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A cheap amplifier and speaker review.

Just Old

Please bare with me on this. All I can do is tell you in my words, nothing technical, only how I evaluated the service and performance.

Well I got up off my bum and made an appointment at my local hifi dealer.
When I said I wanted to listen to the lowest priced amplifiers they had I hit my first problem.
Firstly the ones I has picked were all arrd the £130 to £170 mark. However although they were on the web for purchase they were not available, or out of stock because the range was changing etc.
'What about the Sansui, you must have this? Sorry, 'there is an issue with the brand name not being legal so it's been withdrawn from sale'...
Anyway they said they would do what they could, and asked what speakers I wanted to listen to with the amps.
I asked for the Tannoy V1 which were a hifi mag recommend, and anything else round the £100 mark.
'Ok we'll get something set up for you', was the reply.

I turned up on time and found that rather than being taken to a listening room I was shown into the main store where a stocked range adorned the shelves.
I asked why, I was not in the listening room, to be told that this system was set up down here.
Ok, what have we got.
A Denon PMA 520 Ae and Tannoy mercury V1i.....however I had asked for the V1, which are on the web, only to be told these were the new stock and better.
So I shrugged and put a CD in the matching Denon player.
With people walking round and phone calls being taken next to me it was difficult to get a good feel of things.
The set up was very bright, and when I changed the Cd to john Barry's orchestration of the film 'Somewhere in time, the failings became evident.
The violins screeched when the volume was turned up.
On examination of the speakers I have to say they are of a low build quality. With the front removed the tweeter looks like a JVC speaker from the 80's with a silver cap on it, while the fastenings for the grill looked like four rawl plugs without any screws in them. Not a nice sight if you listen with the grills off.
I asked for another amplifier, only to be told that's the only one we have out.....
Ok different speakers.?
How about MA BX2, which I declined, explaining I wanted the cheapest you have, but settled for the BX1's as my only next option.
These did the trick!
They gave the sound stage a more warmer feeling, the harshness went and the presentation was in fact very good.
Bear in mind these speakers had been well run in.
I cranked up the volume, which gave some distortion but at levels that I wouldn't normally use at home anyway.
The amp performed exceptionally well with a spec of 70W per channel.
It's big, not slender.
The direct sound button makes all the difference.
The amp would be useless without it. With the source direct button not deployed the sound is muddy and unclear.
The usual jack plug is positioned on the front and there are plenty of inputs and a phono imput.
There are tone controls on the front should you wish to use them.
After a good old listen and play about, and declining more expensive speaker combinations, I think the Denon PMA 520E is exceptional value for money.
Had I had the chance I would have liked to try the amplifier with more upmarket speakers because I think that there is still a lot more to pull from this amps performance.....but I was looking at the value of the cheapest new kit I could buy, and didn't want to distort my views
Ok there are failings compared with my upmarket home system.
But make no mistake, anyone who can't find a review or comments about the Denon amp should not dismiss it just because the mags don't review it.
You should ask yourself why they don't?
This is a decent amp for the newbee or for a second system, and I can't speak more highly at the price point of the combination with the MA BX1.
The guy who showed me the system couldn't be faulted, but for some reason, were reluctant to let me listen to what I had asked for.
Lower end and selling up, spring to mind.
If I had been looking at Naim or Linn it would probably have been a different story
So what do you pay?
After bartering the speakers can be purchased for £165, while the amp was non bartering at £129, with a good quality cable thrown in.

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