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NEC A-910 vs. Denon PMA-900V vs. Luxman L-410: who wins?

Discussion in 'Solid State' started by Soun!, Jun 28, 2018.

  1. Soun!

    Soun! New Member

    Messages:
    36
    Location:
    The Great Prairies, Canada
    Hello everybody!:)

    The above integrated amps just popped up locally. I've heard they have a sweet sound, but wanted to know if they are truly musical pieces… Not going on wattage here, just which one is the better sounding (especially in the BASS department: I love organ music) of the three.:)

    In my understanding, NEC and Denon are straight class AB affairs, whereas Luxman is a class A/AB (first few Watts delivered in class A) design.;)

    Please chime in, and help a newbie!:)

    FYI:


    Denon PMA-900V

    Power output: 120 watts per channel into 8Ω (stereo)

    Frequency response: 20Hz to 20kHz

    Total harmonic distortion: 0.003%

    Input sensitivity: 0.2mV (MC), 2.5mV (MM), 150mV (line)

    Signal to noise ratio: 77dB (MC), 95dB (MM), 107dB(line)

    Output: 150mV (line)

    Dimensions: 465 x 157 x 397mm

    Weight: 11.6kg


    NEC A-910

    Power output: 100 watts per channel into 8Ω (stereo)

    Frequency response: 10Hz to 40kHz

    Total harmonic distortion: 0.006%

    Input sensitivity: 0.25mV (MC), 2.5mV (MM), 150mV (line)

    Signal to noise ratio: 70dB (MC), 90dB (MM), 96dB(line)

    Output: 140mV (line)

    Speaker load impedance: 4Ω to 16Ω

    Dimensions: 430 x 151 x 383mm

    Weight: 16.5kg


    Luxman L-410

    Power output: 75 watts per channel into 8Ω (stereo)

    Frequency response: 10Hz to 100kHz

    Total harmonic distortion: 0.015%

    Input sensitivity: 0.1mV (MC), 2.5mV (MM), 200mV (line)

    Signal to noise ratio: 67dB (MC), 87dB (MM), 110dB(line)

    Output: 200mV (line)

    Dimensions: 453 x 425 x 135mm

    Weight: 13 kg
     

     

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  2. The Fuxtor

    The Fuxtor AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,811
    Location:
    Calgary, Alberta
    Luxman! They truly have a sweet sound unique to the brand! What speakers will pair up?
     
  3. Ds2000

    Ds2000 All About every cool stereo component. Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,990
    Location:
    New York City
    A-910 by a country mile for me. NEC gear from that era was really top notch, that’s quite a sleeper. It has plenty of go for your pipe organ needs.
    DB078004-FD37-42E2-B834-BB12D9CE3CA6.jpeg
     
  4. Fredrik 1977

    Fredrik 1977 Super Member

    Messages:
    1,196
    Location:
    Sweden!
    probably a case of taste i design here? or look they are probably pretty nice amps all of them.
    i´d take the lux any day. not saying its the best because i hav´nt heard the nec.
     
  5. 62vauxhall

    62vauxhall AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,995
    Another vote for the NEC. You don't buy this stuff by the pound but it is the heaviest. I like Luxman too but in this case, with that model, it gets 2nd place.
     
    Fredrik 1977 likes this.
  6. ET16

    ET16 Active Member

    Messages:
    309
    I like the NEC, too. I have a tuner from that era , and it's great.
     

     

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  7. Soun!

    Soun! New Member

    Messages:
    36
    Location:
    The Great Prairies, Canada
    Thank you very kindly, dear experts, "Brothers-In-Music" (clearly, Dire Straits motif here...), friends!:)

    I must confess I have never considered NEC as a serious player in the field of Hi-Fi, and totally expected
    Luxman L-410 to win (especially taking into consideration the first few Watts in this case are delivered in class A providing this all so-o sweet "tubey" sound...).;)

    One technical question: in case of NEC, Signal to noise ratio: 96 dB (line). Is this "good enough" and should not be of any concern?:rolleyes:
    When does this parameter come into play? When I use turntable, tuner, reel-to-reel deck, CD-player or DAC?;)

    Keep in mind the A-910 is from 1987-1990 (if I am correct): what would you suggest about changing its electrolytic capacitors (as a preventive maintenance)?
    Should I be concerned about altering its sound "signature" in such case?;)

    Please chime in!:D

    P.S. What a beautiful duo you have, @Ds2000!:biggrin:
     
