Help choosing Marantz integrated amp upgrade


Hello,

I am considering upgrading to a Marantz integrated amplifier. Curious if folks here could help guide me with this decision, or if it's even worth upgrading at this time.

My current entry level system consists of a Rotel RA-12 integrated amp (has a built in DAC and phono stage), Pro-Ject Debut Carbon, DTS Play-Fi streamer, and stand mounted Polk RTiA1s.

I hope to upgrade the speakers later this year. Will be looking at monitors from Totem Acoustic, Wharfedale and Kef at that time.


At present I am thinking of replacing the Rotel with a Marantz. These are the three options I have narrowed down ...


Option 1: PM8005 + an external DAC.
https://www.musicdirect.com/integrated-amp/marantz-pm8005-integrated-amp
I like that this has a pre-out. Sometimes I turn on a sub when playing certain genres or albums. Would be considering a Schiit or iFi DAC to connect to the Play-Fi streamer.


Option 2: HD-AMP1 + an external phono pre.
https://www.musicdirect.com/integrated-amp/marantz-hd-amp1-integrated-amp-dac
I really like the aesthetics and small footprint of this one. Plus has a sub out feature. I'd love any phono pre-amp recommendations. Would be looking to spend around $300 for one.


Option 3: PM7005
https://www.musicdirect.com/integrated-amp/marantz-pm7005-integrated-amp
Built in Dac and Phono makes this a simple solution, but no pre or sub out.


I have no plans to upgrade my TT any time soon. I have added the acrylic platter, Ortofon 2M Blue, and Speed box which have all been noticeable upgrades. I'll probably hold onto this TT for sometime.


Curious if anyone has input, suggestions, or, considering those three upgrade paths, if I should abandon this track.

Here is an image of my current system to give you an idea of the space. This system is only a couple years old and I am still learning a lot.



Thanks!
Matthew
bomd

The Polk’s are really nice speakers for the money! They aren’t that difficult to drive, but the impedance does drop down to 4 ohms in a couple places:

http://www.stereophile.com/content/polk-rtiii-a1-loudspeaker-measurements#jvJVoa14obi9cxh0.97

For this reason, I would avoid the HD-AMP1. Sure, it’s a small footprint and has the features, but it has a much smaller power supply than your Rotel RA-12. The sound will probably be somewhat weaker than what you have already.

As far as the other two choices, I suppose it really depends on if you want everything in one unit. Personally, I would lean towards the PM8005 because it has a slightly larger power supply and would supply more grunt for the speaker (i.e. bass and midbass would be a bit more powerful/impactful). It would also allow you to flip on your sub at times, like you said you do.  Yes, you'll need to buy an external DAC, but this option will ultimately give you everything you're looking for.

The Marantz stuff will probably be a lot more musical sounding than the Rotel. As far as DACs, take a look at the Gustard X-20 as well.

@auxinput Thanks for replying.  This is exactly the information I was hoping to get.


Cheers!
Also, just realized the link to the image didn't embed correctly.  


http://smg.photobucket.com/user/mdanja/media/Miscellaneous/IMG_7811-2.jpg.html
I agree with auxinput, however one thought might be to explore the speaker market prior to purchasing a amplifier. Then you can select one based on power requirement of the speaker. What digital outputs does your streamer have? 
As a Marantz reference series owner, I would say option 1, the PM-8005 and external DAC.  The PM-8005 is built at their reference factory in Japan alongside their higher end components. 

Besides more impressive specs, larger power supply and both preout & main ins, this combo is by far the most versatile and also ready to drive just about any speaker your likely to encounter when your ready to upgrade those.  Even true 4 ohm speakers as the PM-8005 puts out a solid 100 wpc into 4 across the entire power band.
@mesch & @paraneer

Thanks for your input. I am almost thinking of holding off on a Marantz amp for now and wait until after my speaker upgrade. But if I do make the plunge the PM8005 sounds like the way to go.


The streamer has coaxial, and toslink digital outputs. I use it for Tidal HiFi, Spotify, and internet radio stations.


Cheers!
Matthew
Keep your electronics for now and just upgrade your speakers to a pair of Vandersteen Model 1's. Compared to this, your other options are tweaks. Its also a good idea to have your new speakers first, before you get a new amp.
You're welcome Matthew.

And when your upgrading speakers, be sure to understand their needs (impedance & sensitivity) and how this relates to your current amp and future amps output capabilities.  And above all, go out and audition them.  This will be the only way to get the speaker that's right for you.

And not get suggestions from strangers on the internet about what speakers they already have or want to have.  All being seldom the right speaker for you.
You are welcome. Given that you don't need a USB input your options for a DACs increases, many high quality older used ones go up for sale much below original retail.
@sfall Yeah. I am thinking the best route is keeping the electronics for now, and looking at speakers first. Thanks!

