CNET First Look
A compact amp with a full-range soundThe Teac A-H01 integrated amplifier delivers a big sound in compact form factor, but a few design missteps limit its appeal.
Hey I'm Matthew Moscovciak from CNET and today we're gonna take a look at the Teac A-H01. This is a compact stereo integrated amplifier that's currently selling for around $450. The Teac is a good looking amp in a small package with a brush metal front and a plastic cabinet. Compared to a full-size AV receiver, the front panel is dead simple with just a volume knob, a headphone jack, source selector and a power button. Well it's not quite a small as the new [unk] or quite as pretty as the Peachtree Audio Decco65. The Teac strikes a good balance between the 2 and it's certainly gonna look nice in your TV cabinet. The included remote isn't nearly as nice. It has the annoying bubble-like buttons that are usually found on cheaper devices and they just don't respond consistently to button presses. So you're left hitting some buttons over and over again. We also notice that there's no power button on the remote, so the only way to turn it on and off is via the front panel button. That means if you're using it in your living room with the universal remote, you'll probably wanna leave the Teac powered on which is an ideal. There are 4 inputs on the back. 2 digital audio inputs including one optical and one coaxial and 2 stereo analog inputs. What's neat about the optical input is that it makes it easier to use the Teac as an AV receiver replacement at a much, much smaller size. Just connect all your HDMI sources to your TV then connect the TV's optical audio output to the Teac and the Teac will be able to amplify all your living room devices as long as you're okay sticking with stereo sound. Another perk is that the A-H01 has a dedicated subwoofer output which is lacking on many of its competitors. While you can often still use a subwoofer with those other amps using speaker level inputs, the dedicated output is more convenient and leads to less wire clutter. There's also a USB port on the back that you can connect directly to a computer which not only lets you playback your mp3 collection, but also allows you to playback high resolution audio files as long as you have the right software. What you won't find on the A-H01 is any kind of wireless capability such as wifi, airplay or Bluetooth. That's not a huge loss as you can always add that later with an Apple TV or a Bluetooth receiver, although it's worth pointing out that the excellent NAD D 3020 has Bluetooth built-in for about the same price. With a compact amp like this, a lot of people might be skeptical about how it sounds. We found that they have excellent sound quality. Resident audio file Steve Guttenberg gave it a listen with a wide range of speakers from Pioneer's budget SP-FS52 tower speakers to PSP's MHT [unk] and the Teac sounded excellent no matter what we match it up with. There's also no reason to worry about power with the little amp as the A-H01 got plenty allowed in our medium size room with all the speakers we tested. Steve even compared the Teac paired up with Pioneer's tower speakers to the similarly priced Harman Kardon soundbar, and as you would expect, the separate speaker sounded much better especially with music. So if you're looking for a simple soundbar alternative that performs a lot better, the Teac A-H01 can deliver with the affordable speakers. The big question to ask yourself is whether it's worth getting the Teac versus some of the stiff competition. Sony's STR-DN840 is a full size AV receiver that cost about the same, but supports 7.2 channels, has 6 HDMI imports and built-in air play, Bluetooth and wifi. If you don't mind the size, it's hard to argue that it's not a better value for a living room use. If you wanna stick with the smaller integrated amp, NAD's D 3020 is a little more expensive, but I'd say it's worth the extra cost with a nicer remote, sleeker design and built-in Bluetooth. So all together, while we really liked a lot of what the Teac had to offer, it has a few flaws that keep them from being as recommendable as a similar NAD D 3020. I'm Matthew Moscovciak and this is the Teac A-H01.