|Marantz MM8003 Power Amplifier|
|Home Theater Power Amplifiers Multi-Channel Amplifiers|
|Written by Brian Kahn|
|Monday, 01 December 2008|
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Listening to the MM8003
I let the MM8003 break in for a few days and then on the first day of listening I let the system warm up for a couple of hours before sitting down. I began with Dire Strait’s “Money for Nothing” from Brothers In Arms (Warner Brothers). I find the opening guitar riff to be a good test piece. The Marantz was able to reproduce this fast paced piece with sufficient detail for me to easily discern its details. The dynamics and sense of rhythm were good and sounded much better than the amplifier in any of the audio/video receivers I have heard recently, another point in favor of separates. At the highest listening levels I noticed a slight bit of compression in dynamics but there was none at any normal listening levels. Vocals of Mark Knopfler and Sting were reproduced with the right amount of grit and chestiness that I have come to expect. There was no lack of detail that hid the individual characteristics of these voices.
Paula Cole’s song “Tiger” from her album This Fire (Warner Brothers) always provides sonic workout. Cole’s vocals were sweet and warm. The soundstage width was comparable to the big Halcro in width but not depth in the detail of placement. While the eight times more expensive Halcro was better across the board, it should be. However, the Marantz was impressive as well. The Summits are incredibly revealing speakers that are easily capable of discerning sonic gaffs of any of the upstream electronics. There were no sonic gaffs to speak of with the MM8003. The Marantz was extremely clean and detailed throughout the frequency range with only the occasional slightest hint of solid state grain or glare. No weird harmonics, unusual harshness, distortion, etc. So how does the Marantz MM8003 differ from the uber amplifiers of the world? The Halcro and Krell amplifiers in my system brought the level of refinement up, more detail in the nuances, more power etc. For example, when listening to “Tiger” through the Acoustic Zen Adagio’s the high ends had more ambiance through the Halcro and Krell. The explosive bass notes of this track were also reproduced with more authority. At moderately loud volumes the Marantz had no problems driving the 6 ohm Adagio’s, however at house shaking levels the larger Krell and Halcro amplifiers could go further with no signs of dynamic compression. As a practical matter, this will rarely come up with most systems, especially if you are able to bi-amp your speakers. (The Adagio’s only have a single set of binding posts.)
Multi-channel music was handled with equal aplomb by the Marantz without any shift in sonic character. Diana Krall’s album Love Scenes (GRP/DTS) provides a chance for a multi-channel amplifier to show its ability to portray its musicality across all channels rather than just being a test of brute force. The track “Peel Me A Grape” is dripping with Krall’s sultry voice and is pure sensual bliss. The Marantz let Krall’s sultry voice shine through, the critical midrange had vocals that were warm and full with detailed and delicate backing instrumentals. The disc uses all five channels to reproduce the ambiance of the hall with good success. Listening to the album with the Marantz providing the power I had no problems closing my eyes and picturing myself there.
Stepping it up a notch (or quite a few) and bridging the gap to movies, I moved to concert videos. Specifically, the Godsmack concert video “Changes” (Zoe Records). I was turned on to this piece during a Marantz demonstration so I figured it was highly appropriate for use here. “Batalla de los Tambores” is one of the most visceral and dynamic tracks I have heard in a long time. This battle between the two sets of drums is fast and furious. The drums featured a mix of deep throbbing beats with quicker hits off of the snare drums providing a good workout for any multi-channel system. I listened to this piece through the Adagio system. The notes were all reproduced with great accuracy and detail, I could close my eyes and tell who was hitting what without difficulty. However, closing my eyes was difficult as I found myself feeling as though I was there and kept opening my eyes to make sure I wasn’t going to be trampled in the mosh pit, truly an involving experience with a heightened sense of realism. It wasn’t just that that powerful onstage notes were reproduced realistically, but that the rear channels provided sufficient detailed information to place me inside the concert hall. What more could I ask for from an amplifier? Well, perhaps a bit more power so I could push the envelope even a little bit more. When the family was gone and I cranked my system up to insane levels there was a bit of compression and a slight loss of dynamic slam.
Finally, we get to movies. “I Am Legend” (Warner Home Entertainment, Blu-ray) provided many different sonic tests. There are many delicate nuances in this film, the way voices change when Will Smith’s character moves into different environments, such as inside to outside, the decay of the echo of rifle shots, etc. The MM8003 had no problem rendering any of this with ease. The mass evacuation scenes and the later interior fight scenes also provided the Marantz the opportunity to show off its resolving power in all channels yet with increased dynamics, again it was done with ease and good sense of involvement. Dynamics, the backbone of any action flick must also be reproduced well to keep the illusion real. Without giving away the plot, there are several scenes with explosions, animals and other dynamic sonic tracks, no matter how many channels were involved the Marantz had plenty of power to handle it while keeping the sounds discrete, detailed and realistic. Dogs, sounded like dogs, gunshots like gunshots, etc.
I watched several more movies, including “Cloverfield” (Paramount, Blu-ray), which I had just used in the review of the AV8003. This movie features a battle scene in the beginning with deep and powerful bass notes as buildings come slamming to the ground while crowds, alarms and more blared from every direction. Again, the Marantz had no difficulty whatsoever discerning details from every channel while maintaining the proper dynamic balance. No matter what I through at this amplifier it was quick, detailed and neutral.