Stereo Receivers

Denon PMA-1700NE Integrated Amp – Audiophile Features, Audiophile Price

Audiophiles rejoice! Denon has released a new integrated amplifier. The PMA-1700NE has all the bells and whistles that one might want out of a stereo device. Of course, since Denon expects to sell far fewer integrated amps than they do receivers, the price tag is much higher. At $2100 a pop, the Denon PMA-1700NE will only really appeal to those that honestly believe that an integrated amp will outperform a surround receiver. To ensure that this crowd is happy, they’ve included (and excluded) a lot of features. Let’s take a closer look.

Connections and Power

Lots of outlets are reporting that the Denon PMA-1700NE integrated amp has 140 watts per channel. That’s technically true and is how Denon is marketing the PMA-1700NE. What they aren’t telling you is that it is 140 watts into 4 ohms. If you want to compare apples to apples, the Denon PMA-1700NE integrated amp has 70 watts into 8 ohms (which is how just about every other amplifier is rated). While this should be more than enough power for most speakers in most rooms, it doesn’t sound nearly as impressive as the 140 number.

The PMA-1700NE has both digital and analogue connections. It sports a single coaxial and USB input, dual optical inputs, and four analogue RCA inputs. There is a recording loop (an RCA output) as well. IR in and out ports allow you to control the unit direction rather than using the IR receiver on the front. There is a phono input with a signal ground that supports MM and MC connections. You select between the two with a button on the front.

There one last connection is the EXT. PRE input. This allows you to connect an outboard Pre-Amplifier and use the Denon PMA-1700NE integrated amp as a simple amplifier. There are A and B speaker terminals that can be used for bi-wiring speakers if you like. Or switching between two different pairs of speakers.

What’s Missing

As you might expect, there is no HDMI support here. The digital inputs (optical and coaxial) can accept only linear PCM. The USB input can accept DSD as well. But they can’t decode and downmix any of the surround formats. It also doesn’t support MQA for those that care.

The real glaring omissions are the lack of room correction and bass management. While much of the two-channel crowd may not value room correction, Audyssey has been a longtime partner with Denon. It seems a shame to not find it here.

Similarly, the Denon PMA-1700NE integrated amp has no way of adding a subwoofer. This means if you want to add a subwoofer, you’ll need one that can do the bass management for you. Obviously, Denon thinks owners of the PMA-1700NE will either be running full-range speakers (or at least speakers that they think are full-range) or just won’t be interested in a subwoofer.

Pictured: Not full-range speakers

Audiophile Touches

There are a lot of little audiophile touches with the Denon PMA-1700NE integrated amp. The stylings are certainly a nod to a cleaner look with lots of knobs and buttons but very little real estate given to the digital display. Many of the controls on the front cannot be accessed from the remote. The tone controls, for example, can only be set by the knobs.

For those that are looking for the least adulterated sound, there are the Analog Mode and Source Direct. With Source Direct, all the internal tone controls (Bass, Treble, and Balance) are bypassed. With Analog Mode, there are two options. Analog Mode 1 will depower the internal digital input circuitry. Analog Mode 2 will do that as well as depower the digital display. The Analog Mode is meant to, in Denon’s words, stop “sound quality being affected by noise that occurs from the digital control circuit.” We have no idea how noisy a digital circuit could be, but we’d love to see some measurements that could show that this noise would be audible.

Take Away

There is a reason we often recommend that people buy an AV receiver even when they aren’t planning on running a full surround sound speaker system. The price of these niche products is just so much higher. Of course, it is economies of scale. They sell a lot of AV receivers, so they can make them for a lot less money. Sure, you get a bunch of features you don’t need, but you are paying less than you would for something like the Denon PMA-1700NE integrated amp. But if what you really want is just two channels and no room correction, get your $2100 ready. Ships in June, 2022.

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