Over the last few years, I’d say the budget separate hi-fi amplifier market has streamlined itself a bit.
What tends to be the case, from my experience anyway, is the amplifiers that are released now tend to have something about them and really excel. Onkyo redefined the sub £300 market with its brilliant A9010 back in 2015. Hoping to build on its massive success we have the latest release from Onkyo, the A9150.
At first glance, it’s very similar to the A9010. The front panel looks exactly the same except for one noticeable difference. The size and weight. With dimensions of 435 x 139 x 331 mm and weighing 9.2kg, it’s definitely a heavier and meatier looking amp and hopefully, that will tell in the performance.
Before we have a listen, let’s first of all see what we can actually plug into this beast.
There are 4 RCA inputs and an MM/MC phono input. All of which are gold plated I must add. There are dual optical and coaxial inputs giving you maximum flexibility and this enabling you to use the A9150 as a hub for all your sonic needs. Throw in a standard 3.5mm input on the front and you shouldn’t have any connection issues whatsoever. One thing I should mention first, with regards to the fore mentioned digital inputs, is the addition of a high-quality 32bit/768 kHz DAC (digital to analogue converter). This should give the digital sources a smooth and encapsulating sound.
I’m going to use the award winning Cambridge CXC transport as my source. It’s a fantastic CD player and will really show us how good the DAC really is.
I’m feeling a bit nostalgic so I put some fast paced Blink 182 on and I’m good to go. With the quoted power of up to 60 watts per channel (at 4 ohms), I want to see how cranking up the volume is handled when something like these pop punk heroes of mine is blasting through it.
Almost instantly I can tell there are no problems here. As soon as the music kicks in there’s a sustainable smile to my face. Turning the volume up and blasting out some Blink 182 classics though this Onkyo feels just right. There is plenty of power to go around and there doesn’t seem to be a power chord out of place. Obviously, it isn’t the greatest piece of music to test out the amp but it’s a great start and something that I hope it can build on.
Enough of my nostalgia trip so let’s try something of a higher quality and use the phono in-built stage. Whilst connecting new equipment to this amp you can really feel the quality and finish. Each connection feels solid and of a high quality. So onto vinyl, we go.
Spinning a bit of Ed Sheeran’s chart topping album “Divide” on vinyl finally gives this amplifier the source it deserves. The MM phono stage does an outstanding job and there’s plenty to be excited about. The soundstage is fantastic and the album has a natural and elegant feel to it going through the A9150. It’s engaging and an absolute pleasure to listen to.
There’s definitely more to get your teeth into over its smaller relative in the A9010. It’s a significant upgrade and well worth the extra money you’d have to part with. Another thing I failed to mention is the addition of both a and b speakers so if you wanted to add another pair of speakers, you can. Another upgrade over the award winning A9010.
If you liked the A9010 then you’re gonna absolutely love the A9150. It really is an impressive amplifier that should have its rivals at this price very worried.
Want to hear for yourself then pop down to your local Richer Sounds for a demonstration.
Author: Bradley, Plymouth store