A high-value, well-made player that delivers warm, full sound with a fine midband For Tonally on the warm side Full bass and well contrived midband Against A little soft around the edges, especially at the frequency extremes While Denon has long been a major name in component high fidelity in the Far East, it has only recently re-established itself as a source of hi-fi components in Europe. It started at the high end a couple of years or so ago and is only now finishing its portfolio at the entry level, which includes the model tested here. The main difference is that the DCDAE is stripped down, with a more limited feature set - it lacks some of the funkier features like pitch control. The other major difference is that where the senior players are built in Japan, the AE is made in China, with a predictable impact on the selling price. How low can you go?
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Really poor effort from a company that usually does so much better. Denon has an enviable record of producing talented hi-fi and home cinema kit. The brand even managed to make micro systems respectable with its multiple generations of class-leading performers. Both components are smart and nicely put together for the money. Each unit comes with an easy-to-use remote hand-set and feels classy every time you press a button or use a control.
You get an optical digital output, a headphone socket and a relatively slick transport. The PMAAE amplifier covers all the bases, too, with its complement of moving magnet phono stage, and tone, loudness and speaker switching controls.
Little to complain about so far, then. Struggle with sonic complexity. Initial sonic impressions are also OK. A lack of refinement is a problem, but not the problem. What these Denons struggle with is organisation of instruments and sounds so the final result resembles the tune originally recorded.
This combo sounds messy, leaving you struggling to make sense of the various strands in a piece of music. Scale, dynamics and authority are all lacking.
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