Today’s audio world is beginning to be populated by innovative integrated amplifiers that fit into our homes and lives in new ways: products that are not only practical and user-friendly but can make us happy when we walk in the door and see the thing sitting on a desk or shelf—waiting for its master to touch and appreciate it. Crystal Cable’s new CCI integrated ($12,700) is a perfect example of this new breed. Its beautiful Illuminated logo and compact vertical tower called out to me from the CES hallway as I walked by.

The CCI is handsome in an artful way, and operates in class-AB, not class-D. It’s tall because the chassis is designed as a chimney: Yes, you can put it on a bookshelf and even have books on either side, but the amp still needs a little room at the top for that class-AB heat to escape. (I held my hand about 3″ above the chimney and it felt just a little warmer than body temperature.) The CCI uses a Siltech Saga output stage to deliver 200Wpc into 8 ohms and, as claimed, over 700Wpc into a 2-ohm load. The illuminated controls are arranged vertically in a strip along the left front edge. Very impressive.