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Amp/Preamp Asylum: REVIEW: Onkyo M-504 Amplifier (SS) by ka7niq

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REVIEW: Onkyo M-504 Amplifier (SS)

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Model: M-504
Category: Amplifier (SS)
Suggested Retail Price: $699
Description: 165wpc dual path amplifier with power meters
Manufacturer URL: Onkyo
Manufacturer URL: Onkyo

Review by ka7niq ( A ) on November 19, 2006 at 22:48:01
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for the M-504

Let's start out this review by saying I WANTED to like this amp.

It is a sexy looking thing with big green backlit meter.

Kind of like a poor mans McIntosh ?

I used several different preamps with it, and several pairs of speakers.

It didn't take me long to figure out it's sonic character.

It IS a powerful amp for it's rating, seeming never to run out of power.

But, IMHO, that is it's only virtue.

It is a grainy, etched sounding device, and just kills the soundstage.

The Celestion SL 600 speakers I used it mostly with are known for their warmth and imaging.

They became cold and sterile sounding when crippled by this amp.

The wonderful soundstage these speakers are known for re creating just shut down when crippled by the M 504.

Violins took on a steely quality, and female voice made me run for cover.

Thinking maybe the amp/speaker combo didn't like each other, I took my new "pride and joy" to my friend home, a music teacher who owned Vandersteen 2C's.

He was using little PSE solid state monoblock amps.

We listened to his good sounding system, then put the Onkyo in the system.

He winced with pain at the cold sound of Joan Baez on her Diamonds And Rust album.

He said it was the worst his Vandersteens ever sounded.

I had to agree.

I took it over to another audio buddy of mine who had some ADS speakers.

He was using a Hafler 500, and a Hafler preamp.

We threw the M 504 into the system, and he liked it!

Hos ADS speakers really didn't image very well anyway, and are sort of warmly voiced, and rolled off sounding.

The M 504 seemed to "take control" of the ADS speakers, and I have to admit it DID sound better then the stock Hafler 500.

But then, that isn't really saying much ....

I really shake my head at the "popularity" of this amp ?

There are MUCH better amps on the used market for similar money.

This thing isn't even fit to be in the same room as say a Luxman M 117, or an Audire Forte, just to mention a few.

If you have a rolled off, dull sounding speaker with loose bass that doesn't image anyway, this may be the amp for you ?

But, otherwise I would avoid it.

Yes, it is built like a little tank ....

Such a shame ?

This means it will live on to pollute the ears of our children ...

Product Weakness: Overall Sound Quality, etched, harsh sounding, shuts down image, overdamped bass
Product Strengths: Pretty Meters, good dynamics, never ending power

Associated Equipment for this Review:
Amplifier: Luxman M 117, Quad 405, Bedini 200/200
Preamplifier (or None if Integrated): Klyne,Krell, Technics R&B Series
Sources (CDP/Turntable): Oracle
Speakers: Celestion SL 600, Quad 63, Kef 104
Cables/Interconnects: Various
Music Used (Genre/Selections): Classical, Pop, Polka, Chamber, Audiophile
Room Size (LxWxH): 14 x 16 x 10
Room Comments/Treatments: le/de
Time Period/Length of Audition: 6 months
Type of Audition/Review: Product Owner

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Topic - REVIEW: Onkyo M-504 Amplifier (SS) - ka7niq 22:48:01 11/19/06 ( 8)