You thought stereo was dead, didn’t you? At a time when manufacturers are moving to nothing but multi-channel systems aimed at home theater, Onkyo has introduced a different idea. We hear about new HTiB systems and more channels being tacked on to further the multi-channel experience it seems many manufacturers forgot about high end sound. Onkyo brings us a throwback to the days when two good channels sounded so much better than seven mediocre ones. But there’s a twist, Onkyo’s new two channel stereo integrated amp is built with digital amplifier technology.
Onkyo calls it a high end integrated amplifier that will showcase its new VL Digital power amp technology. The A-9555 Integrated Amplifier reflects a steady shift from Onkyo in its transition to digital amplifiers. The move to digital amplification is becoming more common in budget minded multi-channel receivers. But Onkyo says it has designed its new stereo amplifier with all the style and elegance of classic stereo systems of old.
Onkyo’s 4th generation of VL Digital amp graces the interior of the A-9555 Integrated Amplifier. It’s an implementation of the hybrid class ‘D’ amplification. It’s a highly efficient design delivering 100 watts RMS per channel into 8 ohms. The strengths of digital amplifiers are low power consumption, low heat with surprisingly high output from a relatively small chassis compared to other amplifier classes. Although class D amps are known for higher levels of distortion there is no THD specification available for Onkyo’s A-9555 on its North American press release. Onkyo’s press release only offers that its hybrid class D amps offer “remarkably low distortion”. Less than 1% is generally considered too low for the human ear to detect but we’ll have to wait for specs to be released. Onkyo Europe has a pdf posted with some specs that give the A-9555 a .8 THD which should be acceptable.
Whether or not you’re skeptical of digital amplification being equated to anything ‘audiophile’ the design of Onkyo’s new A-9555 sure appears to be going for that old time hi-fi look. With its silver finish and large fat finger friendly knobs it looks like the finer Onkyo equipment from a bygone era.