@mesch
There seems to be so many good DACs in all sorts of price ranges. To be honest, it’s a little daunting. And when looking at specs, to me at least, it doesn’t give me the greatest idea of sound reproduction. That said, having USB flexibility isn’t a deal breaker for me. I wouldn’t mind paying a little more if it allowed the option of connecting my Mac Book Air once in a while.

In regard to used models do you have an opinion of which brands to gravitate towards, and which to avoid?
I have a pm8004, and before that i tried a pm5004.  The 5004 was lacking dynamics and power and that's why i went with the 8004.  I bought it 6 years ago and it's been on ever since.  Very smooth amp.  It 
powers nicely my totem hawks at loud enough volumes when rarely needed.  i also have a pair of relatively inefficient denton bookshelves which do well with the marantz.
also what i like about it is the quality of the volume control.  It is very linear and does not get at its loudest at "noon" like with a nad.
overall it is a very heavy and solidely built unit, from the front switches  to the rear connectors.
i wouls definetely look into the new yamaha integrated with dacs.  Yamaha and marantz know what high-fidelity sound is.
"And not get suggestions from strangers on the internet about what speakers they already have or want to have. All being seldom the right speaker for you."

I get that, but looking at the other options presented here, I stand by my statement 100%. Of course you should demo first, but I can't imagine not upgrading from a pair of $325 Polk speakers that use plastic tweeters, to something like a Model , making a bigger difference. The Vandersteens are on a different plane of existience.

Not only that, there's no gaurentee electronics purchased now are going to matchup with new speakers purchased later on. To not recommend a speaker upgrade, in this instance, would be irresponsible.
To not recommend a speaker upgrade, in this instance, would be irresponsible
I agree sfall, but why does it have to be your Vandersteen Model 1's?
Also, the OP said he is thinking about putting off the amp purchase and may concentrate on new speakers instead.

But to emphatically say...
Keep your electronics for now and just upgrade your speakers to a pair of Vandersteen Model 1's.
Leaves very little room to audition anything else.  I am sure the Vandersteens are very nice speakers, but that doesn't mean they are the right speakers for the OP.  He should audition as he can.




Agree with sfall too here... i crossread and ignored the words polk rti....
Upgrading the bookshelfs here should be the priority.  Plenty of options for the price of a marantz integrated.
"I agree sfall, but why does it have to be your Vandersteen Model 1's?"

They're not mine. I own different models. However, one of the main reasons I recommend Vandersteen, is that they are so transparent.  You can make them sound however you like, so its easier to recover from a mistake. For someone that doesn't have a lot of experiance, this is critical. Too many people walk away from high end audio in frustration. If they at least get some of the system right, there's a much better chance they won't give up.

"Also, the OP said he is thinking about putting off the amp purchase and may concentrate on new speakers instead.

But to emphatically say...
Keep your electronics for now and just upgrade your speakers to a pair of Vandersteen Model 1's.
Leaves very little room to audition anything else."

That was my advice. I have no control over what the OP demos. The reality is, most people that visit this site, don't demo products before they but them, regardless of what they say.

"I am sure the Vandersteens are very nice speakers, but that doesn't mean they are the right speakers for the OP. He should audition as he can."

I agree, but looking at the other options presented, I wanted to imply there was no doubt I was telling him to do the right thing. Also, if a mistake was made somewhere, its fixable with a speaker like the Model 1's. Try and fix a system based on B&W's, Magnepan's, or any of the other countless train wreck designs on the market. It was a judgement call on my part meant to make the OP pause and consider other paths. Do you really see him running down to his local Vandersteen dealer and buy speakers without first consulting the forum? Its not likely. Besides, the OP asked for our input in no uncertain terms.

"Curious if anyone has input, suggestions, or, considering those three upgrade paths, if I should abandon this track."


Let’s not get carried away here guys. There’s a reason I never recommend speakers. That is because speakers are generally such a personal preference that you could definitely miss the boat of what the OP expects from a set of speakers.  Also, that there are a 100 different opinions on what the best speaker is. The OP did mention that he was going to look into Totem Acoustic, Wharfedale and Kef speakers. Let him listen to a number of speakers. Then, if he has a specific question on a speaker, I’m sure he’ll post it in the speaker subforum. I definitely have my own opinions on what I think is the best solution overall, but I answered the OP’s question as asked without trying to push another idea or brand on him.
OK sfall, whatever man. 
I know what I read in your post - you emphatically recommend only one speaker, a Vandersteen Model 1. 

Similar to auxinput's excellent advice above, I said he should understand a speakers needs (impedance & sensitivity) and how this relates to his current amp and future amp's output capabilities.  And above all, go out and audition them!

Speakers are so subjective that no one can make a meaningful recommendation other than offering advice on how a prospective buyer should seek one out on his own.

 


 
Focus on finding the right speakers for now. Once found start another thread with focus on electronics. Good luck in your quest!
"OK sfall, whatever man.
I know what I read in your post - you emphatically recommend only one speaker, a Vandersteen Model 1."

