A stereo amplifier is one important part of sound system if you want a powerful and fulfilling audio performance. The Denon PMA 800ne and Yamaha A-S501 are both high performing 2 channel stereo amplifiers. In this article, we will be looking at the differences between these two to determine which one is the better option for your sound system.
Differences of Denon PMA 800ne and Yamaha A-S501
Let’s look at the differences between the two amplifiers. The table below compares the specifications of the Denon PMA 800ne and Yamaha A-S501 amplifier.
Design and build quality
Both of the stereo amplifiers include two channels and have a modern design. When we compare their weights, the Yamaha A-S501 is a bit heavier and larger in size than the Denon PMA 800ne. Both amplifiers are available in silver and black color options. Whilst Denon follows a basic amplifier design like most, with the control knob at the middle and other buttons placed as in the traditional amps, the Yamaha amplifier is a bit more modern and incorporates TOP Art (Total Purity Audio Reproduction Technology) technology which includes the finest quality materials in the construction of the amplifier. Yamaha A-S501 also has an ART (Anti-Resonance and Tough) Base which makes it very durable and tough. On the other hand, the 800ne incorporates a 1.6 mm steel plate in its transformer for a vibration resistant design. Whilst the Denon PMA 800ne has a nice design, the minimal outlook in the Yamaha amp looks certainly more sophisticated.
At the front of the amplifier is the control panel. Common controls for both the amplifiers include the volume control; input selector; bass, treble and balance adjustments; and power button. Additionally, in Yamaha A-S501 is the PureDirect mode which causes the music signals to travel with the least possible distance to eliminate any distortion in the audio. Both amps include remote controls.
Both amps have a number of connectivity options. The Denon PMA 800 ne has 3 optical and 1 coaxial digital audio inputs, stereo RCA phono input, 4 stereo RCA line-level inputs and stereo RCA audio outputs for recording. The Yamaha A-S501 includes six analog stereo (RCA) inputs, two pairs of RCA recording outputs, subwoofer output and two pairs of gold-plated binding-post speaker connectors with front-panel switching. The Yamaha amplifier also has a USB port.
When we compare the audio specifications of both the two channel stereo amplifiers, we see that the Yamaha A-S501 is much better. It is able to provide a more powerful audio response at a greater frequency range. However, Denon PMA 800ne has one advantage over its competitor- it has a greater signal to noise ratio. Nevertheless, in terms of audio performance the Yamaha A-S501 is definitely better.
Denon PMA 800ne
The Denon PMA 800ne is a high quality amplifier that offers both analog and digital support with its streamlined components and high power performance.
Inside the package
The contents of the box are the integrated amplifier, a remote control with two AAA batteries and other instructions such as owner’s manual on CD-ROM, quick start guide, safety instructions and warranty information.
The amplifier has a classy and sleek look with its matte black textured surface. The amplifier is available in two different color variations- black and white. Both models look aesthetic but we can’t deny that the black one would look elegant in any kind of interior. The amplifier is quite compact in size, making it easily portable. It has rounded edges that are brushed well for a smooth and sleek look.
The front of the Denon PMA 800ne amplifier includes a control panel with buttons, indicators and knobs. At one side of the panel is the logo “denon” written in white bold letters. The silver control knobs are shiny and have textured design for better functionality. The back of the 800ne includes a wide range of ports for connectivity. The amplifier stands on two shiny metallic feet.
Denon PMA 800ne has an impressive build quality. It is composed of high quality steel and brushed with a coating of vinyl both for protective functionality and an aesthetic look. The amplifier uses a vibration-resistant design that incorporates Direct Mechanical Ground Construction. This feature helps to reduce audio resonance and thus maintain a standard of sound quality. Vibration may be an issue for amplifiers, and their inability to handle this form of interference has harmed several high-quality amplifiers. Denon reduces this risk of vibration by incorporating a large power transformer that is fitted with a 1.6mm-thick steel plate. This steel plate helps to suppress vibration that is created by transformer and it eliminates any other external vibration that comes towards the transformer. The overall effect of this is crystal clear audio reproduction with very low interference.
