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Denon PMA-600NE Integrated Amplifier Review

Rate this amplifier:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 144 40.8%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 183 51.8%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 22 6.2%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 4 1.1%

  • Total voters
    353

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Denon PMA-600NE integrated amplifier with Bluetooth support and DAC. It is on kind loan from a member and costs US $499.
Denon PMA-600NE DAC Integrated amplifier Phono review.jpg

I like the look of the unit especially for the price. Somewhat dismayed though that the input selector is not lined up with the labels. Inclusion of tone and balance controls is a touch tough these days the latter being needed (see testing below). Back panel shows good capability including subwoofer out:
Denon PMA-600NE DAC Integrated amplifier Phono back panel Bluetooth review.jpg

Yes, it harkens to the old days of captive AC cables so go ahead and cancel that order for $200 aftermarket cable. It even has IR control for automation.

Denon PMA-600NE DAC Measurements
Since there are pre-outs we can measure the performance of the internal DACs. I chose to use Source Direct to give it a chance to produce its best performance:


Denon PMA-600NE DAC Integrated amplifier measurement.png


Shame we have high enough distortion that we can't even clear the noise floor of CD (-93 to -96 dB). That places the DAC in the "poor" category of all DACs tested:
best integrated amplifier review 2023.png


Zooming in:
best integrated amplifier review zoom 2023.png


It is just a couple of steps above my old HP laptop! Fortunately noise floor is better:
Denon PMA-600NE DAC Integrated amplifier DNR measurement.png


Although not good enough to make a showing in IMD distortion+noise:
Denon PMA-600NE DAC Integrated amplifier IMD measurement.png


I think this is good enough to know the story of the DAC, allowing us to move the amplifier section.

Denon PMA-600NE Amplifier Measurement
Whenever an amp has volume control, I adjust it for 29 dB and then measure, in this case using CD input and source direct:
Denon PMA-600NE DAC Integrated amplifier CD input measurement.png


This is middling performance:
best integrated amplifier with phono review 2023.png


Turning off Source Direct makes things a bit worse:
Denon PMA-600NE DAC Integrated amplifier CD input none direct measurement.png

The power supply used in the tone control seems to be bleeding a lot of noise. But since distortion is even higher, it didn't impact SINAD a lot.

Let's test with digital input:
Denon PMA-600NE DAC Integrated amplifier Toslink input measurement.png

It is more or less the same since the DAC SINAD is much better than the amp. But the bit of distortion it has bled into the amp. Note that this means that using an external DAC won't improve things either. The amp is the bottleneck.

Noise performance at 5 watts is not great but gets better at full power:
Denon PMA-600NE DAC Integrated amplifier CD input SNR measurement.png


Frequency response is good enough:
Denon PMA-600NE DAC Integrated amplifier CD input frequency response measurement.png


Multitone performance is good:
Denon PMA-600NE DAC Integrated amplifier CD input Multitone measurement.png


As is 19+20 kHz tone pair:
Denon PMA-600NE DAC Integrated amplifier CD input 19 20 kHz IMD Distortion measurement.png


Crosstalk was surprisingly poor:
Denon PMA-600NE DAC Integrated amplifier CD input Crosstalk measurement.png

I repeated the test with Toslink and it was just as bad (not shown). These are the kind of basics that companies need to get right.

There is decent amount of power but the curve flattens early meaning distortion takes over noise:
Denon PMA-600NE DAC Integrated amplifier CD input Power 4 ohm measurement.png

I don't know what is going on with the second channel. Fortunately it doesn't show up with 8 ohm load:
Denon PMA-600NE DAC Integrated amplifier CD input Power 8 ohm measurement.png


Allowing 1% THD and testing for continuous vs burst gives us more than specified power which is good:
Denon PMA-600NE DAC Integrated amplifier CD input Max and Peak Power 4 ohm measurement.png

I wonder if the power supply comes from the higher up in the model range and hence the extra headroom.

Changing frequencies shows what we expect in class AB amps which is a predictable curve:
Denon PMA-600NE DAC Integrated amplifier CD input Power 4 ohm vs frequency measurement.png

Notice that as usual you get less power at 20 Hz.

Finally, here is the on off pop noise:
Denon PMA-600NE DAC Integrated amplifier CD input Power On Pop  and Off measurement.png


It is kind of typical but I wish it was better.

