Pioneer A-A6 review

Up there with the best, some imperfections, but when it comes to sound quality it's well worth the five-star rating Tested at £350.00

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

This Pioneer earns its five stars with amazing sound.


  • +


  • +

    spacious, controlled and eloquent sound


  • -


  • -

    not the last word in bass presence

Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.

THE A-A6 has had to scrap for its five stars every time we've reviewed it.

Most equipment that attracts the number of criticisms that we've levelled at the Pioneer ends up with

a four-star verdict and, occasionally, we've fretted that perhaps the A-A6 wasn't worthy of the full five.

Lined up in a Group Test for the first time, though, we're relieved to find that we were right all along - this is a five-star amplifier, but it's not without shortcomings.

So those shortcomings first...

Build and perceived value, for instance. The Pioneer looks good, interesting even, but it's imperfectly finished and harbours a few sharp-ish edges. The remote control is a flimsy joke, more appropriate for a product at a fifth of the price.

The Pioneer's specification isn't very distinguished either: a phono stage is always welcome, but every other amp here can better the A-A6's single tape loop and provision for driving only a single pair of loudspeakers.

However, the Pioneer strikes home where it really counts, in the sound quality department.

Delivering The Smiths' Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others, the A-A6 sounds clean, detailed and unflappable. The top end occasionally glints dangerously, but even cursory speaker-matching can prevent treble histrionics, and it's a crisp and com-municative affair otherwise.

Easier to forgive after a listen

The midrange is spacious, articulate and involving, and what the Pioneer lacks in outright bass weight is more than compensated for by its speed, agility and focus. Stereo imaging is solid and believable, and the A-A6 generates prodigious drive and supple dynamism. The stormy passages of Beethoven's 'Pastoral' Symphony No.6 will have you reaching for your umbrella in sympathy.

We reckon it's an amplifier that would be happiest attached to a pair of disproportionately expensive loudspeakers.

That's not to say that the A-A6 is perfect, and some will want more low-end authority – but in terms of simple musicality and realism, the Pioneer's well worth its five stars.

What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

Read more about how we test