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Amplifier Denon PMA-250 III review

This latest incarnation of Denon’s PMA-250 betrays very little obvious change over its MkII predecessor. The facia design is familiar, with its bass and treble controls, balance knob and rotary input selector. Similarly, Denon has preserved its range of MM and line inputs, though its headphone socket will now mute the main 4mm speaker outlets.

Lift the lid and you’ll discover the PMA-250 Mk3 is as busy-looking as ever, even though its 5532-based disc stage and Sanken power amp (2SA1489/2SC3853) are also largely unchanged. Revisions, where they do occur, concern board layout, a new IC-based line stage, choice of key passive components and the physical positioning of its power supply. Hardly mind-blowing stuff, but neither has Denon slapped any extra on what remains a very attractive price-tag.

Sound quality

This inexpensive amp is nothing if not eager. It tries very hard and for the most part makes a reasonable job of the work it’s given. However, its performance with CD split the panel more than usual, although there were some common threads.

It made a valiant attempt at resolving as much detail as it could, and so long as things didn’t get too busy, succeeded in producing a coherent sound. However, more complex passages were apt to get hurried or overly busy. Most budget amps take the easy way out, ignoring a lot of low level information in an attempt at resolving the fundamentals, but this little Denon went all out for detail. It displayed a wider tonal palette than most and dealt with the vibrant jazz track in an engaging, if not entirely tidy, fashion.

Bass was either a little constrained or had plenty of weight, depending on where abouts in the room the listener was sitting, Listening to vinyl, the results were much the same, although the extra depth and listenability of the medium were apparent, if not taken advantage of.


The PMA-250 III is a lively and engaging little amp. It can stumble over demanding material, but in the context of its low price is a pretty competent performer. This, combined with its increased current capacity and lower distortion, makes it worthy of recommendation.

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