Accuphase E-380 vs E-480 which is better?

Accuphase E-380 vs E-480 which is better?

We have a pretty epic battle today with this Accuphase E-380 and E-480 showdown that we have going on. I have had a lot of fun playing around with the Accuphase E-480. And have already put it up against a few other models of amp from Accuphase and now it is the turn of the Accuphase E-380 to step into the ring and see how it does. These are two very expensive amplifiers and certainly not products that are for everyone. Heck, I have to put myself in that category. I am lucky that I get to test stuff like this, but I always have to send it back. As amazing as these are, there is no way I could throw down this kind of money on an amp!


The Price

Yikes, there is no way that we can ignore the giant elephant in the room when it comes to this Accuphase E-380 and E-480 battle in regards to the massive price tag these have. I could probably go broke just looking at the price, let alone throwing down this kind of money on something like this


Accuphase E-380:


While I would say that the Accuphase E-380  is “cheaper” this is still a very expensive product and out of reach for most of us. You are easily looking at around eight grand if you want to bring this incredible amplifier into your home! That is around two grand cheaper when it comes to the RRP of the E-480, but that still makes this an expensive product. However, two grand is a hell of a lot of money to be saving, isn’t it? Of course, I did have to have a little look over at eBay and I found that there was a handful of these on there. The cheapest one that I saw was priced at $4,599 which makes it a hell of a lot cheaper than the asking price of the Accuphase E-480.


Accuphase E-480:


The Accuphase E-480 is such an amazing piece of tech, so amazing that you are easily looking at the better part of ten grand if you want to buy one of these things brand-new from a dealer. There is just no way that Accuphase can charge less for something like this as it is made with all very high-end components. I did decide to have a good look at eBay to see what was going down on here and you can find these on there and at the time I am writing this there are none currently on the eBay. However, these do always find their way on there, the E-470 for example can be found on there for a couple of grand less than the RRP.


The Verdict: Both of these products are very, very expensive. So expensive that I would imagine if you have the money to throw down on the “less expensive” Accuphase E-380, you probably could afford the E-480. For me personally, there is just way too much of a price difference for me to even consider the E-480! If you shop around and are patient, you can get the E-380 for perhaps half of what the Accuphase E-480 is going for right now.


The Design

Next up we have the design category in our Accuphase E-380 and E-480 battle. Accuphase makes some of the coolest and sleek looking amps on the market. I love how they always manage to make their products look classy and elegant, but also have a bit of a retro vibe about them as well.


Accuphase E-380: At first glance, the Accuphase E-380  is very similar to the E-480. Although I do feel that it has more in common with the design of the Accuphase E-470. I suggest you take a gander at this Accuphase E-380 Unboxing & First Listen video where you can really get a better idea of the design. This is a bit smaller than the E-480. It comes in at 18.31” x 6.73” x 16.61” with a weight of 22.8KG. So not a lot smaller, but just a tad. I love the retro design that this thing has, actually this whole E series of amps from Accuphase has this similar design and it is something that I am an absolutely massive fan of. You have the dual display on the front that is backlit, there are little LEDs that will keep you informed of what you have selected, and so on. Your volume and input selection dials are on the sides of the display. There is also the little door where the various dials and buttons are hidden. I like the design here, but I do think that Accuphase improved upon it with the E-480. It still has that same high-quality look and feel that you would expect from an Accuphase product.

On the back, you will notice that this thing is stacked with connectivity options, but there are a couple less than what you get with the Accuphase E-480. To be honest with you, there is more than enough here for most people and I like how clean and organized the design is. You will always know what device is plugged into what port here. There are also two slots where you can add one of the cartridges (DAC for example) should you wish to do that. You also get a really awesome remote control with this that has all the buttons you could ever need as well as that same awesome champaign style!


Accuphase E-480: The Accuphase E-480 is a bit larger and heavier than what the Accuphase E-380 is coming in at a rather heavy 24.5 KG and 18.31” x 7.13” x 16.85”, you will need to make sure that you have a decent amount of space for this thing to sit. I just love the whole design of this thing. I love the champaign style look of it and the retro design which makes it look like something that would have sat in a music studio in the 70s is something I get a real kick out of. The display on the front ere is fantastic as it gives you all of the information you need and the backlight on it is a nice and warm color too, the older version of this had a blue light which was ok, but I do prefer this. At one side of the display, you have your volume dial and on the other is your input selection dial. One of the trademark features of this amp is the little door that flips down to give you your various controls. Here, Accuphase changed things over the last version as they are organized a bit better, and just above this door, you now have your various indicators that are LEDs so you can know exactly what you have going on. They took what was already a great design and made it even better.

