When you’re attempting to set up a competent 2 channel audio system as I did recently in my office, it quickly becomes apparent that the list of equipment, cabling and forethought required to do so can get quite costly and take some real effort. It’s this problem that integrated amplifiers help to solve. In the case of the Marantz PM7000N, they’ve thrown in network playback for a solution that combines everything you need sans speakers into a single attractive unit. Marantz, a brand known to not eschew audio quality in favor of convenience, has designed the PM7000N with a fully discrete current feedback amplifier that can feed 60W per channel into an 8-ohm load. Here’s a bit more about the amplifier in Marantz’ own words:
Current Feedback amplification, a renowned Marantz-proprietary circuit technology, is thoughtfully designed to match the requirements of Super Audio hi-res music for wide-bandwidth, high-speed reproduction. The impedance at the Current Feedback point is limited, generating a very low phase shift. Marantz Current Feedback amplifiers reduce the need for phase compensation by minimizing Negative Feedback (NFB). This simplifies the signal path and results in a high through-rate, excellent transient response and superb sonic transparency across the full bandwidth. Unlike conventional Voltage Feedback topology, Current Feedback renders the power amplifier nearly immune to difficult loudspeaker loads.
The PM7000N includes D&M’s HEOS technology, enabling it to act as an endpoint for the streaming service of your choice, including the most popular services Pandora, Spotify, Amazon Prime Music and TIDAL. For any sources that don’t integrate into the HEOS ecosystem the PM7000N offers native Air Play 2 and Bluetooth support and can also function as a Roon endpoint. The PM7000N also conveniently integrates with Alexa and Google Assistant for smart-home control.
Perhaps most exciting about the PM7000N is that Marantz does not limit you to only network sources, and offers three analog inputs for any legacy devices like CD players. They have included a high quality phono stage for vinyl lovers, and a USB type A input to let the PM7000N function as a DAC for any PC or Mac. The DAC in the PM7000N is the well respected AK4490EQ, which is utilized in many well regarded standalone units, and natively supports up to 24-bit/192kHz PCM as well as 5.6MHz DSD playback.
The PM7000N features Marantz SPKT-1+ stereo binding posts which are made of solid brass with thick silver plating. Marantz includes a dedicated subwoofer output with an adjustable low-pass crossover to allow for proper main-sub integration, a feature often missing in integrated amplifiers.
Getting To Know The PM7000N
The PM7000N has very recognizable Marantz styling that owners of their home theater receivers or processors will quickly recognize. The front panel features a 3-line OLED display with large volume and input adjustment knobs on either side. On the right edge of the display, Marantz includes a directional controller and pause/play button for convenience when the remote isn’t near at hand. The center of the unit features a brushed metal facade, and has three tone adjustment knobs for bass, treble and balance, in addition to an amplified headphone output.
With a fairly modest 60 watts per channel, I expected the PM7000N would deliver competent if not amazing sound. I’m a bit of an amp snob, and have found many units with lower wattage can have trouble in the lower octaves.
I started by listening to the late Chris Jones’ No Sanctuary Here via HEOS’ Tidal integration. The heft and command of the PM7000N driving my XTZ 99.26MKII bookshelves was a welcome surprise. The bass line in this track quickly loses bite and texture on less capable amps, and the PM7000N held its own extremely well when compared against my Anthem MCA225 and D-Sonic M3a-3000S. While both of the other amplifiers were unquestionably superior, in the context of price there is no doubt that Marantz has gone to extraordinary lengths to value engineer the PM7000N, delivering performance that far exceeds the cost.
Moving on to other genres, I spent some time enjoying a new guilty pleasure artist, Suduaya, in his album Loveology which is a fantastic downtempo/psytrance release that has some very unique sonic aspects. The upper octave synths in many of his tracks are particularly complex, layering a combination of recorded and synthetic strings with percussive elements and effects that have a great deal of detail. Through the PM7000N the track Stellar Rebirth was rich and melodic and full of detail, with the atmospheric effects and vocals combining wonderfully.
I moved on from electronic music to another genre I spend a great deal of time with, Soundtracks. Two Steps From Hell’s recent release Unleashed is a fantastic example of what used to be called movie-trailer music turned into an album, and the title track Unleashed sounded wonderful through the PM7000N. This track has tremendous dynamic range (particularly the uncompressed release available on TIDAL), and the PM7000N handled these dynamic elements with aplomb, throwing a large vibrant wall of sound that belied the 60WPC it had available. As I turned the volume up beyond my usual listening levels for a few of my favorite passages in Unleashed, the PM7000N finally began to show its limits and sound a little strained – but only at listening levels that most would consider excessively loud.
Building a truly competent stereo system can be quite expensive, and almost always requires compromises somewhere in the chain. Once you add together the cost of a capable DAC, pre-amp, network streaming solution, amplifier and cabling you’re easily spending the same as or more than the PM7000N’s retail price of price $999. This might yield some sonic benefits over the PM7000N, but you will be giving up space and simplicity as well.
There is a very real and not inconsequential value to a solution that “just works” for enjoying music in your home. It is this factor that really pushes the value and attractiveness of the PM7000N from good to great. At its very reasonable price point of $999, the PM7000N may be the best all-in-one solution I’ve encountered, and if I were putting together a system for a family member of friend today, it would be at the very top of my list. Highly Recommended.