After the 800NE, which is a complete system of high quality (amplifier, CDp, streamer), it is time for the even more affordable Denon PMA-600NE to make their mark on the low price range.
This is the basic level of Denon, with the necessary savings to bring the price down to the level of 400 euros, which again proves to be higher than our expectations, with an extremely mature behavior on the part of the amplifier.
The series is currently two-part and is complemented by the introductory CDp DCD-600NE, which provides optical digital output and is based on a linear power supply. The amplifier covers all the other needs of an input system except Wi-Fi, as it includes a quality phono stage, DAC with three digital inputs and a Bluetooth receiver.
If you have a turntable with BT, you can choose between wireless and wired connection, with or without the phono stage of the amplifier. It’s nice to have options even in the introductory categories and this is exactly what the 600NE “corrects” compared to the 800NE, which finally adds the popular output for subwoofers, even filtered at 100Hz.
The discounts for the immediately larger model include a little less power (by 5W at nominal prices), phono stage only for MM, a pair of speaker outputs and a smaller optical input, things not so great considering that in the 600NE beyond the sub There is also Bluetooth, which you will not find on the 800NE.
The price difference between the two models is only 100 euros, the appearance is unchanged and it is certain that many will wonder which of the two to choose.
Of course the PMA-800NE is more detailed, brighter and more open and with better microdynamic contrasts, while together with the DNP-800NE they create an attractive pair that covers every digital need.
The PMA-600NE for its part, having “proven” less in terms of resolution and driving, has taken a more atmospheric and more direct rhythmic direction and is perhaps even more musical, as is often the case in these price categories with smaller models. .
The characteristic design with the wavy front and the sharp recesses for the large sliders make you feel comfortable when operating and the controls feel very good, although plastic (except for the metal front of the volume). The differences with the 800NE are located on the right side of the front, where instead of the speakers A, B and the head selection (MM / MC) there is a key for pairing Bluetooth.
The essence of both amplifiers is the output stage, where Denon is perfect in using only one pair of complementary transistors (mosfet in the larger models), a model that has significantly evolved it by maximizing its virtues (transparency, timing, hologram) and limiting its weaknesses (power, distortion, control over the speakers).
The built-in DACs enjoy their own power supply and are enclosed in a metal enclosure, but Denon thinks this is not enough and allows us to completely turn off the digital part of the amplifier by pressing Analog Mode.
This works in parallel with Source Direct, which removes a gain phase around the tonality controls and even changes the input gain of the preamplifier, which drops to 17KΩ and requires attention with sources with very high output resistors (> 1KΩ, mainly lamps), as it will cause a decrease in the bass response.
Another precaution that shows how disturbed Denon is with sound purity is the deactivation of the control microprocessors, since they are not used, so as not to affect the amplification with their oscillators.
Inside, it becomes apparent that the PMA-600NE is practically the same as the 800NE, with the notable exception of the power adapter, which is larger and better mounted on the larger model. Otherwise, we have the same architecture, with the bridge of rectification in a large heatsink very close to the two electrolytes of ELNA (Audio, 2 × 8.200μF), in the output in a common heatsink from a pair of Sanken Β1383 / D2083 and in the level adjustment in Black Alps.
A purebred audiophile image, both as a layout and as a quality material. The only thing that “spoils” the image, in our opinion of minor importance, is the planted power cord. Are you saying that Denon got into so much trouble with the circuit and in the end ruined the performance by choosing the wrong conductor?
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The PMA-600NE needs to be plugged in for 24 hours to stabilize its performance, as long as you put it on hold from the remote control and turn it off at the main switch only if it is to be idle for several days.
The initial impression is that of the full, rich and sweet sound in the voices and instruments of the middle area, combined with an unexpectedly strong, deep and massive low, which shook perfectly the four woofers of the KEF R11, in a price mismatch that forced us to pay tribute to the affordable Denon.
The digital inputs are sufficient for comfortable listening and the sound of the TV, but they are set up carefully, without much opening on stage and with a slightly darker treble, so as not to offend with a wide range of signals.
We got much better sound from the analog inputs, especially when we pressed the Analog Mode, so the detail and the air around the instruments increased significantly, the stage accuracy and the clarity of the attack was improved. Little Denon has great sound, with great depth of field and sophisticated perspective, as it develops holographic between the speakers.
It has large images, slightly projected in the middle and upper lows, reminiscent of a good amplifier lamp and its focus, although unshakable, does not have high-frequency accents that would give a more flat feeling. It soon entices you to follow the flow, which unfolds it masterfully, with very coherent melodic lines and a calm and expressive rendering of the rhythm.
Tonal beauty, sweet tones, stage accuracy and strength in difficult times are the main menu of his talents, given in balance without anything standing out.
Compared to the Pioneer A40AE, it has a smaller stage width, fewer “regular” images and less detailed transitions, but it responds with a better hologram, stronger low power, fuller midrange and better direct flow. They are both wonderful, with record-breaking performance for their low price but with quite different characters.
Finally, it is no exaggeration to say that, with the PMA-600NE, Denon offers… the excellent 800NE in a slightly more affordable version, so the recommendations are superfluous!
TYPE: Complete amplifier POWER: 2x45W / 8Ω (20-20k, 0.07% THD), 2x70W / 4Ω (1k, 0.7% THD) Ratio S / N: 105dB (line), 84dB ( MM) INPUTS: 4xline (100mV / 40KΩ or 17KΩ with source direct), phono MM (2.5mV / 47KΩ), 2xoptical, coaxial, Bluetooth 4.2 CONVERTER: Burr Brown PCM5141 OUTPUTS: subwoofer (1V / lpf, 100 EXTRA: source direct, analog mode, processor stop mode DIMENSIONS (WxDxH): 434 x307x122 mm. WEIGHT: 6.8 kg