Pioneer A-40AE integrated amplifier/DAC Lab Report

Our sample was hot off the production line, so hot in fact that Pioneer hadn't finally decided on the A-40AE's rated power output – '2x76W/4ohm' or '2x60W/4ohm' or '2x30W/8ohm'? Our independent testing reveals figures of 2x60W/8ohm and 2x90W/4ohm which, in an effort to be conservative and accommodate territorial mains voltage variations, means Pioneer should rate its A-40SE somewhere between 40-50W/8ohm. Under dynamic, music-like conditions this improves to 82W, 149W, 220W and 175W into 8, 4, 2 and 1ohm loads [see Graph 1], while the minimum levels of applied feedback are reflected in the modest levels of distortion of 0.14%/1W falling to 0.04%/10W and 0.065%/50W (all at 1kHz/8ohm). Importantly, from a subjective standpoint, this moderate level of distortion is fairly consistent with frequency, varying from 0.04% through the bass to 0.06% at high treble frequencies.


Dynamic power versus distortion into 8ohm (black trace), 4ohm (red), 2ohm (green) and 1ohm (cyan) speaker loads. Maximum current is 13.2A


Distortion vs. digital signal level over a 120dB dynamic range (line out). 1kHz (black); 20kHz (blue)

The frequency response is very extended with ±0.5dB points at 1Hz-32kHz reaching out to –2.9dB/100kHz/8ohm. I should also point out the impact of Pioneer's 'Source Direct' function (bypassing balance and tone controls) which offers a remarkable uplift in A-wtd S/N ratio from 86.0dB to 92.6dB (re. 0dBW) – a halving of noise. Possibly more than just a 'bypass' at work here...

The onboard DAC stage, meanwhile, doesn't raise the digital bar with its rather disappointing 75.5dB A-wtd S/N (re. 0dBFs at 0dBV output) and low-level resolution that's limited by noise to around 90dB where it's already some 5dB adrift. Jitter is moderate at 570psec (48kHz/24-bit) and distortion [see Graph 2] is as low as 0.0005-0.0025% at –10dBFs (20Hz-20kHz). The digital filter is a standard linear phase type. PM

Continuous power (<1% THD, 8/4ohm): 60W / 93W
Dynamic power (<1% THD, 8/4/2/1ohm): 82W / 149W / 220W / 175W
Output impedance (20Hz–20kHz): 0.023–0.12ohm (2.11kohm, pre)
Freq. resp. (20Hz–20kHz/100kHz): +0.0 to –0.25dB/–2.9dB
Digital jitter (S/PDIF at 48kHz/96kHz): 570psec / 280psec
A-wtd S/N ratio (re. 0dBW/0dBFs): 92.5dB (Analogue) / 75.5dB (Dig)
Distortion (20Hz-20kHz; 0dBW/0dBFs): 0.039–0.059%/0.0001–0.015%
Power consumption (idle/rated o/p): 18W / 170W (1W standby)
Dimensions (WHD) / Weight: 426x149x344mm / 25kg
Price: £400

Onkyo & Pioneer Corp.
Osaka, Japan
Supplied by: Pioneer & Onkyo Europe GmbH, Middlesex
0208 836 3500