Moreover, the power transformer includes separated coiled wires setting apart high-resolution audio circuits and control circuits. The amp includes an integrated micro-processor which features a stop mode for better sound quality. This protection circuitry feature ensures damage to devices is eliminated if there is short circuit as a results of overload, excess voltage, or over temperature.
All the controls of the Denon PMA 800ne can be found at the front panel of the amplifier. Although the 800ne does not include a digital screen for control, there are some pretty useful buttons and knobs for adjusting the amp. Like most amps, there is a power button and a volume knob. A power indicator just about the power button indicates the status of the amplifier: it lights up green when the amplifier is on and red when the protection circuit is activated. The control panel also includes an Analogue mode button and an LED light indicator just above it lights up green when it is activated. The source direct button can be pressed to enable or disable the source direct mode. When this option is enabled, the audio signal does not pass through the tone adjustment circuitry. Just about the source direct button is an indicator which lights up green when the source direct mode is switched on. There is also a Digital IN indicator which lights up according to the status of the digital audio signals that are input to the digital audio input terminals on the amplifier. When playback is supported on the amp, it lights up green. There is a control knob for Bass, Treble, & Balance control. Bass (100Hz) and Treble (10kHz) can be adjusted from -8dB to +8dB.
There includes an IR remote control that can be used to operate both the amp and Denon CD players and network audio players. The remote features some basic function buttons such as Power, Input, and Volume control for the amplifier. There are also playback control options for Denon CD players and network audio players.
The rear panel houses a number of connectivity options and ports. The amp supports multiple connections across different platforms. It includes three optical inputs (TOSOLINK) and an extra coaxial (RCA) digital inputs, supporting up to 24bit/192kHz PCM. The RCA inputs are labelled CD”, “Network”, “Aux”, and “Recorder”. There are A & B speaker terminals which provide connections of up to two pair of loudspeakers or bi-wiring a single pair of loudspeakers. These terminals include binding posts that are compatible with banana plugs, bare wires and pin connectors. Loudspeakers of 4 to 16-ohm impedance can be used when connecting only one pair of speakers; 8 to 16-ohm impedance when connecting two pair of speakers and 4 to 16-ohm impedance when bi-wiring one set of speakers using both A & B speaker terminals. The Denon PMA-800NE has a front-panel 1/4″ headphone port for plugging in a pair of headphones. The amplifier’s speaker outputs are not immediately turned off when headphones are connected. When using headphones, you’ll need to manually switch off the speaker output. Using the integrated amplifiers stereo line-level RCA outputs audio signals can be output to an external recording device. There is also a power cord input.
Its digital inputs are optimized for Blu-ray, televisions, media players, and other digital sources. Turntables, headphones, and line-level recorder outputs all function nicely with the system. It also supports analog audio and has been modified to reduce interference from analog audio sources. It has Bluetooth connectivity and is well-suited for outdoor use, as do most modern options.
Denon PMA 800ne is a powerful amplifier that offers delivers up to 85 watts in 4-ohm speakers and 50 watts in 8ohm channels. It includes an Advanced High Current (AHC) feature which helps it to deliver precise and clear sound with power. The amplifier uses a 24-bit/192kHz DAC for high-resolution audio playback; supporting 16- or 24-bit Linear PCM with a sampling frequency of 32, 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, or 192 kHz. Although the soundstage might not have a wow factor to it, the area that these amplifiers shine on is definitely the clarity of the audio.
Signal Level Divided Construction (SLDC)
The Denon amplifier is designed to have a signal level divided construction chassis that ensures high quality audio with fully amplified music signals.
There is a Stop-Mode included in the micro-processor that stops all operations of the micro-processor when the amplifier is not required to be in use. This feature also ensures that the audio signal is protected from external noise through the stoppage of oscillation of microprocessor clock during playback. The overall result is enhanced audio quality.
