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Integrated Amps 90's Onkyos.


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I'm planning on having a musical start to the new year.  Not sure I've got the time for another review thread right now, but what the hell.  I'll just start it and see what happens when.

 

onkyos.jpg.e232734bc9c6d8a45b315d462d09f5a2.jpg

 

I'm hoping the 90's were a good time for Onkyo.  I've heard some of the later models and while I thought the 9555 was quite good sounding I thought it was built a bit on the light side, lots of chassis flex to that amp.  And the 9070 I didn't like at all, no life to it, just dull and dark and sort of blunt.  So, I'm hoping these earlier Onkyo models were a bit more musical.  

 

We'll see.

 

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1 hour ago, Cafad said:

I'm planning on having a musical start to the new year.  Not sure I've got the time for another review thread right now, but what the hell.  I'll just start it and see what happens when.

 

onkyos.jpg.e232734bc9c6d8a45b315d462d09f5a2.jpg

 

I'm hoping the 90's were a good time for Onkyo.  I've heard some of the later models and while I thought the 9555 was quite good sounding I thought it was built a bit on the light side, lots of chassis flex to that amp.  And the 9070 I didn't like at all, no life to it, just dull and dark and sort of blunt.  So, I'm hoping these earlier Onkyo models were a bit more musical.  

 

We'll see.

 

Hi Jeff, a quick look at that pic of Onkyos and I thought they looked like early Sansui Alpha models...had to look very carefully at them!

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The one on the right-hand side is the classic early 90s design. I still own its little brother (purchased in '92) which has never missed a beat. Can certainly wring a bit of a song out of my Heresy IV, gets a bit glary and clipping with the volume at 12 o' clock. Excellent bass. The bigger brother probably adds another 50W to the mix.

Love the look of both of them, summer fun.

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ps. yup, I have the 8820 (65W) while the Integra has 120W.

Still think in that silver it's one of the best designs I have ever seen. The volume dial at centre and the very easy input dial...what a joy.

 

11.jpg

 

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Yeah, I thought Onkyo might be going for a Sansui look with the A-919 (which I'm guessing is the Japanese version of the 8850, thanks for that Steff, I was wondering if there was a different international model number for it, now I know).  It looks very Sansui IMO.  

 

They certainly look like nice amps.  I haven't plugged in either one of them yet so I can't comment on how they sound but I have decent hopes for their performance.

 

I'll update as I get the time to play with them.

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13 hours ago, Cafad said:

I'm planning on having a musical start to the new year.  Not sure I've got the time for another review thread right now, but what the hell.  I'll just start it and see what happens when.

 

onkyos.jpg.e232734bc9c6d8a45b315d462d09f5a2.jpg

 

I'm hoping the 90's were a good time for Onkyo.  I've heard some of the later models and while I thought the 9555 was quite good sounding I thought it was built a bit on the light side, lots of chassis flex to that amp.  And the 9070 I didn't like at all, no life to it, just dull and dark and sort of blunt.  So, I'm hoping these earlier Onkyo models were a bit more musical.  

 

We'll see.

 

Christmas presents for yourself Jeff ??? Happy New Year to you mate, look forward to your impressions 😀

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I've given the Onkyos a bit of a once over.  They look very nice, the 919 especially.  Here's a couple of topless pics of the amps, just for the records.

 

PXL_20240105_235303825.thumb.jpg.daf86f7f085c39c27af82c8b2cb8aba9.jpg

 

PXL_20240105_235313695.thumb.jpg.deb064661ed97f36140ad91c6c1f1f0b.jpg

 

Nice!

Love the dual-mono layout of the 919 with the pre section in the middle.  The 927 is a good, sensible layout (with the pre section separated on one side just like Sansui had been doing for over a decade at that point) but it doesn't scratch my OCD related symmetry itch like the 919 does.

 

And the "Laser" transformers.  Love the name but google can't seem to help me with any details.  Anyone know if the "Laser" transformers are anything special?

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Well that was a mightily unpleasant experience!

 

The 927 has speaker binding posts that are very similar to the Sansui amps of the era.  You can't really use banana plugs (unless you are OK with risking flattening them) but you can use spades, and so I did.  The 919 has similar (but not the same!) posts but they are bigger and differently shaped (I'll post pics later) and they will not take spades as they are a touch too narrow and the sides too thick to allow half of the spade to sit in the binding post and the other half to sit outside (which is how I have become accustomed to using the Sansui binding posts). 

 

So... no spades... and no bananas... that leaves two options.

 

I either use some speaker pin connectors (which I do not have, because who does?), or I use bare wire.  So I have hooked up the 919 with some Canare wire.  4S6 to the mids and highs of the WB Discoveries and 4S8 to the bass.  

 

Not happy about having to make up new speaker wires just because Onkyo chose to make life difficult.  Not happy at all. 

 

This is not a feature, this is an annoyance!  And it is not a necessary one.

 

This 919 had better bring the music, because I am unamused. 

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Must be a thing of that era.

I had a Sony TA-F333ESR once with the same problem.

Looking forward to further posts Cafad 🙂

Edited by Darryl
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It would appear that I have chosen two amps that are dead easy to compare.  They sound nothing alike at all.

 

In fact... this makes 4 Onkyos that I've heard so far and neither of these remind me of the 9070 or the 9555 so I'm concluding that Onkyo do not have a house sound.  Certainly not like Pioneer or Yamaha which seem to have a very distinct house sound.

