The A-9030 is well specified for an entry-level unit. It has a decent power output (65W per channel), a moving magnet phono stage and switchable speaker outputs. Build quality is just about good enough for the money, despite Onkyo making much of using thick metal in this integrated’s chassis.
Onkyo A-9030: Sound quality
So far, so ordinary. But what makes the A-9030 different from the norm is its sound quality – this lively and engaging amp is simply bursting with energy.
First, make sure you switch to direct mode, therefore bypassing the tone controls – the A-9030 will sound cleaner.
Spin the likes of The Black Eyed Peas’ bass-thumping Boom Boom Pow and there’s plenty of drive and no shortage of expression with the group’s vocals. The higher frequencies sparkle without exhibiting harshness, and the amplifier’s sense of timing is reassuringly surefooted.
Move to classical music such as Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture and the Onkyo responds with creditable dynamic reach and a decently precise sound stage.
Onkyo A-9030: Partnering speakers
Our only gripe is with the bass. Compared with, say, Rotel’s RA-10, the Onyko’s handling sounds a little soft, needing injections of definition and punch.
Onkyo A-9030: Verdict
Still, this is a very fine stereo amp. It’s fun to listen to, and that counts for a lot at this, or any other, price level.