Marantz’s new reference costs a lot, but gives more.
Sound & Image mean
A resolution that reveals everything, paired with a musicality that still makes listening a pleasure. And then, in addition, virtually unlimited forces. What’s not to like?
You get a lot of money, but the price still makes PM-10 a pleasure for the few. And since the PM-10 is across analogue, you need to add the price of a good DAC.
It’s nice to have something to look forward to. And we have had since we visited Marantz’s headquarters in Eindhoven in the Netherlands in November, and demonstrated the company’s new reference series. The series consists of the SA-10 SACD player and the PM-10 integrated amplifier. Of course, we ordered both for testing. SA-10 we tested earlier, but the amplifier was waiting for it. Until now, where the production copies could be released with the writer Ken Wishiwatas, and a testimony panted home from the post office.
With a weight of more than 20 kg, the Marantz PM-10 is a solid matter to get back in place in the listening room. Even though owners of, for example, Gryphon amplifiers will regard it as a nips object. From the outside, the relationship to the SA-10 is clear. And it looks like confusion with other Marantz amplifiers, such as PM-1153: A large block with slightly curved front and a central panel with “cowboy display” in the center and blue LED lights along the edges. If you prefer a more dimmed look, the blue lights can of course be turned off.
On the back, which is covered with pure copper, you will find a selection of inputs and outputs of good quality. The speaker terminals are in extra clean copper, and are all what you want for connections. Therefore, if you are set to drive analogly all the way, the PM-10 has no digital inputs at all. This task takes the SA-10 into top marks, which next to the SACD player holds an outstanding DAC. But it also means that you must calculate the price of a digital converter to the amount already in advance if you invest in a PM-10.
From the outside, the relationship to the SA-10 is clear. A large block with slightly curved front and a central panel with “cowboy display” in the center and blue LED lights along the edges.
A new class
While the exterior is well-known, the intake below the five millimeter thick copper lid is a violation of Marantz’s traditions. The PM-10 is Marantz’s first high-end class D amplifier.
Class D amplifiers are significantly more effective than traditional class AB amplifiers. It makes it possible to build stronger amplifiers with higher power in less space. PM-10 is specified at 2 x 200 W in 8 ohms, and doubles in 4 ohms. And it’s not two, but all four power levels hidden in the fully enclosed cabinet. The PM-10 is, therefore, balanced based on input to output. Therefore, there are two exit stages in each channel, which work mirror-wise in relation to each other. In addition to providing twice as much power and costing twice as many components, the balanced build-up will also offset noise and other disturbances in the circuit. Class D amplifier modules are Ncore modules from Dutch Hypex.
However, a Marantz tradition, which is found in the PM-10, are the special HDAM amplifier modules used instead of integrated operating amplifiers. They are used in rich measure all over the amplifier. Of course in a high-end version called HDAM SA3. They are found in the RIAA section, which also supports moving coil pickups.
The sound of Marantz PM-10
Some hi-fi equipment impresses at the first acquaintance, but turns out to decorate things. Other times, a “boring” amplifier shows to win by closer acquaintance. With the Marantz PM-10, one of the rare “it’s just like it” experiences when it first presents a sound image that is even bigger, cleaner and clearer than the high price has built the expectation up to. And that continues to impress the better you get to know it.
A gracious fight
Most class D amplifiers are characterized by a neutral and uncoloured sound image. But at the same time they can often be boring and unattractive to listen to. This is not the case with PM-10. It is neutral, but in a friendly manner. Actually, there are no pitches favored, but everyone is loved.
Testers like talking about the instruments appearing on a more or less black background. That kind of sounds snobbet, but it’s a calm and purity of the PM-10, which is rare. It makes it easy to place instruments on the acoustic scene, and you can easily hear the difference between the audio and video effects used on the recording.
On the back, which is covered with pure copper, you will find a selection of inputs and outputs of good quality. The speaker terminals are in extra clean copper, and are all what you want for connections. Therefore, if you are set to drive analogly all the way, the PM-10 has no digital inputs at all.
The quietness of the amplifier can also be experienced in such a way that noise and noise can be clearly distinguished from the amplifier’s own ground noise. The latter is simply not there. Or rather, it is so low that it is not detected at any time. Nor as an unconscious bottom of turmoil.
It is easy to hear unprecedented puzzles for the favorite recordings. But in spite of the mistakes it will not be distracting or uncomfortable to listen to. The Marantz PM-10 can reveal errors in the recording and playback chain as a true reference amplifier, but it is primarily about reproducing music.
I have rarely heard an amplifier with such a big dynamic range. The vibration of I’m Confessin from Jazz at the Pawnshop seems just a little fresher than hitherto, and it’s beaten a bit harder with the clubs. Similarly, the drums on Time Pass Time from Middle Passage are a little bit more windy, and the bass strings are a bit brighter.
With at least 200 watts available, it’s surplus to drive most, if not all, speakers at ample sound pressure. More importantly, it is the surplus and the control it has. Also when it does not play deafening loudly.
With such a fierce price, there are no alternatives. But in fact, there are only a few amplifiers who make sense to compare directly with. If it’s missing the watt under the hood, it’s the Danish Gato DIA-400S, which has the dual effect, built-in DAC, and is, nevertheless, one-third less expensive. Both are exciting and both represent a bargain. But you get an even more open and live rendering for the extra crowns that PM-10 costs.
Should it be even more wild, it’s fighting like MacIntosh MA8000 and Gryphon Diablo 300, which will make your soul leave the body. But it can be difficult to find your way home, since you have to sell more than one kidney to get advice!
Calling an amplifier for just over 80,000 kroner for cheap is jubilant frenzy. And when it even lacks a digital section, it seems even more absurd. Nevertheless, it is the case with the Marantz PM-10. If you are looking for an amplifier that can distinguish the cliff from the wheat in a playful easy and musical way, even when played high on heavy-duty loudspeakers in large rooms, the Marantz PM-10 is worth all the money. Marantz has technologically jumped with both legs into the future, but has retained the classic sound. Creating a reference amplifier from the bottom with new technology borders for hybrid. Except when it succeeds. And it did this.
Output power: 2 x 200 W in 8 ohm / 2 x 400 W in 4 ohm
inputs: pickup (MM / MC), 4 x analog input (stereo RCA),
2 x balanced analog input (stereo XLR), power amp direct RCA).
Outputs: Recorder (stereo RCA), 2 pairs of speakers
(track / screw terminals), remote control (minijack, RCA).
Dimensions: 44.0 x 16.8 x 40.0 cm (WxHxD)
Weight: 21.3 kg
Color: Black, Golden