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Denon PMA-600NE Integrated Amplifier Review

Rate this amplifier:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 144 40.9%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 182 51.7%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 22 6.3%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 4 1.1%

  • Total voters
    352

popej

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There exist other Denon stereo amp, based on AVR technology, DRA-800H:

DRA-800H power amplifier looks a bit better with 78dB SINAD. For both amplifiers, service manuals are available in net. What is interesting is that PMA-600NE has quite complicated amplifier. FET input, cascodes, second differential pair, current mirror, MOSFET power transistors, all together 15 transistors. DRA-800H has as simple power amplifier as one can get for this power level. It is 6 transistors (2 are Darlingtons), no current sources at all. It measures better and costs less.
 

Rottmannash

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I would say it's just about price. If this amplifier was £500 I'd move swiftly on. If it was £100, I'd buy two! When I bought my 520AE I was in and out of the shop in 5 minutes. I walked in, asked what ~40-50 watt integrateds were going cheap, and chose the Denon. Cost £135 and eight years on it's going strong and in its second or third system.

That being said, I don't follow the hifi industry anymore, and lose track of things. Just having a quick look at prices for ~50 watt integrated amplifiers for the domestic market these days, they all seem a bit dear. The latest offerings from NAD, Cambridge, Arcam, Audiolab et al. are in the £600-800 range, which seems a lot for what you're getting. Especially with these Class D and 'chip amps', it's an expensive box of fresh air!
Why would you buy 2 vs 1 (or none) mediocre devices based on price? That logic doesn't make sense to me. Double the mediocrity:oops:
 

Hammeredklavier

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Why would you buy 2 vs 1 (or none) mediocre devices based on price? That logic doesn't make sense to me. Double the mediocrity:oops:
That amplifier is worth every penny of £100 isn't it! As far as I can see the only problem that might be audible is the channel balance but that's easily fixed.

If it was £500 then I'd walk on by, for obvious reasons.

Although as I said above, I'm a bit behind the times. Run of the mill ~50W integrated amplifiers seem to cost £600-800 these days - the likes of Arcam, NAD, Audiolab, Cyrus et al. Seems a lot of wonga for a little integrated amp! Fingers crossed I don't need to buy a new one for a while.
 

Holdt

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Why would you buy 2 vs 1 (or none) mediocre devices based on price? That logic doesn't make sense to me. Double the mediocrity:oops:

If you want a little system in another room?
We have three cars. They are mediocre at best. If we only needed one we'd probably buy a better one. We need three though, so the budget we have decided to use on cars would have to be split between them. -Seems obvious? Sorry if this wasn't what you meant.
 

Angsty

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If you want a little system in another room?
We have three cars. They are mediocre at best. If we only needed one we'd probably buy a better one. We need three though, so the budget we have decided to use on cars would have to be split between them. -Seems obvious? Sorry if this wasn't what you meant.
I think @Rottmannash was referring to multiple ~$100 devices to perform the functions of a single integrated amp.

I tend to agree that a single integrated can be a better value unless you plan stepwise improvements, like swapping out the phono amp for a better one while keeping everything else the same.

The Denon is clearly not state of the art, but can still be enjoyable. A user moving up to a SOTA $4000 integrated amp may hear a difference (esp on noise floor), but not necessarily derive more listening pleasure. For many on ASR, much pleasure may be derived from simply knowing that one has a SOTA device more than for demonstrable, audible differences.

I have an old NAD 1600 pre / NAD C272 amp combo that I enjoyed for many years before upgrading to a Bryston integrated. The Bryston clearly had a lower noise floor and less dynamic distortion, but that did not make the NAD stack a pile of junk. The Denon also has its target market.
 

Dinesh Menon

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Manufacturer Specifications:It is as
Manufacturer Specifications:
It's very assuring

Manufacturer Specifications:
Amir Sir's reviews are reassuring
ASR shows that all products of big brands can't be blindly trusted!
They keep increasing the price but giving nothing of sound quality
People keep buying influenced by the popular reviews & specs.
Happy to gain valuable audio-knowledge from this prestigious forum
 

Hammeredklavier

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If you want a little system in another room?
We have three cars. They are mediocre at best. If we only needed one we'd probably buy a better one. We need three though, so the budget we have decided to use on cars would have to be split between them. -Seems obvious? Sorry if this wasn't what you meant.
Exactly. People like me who tend to find themselves occupying a number of different spaces can always find a use for another integrated amplifier if it doesn't cost much.