  8. Blue Shadow

    Blue Shadow I gotta get me a new title

    Messages:
    21,438
    Location:
    SE PA
    Don't worry about caps. AK is all worried about caps. AKers want to get intimate with their gear as nothing else they know will so they dive in on recapping the world. Sure the 'lytics do get old and tired but a recap isn't necessary today on a unit that works and is only a mere 30 years old at most. Enjoy it, learn its sound and then think about a recap, unless you look inside and see something other than glue that might be cap juice. Most post pics of the glue all worried because the AK collective has scared the sh!t out of them about caps leaking, it is 99.76% of the time glue, maybe more. A bulging cap might warrant a bit of work, though.

    96dB is plenty. If you are listening at 97dB will you hear that 1dB of noise? We do have folks here that listen to specs but there is a vast majority that like the sound of music much better and listen to what they like, specs be damned. My best sounding amps have about 4 times the rated THD compared to my second best amps. And that second amp isn't even in the same area code for sound quality of the better amps. Specs should be taken with a large grain of salt.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2018
    Soun!, Roadrash and EvanF like this.
  9. 62vauxhall

    62vauxhall AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,995
    Tru dat ^.
     
  10. Soun!

    Soun! New Member

    Messages:
    36
    Location:
    The Great Prairies, Canada
    Thank you very kindly, @Blue Shadow!:)
    As the owner tells me, NEC is in a very good shape cosmetically and fully operational. In your opinion, what would be the fair price, please?;)
     
  11. Hifirob2

    Hifirob2 NEC and Klipsch rock!

    Messages:
    3,714
    Location:
    So Cal
    I have only heard the NEC. I have one in my collection. Does it come with the remote? That's important to many people. Also, there were two versions of the A-910. One has in & out jacks on the rear panel for an adaptor - the other version does not. The adaptor jacks may be used for inserting an EQ, but the level is higher than line level, so that may introduce a little noise. Also, there is a tape loop in there for an EQ, but it's not the tape inputs - it's the VCR ins & outs. I only bring it up because there is no loudness switch on this amp, so low level listening can be a little bass shy. If you go that route, the function gets set to VCR, and the input is controlled by the Record knob behind the drop down door. Not a big issue, unless you have the remote, and use it to select inputs.

    A recap could get expensive because the main filter caps (four of them) are audio grade. The four caps don't imply separate power supplies, though. This amp has NEC's "power reserve" scheme, so the second pair of main caps only really come into play during heavy loads - as needed.

    The phono preamp section is absolutely wonderful. If you play a lot of vinyl, you'll appreciate that.

    Watch out for excessive heat. Not from the main heatsinks, but from the vertically mounted voltage amp board. It can get hot, and doesn't have enough ventilation, IMHO.
     
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  12. Soun!

    Soun! New Member

    Messages:
    36
    Location:
    The Great Prairies, Canada
    Thank you very kindly, @Hifirob2!:)
    This is VERY important to me, and, probably, it is a deal-breaker.:thumbsdown:
    Moreover, another AKer, @yotems, noted "... the 1987-1990 pioneer a-717. just wow. its bass is so fluid, natural, and reverberating. you can hear some of the most delicate sounds with utter precision. ... the a-910 barely scratches the surface of the low notes that the pioneer can just flood the room with from sheer woofer movement.
    ... its almost as if the nec is stationed above ground trying to lift the lower frequencies out whereas the pioneer was already underneath the ground pushing the low frequencies out from underneath themselves...":oops:
    I guess I could do better with some other integrated amps below 1K... Musical Fidelity A3, Pioneer SA-8800/9900, Kenwood KA-8300 just to name a few...:boring:

    Please, please chime in!:D
     
  13. Hifirob2

    Hifirob2 NEC and Klipsch rock!

    Messages:
    3,714
    Location:
    So Cal
    Since you are in Canada, see if you can track down a NEC A820 integrated from around 1982. It has a silver face, but it has all the bass you can dream of. It has a loudness switch, a phono preamp as good as the NEC A-910, and is one of my all time favorite integrateds. Kind of rare, but it will be a lot less expensive than the Pioneers & Kenwoods you mentioned. My Buddy Cole tapes & LPs love this integrated. My neighbors - not so much. :)
     
  14. Soun!

    Soun! New Member

    Messages:
    36
    Location:
    The Great Prairies, Canada
    Thank you very kindly, @Hifirob2, and Happy Independence Day, dear American friends!:)
    Off for hunting...
     
