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Marantz PM8003 Integrated Amplifier Review Print E-mail
Friday, 02 October 2009
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Marantz PM8003 Integrated Amplifier Review

ImageIt was 1976, I was 9 years old and having my first experience with “high-end” audio gear. My dad had just brought home a stereo system for our living room, including a receiver, cassette deck, turntable and speakers. The heart of it all was a Marantz Model 2235 Receiver. By audiophile standards, the 2235 was modest, but it still carried a hefty price tag of $450 – roughly equivalent to $1,700 in 2009. At 35 watts per channel, the 2235 wasn't going to shake our house, but it was the source of much enjoyable listening in a living room that really became the “entertainment” room.

More than anything the receiver just looked cool. I loved how the blue light illuminated the front panel and how you could tune in radio stations with the Gyro Tuning Wheel – the wheel that defined Marantz receivers in the 1970s. Those Marantz receivers – and other Marantz gear – still fetch respectable sums on eBay and other audio venues. Marantz gear had a magic about it that stuck with a lot of folks through the bumpy decades to come.

When home theater became all the rage, many audio manufacturers jumped ship from traditional two-channel stereo and onto the 5.1 bandwagon. Many Marantz contemporaries finally abandoned home audio gear altogether and became shells of themselves. Persistently, though, Marantz carried on, refusing to give up the promise of delivering great stereo sound for those still listening to music.

More than 30 years later Marantz is still leading the charge, offering consumers a variety of two-channel products across price points within reach of most. The PM8003 Integrated Amplifier is the upper-end amplifier offering in the company's “Hi-Fi” line. Retailing at $999.99, the PM8003 is not “cheap” but it sports an array of features found in products costing thousands more, such as Marantz's SC-11S1 Reference Control Amplifier (MSRP $3,199.99).

Design & Features

Lift with the legs not the back when pulling the PM8003 from its box. At 26.5 pounds, the PM8003 is a substantial piece of gear and built like a tank. Its hefty chassis is reinforced with a triple-layer bottom plate for extra stability and to reduce vibrations during playback. Certainly, there are many auxiliary isolation devices on the audio market designed to prevent vibration; kudos to Marantz for incorporating it directly onto the amp. Place the PM8003 on a flat, solid surface and it's not going anywhere.

Maratnz PM8003 side

Elegant and simple describe the PM8003's front panel. Six rotary knobs provide control over device selection, volume, speakers, bass, treble and balance. The power button, headphone jack and remote infrared sensor round out the face. Oh yeah, Marantz didn't forget the blue light – a blue LED indicates the chosen input. I'm gone on record before, saying that black is not my color when it comes to audio gear, but the Marantz design softened my stance. The sleek curves and angles make the PM8003 a very stylish and artsy amp, one that would perk up any listening room.

Under the PM8003's hood lurks a hefty, double-shielded toroidal transformer optimized to minimize vibration and reduce leakage flux, which can produce voltage drops in the presence of an electric current and affect sound quality. Borrowing from its upscale brother – the SC-11S1 – the PM8003 employs the same Higher Definition Amplifier Module (HDAM) SA3 and phono equalizer as its much pricier sibling. The PM8803 also incorporates a CD-Direct Buffer Amplifier, solely for CD, that sends the signals directly to the pre-amp. The pre- and power amp both incorporate all-discrete current-feedback circuits for improved resolution. The PM8003 is rated at 70 watts per channel into 8 ohms or 100 watts per channel into 4 ohms. The amp features six gold-plated RCA audio inputs and two RCA audio outputs. The inputs are labeled for Phono, CD, Tuner, AUX/DVD and Recorder 1 & 2.

It's difficult to get excited about something as mundane as speaker binding posts, but those of the PM8003 are some of the best I've used. Newly developed and a Marantz exclusive, the PM8003's posts are large and make connecting speaker cables a breeze, particularly if you prefer bare wire. The posts also accept pins and banana plugs.

Although other audio manufacturers offer optional external or internal phono stages, Marantz has consistently kept vinyl lovers in mind and the PM8003 is no exception. The amp comes with a moving magnet phono input, turntable ready. Audiophiles will appreciate the detachable power cord, making it a cinch to swap or upgrade cords. Should users experience technical problems, a solid three-year warranty covers any unexpected blips.
PM8003 Back


The PM8003 is a three-in-one amp, capable of serving as integrated amp, pre-amp or power amp. Most will use it as an integrated, but if you want to mate it with another pre- or power amp of choice the option exists. The supplied remote controller is well labeled and intuitive to use. It's even beveled at the “balance” point, where most folks will hold the remote, and rests nicely in the hand. If you use the amp with other Marantz components, such as a CD or DVD player or tuner, remote control jacks on the back of the unit accept other remote-controlled devices and allow for control of the amp and auxiliary devices with just one remote. Two sets of speaker posts make it possible to hook up a single pair or two speaker systems. For those wanting to squeeze out the most performance from a pair of speakers, the PM8003 facilitates bi-wiring. Simply connect the right channel speaker to both pairs of right channel posts (A & B), and do the same for the left channel. Set the front panel speaker knob to A+B, and you're set to listen.


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