Forget about what they rate it. Let your ears judge. I have found that there can be a big difference within all catagories, needless to say outside the catagories.
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No. I think they have said this in the past. In their rating system separates are compared to separates and integrateds to integrateds. Class B separates are supposed to be better than Class B integrateds.
But that's still a rough guide, and reflects the opinion of Stereophile's reviewers. With your other equipment and your ears you might find a Class B integrated better than Class B separates. You might even find, as I have, Class C components better than Class B, and of course, there are lots of really fine components and speakers that havent been rated at all.
Good question. My guess would be sometimes yes, sometimes no, depending on how well the two components integrate,you should pardon the pun. The tradeoff between a shorter, cleaner signal path(for integrateds), versus the superior isolation(in most cases) of separates, makes it hard to generalize. I can easily picture the sum being greater or lesser than it's parts.
Class B seperates will almost always be sonically superior to class B integrates, but only if they are properly matched with the right synergistic components. Be very careful with Stereophile recommended components. They should ONLY be used as a guideline. Stereophile can be very political thus are there ratings on components.