  15. yotems

    yotems AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    677
    dont take my comparison of the a-910 and a-717 as a conclusive review of the a-910. i still have my a-910 and use it nearly every day. it does some stuff better than the a-717. when i compared the a-910 and a-717 on some better speakers than bose 201’s, the bass was much more comparable between the two. keep in mind the a-717 is probably the best sounding piece of gear ive come across yet, it just didnt have a remote and i wasnt trying to spend more money on a rc controlled preamp just to use it. the a-717 is a 43lb dual mono monster with “pot casted” transformers and two big 63v 22,000uf supply caps. i cant imagine that denon or that luxman would compare in the least to the 717 and the a-910 is in the same league as the 717. the a-717 had loudness but i didnt use it because it sounded better in direct. it was more laid back than the a-910, not quite as aggressive.

    also i think its important to note i basically only listen to classic rock/psychedelic/funk, nearly all types of metal, and some occasional hip hop like ice T or somethin. if i listened to less aggressive music, im sure the pioneer would have mopped the floor with the a-910.

    ive always felt these NEC pieces were designed with metal in mind, because they have always seemed to outperform pretty much everything ive come across for the music i listen to in terms of aggression/precision short of marantz and a sony gx10es.. and for the marantz thats only to really be speaking of the units from the late 70’s being compared to late 70’s NEC gear. those silver face marantz units seemed to be the only other units at the time that did as well for metal and were as quick/accurate as NEC’s gear. not to say other brands of the time didnt sound good as they surely did, just a lot seemed to compromise accuracy for tone. what would make guitars sound special would also make bass flabby or “boomy”

    the a-910 may not have loudness but just like the mcs 3285 it just doesnt need it. low levels seem perfectly eq’d to me at flat and the 910 will play as loud as you ever need it to with no distortion at all. what you really notice with the a-910 as well as other late 80’s and newer gear ive had is the ability to play loud without missing a beat from impedence dips. in most cases i dont listen loud enough on my 3285 to experience stuff like that, as well as the fact i only use one pair of 8 ohm speakers which cant seem to exploit such a phenomenon for its entire rated power at 8 ohms, but ive definitely come to notice the phenomenon on a few select occasions.

    its why i now tend to stray toward gear that make substantially more power at 4 ohms. ive hooked four 8 ohm speakers to the a-910 and it’ll crack plaster with how hard it hits driving 4 speakers and the power meters barely move compared to one pair of 8 ohm speakers. the 3285 did not sound good with the same four speakers. even on units that have loudess i never use the loudness, it muddies up the sound no matter what listening level youre at. i leave all my gear at flat and the snare drums will smack the taste out of your mouth.

    ive never had any experience with denon or luxman, but with how many extremely highly regarded pieces the a-910 has outclassed i dont care to try to do any better. i tried a marantz pm-8004 and it just doesnt move as much current as the a-910 and cant move the woofer as much.

    the a-910 is the culmination of r&d from the mcs 3125 and 3285. the 3285 is a refitted nec a-820e and the a-910 succeeded the a-820e. my mcs 3285 is a tough one to beat too. ive got a marantz 2226b and had an nec aua-8000e (mcs 3865) and i prefer the 3285 to both. i prefer the 2226b to the aua-8000e, i prefer the 3285 to the 2226b and i prefer the a-910 to the 3285. i preferred the 3285 over the 3125 too and believe me, i compared the ever loving shit out of them to reach that conclusion.

    hope this helps
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2018
    Soun! likes this.
  16. lico

    lico AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,131
    Great thread, I like Yotem's review. The A-717 sounds like quite an amp.

    I might be tempted to try the Denon PMA-900 if it's bass you're after. I have a PMA-777 (it preceded the 900 as Denon's flagship) and it sounds excellent, very musical. I think the sound is warmer with controls flat than the NEC A-10 I have. Another good option (receiver not integrated) would be the Luxman R-117.
     
