Two hi-fi electronics for this week?s test, the Marantz PM-6005 integrated stereo amplifier and the Marantz CD-6005 CD player. The PM-6005 is the champion of its category, heir to the numerously awarded Marantz PM-6004. This stereo amplifier can deliver up to 2×45 Watts at 8 Ohms, it is fitted with terminals for a pair of A and B speakers as well as a DAC with 24 bits / 192 kHz compatible S/PDIF inputs, an MM phono preamp and tone control. The Marantz CD-6005 plays audio CDs as well as MP3, WMA and WAV files via its front USB port.
Marantz PM-6005 : DAC 24/192 on board
The major new feature of the Marantz PM-6005 amp is its DAC. Marantz made sure its amplifier up to date as this integrated amp can handle stereo PCM audio stream coming from an HD TV, a network player or even a Blu-ray player (with stereo conversion carried beforehand by the player). Marrantz decided to use the microchip featured in their high end devices, the Cirrus Logic CS4398 DAC. Although the Marantz PM-6005 is ranked as a mid-range amplifier, it is equipped with a high-end conversion microchip. By high-end we mean that the distortion level, signal-to-noise ratio and channel separation offered by the CS4398 are outstanding and directly comparable to its high-end competition such as the Burr Brown PCM1792 or ESS Sabre 9018K2M. Just like these two famous DACs, the Cirrus Logic CS4398 can handle PCM audio stream up to 24 bits and 192 kHz, as well as DSD. Yet, as the PM-6005 does not have a USB port, listening to DSD files is not possible.
Marantz PM-6005 : H-DAM toric transformer
For this amplifier, Marantz used homemade transistors rather than operational amplifiers, which results in the possibility to accurately adjust the amplifier?s sound signature, but also drastically reduces distortion. These discrete components are called Hyper Dynamic Amplifier Modules (HDAM). In the Marantz PM-6005, they are supplied in power by a toric transformer (which is not the case with the PM-7005 with El power supply, less costly). This bulky toric transformer is covered with black silicone, which is another sign of the special care given to the design of this model. The electric current is filtered by multiple small audiophile capacitors.
Marantz PM-6005 : Front panel
The design of this amplifier complies with Marantz standards. The front panel is made up of brushed aluminum and features various buttons and potentiometers, all very pleasant to handle. From left to right are: a big potentiometer for source selection, which will switch the PM-6005 on when turned (given that the main power switch situated right under it is already on). A large LED screen indicates which source is currently selected: phono, tape, CD, network, recorder, coaxial S/PDIF or optical S/PDIF. Under it are the commuters for ?Direct Source?, ?A-B Speakers? and ?loudness?. The ?Direct Source? mode allows you to bypass the tone correction circuits, in order to preserve the incoming signal as much as possible. The ?loudness? mode reinforces the low and high frequency range for a full bodied listening experience at low volume. The A-B speaker selector lets you choose which pair of speakers you would like to use or you can even use both pairs simultaneously.
Note that if two pairs of speakers are used simultaneously, their nominal impedance should not be inferior to 8 Ohms. If you do use speakers with an impedance below 8 Ohms it could be too strenuous for the power supply and force the amplifier to switch off in order to avoid damaging the speakers.
Besides, two pairs of speakers is not synonymous with twice the power: the ideal is to use one pair of speakers at a time. At the bottom is the headphone output as well as three compact potentiometers to adjust bass (around 100 Hz), treble (around 10 kHz) and stereo balance. The bass knob can be very useful depending on what you are listening to as it will help fleshing out some tracks. As for the volume potentiometer, it is motorised and can be adjusted via the remote control.
Marantz PM-6005 : Back panel
Proof of the extremely careful design of this amp, all the screws are copper made and the connectors are all gold coated. The layout is beyond reproach: the digital inputs are placed at the top while the phono input is far from the other RCA inputs and the ground plug is placed right above it. The screw terminals are compatible with banana plugs. Note that there are also input and output RCA remote connections available which let you control the amp even if it is not visible, via the CD-6005 CD player for instance.