Not costing much looks to have become a bit of an issue since I last took an interest in this sort of thing though! Looking at prices for half decent integrated amplifiers makes me glad I've bought DACs with volume controls! If one of the amps goes pop I'll be buying one of those 'pro' Behringer power amps (A800?) or similar. Anything aimed at the domestic market seems crazy expensive these days. I can't see me having much enthusiasm for spending >£600 on a little 50W integrated amp!
 

Rottmannash

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If you want a little system in another room?
We have three cars. They are mediocre at best. If we only needed one we'd probably buy a better one. We need three though, so the budget we have decided to use on cars would have to be split between them. -Seems obvious? Sorry if this wasn't what you meant.
Actually, what I meant was if the device is "mediocre" regardless of price why would anyone want 2 of them, much less one? If is satisfied w/ mediocre performance then yes, buy 2 or 3 (I'm as guilty as the next regarding hoarding electronics) but I thought this site exists in the search for excellence in design and engineering in electronics.
 

Hammeredklavier

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Actually, what I meant was if the device is "mediocre" regardless of price why would anyone want 2 of them, much less one? If is satisfied w/ mediocre performance then yes, buy 2 or 3 (I'm as guilty as the next regarding hoarding electronics) but I thought this site exists in the search for excellence in design and engineering in electronics.
It isn't regardless of price though is it. At £100, the Denon amp reviewed here would be sensational. At £1,000, Amir's cat would go and be sick on the neighbour's lawn!

I would think pretty much any established manufacturer of audio electronics could make an amplifier with 0.0003% THD+N and 600Watts into 2 Ohms if you're not too bothered how much it cost. Which then brings us to the question, who would actually require such an amplifier...
 

Michael Fidler

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It isn't regardless of price though is it. At £100, the Denon amp reviewed here would be sensational. At £1,000, Amir's cat would go and be sick on the neighbour's lawn!

I would think pretty much any established manufacturer of audio electronics could make an amplifier with 0.0003% THD+N and 600Watts into 2 Ohms if you're not too bothered how much it cost. Which then brings us to the question, who would actually require such an amplifier...
To be honest, it would cost almost nothing more to design this amplifier with say 0.001% THD or less at 1kHz. The expensive components such as the power transformer, heatsinks, power semiconductors etc. are already there. What we need is some optimisation and a few extra cheapo TO-92 transistors in the input stage, voltage amplification stage and so on.
 

Hammeredklavier

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To be honest, it would cost almost nothing more to design this amplifier with say 0.001% THD or less at 1kHz. The expensive components such as the power transformer, heatsinks, power semiconductors etc. are already there. What we need is some optimisation and a few extra cheapo TO-92 transistors in the input stage, voltage amplification stage and so on.
They obviously decided to make a 'new' amplifier with an R&D cost of zero!

Yeah it's lazy, and I would say $399 was a bit expensive for what it is.
 

TurtlePaul

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To be honest, it would cost almost nothing more to design this amplifier with say 0.001% THD or less at 1kHz.
This is where my head is (but 0.01%). I agree with the comments that there is a place in the market for affordable amps which don’t participate in the inaudible SINAD race. But in a world where a $75 Aiyama is better than 80 dB, these results are not good enough for a $500 amp. I don’t understand everyone making the excuses. There are plenty of $500-700 amps with 80-100 dB SINAD and more power to boot.
 
Last edited:

Michael Fidler

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They obviously decided to make a 'new' amplifier with an R&D cost of zero!

Yeah it's lazy, and I would say $399 was a bit expensive for what it is.
It would be worth every penny (to me) if they'd put another 100 hours into the R&D, or just designed a 'blameless amplifier' from scratch using their current partlist.