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  17. yotems

    yotems AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    677
    my 3285 is slightly warmer at flat than the a-910 but its maybe a hair less precise overall. very musical, just doesnt hit as hard as the a-910. the a-910 seemed to hit harder than the a-717 at flat/direct. the a-910 has very precise bass, bass guitars are very defined. those denons in question look capable of more than i initially felt. im sure those sound very good, im tempted to look into them myself
     
  18. yotems

    yotems AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    677
    interesting little comparison i just did on some marantz DR120 speakers between the 2226b, a-910, and pm-8004.

    the the 8004 is definitely the tightest but incredibly neutral. this amp needs subwoofers and even then, you still dont really feel any reverberation from string instruments, you can hear it i suppose but it doesnt sound like the band is playing right in front of you to say the least. the kickdrum doesnt feel like its in the speaker (a-910 does). ill always feel this amp needs paired with the right speakers to feel the music and these dr120’s are most likely just not the right ones. it will get loud, hit hard, and is very dynamic from start to finish of every note played but you have to turn it up pretty loud to start feeling anything and at that point the highs start to hurt your ears. subwoofers with these speaker would probably help the enjoyability of listening but it still wouldnt add what i i feel is necessary color to the tone of it

    the 2226b was an incredible pleasure, i need to start listening to this thing more! i only listened to it for an hour or so when i first finished cleaning all of it and set it on my dresser in my room since it doesnt have a place yet (im about to make one though). anyway, i can understand why people enjoy the loudness after using it on this bad boy, pretty impressed at the sound quality it keeps with the loudness, neither my aua-8000 or mcs 3125 had such clean and dynamic loudness like this (though i made the comparison at flat with loudness off to keep more controlled variables) obviously at a conservative 26 late 70’s watts per channel it couldnt be pushed too far without losing the dynamics of the kick drum but in its sweet spot id much rather listen to it all day than that pm-8004.. hell, a lot of stuff! its tone is what stands out the most, it’ll really make sabbath or even ted nugent sound very special. as the least detailed of the three (which surprisingly while noticeable, isnt by much), it at least makes up for it with a very special/raw sound which is what im sure people enjoy so much about these as well as other vintage units this age i have heard about. incredibly colorful sound! surely the most bass of the 3 with the loudness engaged and it has some pretty damn detailed loudness bass considering my other experiences with using loudness but nonetheless its still “loudness bass”. though still not the most bass by much compared to the NEC at flat... give the NEC subs and look out

    the a-910 is just in another world. it hits so damn hard with every instrument. its got a very warm bottom end, and you dont just hear the notes you feel them. whether its the bass guitar, the lead guitar, the drums, or the rhythm guitar, you FEEL the sound waves. the kickdrum feels so real, its so fun. you cant not headbang to every song, it holds bass reverberations so heavily and sways from note to note. hard to tell if it is really any less detailed than the pm-8004 because its so aggressive but there really wasnt anything i couldnt hear per say; but more that the pm-8004 was so relaxed/neutral that its incredibly obvious where each note starts and ends... but it lacks so much color to it. i stand by my initial statement of this amp doesnt need loudness too. i wouldnt mind getting subwoofers to open up the subterrainian layer a bit but even then they arent really “necessary”. while falling a little shy of the bass the 2226b is capable of with loudness engaged, the NEC is incredibly tighter and more accurate bass
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2018
    Soun! likes this.
  19. Soun!

    Soun! New Member

    Messages:
    36
    Location:
    The Great Prairies, Canada
    Thank you very kindly, dear "brothers-in-sound" (can't you tell I just love Dire Straits?)!:D
    A high-current amplifier is simply one in which the power supply and output stage can pass enough current to drive low-impedance loads (some speakers deep down to 1 Ohm…). To deliver large amounts of current, you need a beefy power supply, multiple output device pairs, and GOOD heat sinking. The amplifier can be class A, AB, whatever...the physics still apply. Also, you really can't divorce power in watts from current in amperes, since P = IE (P is power in watts, I is current in amperes, E is potential in volts). If an amplifier cannot deliver the current a speaker asks for, the power in watts dissipated into the load will not be there either…

    My question to you, dear experts, is how much current should the amplifier be able to deliver to be true "high-current" design delivering the SOUND we all like?;)

    I found it to be very difficult to find quality vintage integrated in my neck of the woods, and it was suggested to me to try some other designs::)

    NAD C375BEE

    Naim Nait 5i
    Creek Evolution 50A
    Classé CAP 80
    REGA Mira
    Sonneteer Bronte (one person recommended it, but I have never heard the name…)
    Sansui AU-717 – AU-919

    What do you think of the above? Alternatives you would recommend me to consider, please?:)

    Please, please chime in!:D
     
  20. lico

    lico AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,131
    Depends on the speakers you have. Yes - some speakers dip down to 1 ohm - but if yours don't then you might not need a "high" current amp.
     

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