Phono Equalizer (MM or MC)
Connecting turntable for vinyl enthusiasts is made easier with the Denon PMA 800 ne amp, which includes a built-in phono stage with support for both MM and MC cartridge. Usually most circuit board patterns have loops that affect the audio quality of the amplifier but the phono equalizer in the PMA 800ne with high gain has a simple and straightforward design that improves sound performance to a great extent. The button on the front panel can be used to switch between an MM or MC turntable cartridge.
The amplifier offers the flexibility of being powered entirely as an analogue device. All operations of the digital input circuitry are stopped when Analogue mode is enabled.
- Auto Standby
The amplifier enters standby mode automatically when it has been inactive for 30 minutes to ensure the conservation of power and energy.
Advantages of using the amplifier
These are some of the reasons why you should get the Denon PMA 800ne amplifier:
- Denon PMA 800ne has a sleek and sophisticated design with a Signal level divided construction for high quality audio production.
- The amplifier is capable of delivering 50 watts of power per channel with an impedance of 8 ohms
- A lot of controls are available in the control panel for ease of use. A remote control is also provided with the amplifier that can be used to control other Denon devices as well
- There are versatile connectivity options in the amplifier, with three optical digital inputs and stereo RCA signal outputs for recording
- The PMA 800ne features built-in phono pre-amp and DAC which makes connecting turntable quite efficient and convenient
- A stop mode if included with the microprocessor to save power and conserve energy
Reasons to avoid purchasing the amplifier
Before getting the Denon PMS 800ne, here are some points that you should consider giving a thought:
- Denon PMA 800ne does not offer HDMI capability.
- The midrange audio could use some improvement.
- The binding posts and AC cord on the amplifier could have been of better quality
The Yamaha A-S501 is designed with upgraded components and customized circuitry for a high current and efficient audio performance.
What’s inside the box?
Inside the box is the Yamaha A-S501 stereo amplifier and a remote control along with 2 “AA” batteries. Apart from this, there are other information such as the owner’s manual, product and warrantee information.
The Yamaha A-S501 gives off a futuristic vibe with its sleek and shiny exterior. It is available in two colors- black and white and has a shiny surface that reflects off light. The amplifier is quite large and heavy, weighing at about 10 kilograms. It includes a thick aluminum faceplate along with a bunch of other controls and a rotary dial that are positioned at the middle of the front panel. At the back there is much room for a variety of input and output ports.
Yamaha incorporated a lot proprietary technologies in the construction of the A S501. One of these is the ToP-ART Design. This design features an I/O (input to output) Direct Symmetrical Design which means that the left and right channels are put in a symmetrical and organized placement for maximum efficiency in audio signal transmission and minimum noise and distortion. Influenced by Yamaha’s Hi-Fi devices, the S501 follows a similar simple and sophisticated front panel design. The control knobs and buttons are easy to adjust and the entire front panel is coated with a richly textured silver hairline finish. Both the black and white model looks beautiful but in my opinion, the white model stands out with pure elegance.
The A-S501 is a long lasting product, with robust build quality. This Yamaha amplifier ensures that only the finest of materials are used in its construction. The amplifier is made up of steel and aluminum, a material which is very strong and can withstand force. The control knobs and buttons used in the Yamaha A-S501 are built to last and they function without much hassle. In addition to the ToP-ART Design, the amplifier is also labelled to be ART, which means Anti-Resonance and Tough. The base of the Yamaha amplifier has a tough bottom chassis and a solid center bar which is extremely rigid. This design helps to support the amplifier in its two feet and gives it strength to reduce vibration damping.
The power transformer and block capacitors used in the amplifier are custom made by Yamaha using good quality materials. The amplifier also includes two direct signal path speaker relays, an optimized circuit and one-point grounding system. The top surface of the Yamaha A-S501 includes aluminum-extruded heat sinks which are huge cooling vents, all supported by internal central bar which is kept in place by screws near the front panel. Yamaha uses carefully selected and tested parts for the construction of the amp, and this is further reflected in the audio performance.
