There can be few more imposing stereo amplifiers at this kind of money than Denon's PMA-2010AE.
The sheer bulk of this 24kg amp suggests masses of power, something the on-paper spec doesn't back-up. Denon quotes 80W per channel, which is decent enough, but a long way from the multi-hundred Watt rating the amp's looks suggest, and below average for this type of product.
Bags of bass and enthusiasm However, specifications can be deceptive, and the Denon ably illustrates that point. Listen to it in full flow and it sounds like a monster: there's plenty of volume on tap, and one of the most solid bass performances we've heard at this price level.
Give the Denon the likes of Tinchy Stryder's Never Leave You and it thumps out the bass beats like its life depended on it. This amp is not short of enthusiasm, meaning it works well with the partnering disc player, the easy-going DCD-2010AE.
However, take the amp away from its partner and it sounds less happy. All that enthusiasm is great with the right material, but it gets relentless when you want to get lost in a Shostakovich string quartet or enjoy Nina Simone's I Love You Porgy.
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Could be more subtleAn upbeat presentation isn't necessarily a bad thing as long as there's finesse to back it up. In the Denon's case that's lacking a touch. It sounds a bit muscle-bound and lacks some subtlety.
The Denon's phono stage is clean and precise, though we think a good standalone unit such as Heed's Questar is a better bet if you're serious about vinyl. Still, build is great: the amp feels solid, and works with a luxurious feel that few rivals can manage.
Matched with care, avoiding pushy sources and speakers, this Denon can produce fine results. But it isn't a complete all-rounder, and that's why it misses out on that fifth star.