|Marantz PM6004 Integrated Amplifier Review|
|Home Theater Power Amplifiers Integrated Amplifiers|
|Written by Andre Marc|
|Tuesday, 20 December 2011|
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Integrated amplifiers are probably more popular than ever before. Today, many companies offer a one box, convenient solution loaded with features and requiring fewer cables / less rack space, which allows for full system control with just one remote. That is not to mention that advances in design have made it possible for audio engineers to produce great sounding, easy to use products at even entry level price points. The engineers at the iconic brand Marantz have done this for many years running, and continue to do that today.
There is a bit of a romantic notion of owning a hifi component made by a lone artisan, focused on “hand crafting” products one at a time using proprietary designs produced in low numbers. In the case of electronics, these products are usually featureless by design, in the quest for “sonic purity”. I have been there and done that. While this notion is indeed enticing, and being part of a small club made up of select few owners has its appeal, there are drawbacks as well. Getting service if a repair is needed can be an issue. And warranties are generally only good if the purveyors of these fine products are still in business, or in some cases, alive. More than a few one man shops in high end audio have closed their doors, or their owners have passed on.
On the flip side, a powerhouse like Marantz, who has been at the game for over 60 years, can leverage technology and sheer purchasing volume to produce remarkable products, even at entry level. Very few companies offer a full line of CD and SACD players, AV receivers, file players, turntables, power amplifiers, and integrated amps for under a grand. And the others that do would have a tough time using premium grade parts, trickle down reference level technology, all with worldwide distribution.
Speaking of components under a grand, I received for review a sample of the new PM6004 Integrated amplifier from Marantz. The PM6004 retails for $599. The feature list is impressive, to say the least. The unit comes with user-defeatable balance and tone controls, six line level inputs, two sets of high quality binding posts, two recording outputs, and a remote control that can work multiple Marantz components. If that were not enough, there is a built in Moving Magnet phono stage. The PM6004 offers 45 watts per channel into 8 ohms and 60 watts per channel into 4 ohms.
The PM6004, incidentally, is a successor to the well reviewed PM6003. According to Marantz, “the PM6004 features audiophile-grade engineering. The strategic difference between the PM6003 and the new PM6004 is that now both the pre-amplification and power amplification sections exclusively feature discrete components, with not a single IC employed. Specially selected single components not only outperform ICs in quality, they also make it possible to refine the sound in much more detail, resulting in more clarity and transparency in the sound stage.” It must be noted that to find discrete components instead of the ubiquitous integrated circuits at this price point is rather unusual.
Set Up & Listening:
Despite some very advanced engineering and a bunch of features, the PM6004 is incredibly easy to set up and use. Plug in your sources and power cord, and hit Play. I used a DH Lab Encore power cord and Kimber interconnects, with QED speaker cable. My sources were a Marantz CD5003 disc spinner, and a Logitech Squeezebox Touch connected to a Musical Fidelity V-DAC II. For most of the review period, I used my Harbeth Compact 7ES3 speakers on Sound Anchor stands.
Within the first ten minutes of my initial listening session, I already knew this review process was going to be a very pleasant one. The music flowed beautifully, with plenty of body and soul. There was not the least amount -- I mean not an ounce -- of detectable mechanical or electronic artifacts. I have heard way more expensive amplifiers that have maybe provided more resolution, but along with a clearly detectable silicon haze that never let you forget you were listening to solid state.