Onkyo A-9010 (B) UK edition Stereo Integrated Amplifier

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Onkyo A-9010 (B) UK edition Stereo Integrated Amplifier

Post by embleton » Sun Nov 01, 2015 7:52 am

The Onkyo A-9010 (B) UK edition stereo integrated amplifier, a purchase to replace a Cambridge Topaz AM1, as we were dissatisfied with the performance of the latter primarily due to its imbalance across the left and right channels at low audible levels; a very disappointing experience annoying us greatly when the right channel would cut out when the left channel was in swing; effectively it wasn't driving our Tannoy DC6SE speakers adequately at low levels evenly across stereo channels, but was at normal listening levels; this isn't a fault but a shortcoming of the Topaz AM1 amplifier.

At a mere £79.95 for the Cambridge Topez AM1 we didn't expect a great deal during its service, but it did do the job at normal listening levels for a year, until we could afford better; our previous amplifier was damaged by a teenager that shorted the output terminals and damaged the power output transistors, an AudioLab 8000P power amp with 8000C preamp, that really had seen better days.

The Onkyo A-9010 (B) has zero DACs in the British edition, so one cannot feed it with digital sources directly but that really doesn't matter as we have a Cambridge DacMagic Plus upscaling DAC inline that performs that task nicely with gold fancy phono cables to connect to the line input of the Onkyo A-9010 amplifier, and at maximum volume with no audio it presents zero noise, buzz or hiss whatsoever or for that matter nothing can be heard out of the speakers, the low end of our system is completely optical, with optical cables and TOSLink connectors.

The Onkyo A-9010 (B) isn't fancy but is clearly built to sound sweet and easy to the ear, we listen to a great variety of music, watch TV programmes and films. Our music collection is some 1,500 CDs with access to several streaming services for additional audio, video music, TV programmes and film content, so a good all rounder is important. All source devices connect by HDMI to our Samsung UHD TV an optical cable connects to a DacMagic Plus and then to the Onkyo A-9010 (B) amplifier via gold-plated cables with gold plated RCA phono plugs. The speakers connect to the amplifier by Nordost flatline gold bi-wire speaker cable with gold plated banana plugs.

Our UHD Samsung UE48JU6445 TV has an Amazon Fire TV (UHD edition), Apple TV 3rd generation an Xbox One and a Sky+HD box connects to the Xbox One to its HDMI port. The amplifier is bi-wired to a pair of Tannoy DC6SE speakers, not bi-amped something the Onkyo will not support, and at its price range, it isn't surprising. All HDMI sources do their decoding of the PCM encoding and the Samsung TV is set for HDMI bitstream at HD audio quality, even though our setup is completely stereo and that's what all our source devices are set to output on HDMI ports.

The Onkyo has a plastic feeling infrared remote control for the usual functionality, not the best looking and the only thing criticisable with this amp. Volume and power and source select for the 5 on the amplifier are selectable by remote; 4 phono and a 3.5mm for a phone or tablet. It has a large motorised volume knob, balance, tone and base level knobs on the front of the amplifier. A round knob to select one of the input sources, a power button, direct and loudness buttons are also on the unit. A 3.5mm input socket and standard jack headphone socket are also on the front of the amplifier. An Xbox One Kinect 2 sensor controls the amplifier by its infrared array, this controls both the power and volume levels of the amplifier by voice. The amplifier direct switch is set on, this disables the base, tone and loudness controls for best audio quality that was in use during our audible tests in our home. The amplifier was broken in and warmed up over 2 days from new before our audition tests.

A selection of music was chosen for audition purposes; Pink Floyd dark side of the moon, wish you were here, and the wall; Prince, purple rain; Phil Collins; Diana Krall; Melody Gardot; and Mozart the magic flute were among some of our listening pleasures. Original CDs, MP3 encoded at 320Kbps and iTunes AAC encoded tracks ware selected as the source material. CDs were played from the Xbox One, MP3 was played from the Xbox One, an Amazon Fire TV via Plex Clients, and an Apple TV where we used AAC encoded musical pieces with its normal music client.

Rhythm is good, attack and dynamics okay, soundstage good and vocals excellent for an amplifier at its price. After days of listening to its surprising that its performance is so good with a variety of sources and music genres, it has outstanding detail for a 44W AB amplifier design, and an excellent choice for those not craving a Dolby digital speaker layout for their setup. It stops slightly short of sending chills down the spine whilst listening to emotional music, but you do experience the occasional twinge of real delight, more so realising that such a musical sound is achievable at only £199 when it would normally cost twice that price. In comparison to the Cambridge Topaz AM1, it's a total overall improvement, especially with vocals, musical detail and ability to produce an excellent musical rhythm smooth sounding presentation with whatever the genre or source material. This audiophile setup has a tendency to clinical over present the musical detail lacking very slightly in warm feelings of delight, likely owing to its digital nature. Friends and visits have praised the sound of our audio system since purchasing this amp, which is a high indicator that it's a bloody good amp for its price, especially for clarity and detail

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