Like all of the amplifiers we review, the Onkyo A-9150 is an integrated amplifier with an in built DAC, so what is it that makes this amplifier stand out from the crowd? Firstly, the quality of the amplification on offer, and secondly the staggering 32bit/768kHz DAC. Thirdly, the price as this could well be the audiophile bargain of the moment, but it is not all rosey.
Let’s talk about that DAC. It is based on an AKM chip and provides 2 x optical inputs, and 2 x Coaxial inputs…where is the USB input Onkyo? This has to be one of the biggest oversights in recent memory. An amplifier of this price point is most likely to be used by a laptop wielding modern day music lover, and that is now not so easily achieved, but by adding in a quality USB to S/PDIF converter, the problem is solved.
The other thing to note here, is the fact that you can not take advantage of that 32bit/768kHz via the optical or coaxial inputs, both of which are limited to 24bit/192kHz. If a USB port was built in and allowed higher bit rates and sample rates to pass through, one could up-sample from their music player app such as Roon. Perhaps the DAC is up-sampling everything that comes in, but that is not clear, either way, it sounds very nice.
The question then; is it worth buying the converter or should you just buy another integrated with inbuilt USB? Given the quality of the DAC and the amplification on offer with the Onkyo A-9150, I would say yes. Of course the system as a whole will only be as good as that converter so do not skimp.
The only other reservation about this integrated is the lack of any real power. At 30 watts per channel into 8 ohm speakers, there is not a huge amount of drive available for any speaker that is in any way difficult to drive. If however your listening level requirements are modest, then the Onkyo A-9150 could be a really beautiful solution for your needs.
Onkyo A-9150 Specifications:
- Power output into 4 ohms: 60 watts per channel
- Power output into 8 ohms: 30 watts per channel
- Frequency Response: 10Hz – 100kHz
- THD: 0.08%
- Signal to Noise Ratio: 107db
- Weight: 9.2kg
- Dimensions: 435 x 139 x 331 mm
Why you want the Onkyo A-9150:
First and foremost your budget is limited, secondly is the fact that you do not want to let that small budget limit the sonic prowess of your system, and the Onkyp A-9150 certainly shoots above it’s weight in that regard. If your only playback is a CD player, then you are set to go, if you require USB playback from a computer, invest in a decent USB to S/PDIF converter and you will be rewarded very well. But, if power is of little concern, you may also want to consider the Sony UDA-1.