Denon PMA-900NE & DCD-900NE: versatility, transparence and refinement

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Mis à jour le 25 July 2022.

A renewal of Denon’s mid-range hi-fi lineup, the Denon PMA-900NE amplifier replaces the popular Denon PMA-800 NE, adding network connectivity for Heos multi-room connectivity, access to streaming services, AirPlay 2 streaming and DLNA playback. Its more contemporary design is inspired by the brand’s most prestigious models and matches the new Denon DCD-900NE universal CD player perfectly. A seemingly essential duo for building a high-fidelity system on a reasonable budget.

The Denon PMA-900NE is an all-in-one model with integrated network player. It is paired here with the Denon DCD-900NE universal CD player, with which it works in complete harmony.

Denon PMA-900NE & DCD-900NE: packaging & accessories

The Denon PMA-900NE amplifier and DCD-900NE CD player each come in a box inside of which they are held in place by blocks of polystyrene. With each device, the manufacturer includes a power cable and a pre-programmed infrared remote control that can control both the amp and the CD player. The amplifier also comes with WiFi antennas and the CD player with an RCA to RCA cable. Lastly, they both include a quick start guide.

Accessories included with the Denon PMA-900NE: 

  • Power cable
  • Remote control + batteries
  • Quick start guide
  • WiFi/Bluetooth antennas

Accessories included with the Denon DCD-900NE:

  • Power cable
  • Remote control + batteries
  • Quick start guide
  • RCA to RCA cable

Denon PMA-900NE: presentation

Design 

The Denon PMA-900NE hi-fi amplifier has the same metallic chassis as the Denon PMA-800NE but modernizes it with a small control screen on the front. A nod to the brand’s most prestigious models, such as the Denon PMA-2500NE and Denon PMA-A110. This screen displays the selected source, sample rate and volume.

Just like the brand’s most prestigious models, the Denon PMA-900NE amplifier has a control screen that displays the selected source, the sample rate and the volume.

The front panel of the Denon PMA-900NE also features various knobs to adjust the listening volume, select the source and adjust the timbre – bass and treble- as well as the balance. Finally, it is possible to activate or deactivate the MM/MC phono input and switch the speaker terminals to A, B or A+B.

The Denon PMA-900NE amplifier allows you to adjust the bass levels, the treble levels and the balance.

Advanced HC amplification

The Denon PMA-900NE amplifier’s amplification stage uses transistors mounted in a push-pull configuration according to the proprietary Advanced HC (High Current) technology. Associated with a generous power supply, this design maximizes the current capacity to handle dynamic shifts and speaker requirements with power and energy. The Denon PMA-900NE is therefore able to deliver 2 x 50 watts into 8 ohms and 2 x 85 watts into 4 ohms with unwavering control. While this output may seem modest, the Denon PMA-900NE amplifier compensates with a huge power supply to power demanding speakers, such as large bookshelf models and floorstanders, with ease.

Thanks to the Advanced HC amplification with its high current capacity, the Denon PMA-900NE amplifier is able to power the majority of speakers with ease.

Connectors

The connectors of the Denon PMA-900NE are similar to those offered by its predecessor. The digital section includes three optical inputs and a coaxial input. For the first time, there is also a USB-A input to connect a hard drive or a USB stick to play music files. The analog part now features three line level inputs instead of four, as the network input has been removed in favor of a built-in network player. There is also a phono input compatible with turntables equipped with MM and MC cartridges. Conveniently, the Denon PMA-900NE now offers a pre-out, in addition to the Rec output. It is therefore possible to connect a power amplifier. A subwoofer output has also been added to this model. Lastly, the two sets of screw terminals allow you to connect two pairs of speakers.

The Denon PMA-900NE hi-fi amplifier features a wide range of connectors, with 4 RCA analog inputs (including a phono input) and 4 digital inputs.

Heos and streaming 

The main innovation of the Denon PMA-900NE is its network connectivity and the integration of the Heos ecosystem. Once connected to the network via WiFi or Ethernet, the Denon PMA-900NE hi-fi amplifier has the ability to play music shared in DLNA over the local network (up to 24-bit/192kHz and DSD 5.6MHz), and access web radios via TuneIn, as well as the majority of streaming services like Spotify, Deezer, Tidal and Amazon Music. To do this, the Heos system relies on the eponymous mobile app available for iOS and Android smartphones and tablets. However, it is a shame that Qobuz is still absent from the Heos system. Despite this, it is possible to stream music from this service using the AirPlay 2 protocol or Bluetooth.

Thanks to the integration of HEOS, the Denon PMA-900NE amp can access web radios and many online music services, as well as AirPlay 2 and Bluetooth streaming.

