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Review: Denon PMA-50 amplifier and DCD-50 CD player

DCD-50 CD player Denon PMA-50
Denon released two compact hi-fi components in the form of the Denon DCD-50 CD player and the Denon PMA-50 amplifier. In this review we look extensively at the performance and possibilities of this stereo system.
4.4/5 - (287 votes)

It’s almost a year since Denon released two compact hi-fi components in the form of the Denon DCD-50 CD player and the Denon PMA-50 amplifier. In this review we look extensively at the performance and possibilities of this stereo system.

Introduction

The Denon DCD-50 and PMA-50 are two components that are perfectly matched. Not only in terms of interior but also in terms of design. Both devices have a very nice and modern look, with a compact and minimalist housing. The front has a glossy black finish, the upper and lower side is made of aluminum and the square LED display shows the most important information.

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Denon’s commitment to flexibility can be deduced from the fact that both devices can be placed both vertically and horizontally. You can simply move the legs to the short side and install the system optimally in your room.

We use the Definitive Studio Monitor 45 for testing both devices.

Denon DCD-50 specifications

The Denon DCD-50 has a slot-in DCD drive that is suitable for both audio CDs and discs with MP3/WMA files. Once connected to the PMA-50, complete digital signal processing and the original Denon sound technologies used in the amplifier, such as AL32 Processing and DAC Master Clock Design. Remote control is included that can also be used for the PMA-50. The DCD-50 can now be bought for 349 euros.

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Denon DCD-50 performance

No Spotify, no bluetooth, no NAS, but a CD. It’s been a while since we played with a CD but the DCD-50 forces us to try again. We’re going to finish the whole tune; from traditional Dutch music from the 90s to Norah Jones. And actually the DCD-50 does not let anything fall. The player plays CDs in exactly the way that we will see again; with sufficient body, warmth and detail. Even the more solid beats are convincingly put down, with quite some dynamics and color. This CD player is a real all-rounder; a great device that will honor your CD collection.

Denon PMA-50 specifications

The PMA-50 amplifier system offers 50W at 4 ohms. A subwoofer pre-out is available to add more bass to the sound. There are multiple digital inputs (2 optical and 1 coaxial) for compatibility with digital audio sources, along with an analogue stereo input for existing analog sources. Using the latest high-resolution audio sources is possible thanks to the USB-B connection with a PC or Mac, to play PCM and DSD audio tracks. Support is provided for PCM tracks up to 24-bit / 192-kHz and 2.8 MHz and 5.6 MHz DSD tracks.

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The PMA-50 is equipped with NFC (Near Field Communication) for faster pairing when Bluetooth streaming is selected. To be used with a wide range of headphone types, the PMA-50 is equipped with an adjustable control of the headphone impedance. There are three settings, a low, medium and high impedance, which offer a correct tuning between the headphone impedance and the gain of the amplifier. The included remote control is equipped with a cursor pad, source selection and volume control, settings menu and Back buttons, Bluetooth button and a display dimmer button. The PMA-50 can now be bought for 399 euros.

Denon PMA-50 performance

The amplifier part is the PMA-50, a device with the same design but with of course more possibilities. So we see the USB port back, various audio connections and the Bluetooth functionality. In terms of appearance it is a perfectly fitting set, but also in terms of audio the devices play very well together.

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The Bluetooth connection is made within seconds and streaming can begin. In this case, we used Spotify to stream our favorite music to the PMA-50. The connection proved to be stable and even from another room it was easy to transfer music to the amplifier. Although Bluetooth does not always appeal to us, the PMA-50 does not disappoint. This way, our up-tempo playlist is also displayed dynamically and powerfully. The amplifier fills the room despite the ‘only’ 50 Watt and creates a wide and lively audio image.

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Since streaming via high-res streaming services or your own home network is not an option, we have connected the PMA-50 via USB to our computer. High-res audio should and should be tested. In this area expectations were high and fortunately there was also met. The Beatles in flac and dsd format and Norah Jones in dsd format; a rich audio reproduction, with subtle details, a clean view, nice bass and sufficient warmth. In short; an almost perfect picture.

Conclusion

All in all, there is really little to complain about the Denon DCD-50 and PMA-50. In terms of appearance, they will be out of place in few living rooms, and attention has been paid to this. But, it’s mainly about what’s under the hood. For those who are looking for a simple system that offers good quality for both your CD collection and your digital files (or streaming services), this combination is an absolute must. However, the system is no longer up-to-date, and we mainly focus on the lack of direct integration of streaming services and your own home network (DLNA / NAS). You can handle this with Bluetooth, but that has its disadvantages. All in all, the DCD-50 and PMA-50 are very good stereo components for a nice stereo system in, for example, the living room.

Cons

  • No support streaming services and home network
  • Letters on LED screen are rather small
  • Price can be a letdown

Pros

  • Very good and convincing audio reproduction
  • Sleek and compact design
  • User friendly

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