Marantz PM6004 Integrated Amplifier Review 
Home Theater Power Amplifiers Integrated Amplifiers
Written by Andre Marc   
Tuesday, 20 December 2011

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. 


I streamed dozens of FLAC albums from my Squeezebox Touch and found it difficult to end listening sessions due to the sheer pleasure of hearing music through the PM6004 and my Harbeth speakers. Pink Martini and Japanese singer Saori Yuki teamed up for a sublime album called 1969. It marries the retro lounge sound Pink Martini is famous for with the vocals of the Yuki, who is considered to be the Barbra Streisand of Japan. The opening track, “Yuuzuki (evening moon)” sounds like the soundtrack to a long lost James Bond film. Strings, soaring vocals, and dramatic melodies abound. There is even a Japanese version of “Puff, the Magic Dragon"! The PM6004 did a great job with every aspect of this recording, and organizing the lush arrangements and quirky rhythms. 

The Four Tops have too many compilations to count, but Anthology: 50th Anniversary is, in my opinion, the most complete.  Listening to such remastered classics as “You Keep Running Away”, “If I Were A Carpenter”, and “Walk Away Renee”, was magical, with all the analog glory inherent in the original tapes shining through. The same applies to Mobile Fidelity’s excellent mastering of two great Willie Nelson albums, Shotgun Willie, and Phase And Stages. These are seminal albums from the early 70’s “outlaw country” period and are, along with albums from Waylon Jennings and others, still benchmarks today.  Nelson’s vocals and nylon string guitar were beautifully rendered through the PM6004, as were the tasteful arrangements.

To offer some operational notes, the PM6004 was exceptionally quiet, ran cool, and worked flawlessly. I was especially impressed with how smooth the volume control was. There were no large jumps, just smooth, continuous increments. I usually get annoyed when I cannot set the volume precisely for the mood, or type of music. On several occasions I had to remind myself this was a $600 component.  Color me impressed.

 

Marantz PM 6004 Integrated Amp real panel

 

Conclusion:

I mentioned early in the review that Marantz has been in the high end audio game for many decades, producing iconic components that often set new standards in performance and pride of ownership. In all likelihood, they developed the blueprint for most high end companies today.  However, Marantz is in the relatively unique position of offering products across all prices and for a variety of applications, including multichannel home theater, two channel audio, and even professional sound. They have the ability to leverage their technology and apply resources to even the most modestly priced components. 

What you get with the Marantz PM6004 is a sweet sounding integrated amplifier with a feature list that seems hard to believe at this price point: two sets of metal binding posts for hooking up two sets of speakers, defeatable tone controls, a phono stage, and circuitry trickled down from the Reference series. Plus, a bunch of line level inputs, a headphone jack and a remote unit that controls multiple Marantz products, and other components.  Maybe the only thing missing is a subwoofer output, but jeez, that is nitpicking.

The Marantz PM6004, matched with a nice pair of speakers in the same price range allows you, for under $2000 including cables, to assemble a system that would give all but the most unreasonable audiophiles immense musical enjoyment. Some good sources to consider are a music server, like the Marantz NA7004, a Logitech Squeezebox Touch, or the matching Marantz CD5004 CD player.  The real clincher is that the PM6004 was not at all out of place driving a speaker like the Harbeth Compact 7ES3, which costs almost six times more. The Marantz PM6004 will receive my vote for budget component of the year, and that may even be selling it short. Highly recommended for those shopping for integrated amplifiers under $1000.

 

Specifications

Marantz PM6004 Integrated Amplifier: $599

Power Output (8 / 4 Ohm RMS): 45 W / 60 W
Frequency Response: 10 Hz - 70 kHz
Total Harmonic Distortion: 0.0008
Input Sensitivity, MM: 2 mV / 47 k Ohm
Signal to Noise Ratio, MM: 84 dB
Input Sensitivity, High Level: 200 mV / 20 k Ohm
Signal to Noise Ratio, High Level: 87 dB
Power Consumption: 150 W
Standby Consumption: 0.2 W
Dimensions: 17.3" wide, 14.4" deep, 4.1" high
Weight: 16.5 lbs

 

Review System 1

CD Transport: bel canto CD3t
Server: Squeezebox Touch with CIA  VDC-SB power supply
DAC: Bryston BDA-1
Preamp: Audio Research SP16
Amplifier: Audio Research VS55
Integrated Amplifier; McIntosh MA6600
Speaker: Thiel CS2.4
Cables:  Stager Silver Solids, DH Labs Revelation (IC), Kimber KCTG (IC), Transparent  MM2 Super (IC),  Transparent Plus (Speaker) Acoustic Zen Tsunami II (AC),Transparent (AC).Element Cable Element Cord, (AC)  Shunyata Venom (AC) Pangea AC-9 (AC) Audience powerChord e.(AC)
Accessories: Symposium Rollerblocks, Shakti Stone, Sound Anchors stands,  Audience Adept Response aR6 power conditioner, Cable Pro Noisetrapper, Salamander rack


Review System 2

CD Player: Marantz 5003
Music Server: Squeezebox Touch, Marantz NA7004
DAC: CIA VDA-2 with VAC-1 Power Supply, Lindemann  192 Khz
Computer: Dell netbook running Windows XP
Tape Deck: Revox A77
Speaker: Harbeth Compact 7ES3
Cables: Kimber/QED/Transparant/Shunyata(AC)/PS Audio, Pangea Audio (AC), DH Labs (digital)

 






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