Marantz PM-6005 : test configuration
We used the Marantz PM-6005 amplifier with a pair of Monitor Audio Radius 270 floor-standing speakers, a Marantz CD-6005 CD player, a PopCorn Hour A410M player and a HD LG television. We used our reference cables, the Viard Audio Silver HD12 HP, as well as the Viard Audio Premium HD RCA-RCA cables, Viard Audio Premium HD S/PDIF and the Toslink Audioquest Vodka optical cable. We are very familiar with the neutral quality of these cables. We listened to HD and CD quality FLAC files and watched a few films featuring a DTS track (converted to stereo PCM by the source).
Marantz PM-6005 : Listening impressions
We started our listening sessions with the filmed version of Depeche mode?s concert in Barcelona (Tour of The Universe, DTS HD MA, MKV file from a NAS), first good surprise here as we hear a very well defined sound stage. When compared to the Quad Vena we tested a few days before, the Marantz PM-6005 boasts a much more thorough delivery of the low and high frequency range as well as an outstanding timing for a mid-range model. The sound of the audience during Enjoy The Silence is conveyed with a lot of finesse, the applause during the intro sounds very precise and is not saturated with high harmonics, while the crowd singing during the chorus is perfectly intelligible. The tweeter of the Monitor Audio Radius 270 speakers found a perfect match with the PM-6005, as the amplifier is soft and smooth in the high range of the sound spectrum. The tweeter of the Monitor Audio Radius 270 also found a perfect match with the PM-6005 due to its softness and smooth sound restitution. The low-frequency range response is tight, so much so that the drum snare benefits from increased density in comparison to the Quad Vena or Denon Ceol N9 amplifier, which we also used with these speakers.
We also listened with the PopCorn Hour A410 player in its audiophile power unit. In order to listen to what extent the PM-6005 can articulate a rich and textured message in the bass range, we listened to Hey Now by London Grammar. While our attention was drawn to the bass range, it was the openess and separation of the channels which really struck us. The sound stage is deep and we really rediscover this track. Bass is clean, deep and under control even when boosting volume up a quarter of the way. Excellent balance is achieved, thanks to the PopCorn Hour A410M, which turns out to be a credible hi-fi source.
We listened to a Pro-Ject Debut 3 turntable 3 via the MM phono input of the Marantz PM-6005. The result is balanced and satisfactory overall, but an external RIAA pre-amp, such as the Graham Slee Communicator, gives listeners more.
Back to the Marantz CD-6005 player. Which is a better connection – analog or digital’ The amp and CD player feature the same Cirrus Logic CS4398 DAC. Should decoding then be handed over to the player or the amp?
There is very little difference but listening via the player?s analog output adds (a little) extra airiness. This is minimal but is most likely down to the very good performance of the Viard Audio RCA cables. Although they belong to the same 6005 series, the amp and player don’t necessarily need to be paired up. A Marantz CD-5005 paired up with a PM-6005 (via its digital output) shouldn’t offer any lesser performance. This doesn’t obviously mean that the Marantz CD-6005 isn’t a worthwhile purchase as the speed of its audio message will be perfectly suited to stereo amps without a DAC.
For less than 600 ?, you would be hard pushed to find a better integrated stereo amplifier with additional 24/192 DAC. The Marantz PM-6005 has no negative points, apart perhaps from the fact that it doesn’t feature a USB port which would have enabled DSD digital streaming from a computer thanks to the Cirrus Logic CS4398 chip. Its rhythm, flow and energy make it an excellent amplifier for all compact and floor-standing speakers. Its precision in the treble range means that it is an ideal companion for demanding alloy dome tweeters, such as Focal, B&W, Klipsch or Monitor Audio. Aside from our Monitor Audio Radius 270 speakers, we were struck by its pairing with the Focal Aria 906, which we will review in the near future. The Marantz PM-6005 is an excellent integrated component.