Marantz has an enviably solid heritage in making amplifiers: after all, its very first product, way back in 1952, was the quaintly-named Consolette preamplifier, this was the foundation stone on which the whole company was built. And the PM7000, part of a current range running from the entry-level PM6007 up to the flagship PM-10, is an excellent example of the way the company maintains and develops its core technology while keeping an ear open for changes in the way we listen to our music. Not only is it finely detailed sounding and a well-endowed analogue amplifier, but it also integrates network audio capability, courtesy of the HEOS multiroom system originally developed by stablemate Denon, and now available across a range of products from parent company Sound United.
At the heart of the PM7000N is plenty of proprietary, utterly reliable Marantz technology, from custom-built power supplies to ensure dynamics and speed to the company’s ‘Current Feedback’ amplification, simplifying the circuit design for clarity and focus with music, all the way up to super hi-resolution formats. It uses the latest version of Marantz’s amplifier modules, built from miniaturised separate components rather than using poorer-performing ‘chip amplifiers’, and other features for better stereo imaging and definition. Take that as a big dollop of enjoyment from your listening.
And even before you get to the networking capabilities, the PM7000N is designed to be flexible, with three line inputs for CD players and the like, a phono stage for a record player, two optical and one coaxial digital input, and a USB port to which storage devices can be connected for music playback all the way up to high-resolution 192kHz/24bit and DSD128. There’s also Bluetooth for direct streaming from portable devices.
Slightly unusually, the amplifier also has a subwoofer output, for connection to a powered sub to add bass impact and extension: this has a user-adjustable low pass filter, so only very deep bass is sent out to the sub, allowing it to be integrated with the frequency range of your main speakers.
Connected to your home Internet using Wi-Fi or cabled Ethernet, the PM7000N can use its HEOS network audio capability to stream music from local storage – on a home computer or dedicated network attached storage (NAS) unit – or online services. HEOS also adds Apple AirPlay 2, and brings a wide range of streaming services, all controlled via the nifty HEOS app, including Amazon Music, Spotify Connect and Tidal, while streaming from network sources extends all the way up to ultra-hi-res files. In addition, the PM7000N can be combined with other HEOS-toting components to create a complete multiroom audio system, connected wirelessly and with almost limitless potential for expansion – and via HEOS can even respond to Alexa, Apple Siri and Google Assist voice commands.
With 60W per channel into an 8ohm speaker load, the PM7000N hardly looks like a powerhouse on paper, but it belies that seemingly modest output with a sound full of dynamics, vitality and detail. In typical Marantz style, it can initially seem a little warm and lush – which means it will flatter smaller or more forward-sounding speakers. Listen a little longer, however, and you’ll realise that above that rich bass, which is actually tightly controlled, driving rhythms smartly, there’s bags of information in the midrange, where most voices and instruments are found, and a treble that’s good when it comes to revealing the space and ambience of a recording, while also giving the sound real sparkle without any brashness or excessive ‘edge’.
Also worth noting is that the amplifier has both tone and balance controls – not always a given at this level – to allow the sound to be tuned to your room, the rest of the system and your tastes: many will suggest that such controls can get in the way of the purity of the sound, but others appreciate the ability to give things a slight tweak. The Marantz offers a ‘source direct’ function for those wanting to bypass the tone and balance adjustments, and even when used with these settings ‘flat’ delivers a sound that’s both rich and open, making it the perfect suitor to a wide range of music.
Play large-scale music, from live rock or pounding electro to full-orchestra classical pieces, and there’s plenty of power and slam, allied to excellent speed and drive, while with more intimate recordings it can do the ‘up close and personal’ thing to superb effect. It all makes up for an excellent listen, combined with a very useful range of facilities: this may look like a traditional stereo amplifier, but there’s a lot more to it than that, thanks to the top of the class streaming/multiroom capabilities.
This amplifier is as simple to set up as you could want, thanks in no small part to the well-thought out HEOS platform, and with its excellent speaker-driving capability and a sound combining warmth and detail, it will ensure your attention is always focused on the music. It has more than enough inputs to suit most conventional systems, and works like a dream with music stored on a computer or NAS drive – or even just on a USB stick
Marantz has successfully combined its long-established amplifier technology with its experience with network audio, drawing on the HEOS system to make this both a purist stereo amp and a real contender in the streaming arena. However you use the PM7000N you won’t be disappointed, all the way from playing your favourite records to streaming hi-res music from Tidal or your own digital library.
Billy Bragg & Joe Henry: The L&N Don’t Stop Here Any More
Bragg & Henry’s love letter to American railroads, Shine A Light, was recorded on location during a Stateside trip, and this track, like the others on the album, drips with the ambience of platforms, waiting rooms and rail-side hotels. From distant whistles to background chatter, the Marantz delivers it all.
Beethoven: Symphony No. 7 (Jordi Savall/Le Concert des Nations)
This Beethoven Révolution set encompasses four symphonies, from 6 to 9, in a wonderfully measured recording of fine performances and superb dynamics without any attempts to inject superfluous character or gimmicks – the Allegretto from No. 7 shows all the power and finesse of the Marantz
Fourplay’s self-titled album has long been a hi-fi demonstration favourite – after all it’s ear-friendly jazz, beautifully recorded. Now, in its 30th anniversary re-release, it sounds even more spectacular and at the same time simple and delightful – and the Marantz just laps it up!
With its combination of solid audio engineering, streaming and multiroom capability, and a sound with a winning balance between smoothness and involvement, the PM7000N hits the sweet spot between old-school hi-fi and computer-based listening.