Multi-room 

Once connected to the local network, the Denon PMA-900NE amplifier can be added to a group of Heos-compatible Denon or Marantz speakers and equipment to create a multi-room sound system. Thanks to the Heos app, you can create several listening zones inside your home to play the same music everywhere or a different song in each room. Multi-room streaming can also be done with AirPlay 2 compatible equipment, via the Apple Home app.

Denon DCD-900NE: presentation

Design 

The Denon DCD-900NE CD player has a very similar aesthetic to the Denon PMA-900NE amplifier, with a metallic chassis and brushed aluminum front panel. It incorporates a physical control panel to begin playback and change tracks. The LCD screen displays the title of the track being played as well as the playback time.

You can control playback with the Denon DCD-900NE CD player’s remote control or via the buttons on the front panel.

Although it is visually similar, the Denon DCD-900NE’s chassis is even more robust than that of the PMA-900NE to improve mechanical stability and eliminate vibration. The very low-noise power transformers that have been selected are perfectly stable. The playback mechanism condenses weight in the center of the device. This design, called Direct Mechanical Ground, ensures a vibration-free environment for a more accurate reproduction of the data recorded on the disc. Denon has also separated the various analog and digital circuits to reduce interference.

The Denon DCD-900NE playback mechanism condenses weight in the center of the device to reduce unwanted vibration and resonance.

The Denon DCD-900NE can play regular audio CDs, as well as CD-Rs and CD-RWs with MP3 or WMA tracks. To get the best performance with these discs, the output of the playback system uses an ES9018K2M DAC that works with the latest Advanced AL32 Processing Plus technology. This exclusive system designed by the brand can reproduce the analog waveform of the original signal for incredibly precise sound. A clock installed adjacent to the DAC perfectly synchronizes the digital circuits.

Thanks to the new Advanced AL32 Processing Plus technology, the Denon DCD-900NE CD player is able to reproduce even finer details.

The Advanced AL32 Processing Plus conversion stage is also great for playing files stored on a USB stick or hard drive plugged into the dedicated port on the Denon DCD-900NE’s front panel. It supports playback of MP3, WAV, WMA, AAC, AIFF, ALAC and FLAC files up to 24-bit/192kHz. It is also DSD 2.8 and 5.6MHz compatible. 

Regarding connectors, the Denon DCD-900NE CD player is equipped with an RCA analog output and two digital outputs: one optical and one coaxial. Consequently, it can be connected to any separate DAC or amplifier, even though it works best with the Denon PMA-900NE. The  Denon DCD-900NE CD player also features a Pure Direct playback mode. When activated, it disables the digital outputs and the display that could otherwise color the signal. The sound is then purer, more detailed and more accurate.

The Denon DCD-900NE CD player can be connected to any amp via analog or digital thanks to its RCA, optical and coaxial outputs.

Denon PMA-900NE & DCD-900NE: controls

The Denon PMA-900NE amplifier and DCD-900NE CD player can both be controlled using their respective interfaces. Each device also comes with the same model of remote control that can control all of the amp and the CD player’s functions. This means you can easily operate the system with a single remote control. Finally, the amp’s network features, such as online music service selection or access to music shared over the local network, are easily accessible from the HEOS mobile app.

The Denon PMA-900NE amplifier and Denon DCD-900NE CD player can be controlled using the same infrared remote control.

Denon PMA-900NE & DCD-900NE: listening conditions

We tested the Denon PMA-900NE amplifier and Denon DCD-900NE CD player with the Sonus Faber Lumina III floorstanding speakers, as well as the KEF R3 and Elipson Prestige Facet 8B bookshelf speakers. The latter were placed on NorStone Stylum 2 speaker stands. We connected the speakers to the amp using Viard Audio Premium HD HP speaker cables mounted with banana plugs. The two Denon devices were connected using a Viard Audio Premium HD RCA-RCA cable.

The Denon PMA-900NE amplifier and Denon DCD-900NE CD player paired with the KEF R3, Elipson Prestige Facet 8B and Sonus faber Lumina III speakers.

Denon PMA-900NE & DCD-900NE: listening impressions

Despite its modest output power of 20×50 watts into 8 ohms, the Denon PMA-900NE amplifier managed to power all of the speakers we used with ease thanks to its high current capacity. Without having to turn the volume up high, it provided a smooth, dense and energetic reproduction. We enjoyed a lot of richness throughout the entire sound spectrum, especially in the lows, which were very powerful. The bass was tight, ample and beautifully deep. The soundstage was convincingly textured, with perfectly layered sounds. The acoustic message was clear, and each instrument was distinct.

The Denon PMA-900NE amplifier offered a smooth, dense and energetic reproduction.

