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Denon PMA-1500AE Manual

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Comments to date: 2. Page 1 of 1. Average Rating:
Martin the Dane 11:58pm on Saturday, July 17th, 2010 
Splendid dedicated cd player, competes in the "best for less than a grand" category with ease, a massive improvement over the £200 pack.
claire.chauvet 2:26pm on Saturday, April 3rd, 2010 
Allround excellent performer, with solid build quality The tray will stay open if you power off with it open. Sound ; hard to fault. Detailed and extended Very slow to read disc and start playing (~10s). Control buttons a bit small It clearly and unobtrusively makes avaiable all that is in the recording. In otherwords you listen to the music and not the equipment.

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AudioEnz - Denon DCD-1500AE CD/SACD Player and PMA 1500



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Denon DCD-1500AE CD/SACD Player and PMA 1500

By Brent Burmester

April 2006
Current reviews Opinion Music reviews KnowledgeBase Acrobat files
Denon DCD-1500AE CD/SACD player ($1799) and PMA-1500 amplifier ($2299)



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You have to hand it to Denon of Japan for continuing to expend effort on two-channel audio when so many manufacturers have been distracted by multichannel applications. Denon have always been a name to respect in the stereo game, though in my experience value for money in Denon gear is at the expensive end in their digital sources and the cheap end for their amplifiers. In order to foil me, I've been commissioned to review two solid middle rankers in Denon's current two-channel line up.

The performers (1 of 3)06.04.2006 20:54:08
I'll start by telling you this pair consists of the strictly stereo DCD-1500AE CD/SACD player, a couple of steps down from the range-topping DCD-SA1, and the 70-watt per channel PMA1500AE. They look like they play for the same team, finished in brushed silver and similarly dimensioned from the front. Their faceplates feature a horizontal swell that is certainly distinctive, although it gives the units a strangely old-fashioned look. I wasn't too excited about the rotary input selector switch on the PMA-1500AE: it indicates position with a rotating light that only makes sense if you're looking squarely at the knob. Other than that it's nicely put together and well equipped. It is amply provisioned for inputs, including two tape loops and a decent phono-stage. There are tone controls, but unless your system is somehow amiss, bypass these with the 'source direct' switch for a purer sound.

The performance

Source and amp don't just look good together. They are impressive in terms of timing and drive, and detail levels are also noteworthy. In terms of revelation, I didn't find new instrumental lines rising from the mix, but the spatial placement of instruments and voices stood out as well above average. This was true not only in the case of SACD playback, where a more palpable sense of air around performers is to be expected, but even in CD playback. This suggests the latest incarnation of Denon's proprietary 'Alpha' signal processing is still up to snuff. My only concern is that I couldn't shake the slight tilt toward the upper frequencies. It's not that the system won't do bass, indeed all the thumping and throbbing seems present and accounted for. Rather it's as though the bass is set to 100 and the treble to 101. I lay this quirk at the doorstep of the CD player, which is extremely competent, but invests just a smidgeon too much energy to high frequencies. This might be a Japanese thing, as there seems to be a cultural preference for zing over there. I recall the European designed Denon stuff of a decade ago had a more neutral balance, and that is retained in the amp. For its part, the PMA-1500AE plays not only with neutrality, but goes nice and loud unfazed by the multi-tracked madness of the big finale on Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells 3 with the volume knob set at 12 o'clock. It's a very competent machine, devoid of serious foibles.


If pushed, I'd maintain the DCD-1500AE is a better CD player than it is an SACD player. I say this on the assumption that the SACD format offers improvements across the board (well, it should), although I confess I've yet to be sold on the format. When played on the 1500AE spinner, the improvements are only partial: things may sound different, but not necessarily better. However, this player won't be bought on the strength of its CD playback skills, good though they are, rather it's potential to play the higher spec'd format that will draw (2 of 3)06.04.2006 20:54:08
credit cards from their leathery dens. The 1500AE pairing perfectly demonstrate Denon's long experience in the hi-fi stereo game. These products are entirely worth their asking prices, without giving away the farm. If carefully partnered with speakers and cables, the source will prove a fine CD player and a more than adequate SACD spinner. The amplifier is a subtle charmer, but it faces strong competition, and some have more obvious virtues, such as power output, or upgradability. I'd go for this duo if equipment-rack presence ran a close second to sound-quality on my shopping list, and I didn't want to be left high and dry if the world suddenly decides the future is SACD.
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Tell us what you think about this article. Email your comments. Talk about this article on the AudioEnz Forums. Contents are copyright to AudioEnz. All rights reserved. (3 of 3)06.04.2006 20:54:08


