Most audiophiles prefer to buy a separates system, the logic being that one can pick and choose the best from each brand. The downside is that one really cannot tell whether a particular amplifier would be compatible with another CD Player or loudspeaker without actually auditioning them. The first rule therefore when buying a separates system is to audition before you part with your money. This month, we have an amplifier and CD player from the Marantz stable and we have paired the two with the excellent Concept 40 loudspeakers from Q Acoustics. The Concept 40 speakers have been recently discontinued; this means you can get them at bargain prices. Alternatively, Q Accoustics’ 3050i loudspeakers can be substituted.
What can we say about Marantz that you haven’t heard already? Ken Ishiwata, the legendary designer of Marantz (who died recently) was the brain that made the Marantz brand reach incredible heights. Combine a musical ear with quality Japanese manufacture and you have a winner. Today, Marantz and Denon have the same parent in DEI Holdings of Vista, California. The Sound United Divison of DEI holds the Marantz and Denon brands as also Boston Accoustics and Polk Audio.
The Marantz PM8006 amplifier sits midway in the Marantz range being one notch above the excellent PM6006 (now replaced by the PM6007). In appearance, the 8006 is virtually identical to the 6006 although the 8006 weighs more at 12 kgs. The Marantz pumps out 70 watts per channel into 8 ohms. It will therefore drive less sensitive speakers to louder levels which the 6006 cannot. The symmetrical circuits in the 8006 provide optimal imaging.
Ideal companion to the PM8006 is the ND8006 CD player. Contrary to what some will have you believe, there is still a lot of life left in CDs and CD players and Marantz’s ND8006 is proof of that. Like the PM8006 amp, the ND8006 is also made in Japan. Apart from being a CD player, the Marantz also has a built in DAC and has streaming capabilities. Additionally, it will play not only CDs but also CD-R/RW as also MP3/WMA files. It only misses SACD playback. Marantz/ Denon’s HEOS app helps you to stream wirelessly.
Q Acoustics is a relative newcomer to the loudspeaker business but has rapidly made a name for itself. The Concept 40 floorstanding speakers are finished in a glossy piano black and come with their own stands.
Build quality of all the three components is very good. Cheaper Marantz systems have had problems coping with the humidity and salt in Mumbai’s air. The first casualty is the top plate which starts oxidising and then rusting. The PM8006 and the ND8006 seem to be better built and should not face this problem.
How did the system sound? We tried the combination with the following different types of music:
- Mozart Symphonies Nos. 36 & 40 (Academy of St Martin in the Fields)
- The Very Best of 10 cc
- The Best of George Harrison
- Rajesh Roshan’s Greatest Hits Vol 5
The sound reproduced was transparent, lively and sparkling. The shrieking violins in Mozart’s Symphony No 40 were produced with aplomb. Vocals also effectively rendered emotions as in ‘ I’m not in love ‘ by 10cc. The combination of amp, CD player and speakers will have you spending hours and hours listening to your discs.
Pricing for the PM8006 is Rs. 1,55,900 and for the ND8006, Rs. 1,47,900. Both the prices are MRP so discounts should be easily available. The Concept 40 speakers were sold originally for more than a Rs. 1,00,000; they should now be cheaper.
Overall, this is a fine system for the enthusiast. It replays all types of music very well. Strongly recommended.
PLUS System integration, Lively and detailed sound