With ZZ Top’s song La Grange, the percussion instruments were beautifully highlighted which allowed them to stand out from the rest of the soundstage. The Denon PMA-900NE amplifier perfectly rendered the intensity of the drummer’s performance; each hit was incredibly powerful. This track also revealed the Denon amplifier’s control and refinement in the highs. The particularly delicate chords of the electric guitar were reproduced with great finesse. They were energetic and lively, without any audible distortion or harshness. 

Depending on the track, the Denon PMA-900NE amplifier presented a slight brightness in the mids, which sometimes lacked smoothness and warmth. However, this resulted in a transparent sound. The acoustic message’s multitude of details reamined audible thanks to a spacious, open and extensive soundstage. The instruments had room to breathe and unfolded very naturally in the room.

The Denon PMA-900NE amplifier delivers a spacious, open and extensive soundstage.

The Denon PMA-900NE amplifier and Denon DCD-900NE CD player worked in perfect harmony. The tiniest details were extracted from the discs with surgical precision. This duo displayed remarkable dynamic abilities and advanced analytical power. The transparency of the message attested to the excellent signal-to-noise ratio and processing implemented by Denon to combat interference. The spectral balance was perfect, with incredibly precise highs and lows that were expressed freely. Lastly, the mids unfolded naturally and effectively conveyed the emotions in the artists’ voices.

Denon PMA-900NE: compared to…

Bluesound Powernode (2021): available at the same price, this Bluesound connected amplifier differs with its more compact format, making it perfect for integration. It features an even more exhaustive network media player that is compatible with AirPlay 2 as well as a wide range of streaming services, including Qobuz. The Powersound’s output power is also more substantial, at 2×80 watts into 8 ohms. Despite this, the Denon PMA-900NE stays in the race thanks to its higher current capacity, which allows it to power many bookshelf and floorstanding speakers with ease. The lows it delivers are slightly deeper and richer, and the soundstage is also more transparent.

Technics SA-C600: also sold at €999, the Technics SA-C600 amplifier can receive music via Bluetooth, AirPlay 2 and Chromecast and can access a wealth of streaming services, such as Spotify, Tidal and Amazon Music, as well as web radios. It is differentiated by its USB DAC that allows playback of tracks up to 32-bit/384kHz, DSD 11.2MHz, and even MQA. The Denon PMA-900NE is limited to 24-bit/192kHz and DSD 5.6MHz. On the other hand, the amplification power of the Technics SA-C600 is more modest, with an output of 2 x 60W into 4 ohms, which makes it suitable for bookshelf speakers or small floorstanders.

Denon DCD-900NE: compared to…

Marantz CD-6007: available for €549, the Marantz CD-6007 CD player has very similar characteristics, with playback of standard CDs, burned discs as well as 24-bit/192kHz and 5.6MHz DSD files via its USB-A input. However, it differs with its conversion stage and HDAM-SA2 output modules, which deliver a smoother, rounder sound. The Denon DCD-900NE is more analytical and transparent. 

Denon PMA-900NE & DCD-900NE: who are they for?

The Denon PMA-900NE amplifier is an excellent all-in-one model that is just as effective for enjoying physical sources – turntable, TV, DAB/DAB+ tuner… – as well as digital music and streaming services. Thanks to its high current capacity, this Denon amplifier will bring dynamism, control and a sense of rhythm to the vast majority of bookshelf and floorstanding speakers in rooms of up to 25/30m². The Denon DCD-900NE CD player is a wonderful addition that will allow you to make the most of your CD collection. The two devices work in symbiosis thanks to very similar sound signatures and finishes.

The Denon PMA-900NE and DCD-900NE duo form a perfect system to make the most of all your sources and music.

Denon PMA-900NE & DCD-900NE: conclusion 

A real triumph, the Denon PMA-900NE amplifier manages to retain the key elements of its predecessor while adding greater versatility thanks to the integration of a network player with HEOS. The Advanced HC amplification is particularly impressive with its high power reserve, providing a dynamic, energetic sound and excellent bass reproduction. The acoustic message is delivered with a real sense of analysis and a perfect tonal balance. As usual, Denon provides a transparent, clear and pure sound. 

The Denon DCD-900NE CD player is a significant step up from the previous model with the new Advanced AL32 Processing Plus. It is now able to reveal even finer details, with a consistency that borders on perfection. The Denon DCD-900NE is remarkable for the total absence of background noise, contributing to the transparency and clarity of the soundstage. This is the reward for Denon’s many efforts on the choice of components and their internal layout.

We liked:

  • The high power reserve
  • The integrated media player
  • The transparent soundstage

We would have liked:

  • For Qobuz to have been integrated in Heos
  • Compatibility with tracks superior to 24-bit/192kHz and DSD 5.6MHz

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