Denon PMA-600NE Phono Stage Measurement
I made a couple of quick measurements of the phono stage starting with our dashboard:
Denon PMA-600NE DAC Integrated amplifier Phono measurement.png


The 35 dB gain (fixed in Source Direct) is kind of low which may have helped it keep distortion at bay. Overall this is about average:
Best phono stage review test.png


RIAA equalization has a bit of error but again, not bad:
Denon PMA-600NE DAC Integrated amplifier Phono freqency response measurement.png


Conclusions
We always wish to find a hidden gem in audio products we test. The PMA-600NE could have been it but it is not. It has very good set of functionality but none of the measurements rise up to above average and some even miss that mark. For the cost, I think you are getting what you paid for but no more.

I can't get excited over this level of performance so can't recommend Denon PMA-600NE. You may think otherwise so vote above.

------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

Tim Link

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Interesting to see the exaggerated highs. I brought the 900 home a while back and though it sounded different than my other amps. When I measured at the speakers it put slightly more out in the highs than my other amps and recievers. I don't know if that's what I was hearing, but it's interesting to see this measured response showing similar. I found it appealing, but that could just mean my speakers/room needed a little more up there.
 

JSmith

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I can't get excited over this level of performance so can't recommend Denon PMA-600NE. You may think otherwise so vote above.
Neither can I, so agree... I was actually expecting this to perform a bit better on the test bench and am surprised with the lacklustre results. This is often recommended as a more stable integrated solution and brand compared to other less established brands, without good cause it seems. Seeing this I wouldn't expect the 800NE to show much improvement apart from more power. Thanks for posting these results.

Some pic's;

1699925333550.png


1699925497664.png


1699925731762.png


1699925823081.png


Published spec's;

Specifications
  • Output power 8 Ohm (20 Hz - 20 kHz, T.H.D. 0.07%)45 W
  • Output power 4 Ohm (1 kHz, T.H.D. 0.7%)70 W
  • Total Harmonic Distortion0.02%
  • Input Sensitivity: MM2.5 mV / 47 kohm
  • Signal to Noise Ratio: MM/MC84 dB / No
  • Input Sensitivity: High level110 mV / 30 kohms
  • Signal to Noise Ratio: High level105dB
  • Treble Control± 8 dB at 10 kHz
  • Bass Control± 8 dB at 100 Hz


JSmith
 

Attachments

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pablolie

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While I no longer own Denon gear, this is disappointing. They used to deliver on great gear. I used to own their 1290 CD player, which was a widely applauded (and measured) device. I also know it was a big step forward from the first gen Sony CD player i got before that. I know the ownership and everything is very different, as it is with many of these brands... but still,
 
Last edited:

Blumlein 88

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Neither can I, so agree... I was actually expecting this to perform a bit better on the test bench and am surprised with the lacklustre results. This is often recommended as a more stable integrated solution and brand compared to other less established brands, without good cause it seems. Seeing this I wouldn't expect the 800NE to show much improvement apart from more power. Thanks for posting these results.

Some pic's;

View attachment 326011

View attachment 326012

View attachment 326013

View attachment 326014

Published spec's;

Specifications
  • Output power 8 Ohm (20 Hz - 20 kHz, T.H.D. 0.07%)45 W
  • Output power 4 Ohm (1 kHz, T.H.D. 0.7%)70 W
  • Total Harmonic Distortion0.02%
  • Input Sensitivity: MM2.5 mV / 47 kohm
  • Signal to Noise Ratio: MM/MC84 dB / No
  • Input Sensitivity: High level110 mV / 30 kohms
  • Signal to Noise Ratio: High level105dB
  • Treble Control± 8 dB at 10 kHz
  • Bass Control± 8 dB at 100 Hz


JSmith
So it meets specs. Just not very good specs.
 

GXAlan

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$375 store demo. Pre pandemic it was only $399 new.

The DAC is basically no different from the 90’s era Denon DAC.

I would give it the second lowest score if it was $375. It meets its advertised specs, has local service/warranty support, has a phono stage, Bluetooth/DAC, and a remote control. More distortion than noise.
 

wwenze

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This is making me want to measure my Marantz 6005 for crosstalk. Pretty much the same innards as Denons.

100Hz is also pretty bottlenecky on mine. Not enough capacitance?
 

DesertHawk

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I would have thought this would have measured better, albeit only slightly. Still, nothing appears completely broken for the price and it comes with alot of features.
 

Chrispy

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For its price point seems about what would be expected.....I can't imagine buying one otoh.
 
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Billy Budapest

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If you use this just to play CD’s, it will do a decent job. Any higher res material, forget about it.
 

Graham849

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What a disappointment. Expected a lot more from this amplifier. It seems fosi, smsl and topping achieve a lot more in this era. Maybe it's an outlier? Thanks Amirm.
 
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