The look is oh-so 1975, but inside, Onkyo’s A-9555 is very twenty-first century. Specifically, the amp features the company’s new VL digital technology, which Onkyo claims uses a unique implementation of class D amplification that cancels the distortions associated with digital designs. The goal was to create a sound comparable to conventional class A/B analog amplifiers, yet to take advantage of the newer technology’s higher efficiency and cooler operation.
Continuing on the retro theme, the A-9555 sports (defeatable) Bass and Treble controls as well as a Loudness button that boosts bass and treble for late night listening. Oh, and this digital amp has an all-analog phono preamp! Analog meets digital and both win.
Tip: iPod owners might want to check out Onkyo’s nifty DS-A1 dock, which plugs into the A-9555.
The A-9555’s detailing is good, though the sound lacks the palpable dimensionality some audiophiles crave. CDs sounded, rhythmically speaking, a little stiff or uptight. I enjoyed the sound of this amp more on LPs.
A cappella superstars The Persuasions on their all Grateful Dead CD Might As Well [Grateful Dead Records] showcased the A-9555’s natural midrange. The men’s voices, especially Jimmy Hayes, bass, and lead singer, baritone, Jerry Lawson, sounded remarkably present. The A-9555 could drive all of my speakers, no problem.
As I finished up with vinyl, I noted that the A-9555 sounded, well, more analog than digital. I played an advance test pressing of Michael Powers’s Onyx Root LP from Sterling Sound. Powers’s take on the old Sir Douglas tune, “She’s About A Mover” plastered a big smile on my face. Well, vinyl is supposed to sound groovier than CD, and the A-9555 didn’t disappoint on that score.