Oliver Kriete joined the Marantz team 18 years ago and is now the Denon and Marantz Product Marketing Manager in charge of hi-fi and AV products. He accepted our invitation to tell us about the Denon Ceol and Marantz Melody ranges of connected mini hi-fi systems.
S.V.: Who are the main users of Denon Ceol or Marantz Melody compact systems?
O. K.: There aren’t that many differences between the two models. Users are looking for a convenient solution as regards accessing their music, whether that involves streaming via a network with WiFi, Bluetooth, AirPlay, via a physical support or even listening to the radio. Our users find that the compact format of our all-in-one systems, with their aesthetic appearance to blend in with their surroundings, is just as important as their musical performance. The choice between Denon or Marantz is based on the aesthetic and audio features which differ between the two brands.
S.V: Ceol and Melody amplifiers are very alike. Do they share the same technology? Are there genuine differences in terms of amplification or is it simply a case of sound signature?
O.K.: These amps have some similar technological aspects. They both use the same type of digital amplification. The design of the circuits, however, is different as regards power, pre-amplification or signal processing. This is demonstrated in specifications as regards power supply of Marantz amps, with a double output for two pairs of speakers. The Marantz MCR-611 features this type of configuration with individual volume control for each pair of speakers. What is important, though, beyond common technology, is that each device has its own specific features and individual audio identity.
S.V.: The digital to analog converter models are never mentioned for both Ceol and Melody amps. Why is that?
O.K.: We believe that most users are more interested in the functions an amplifier has to offer rather than the DAC?s capacities. The average user doesn’t think about connecting the amp directly to his/her computer right away but simply wants to enjoy quality sound without thinking too much about technical features. For listeners who are more concerned about technical features, there are the Denon DA300USB and the Marantz HD-DAC1 DACs.
S.V: Denon indicates that the Ceol compact system is entirely digital, what does this mean exactly?
O.K.: It simply means that the incoming signal via USB, AirPlay or a local network is not converted into analog signals but instead is conveyed to the volume controller and amplification in a purely digital format. Only at the very end of the process is the signal converted to analog. This happens when it passes through a low pass filter inductor, a component specially developed by Denon.
S.V.: We noticed that low frequencies were particularly responsive with Denon amps. Does Denon adapt the sound in a specific way?
O.K.: Ceol compact systems are sometimes delivered with specific speakers for which there is a specific low frequency sound equalizer. When this option is deactivated, bass remains one of the highlights of our compact systems. This is, indeed, our intention.
S.V.: What has been improved in the latest Ceol and Melody systems?
O.K.: We improved the Denon speakers in the Ceol compact systems. Low frequencies are better and sound dispersion has been enhanced. As regards the electronic components, we have extended the frequency response and perfected the medium range to add more detail and therefore obtain a superior resolution. We have avoided any excessive brightness. Delivery is more open and airy but not harsh. We are extremely pleased with the final outcome.
As for the new Marantz Melody range, brought out this summer, we have carried out many technical improvements like the output for A/B speakers with volume control, a pre-out output, as well as DSD compatibility and Spotify Connect support. Marantz Melody compact systems now feature an NFC Bluetooth receiver. The front panel illumination can be changed to different colours.
S.V: The Ceol and Melody headphone amps are ?surprisingly? good.
O.K.: That’s because both Denon and Marantz select only the best components. We can overcome any obstacle and perfect the slightest details in order to achieve these results.
S.V.: What can we expect from the latest Denon Ceol and Marantz Melody models? A type B USB port for computers perhaps?
O.K.: We’re going to continue meeting customers’ expectations, that’s for sure. A USB DAC isn’t on the cards but as online music services are becoming increasingly popular, we could enhance this aspect. We haven’t decided to replace the current ranges for the time being (ed.Denon Ceol N4, Denon Ceol N9, Marantz MCR-511 and Marantz MCR-611).
S.V.: DSD format is becoming increasingly superior. Could we envisage a day when Ceol and Melody compact amplifiers would add this function’
Denon Ceol systems are not currently compatible with the DSD format. They support many different HD formats up to 24 bits and 192 kHz. The Marantz MCR-511 and MCR-611 can play DSD files up to 2.8 MHz and even the gapless mode.
S.V.: Are you planning on adding a Bluetooth aptX receiver?
O.K.: No, we have adopted an approach which focuses even more on quality as regards our compact systems (lossless WiFi streaming).
S.V.: Are you planning on integrating native support for online music services such as Deezer or Qobuz in Ceol and Melody firmware?
O.K.: Simple firmware updates wouldn’t allow us to do this. These online streaming services can however be accessed using AirPlay technology orBluetooth technology for Android devices.
S.V.: Can Ceol compact systems be used with HEOS multiroom devices?
O.K.: Yes, all our products can be integrated into a HEOS system thanks to the HEOS Link.
Read our review on the Denon DRA-100 ? an audiophile network amplifier based on the Ceol model.