To me it's a bit of a shame as the parts and construction look much more solid than many 'high end' offerings. I'd love to have access to the kind of parts sourcing and manufacturing that Denon so obviously use to great effect.

I can appreciate the different viewpoints in this thread, especially the ones saying most people who buy this won't notice anything amiss in the design. But, to me at least, it's rather ugly to see the measurements and feel a little pity at so many missed opportunities.

For your average punter it's probably bought for 'look and feel' and feature set. It's probably extremely convenient to use. We might speculate that it was designed for the 'old' mass-market and not for ASR (not mutually exclusive though!).

If Denon were to re-design it then I'm hopeful that they could push it right to the top of the rankings without spending more than 50 cents more in parts cost. You can build amplifiers with MPSA4/92s and MJE29/3055s that would have orders of magnitude better performance.
 

DesertHawk

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It would be worth every penny (to me) if they'd put another 100 hours into the R&D, or just designed a 'blameless amplifier' from scratch using their current partlist.

To me it's a bit of a shame as the parts and construction look much more solid than many 'high end' offerings. I'd love to have access to the kind of parts sourcing and manufacturing that Denon so obviously use to great effect.

I can appreciate the different viewpoints in this thread, especially the ones saying most people who buy this won't notice anything amiss in the design. But, to me at least, it's rather ugly to see the measurements and feel a little pity at so many missed opportunities.

For your average punter it's probably bought for 'look and feel' and feature set. It's probably extremely convenient to use. We might speculate that it was designed for the 'old' mass-market and not for ASR (not mutually exclusive though!).

If Denon were to re-design it then I'm hopeful that they could push it right to the top of the rankings without spending more than 50 cents more in parts cost. You can build amplifiers with MPSA4/92s and MJE29/3055s that would have orders of magnitude better performance.
It's probably more than just "r&d". They probably have a whole ecosystem of parts and boards and interchangeability that make it so they can deliver at the cost they can for a number of products and overhauling designs would lead to needs to redisgn that while ecosystem. That said, it looks like maybe it's time to consider it. What probably was a huge cost advantage decades ago might be what is now making their technology comparable to what was competitive decades ago.
 

DesertHawk

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I can appreciate the different viewpoints in this thread, especially the ones saying most people who buy this won't notice anything amiss in the design. But, to me at least, it's rather ugly to see the measurements when and feel a little pity at so many missed opportunities. I tend towards the side that says this isn't an amazing piece of electronic design.
Pretty well summarizes the thread.
 

Michael Fidler

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It's probably more than just "r&d". They probably have a whole ecosystem of parts and boards and interchangeability that make it so they can deliver at the cost they can for a number of products and overhauling designs would lead to needs to redisgn that while ecosystem. That said, it looks like maybe it's time to consider it. What probably was a huge cost advantage decades ago might be what is now making their technology comparable to what was competitive decades ago.
You're almost certainly right. I think all the parts could be kept, just re-arranged a little differently!

Seeing as they've got THT production facilities, I would start with a double-side board first and get rid of all those wire jumpers. Then develop a scale-able 'blameless' class B amplifier for those boards and away we go :cool:...
 

Hammeredklavier

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For your average punter it's probably bought for 'look and feel' and feature set. It's probably extremely convenient to use. We might speculate that it was designed for the 'old' mass-market and not for ASR (not mutually exclusive though!).
To be honest, I don't think I really understand the market. You don't need an amplifier with more than 60dB dynamic range for watching junk on Netflix and listening to highly compressed pop music. And in critical, professional applications, as far as I can make out active speakers are the norm, with the amplifiers built into the cabinets. Or headphones.

Where's the market for a stand-alone amplifier whose selling point is noise and distortion pushed below -100 dB? It must be a tiny number of hobbyists, who for some reason think they can hear it.

I think most punters would choose watts over SINAD, and yes, features, convenience, reliability and so on.
 

TurtlePaul

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Where's the market for a stand-alone amplifier whose selling point is noise and distortion pushed below -100 dB? It must be a tiny number of hobbyists, who for some reason think they can hear it.
Hyperbole much? I want to see 80 dB or better, not “-100” and it would cost $5 or less of parts cost to fix this.
 
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