Denon PMA-500AE Amplifier
I wonder if add an extra zero on the price tag of PMA-500AE will buyers notice the trick? Nowadays certainly they will. But five-ten years ago, when all low-budget "hi-fi" looked like some black mass, I'm sure many would think that such nice and elegant amplifier should cost so much. The design of amplifier, its finish, form and texture of the faceplate - literally each detail make you remember those times, when expensive "gold" Denon equipment of audiophile S series was produced. However, it is produced now too, so we won't be nostalgic about it.
The amplifier PMA-500AE is perfectly equipped. The device has four pairs of acoustic terminals and the selector of speaker systems. The input selector allows connecting six sources for playback and a couple of recorders for record. One of the inputs is connected to RIAA corrector. There are disconnectable chains of loudness and equalizer in sound path - Source-Direct button allows sending the signal from the source directly via the shortest path. End portion is implemented on discrete elements and a single double-step stage on modern high-current transistors is responsible for power amplification. All circuits are supplied from the system with improved pulse-power characteristics.
The amplifier couldn't surprise by dynamics - it seems to be calm, slightly prolonged. The device is able to sound incredibly clean at maximum volume levels, but doesn't give a full feeling of drive - drums are not as impulsive as desired, bass sounds sheathlikely and not too recklessly. However, this is the only more ir less serious claim to the Japanese amplifier.
Obviously the device is ahead of the competition by microdynamics. The elaboration of sound details for its price category is unprecedented. All musical fragments sound rich, full and with perfect tonal balance. Informational content is high throughout the range and only in in-between LF/MF register a light "cold" is felt, probably indicating a lack of strict control of load.
It is hard to find fault in the depth and scale of sound scene, which PMA-500AE forms. Yes, there is a slight misfocusing. The instruments, the focus of which accounts for in-between LF/MF range, hang in space without clear contours. But all the other sources are localized very accurately.
The character of transfer of middle and high cases is worth a special mentioning. Someone will find it too technical and even dry, but the device doesn't embellish the sound and doesn't carnalize it that, actually, rarely happens with budget amplifiers. Amazingly, that the most affordable Denon turned out to be a competitor by harmonic and macrodynamic clarity of playing.