14th April 2016
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Remember when hi-fi kit was all square and wooden and massive? And primitive? Those dark times are over…

The days when being big, complicated and ugly were hi-fi virtues are gone. Having a strong interest in sound quality shouldn’t mean design considerations have to take a back seat – something Denon realises better than most. Although it’s been setting standards in electronics since 1910, the company understands that having a rich and enviable heritage is no reason to rest on its laurels or live in the past.

Consequently Denon’s new Design Series hi-fi components look completely fresh – they’re beautifully compact, beautifully made and beautiful to the touch. Each Design Series component is designed to deliver class-leading performance.

The Design Series range is three-strong – after all, three, like the song says, is the magic number. Individually they’ll slot seamlessly into an existing hi-fi set-up, where they’ll bring some visual excitement, or you can stick with two components and some speakers for a slimmed-down integrated system. If you want hi-fi thrills from a system combining soft-touch matte aluminium construction with an elegant glossy black and silver finish, the Denon Design Series provides satisfaction in every way.

Existing at the cutting edge of 21st century hi-fi technology, the DRA-100 is a fully digital network receiver and the complete solution to your digital music demands. Just add loudspeakers to liberate its 70 watts per channel of digital amplification.

Thanks to its built-in Wi-Fi, DLNA compatibility, Airplay and Bluetooth connectivity (via NFC for ultimate convenience), integrated digital radio and Spotify Connect, the DRA-100 offers access to a planet’s-worth of music as well as the material on your home network. It can handle high-resolution audio up to 24-bit/192kHz as well as top-of-the-shop DSD files, and has three digital inputs so any legacy components can benefit from its superb hi-res DAC. It’s also packing a high-quality headphone output for when you want the music all to yourself. And between its crystal-clear OLED display and its intuitive control app (for Android and Apple), it’s as easy to use as it is to look at and listen to.

Pump up the volume

The PMA-50 functions in a slightly more specialised manner: it’s a stereo amplifier that draws heavily on the class-leading technology of Denon’s premium hi-fi components in a drive to serve up a sound of dramatic accuracy and power. From the esoteric (its hi-res 24-bit/192kHz DAC Master Clock design, for instance, or its discrete output design that produces far lower distortion than competing Class-D amplifier designs) to the obvious (quick-pairing NFC Bluetooth connectivity), it’s specified without compromise.

Whether you serve up music via one of the PMA-50’s three digital inputs, its computer-friendly USB-B socket or wirelessly from a portable device, 100 watts of power should deliver a strong performance. The headphone output is of a high specification, there’s a subwoofer pre-out should you require yet more bass power, and the pin-sharp OLED display rotates automatically depending on whether you site the PMA-50 horizontally or vertically.

The DCD-50 CD player is the PMA-50’s perfect accompaniment. A machine capable of dealing with CD-stored MP3 or WMA audio files just as easily as regular audio CDs, it’s a stylish slot-loading design that’s as happy to function vertically as it is horizontally. It connects digitally to the PMA-50 to deliver full digital signal processing – but, of course, the DCD-50 can also fit into any hi-fi system where, thanks to its 32-bit/192kHz digital-to-analogue converter and stereo RCA outputs, it’s designed to raise any set-up’s overall audio game.

In essence, then, Denon’s Design Series allows you to have your hi-fi cake and eat it. It’s a less-is-more solution to the multiple demands of music-lovers who care equally about sound quality, chic design and intuitive functionality – and who care about value-for-money too. It’s everything you expect from Denon.

More after the break