 18 is still my favorite budget amplifier of all time, i run a pair of JBL B15’s off it and once in a While throw a monoprice, monolith THX 12” sub into the line. It’s a stupidly fun system i have set up in my kitchen and love to have on as background when I’m cooking. I run BT, into it via IPhone cell or tablet and push Tidal, Amazon, Spotify and Pandora. There is nothing this little amplifier doesn’t do perfectly acceptably for Under $145 US. I also use it to run sound out of my kitchen t.v. And it does this w/very acceptable performance. It’s almost impossible to drop the bluetooth signal on this little bugger in under a 30foot radius and if you do not disconnect the connection it stores it like an angry pitbull, latched on full lockjaw!
There you go, my free opinion on these 2 pieces from my own personal experiences.

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I got mine for 150 usd on amazon and the 1st one blew within 30 days so i returned it to amazon, and the 2nd one died within 30 days as well, so I guess I got lucky that it didn’t happen later and have no warranty. If you can get a working one I would recommend it, but there are units with issues floating around it seems

M0N, are you talking about the Klipsch or the SMSL.

The powergate amp. The smsl is fine and I don’t think has any glaring issues like the powergate does

I worked the ad18. From what I’ve read about Micca power hungry speakers, and the wife’s LED preference, I didn’t pick the Topping MX3.

It’s a shame that my first experience with Klipsch is a bunch of people telling me not to get Klipsch :confused:

It’s not that we don’t want to push the Klipsch on you, it’s just that this particular unit/model has frustrating problems and that it would be a crapshoot for you to get one and possibly get stuck with no support if you happen to get a problem unit. I could only speak from my own experiences on the 2 models I have in hand. Of the 2 the AD18 was the better overall value for me at that price point and definitely the safe buy considering the track record the powergate has. I spent over 2 days messing with the power gate trying to update the software and then finding a tablet that would work with the play-fi feature. I just happened to have multiple sources on hand, most folks are not so fortunate. Mon had 2 units go bad on him, that is a high risk factor for a product in my opinion. The second unit went bad due to software issues, “it bricked” on him. The amplifier section is good on the unit, IF you can get it to work right. The key word being IF.
You should enjoy the SMSL, this game is all about upgrades, save money and a year from now you can upgrade speakers, amplifier etc if you are so inclined. My SMSL fits a role to price point ratio very nicely and I have no desire to change it, it works and it does a fine job for what I spent on it. Same with my Klipsh but it was more effort to set it up and it has some unfortunate quirks that may or may not affect you and that is the issue. Happy listening.


With my first system, I’m definitely looking for something I can make work with minimal effort. I would probably be more likely to go with the Klipsch if it wasn’t my first hifi setup. Especially with no backup amp and a potential to build bias with Klipsch, without a lot of familiarity with their speakers.

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The SMSL AD18 is really straightforward, does what they say it will do, and should provide you enough clean power to enjoy yourself. Hope you enjoy yourself and good listening.