Onkyo Builds Two Channel Hi-Fi
Isn't two channel stereo dead? It seems manufacturers are focused on building multi-channel and home-theater-in-a-box solutions. Given this, it's a surprise that Onkyo has decided to release a new line of two channel audio gear aimed at hi-fi rather than home theater. Another interesting twist about the new Onkyo gear is that the receiver uses digital class D amplification.
The new products include the A-9555 Integrated Amplifier and the DX-7555 CD player. The amplifier uses Onkyo's new VL Digital power amp technology. The new VL Digital amps are Onkyo's fourth generation - they're an implementation of hybrid class 'D' amplification. This is a highly efficient design; the VL Digital amp delivers 100 watts of continuous power per channel into 8 ohms. Digital amplifiers are known for their low power consumption and low heat, which allows them to be stuffed into remarkably small chassis. Class D amps are also known for higher THD. Onkyo's press release doesn't give specs on distortion levels, but does offer that it's "remarkably low". Onkyo Europe has a pdf posted with some specs that give the A-9555 at .8 THD. Less than 1% is generally considered too low for the human ear to detect.
The A-9555 Integrated Amplifier with VL Digital represents Onkyo's shift to digital amplifiers that will be used throughout its product line. While the shift to digital has become commonplace in budget multi-channel gear, Onkyo says it has designed the new A-9555 with all the style and quality of its own classic stereo systems.
The DX-7555 is a two channel CD player. It's truly rare to see mainstream electronics companies release a new model home CD player these days. This one is designed for hi-fi performance playing stereo music. The player is capable of CD, CD-R/RW and MP3 playback. It features a super-precision clock circuit for low jitter. Possibly the best things about this CD player are its Wolfson Microelectronics DAC circuits. The DAC circuitry lets users select between "sharp" or "slow" high frequency rolloff so you can tailor the sound to your source material.
Even if you don't buy into the idea of hi-fi quality digital amps, it's good to see a company like Onkyo taking a stab at bringing audio quality into the line of consumer electronics.- Wayde