Onkyo A-9050

Tested at £350

The lean presentation means its not as involving as some, but there's plenty to like


a9050 is up there with the class leaders. It sounds sweet

Warm warm warm thats all what hifi like. That means you like all hifi's to sound the same. Even tho there is no such thing as warm or lean. Lets move on to a differant sound clear and bright. the onkyo a9050 sounds amazing much better than amps i have owned before. Its so clear. I bought this a week or 2 after it was releaced as i have owned onkyo amps before. And i new strait away that it was going to be good GREAT even. As my other ones sounded amazing and they were cheaper. now people may be put of buying this amp after those reviews. Well dont be go and listen to it and you will hear for yourself then you relise its a bargen. Onkyo classic.!!! I reckon. For the price and what your getting and it has alot going for it Smile


I bought this amp after much soul searching.I was originally considering the yamaha as700 or even 500.


The clincher for me was the desire to use the preamp out and feed it into a separate poweramp.

I also liked the idea of built in DAC .

My thoughts so far?

The DAC I think is very good indeed. Certainly, if you are using a fairly cheap DVD player, bluray player or CD with a good transport but mediocre DAC , you will be very pleased.

I doubt it would compete with an expensive stand alone DAC, but then you wouldnt expect it to.

Its a budget to midrange amp.

The connectivity is enhanced by the front jack input that will accomodate an mp3 player, or even if you are into home recording, something like a zoom r16 or boss 

My completely unbiased wife commented on how good it sounded , compared to my previous vintage integrated.

Sterile it isnt - accurate it is.

The bass phase button is especially impressive.

For those who like a bargain, you can run the preamp out directly into the likes of a Behringer A500 reference studio pro amp, turn the volume knobs on the behringer up to the max, and adjust the volume of both with the master volume on the onkyo.

Great if you have a decent sized listening space, or even if you want to cable the preamp out into another room with a power amp and speakers.

A follow up on my first comment.

I am now using a A-9050 in my second system. Very happy with its performance and sound with Epos ES12 speakers. It is replacing a 10 year old mid-range Rotel amp.

I also have a Rega DAC in my main system. For the fun of it I A / B tested the built in 9050 DAC and the Rega last night. To be honest very few will problaly hear much of a difference between the DACs with speakers that are in the typical £250-500 range. I personaly feel that differences between modern DACs are overrrated and when you A / B listen to them the differnces are quite small. 

The Rega has a little more full (warm) sound but A / B testing with my Sennheiser HD598 headphones reveals that the differences further up the frequency range are neglible. The Onkyo is a bit more punchy in the midbass and quite sweet further up the frequency range.

I still can not figure out WHF managed to get this amp to sound lean? Wrong impendance selection on the rear of the amp maybe? You have a choice that regulates the powersupply to match your speaker impendace.

Hi, to follow up on my original comment and the one below, I agree the onboard DAC isn't up to much on the 9050. My Sonos Connect definitely sounds better using the onboard DAC rather than the amp (although the Sonos does have a pretty good DAC to be fair). If you want to buy the amp for the DAC alone, I would certainly listen first (I still use the amp's DAC for my TiVo box where sound quality is not such an issue simply for convenience's sake so it's still a useful addition).

That said, after extensive listening I'd still maintain that the overall sound of the 9050 is great, and it still offers excellent value at the price point.

I recently bought an Onkyo A-9050 and ended up returning it after spending some time listening to it side by side with a Yamaha A-S500 using my Logitech Squeezebox Touch and Dynaudio 2/7's. <<< Before I go any further, I have to tell you that I did all of my listening at low volumes. I don't care how wonderful a hi-fi system sounds when you crank it up. My criterion is just the opposite. I would like to see how much detail and punch I can get at lower volumes or during quiet passages in classical music.>>>  I was hoping that Onkyo's DAC would be an improvement over Logitech's DAC. Unfortunately, it wasn't (to my ears). It sounded leaner. Every time I switched back to the analogue connection, Logitech's DAC sounded fuller. As far as detail, it didn't sounded like I was sacrificing on detail by going sticking to Logitech's DAC. Having said that, I didn't think that Onkyo's sound was brittle as mentioned in Whathifi's review. Once I concluded that Onkyo's DAC wasn't what I had hoped it to be, I ditched the coaxial cable and started switching back and forth between the Onkyo and Yamaha using the analog connections. At low to mid volumes, I was not able hear any difference between the two amplifiers as far as leanness. Yes, Yamaha's sound was a little on the bright side by comparison but you know what? That hint of brightness came in very handy when I was streaming some baroque music from AVRO one night. With the volume way down, the strings had more air and bite through the Yamaha. That's when I decided Onkyo was not worth spending an extra $100 over Yamaha. My two cents...

the review sounds soo negative that you wonder how they gave it 4* even..

Onkyo and Marantz are about the pinnacle of the hifi separates you can find in local retailers in the US.  Beyond that you're looking at boutique hifi retailers or buying mail order and trusting to good luck.  The UK style friendly local hifi dealer rarely exists. 

Anyway, I wonder how this stacks up (pun deliberately intended) coupled with a pair of the new M-5010 power amps in bi-amp mode?

Could a change of speakers help with the "thin-ness" of the sound?  How about different interconnects?

I'm a recent purchaser of this amp, and while I've not had it long enough to deliver a detailed appraisal, sounding thin is not a criticism I'd make, even though my room isn't great acoustically. The bass is particularly clear, but I'd say that adds to the sound and doesn't  actually result in the amp sounding too clinical.


It will be interesting to read the consensus of people's opinions over the coming months.

WHF always give Japanese brands 4 stars and British brands 5 stars. You see that in German magazines too. Germand brands get the best scores.

For the money companies like Onkyo and Yamaha give you way better value then Arcam, Rega, Naim and other British companies.

This year, What Hi-fi?'s amplifier Product of the Year - the highest award the magazine gives - was given to the Rotel RA-10. Rotel is a Japanese company.

Funny how What Hi-FI manage to describe the sonics on the A-9050 as the complete opposite as the Hi-FI Choice (HFC) review in the Award 2012 issue. HFC use the words puncy and fast. Guess it shows how important it is to trust your own ears.

I heard this amp against the Rega Brio-r at my dealer. The Rega is a bit more fun, but the Onkyo has a sligtly deeper bass then the Brio-r with blacker backgrounds.

God knows how What Hi-FI manged to get the 9050 to sound lean. Speakers or room acoustics maybe? To my ears it was far from lean compared to the competion. Something my dealer agreed with.


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