Denon PMA-900HNE Integrated Network Amp – An Integrated Amp for the Masses
Denon’s release of the PMA-1700NE integrated amp had a high price tag with audiophile features. But what if you not only want a more cost-effective solution, but also one that has more modern features? Well, Denon has you covered with their $950 PMA-900HNE integrated network amp. As the name suggests, it will connect to the Internet to streaming sources. It also has other features missing from its more expensive brethren. Let’s take a closer look.
What Is an Integrated Network Amp?
We’ve talked about integrated amps before. They are essentially AV receivers with only two channels and no AM/FM capabilities. An integrated amp with network capabilities can connect to the Internet to streaming sources. With Denon, this means you can use their HEOS app to control the streaming services on your PMA-900HNE integrated network app. You can hardwire it or connect via WiFi (2.4GHz (11b/g/n) or 5GHz (11a/n/ac)).
If you don’t want to use the HEOS app, you don’t have to. You can also stream to the Denon PMA-900HNE integrated network amp directly from your device via AirPlay or Bluetooth. Spotify Connect also works natively with the unit.
The back of the Denon PMA-900HNE integrated network amp is a little fuller than the more expensive 1700NE. There are three optical inputs, a single coaxial and USB input, and four analogue inputs. Again, there are a recording loop and A/B speaker terminals. The phono input has a signal ground and can be utilized with MM or MC turntables.
Most welcome is the addition of the subwoofer pre-out. This terminal allows you to directly connect to a powered subwoofer. It is important to note that the Denon PMA-900HNE integrated network amp links the speaker A terminals to the subwoofer. If you’re using speaker B, you won’t hear any sound from your sub. It is also unclear if any crossover is available. We could find no mention of it on Denon’s website or in the user manual. It seems like the speakers get a full range signal, as does the subwoofer. Disappointing.
The Denon PMA-900HNE integrated network amp decodes a slew of audio formats (no surround formats obviously) including DSD, Flac, WAV, and more. It works with all the major voice assistants. One thing to note is that the USB port is only for FAT32 or NTFS formatted flash drives. You cannot connect it directly to a computer.
Power and HEOS
The Denon PMA-900HNE integrated network amp sports 50 watts per channel into 8 ohms – more than enough for many rooms. Speaking of rooms, HEOS integration is more than just streaming services. If you have HEOS-branded speakers or amplifiers, the Denon PMA-900HNE integrated network amp can stream to them. This allows you to create multiple zones of music, all from the HEOS app.
As the Denon PMA-900HNE integrated network amp is really targeted at audiophiles, you have to expect a few touches. There are tone controls on the front (Bass, Treble, Balance) that can’t be adjusted from the remote. There is a Source Direct mode to bypass these controls. Missing is the Ext. In. input for turning the PMA-900HNE into an amp that was present on the 1700NE. Also missing is the Analog Mode for turning off the digital connections.
Audiophiles don’t value room correction or bass management and these are both lacking here. We really would have liked to have seen some sort of Audyssey integration. Even a manual EQ would be a step in the right direction.
While still more than many budget AV receivers, the Denon PMA-900HNE integrated network amp at least has enough features at a reasonable price point. If you are looking for a fairly full-featured integrated amp, the PMA-900HNE is a decent choice. Shipping July, 2022.
For more information, visit Denon.com.