 

So, having said that, and having (mostly!) gotten over the speaker binding post issue (did no-one in Japan use banana plugs in the 90's?) I have a few impressions to share.

 

The 927 has a mid range that is smooth, sweet and warm-ish.  It makes sweet vocals sweeter and smooth vocals smoother.  Very much an amp for those who like slower songs with female vocals.  Also very much for those who like a tubey sound.  It has a stronger bass line that I expected but it is smooth bass rather than fast or tight bass.  Lovers of warmer amps, Exposure, Naim, the new Perreaux Audiant range, are likely to really enjoy this amp.  Not as warm or lush as the Luxman 550 or 590 amps, but certainly just as smooth.

If you throw some music that is not slow or smooth at it it still does OK, but it doesn't do really well.  Mellissa Etheridge for instance does not sound quite right, her vocals aren't slow, smooth or sweet but that warmth effect dose come in to play on larger, slower drums and is completely absent on smaller, faster drums.  "Bring Me Some Water" contained drums that sounded like they came from 2 very different drum kits.  So, an amp for some (perhaps even many) but not for me.

 

Now, the 919.  This is an amp I can live with.  Nicely done Onkyo!

Very little character of its own, in all the good ways.  Powerful, clean and very uncoloured.  I think I might be hearing just a touch of smoothing around the mid range but it isn't enough to interfere with or detract from the performance that you are listening to.  Also, it can be controlled by the remote that I purchased at the same time as the amp, that's very convenient (though not absolutely necessary, it wouldn't be a deal breaker if it were not present but I consider it a bonus that it is).  The 927 does not have remote control capability.  

Also, stereo and 3D soundstage are much better than the 927, that mid range presence boost/smoothing/warmth the 927 has messes with instrument placement.

 

I'm trying everything on the 919.  I have yet to find anything that it does less than excellently.  I shall continue to test but I think I've moved from the evaluation phase into the enjoyment phase already.  Oh well, these things happen.

 

I hope everyone has a very musical Sunday.  I certainly plan to.

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The ill-fitting banana plug is a little puzzling. Makes a neat fit on my German-bought unit. Just for confirmation, which one is the "919" of the two units, left or right hand side?

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May I also ask how you found that unit and what (if) you paid for it? I briefly checked ebay.jp and the Integra units go for a surprisingly high $$ value still: 1Kish for a thirty-year old component. Is your 919 in good health, caps, etc.?

 

On second look the 927 very looks like a Sansui design rip-off. Might even pre-date the 919?

Onkyo had a change of ownership in the mid-90s (I think) resulting in a loss of quality and turn towards fashion-fi products. And another change in 2022, now owned by Sharp, afaik.

Edited by Steff
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I found them both on Yahoo Japan.  Neither one of them cost more than $400 aussie (almost double that with postage, I'm sure courier prices go up over Christmas).  They are 100 volt units of course.  

 

I did look for international models but wasn't sure about how Onkyo differentiated between Japanese and international model naming.  And I'm already set up to get components from Japan anyway.

 

The 919 was serviced by Onkyo about 7 years ago as the selector switch needed replacing.  The 927 seems to be in original condition.

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image.thumb.png.e9221cc2013ce363eddf50ed8bca6be4.png

 

Jeff, if you can find one of these I don't think you'd ever let it leave the stable like a certain member here who will remain nameless did. It's the big Kahuna

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36 minutes ago, Luc said:

image.thumb.png.e9221cc2013ce363eddf50ed8bca6be4.png

 

Jeff, if you can find one of these I don't think you'd ever let it leave the stable like a certain member here who will remain nameless did. It's the big Kahuna

The "Grand Integra"! 

A very nice looking beast, that amp.

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Do you have any more info on that model line @Steff?

I've been doing some googling and it seems that the international version in that post of yours above, the 8850, is an international version of the 917 not the 919 so I was wondering if there was an international version of the 919 at all.  But I'm having to guess at model numbers so I'm not getting very far.

 

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OK, I've found a manual for the 8990 and the specs don't match, also it contains an internal DAC which should have been a bit of a hint I guess.

 

I've also found a topless pic of an 8890 which is a different internal layout again so that isn't a version of the 919.

onkyo8890.thumb.jpg.d6a28f67fff8edc1e155c2774313a90a.jpg

 

And then a youtube clip that shows the 8990 with the same internal layout.

 

And an 8870.

OnkyoA-8870Innenleben.jpg.b4aec6a392f8c7bb384f8377654bfa14.jpg

 

 

Really starting to think this 919 was a Japan only model.  And that is a pity because it is so damn good it really should have been shared with the rest of the world.

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  • 2 months later...
  • 2 weeks later...

I always liked Onkyo but a bit older- late 70's.I had an A-5 integrated amp in HS lasted 20 years and I stupidly got rid of it. All is good as I now have rectified that error with a few receivers a TX 6500 mkII 100+ WPC @ 49 lbs of pure musical joy  and a TX4500 55 wpm for my 16 year old son

TX 6500.jpeg

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On 07/01/2024 at 5:01 PM, Luc said:

image.thumb.png.e9221cc2013ce363eddf50ed8bca6be4.png

 

Jeff, if you can find one of these I don't think you'd ever let it leave the stable like a certain member here who will remain nameless did. It's the big Kahuna

WOW now that is a beautiful looking beastie indeedy!

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