Stereo is dead, long live stereo
egular readers will remember what reviewing colleague William Kelly had to say about a Denon SACD player he had a listen to a while ago, and some may even remember the furore that followed his comments. Those that were offended by his views can rest assured that Im not going to claim that the DCD 1500 AE SACD player performs so well that it renders turntables obsolete, although as youll see later it does deliver a musical performance. Besides, Denon itself sees merit in vinyl. If they didnt, they wouldnt have equipped the PMA 1500 AE integrated amplifier with a phono input that could be set to suit both moving coil and moving magnet cartridges. What I will say, is that what Denon has done with this duo, is to deliver a pair of components that have been designed to do one thing well, with this being the reproduction of stereo music. In order for any component to deliver a good overall performance, it has to start from a solid foundation.And in the case of these Denon components, this foundation begins with the use of solid and good looking cases and chassis, and it continues through the use of numerous beefy power supplies, quality components, and circuit designs based on those used in far pricier models. Space restrictions mean that I cant really go into details on the specific design criteria and technologies applied to both the SACD player or the amplifier, but I must add that that the amplifier uses what Denon calls UHC (Ultra High Current)-MOS technology that utilises a minimum number of highcurrent amplifier elements.This is claimed to endow the amplifier with the capability to drive difficult speaker loads, and the fact that the amp will double its power when presented with a 4 ohm speaker load does seem to back the claims up. Purists will also appreciate the fact that you can bypass the amplifiers bass and treble circuitry. Design highlights in the DCD 1500 AE include AL24 Processing, an analog waveform reproduction technology developed by Denon to reduce quantitative noise, the use of an extremely simple configuration that uses only a pure analog FIR filter in the output




PMA 1500 AE Power output.70 watts per channel @ 8 ohm Frequency response.Up to 100 kHz Signal-to-noise ratio.Line in 108 dB, Phono in 89 dB MM. 74 dB MC Inputs.Tape 1 and 2, Phono, DVD,Tuner, CD, Pre-amp direct in Outputs.Tape 1 and 2, Pre out. DCD 1500 AE Digital conversion.SACD/CD Frequency response..2 Hz 100 kHz (SACD)..2 Hz 20 kHz (CD) Signal-to-noise ratio.104/110 dB Outputs..Stereo analogue out, optical and coaxial digital out for CD. PRICE PMA 1500 AE..RDCD 1500 AE..RVERDICT The Denon duo comes as a breath of fresh air in a congested world of surround sound:While not exactly budget items, their value lies in their focused performance that made music good to listen to. SUPPLIED BY Mandarin Distributors 011-444-8445
stage of the D/A converter and the fact that the DCD-1500AE uses the DAC as a master to supply clock signals to the various devices and to ensure highly reliable oscillation accuracy and reduced jitter. As is my wont I listened to each component individually before listening to them together. As a stereo amplifier, the PMA 1500 AE proved to be a good amplifier to listen to, with its overriding signature being one of warmth coupled to good detail and pace. The amplifier was generally more than capable of driving the numerous pairs of speakers that it was tasked with driving during the review period.The PMA 1500 AE was also generally more than capable of delivering the sale and pace of the music it was being asked to amplify, although there were a few occasions where I felt that the amplifier did run out of steam just a little. I thought that there was a slight improvement in overall fidelity, and that the soundstage was a little more open and three-dimensional when the amplifiers bass and treble filters were bypassed. The benefits of using a player whose sole purpose was to play stereo music became clear from virtually the first note that was sent from

the output circuitry of the DCD 1500 AE. Music was more involving to listen to, it was more detailed and was presented with more depth and width than less audio-focused players could muster.As with its amplifier counterpart, I felt that there were subtle improvements to the overall sonic picture when its direct mode was selected. As a duo, the pair complemented each other rather well, and apart from delivering music that had my feet tapping, they looked good too.The fact that the amplifiers remote control was equipped with SACD player controls also meant that changing tracks or volume could be accomplished on one device. While both the amplifier and the SACD player delivered the goods, if I was forced to choose just one as an upgrade to an existing system, I would probably opt for the DCD 1500 AE. Its sonic capability and ability to play CD and SACD impressed me. Did it impress me enough to give up vinyl? I never compared the two analogue and digital audio directly, but as the PMA 1500 AE was equipped with its Phono Input, this could be an interesting comparison. William are you keen?

Joel Kopping





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