The front of the Yamaha A-S501 includes a control panel that houses all the buttons and control knobs for making adjustments. At the right of the panel is a big volume dial that is textured and a much smaller rotary dial for source selection. The input selector can be adjusted to select the source input the user wants to listen to. There are LED indicators surrounding the source selection dial which illuminates the source that has been selected. Although the volume control might seem mostly mechanized, it is also electronic in the sense that is it a resistor-ladder type control with resistors switched in and out of circuit. This type of variable loudness control helps to adjust the balance of the low- and high- frequency range audio. The result is full tonal clarity at any volume level, less crosstalk and better audio accuracy. At the middle of the control panel is the Yamaha amplifier are four large vertical dials for bass, treble, balance and variable loudness. The bass and treble dials allow control in the range of -10 dB to +10 dB. The balance control can be used to adjust the sound output balance of left and right speakers to compensate for sound imbalances. The loudness control is used to retain a full tonal range at any volume and it compensates for the natural loss of human ear frequencies in low and high region. There is a CD direct amp button that can be pressed to reproduce CD sound in the highest signal quality and an indicator above it lights up when the function is enabled. A PURE direct button can be used to reproduce any input source in the purest sound possible. This feature causes the music signals to travel the shortest possible circuit route and remove any signal degradation.
A remote control is included with the system which can be used for easy-to-understand one-hand operation. The remote control can also be used by Yamaha CD/SACD player.
The back of the amplifier includes a variety of different ports for versatile connectivity options. The first one is the permanently attached power cable which is a bit of a downside since it makes installing and removing equipment difficult. The Yamaha amplifier offers both offers analog & digital inputs connections. All of the input and output terminals are gold plated. Covering these terminals with a layer of gold helps to ensure high level connectivity and helps prevent any loss in connection. In the middle of the back portion, there is the built-in DAC input, along with a DC input for Yamaha accessories. The DAC is an optical and a single coaxial input. This can be used for TV and a blu-ray player. The Tamaha A-S501 includes six analog stereo (RCA) inputs which can be used to connect external analog audio sources as well as turntable. There is also a phono input with a ground terminal which is used to connect to a turntable with an MM phono cartridge when you want to play a vinyl record. This works with a majority of moving magnet cartridges as cartridge loading is fixed at 47K ohms, 220PF. The phono stage is not that sensitive, it is distortion free and sounds great.
Yamaha A-S501 is an amplifier that features both optical (toslink) and coaxial (RCA) digital audio inputs. These inputs will accept 2ch PCM (not Dolby Digital/DTS). Apart from this, there are two pair of RCA outputs which can be used to record audio through the A-S501 to recording device. The A & B speaker terminals include binding posts and can be used to bi- wire a single pair of speakers that are compatible. There is a subwoofer output terminal and l 1/4″ headphone output as well. There is also an impedance selector switch and a switch to enable or disable the automatic standby feature.
The Yamaha A-S501 is capable of delivering 85 watts of power per channel, into 8ohms. The amplifier includes an anti-resonance chassis integrated with a symmetrical circuit structure which helps it to deliver high power performance that is free of distortion and interference. It has a clean presentation with an exciting bass response. The low end is soft and detailed. Although it lacks control in the low end, the midrange sounds excellent. The amplifier offers a three dimensional soundstage that is very coherent and is able to deliver the stereo separation with ease.
High Current Amplifier
Rated at 85 Watts x 2-channels, the Yamaha A-S501 delivers audio in the frequency range measured from 20-20 kHz into 8Ω with 0.019% THD.
Pure Direct Mode
This is a feature that ensures the music is delivered with purity, with the signals travelling in the short possible circuit route to eliminate any external disturbances in the audio.
Variable Loudness Control
There is an analog loudness control that incorporates electronic volume for higher audio quality found at the front panel of the Yamaha amplifier.
Auto Power Standby
Yamaha A-S501 features a power management function which allows it to detect when the amplifier hasn’t been in use for a long time so that it can automatically shift to power saving mode.