As we look at the back, you can see that the Accuphase E-480 gives you more options when it comes to what you connect to it. Everything is labeled nice and clearly, so you will know exactly where your devices are plugged in, they also have the two ports for the add on cartridges if you decide to get them too. I really do not see how Accuphase could improve on the back design of this amplifier. I do also have to give props to the awesome remote control that Accuphase gives you with this. They have a pretty universal design for all their amps when it comes to the remote, but I am glad they have stuck with this style for so long.


The Verdict: Make no mistake these two amps have a very similar design and at first glance, it can be tricky to see the differences. However, while I really do like the design of the Accuphase E-380, I have to say that I think the tweaks to the design that they made with the Accuphase E-480 were done for the better. Not just from a functionality point of view, but in terms of the design as well.


The Sound

One thing that rings true for all Accuphase amps is that they sound great and will greatly enhance your setup, I honestly have no doubt about that. However, this Accuphase E-380 and E-480 battle is interesting as we have an older version going up against its more expensive replacement.


Accuphase E-380: Sound wise the Accuphase E-380  really is quite fantastic. I have had the pleasure of playing around with many of the different Accuphase amps over the last couple of years and this one is right up there. It offers you a very nice amount of power, bass, vocal clarity and it just does exactly what you want a high-end amplifier to do… however, we are putting it directly up against the Accuphase E-480, and as good and clear as the sound is here. It is just not quite as rich, raunchy, or powerful. At the end of the day, this is the step below the 480 so it is to be expected. Still, when I fired up the epic Stranger Things Soundtrack Music From Seasons 1 & 2 set that my wife got me last Christmas I was still very impressed with the sound. Even though I just said it was not quite as powerful as the E-480, the bassline in Every Breath You Take was epic.

Look, this is great no matter if it is hard rock, rap, or something more mellow like Legacy the greatest hits collection from Boyz II Men, you are going to be impressed with what this is doing. I will say that even at this price range the same rings true for this amplifier as it does a more modest one such as the awesome Sony STRDH190 2-ch Home Stereo Receiver which I have in my game room. The turntable and the speakers you are using with the amp is going to have a pretty big impact on what you are getting out of it. This is a great amp it really is, but if I was spending thousands of dollars, it would kind of bug me that I knew it was not the best that was on offer….  but that could be the Scotsman in me talking!


Accuphase E:480: I have yet to hear anyone say anything negative about the sound capabilities of the Accuphase E-480. Reviews like this Accuphase E-480 Integrated Amplifier Review here give you a lot of insight about why this is so good. I am not the kind of guy that is going to tell you the ins and outs of the bass, treble, and so on. What I can tell you is that out of the box with no tinkering of the settings, the E-480 is going to make you say wow.

A real prized item in my collection is this Live Chile 1992 box set by Guns n Roses. The balanced sound that I was getting thanks to this was just incredible. The raw power, the vocal clarity, it just ticked all of the boxes for what I personally would want in an amp. Once I started playing around with it more and getting it just the way I wanted I could see why Accuphase decided that they could improve on the Accuphase E-470 that came before this.

I really do not think there is a style of music that would not sound amazing when played with this. My wife absolutely adores the Greatest Showman Soundtrack and we listened to it with the help of the 480 and it was the best that we have ever heard it. It is the kind of thing that is hard to explain, but I would say that this hits all of the notes near perfectly. I am sure that even someone who is not an “audiophile” I hate that term, by the way, would notice a huge difference here. To me sound is sound and we all hear it differently and I loved the sound that I was getting thanks to this amp.


The Verdict: This is a tough one to call, you see I do not see how anyone could say that the Accuphase E-380 has better sound than the Accuphase E-480! The E-480 takes this round and it takes it in a convincing fashion. I think that the 380 is great, I really do and if you did not use these back-to-back like I did, you would never know any different. However, the thing you have to ask is if the E-480 is worth the much higher price tag that it has, only you can answer that!


Which Is The Better Amplifier?

We come to the end of our Accuphase E-380 and E-480 and it has been very interesting for me to look at both of these and try and pick a winner. Look, I have to say that the Accuphase E-480 is clearly the better amplifier. I prefer the design of it and the sound really is notably better, I noticed a clear upgrade in the sound! However, the Accuphase E-380  is no slouch and with the right turntable and set of speakers, it is going to truly blow you away. I should be able to just say that the E-480 wins this one, but with a price difference of as much as a couple of grand! It is not as easy to say that the sound while better is two grand better if you get what I am saying.

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