Gold plated terminals
There are a lot of connectivity ports and terminals found at the back of the Yamaha A-S501. The terminals are gold plated so that the audio can flow smoothly without facing signal loss.
Custom made power transformer
The amp features a transformer that is custom made and it includes 12,000 µF block capacitors along with extruded aluminum heat sinks all made with high quality parts for greater audio efficiency.
Reasons for buying the Yamaha A-S501
- The amplifier has a unique look that goes with the aesthetics of most interiors.
- High quality components are used in the construction of the Yamaha A-S501 for the best possible audio response.
- The Yamaha amplifier is able to deliver spacious and detailed sound with high power.
- Yamaha A-S501 includes a lot of useful features that make listening easy and hassle-free.
- It includes a lot of control options and also has a remote control for hands-free control of the amp.
Reasons to avoid the Yamaha A-S501
- The balance knob can be a little faulty at times and need to be fixed.
Let’s look at a few other amplifiers that are similar to the ones we reviewed:
1) Amazon Echo Link Amplifier
This is a built-in 60W x 2-channel amp that offers great quality audio response at an affordable price range. The Amazon Echo Link amp has voice control options that allow the user to control music by dialogue with their compatible Echo device or the Alexa app. This is an exciting amplifier that offers playback from streaming services such as Amazon Music HD. Although the amp does not support TV/ video connections, it supports casting to multi-room music from a line-in input, such as an amplified turntable or CD player. The amp includes 1 analogue RCA input, 1 Digital coaxial RCA and 1 optical tosolink input. Similarly, there are RCA and subwoofer outputs, both digital and analogue.
2) Sony STR-DH190
The Sony STR-DH190 is a 90 W x 2 channel amplifier that delivers audio with detail and clarity. It has a reinforced chassis design with rigid heat sink that helps to reduce vibration that is transmitted from speaker to provide a powerful and focused sound. Apart from the many different controls found in the amp, one of the most useful control is the Tone control which allows the user to adjust the bass and treble levels, thus customizing the audio quality according to their liking. One important feature of the amp is that it includes built-in 4.2 Bluetooth for wireless streaming of audio. Although the STR-DH190 can be paired with multiple devices, it allows playback one device at a time. It includes 30 FM radio presets and a remote control. There are 4 stereo RCA audio line-level inputs, a dedicated phono input for connecting a turntable and 3.5mm stereo aux input for versatile connectivity.
3) Sonos Amp
The Sonos Amp is a 125W x 2 channel amplifier which includes a number of useful feature for a convenient audio listening experience. The amplifier has a state-of-the-art Class D design that allows it to pump 125 watts of power per channel into 8Ω. This amplifier can be used for a variety of applications- it can be used with loudspeakers, TV, home theater speaker and multiroom audio systems. Sonos amp includes features such as Sonace by Sonance and Trueplay Tuning to stream music from a number of streaming platforms. The amp has auto-detecting mono RCA subwoofer output, HDMI arc, analogue stereo input and 2-port Ethernet switch. It has an optional voice control and can be connected wirelessly with Wi-Fi.
4) Pioneer SX-10AE
The Pioneer SX-10AE is an affordable Bluetooth 2 channel amplifier that delivers a convenient audio experience. Its chassis been designed with a rigid structure that incorporates clean grounding and ensures shorter transmission path, resulting in improved damping. The highlight of this amp is the built in 4.2 Bluetooth that allows user to stream music wirelessly from smartphones and tablets. The amp includes four analog RCA inputs and also provides support for turntables with built-in phono. SX-10AE includes automatic tuning feature and also a standby feature that helps to save power. The amplifier has a powerful and clean audio response which is full of energy.
Yamaha and Denon are both well-known companies that produce great quality audio products. Both Denon PMA 800ne and Yamaha A-S501 are great choices of stereo amplifiers if you are looking for powering up your audio devices. However, when compared, the Yamaha A-S501 definitely stands out. It not only performs better but also has additional convenient features such as USB ports and subwoofer outputs.