Not true. I also recommend the 2's and 3's as well. My reasons for doing so are stated above. In a situation like this, its a very safe recommendation. Why do you think the Model 2's are the best selling high end speaker on the markret? No other speaker even comes close. The simple answer is, its very easy to get good results. Can anyone gaurantee good results? Of course not. There's alyways some risk involved, but have a look at the listings. For a best selling speaker, you would expect to see quite a few listings. The opposite is true.

"Similar to auxinput's excellent advice above, I said he should understand a speakers needs (impedance & sensitivity) and how this relates to his current amp and future amp's output capabilities. And above all, go out and audition them!"

I agree. Its good advice. I've driven well over a thousand miles to audition components. I don't think you got the meaning of my previous comments. I wasn't trying to get the OP to buy a pair of Model 1's unheard.

I'm thinking you should buy a pair for yourself, as well. Get your system sounding right and you won't be so miserable. 


I’m thinking you should buy a pair for yourself, as well. Get your system sounding right and you won’t be so miserable.
I’m very happy with my Dynaudios, thank you. And unlike some posters, I am not so presumptuous as to recommend them to the OP or anyone else. Or any other brand for that matter. Do to so, is just being a shill without taking into account the OP's best interests and needs.


Hey folks,

Thanks again for all of your replies and advice. I am definitely looking for bookshelf monitor speakers to be stand mounted. I have a toddler that moseys around and the more I can keep off the floor the better. Which is also part of the reason why I was thinking of upgrading electronics first since it’s harder for him to get to those compared to speakers. What I’ve learned, and makes total sense, is to look at new speakers first, which I am going to do now.

That said, I really love these Polk RTi’s. And even though I know they are the weaker link in my system, I still plan to keep them for a secondary one. I am gravitating towards Kef and Totem because I have already demoed those at local dealers, and I enjoy their aesthetics. I have never heard Wharfedale, but I see them recommended so much, and thought maybe I’d look into them.  But I do welcome any suggestions for loudspeakers ins the $600-$1100 range.  But that would probably be better suited for the speaker forum, rather than amps.

Thanks again. And I have enjoyed reading all of your input and recommendations. Still so much to learn!!!


Cheers!
Matthew

Thanks again for all of your replies and advice. I am definitely looking for bookshelf monitor speakers to be stand mounted. I have a toddler that moseys around and the more I can keep off the floor the better.
If your thinking of bookshelf speakers on stands, they usually take up the same amount of space as a small floorstander - they have the same footprint.   Besides the benefit of deeper bass response due to a larger enclosure, a floorstander might also be more stable with a toddler around.  Just something to keep in mind when you start looking for speakers.  Your budget gives you a lot of choices. 

Best of luck to you.
Post removed 
"I’m very happy with my Dynaudios, thank you. And unlike some posters, I am not so presumptuous as to recommend them to the OP or anyone else. Or any other brand for that matter. Do to so, is just being a shill without taking into account the OP's best interests and needs."

Either way, you'll get over it, or not. But I can see why you're so upset. Dynaudio. I have to agree with you in that if they were my speakers, I wouldn't recommend them to anyone either.

In case you're keeping track, I recommended another pair of Vandersteen 1's in a thread this morning. No doubt I'll recommend at least another pair before the days over.

"For speakers, I suggest 3-way designs; 2-way designs are inherently compromised. For stand mount that are 3-way, the Wharfedale Jade 3 would be a good choice. Read the review at Stereophile."

Speakers that are not time and phase correct are inherently flawed. That's why a pair of 2-way Model 1's will make those things sound defective.

"Also, floor standing speakers are fundamentally flawed regarding bass response, because you cannot place the bass driver where it needs to be in the room. This is a major benefit subwoofers."

Mine aren't. You need to try something different. I've never seen anyone have as many problems as you. You come up with so many issues with simple stuff, its incredible. There's more to audio than those "white papers" from Harman International and Stereophile reviews. Just become someone does things different doesn't mean the design is wrong. My systems reconstruct details from recordings that you don't know exist. (That's not meant as an insult. Its a simple statement of face.) You're never going to get any good at this if you keep doing the same things over and over.

In case you’re keeping track, I recommended another pair of Vandersteen 1’s in a thread this morning. No doubt I’ll recommend at least another pair before the days over.
Keeping track? I wouldn’t have to even if I was so inclined. But I am not surprised. You might be vying for Vandersteen shill of the year award. Or trying to sell them and not doing a very good job. I just wonder if your doing Mr. Vandersteen any good though.

Remember, I never said a bad word about them. I even said they are very good speakers but may not be the right speaker for the OP.

Again, I would never recommend a brand of speaker to anyone as they are that subjective and I would never be that presumptuous to know what's best for someone in the confines of an internet forum. My own, yours or another brand. You seem to have no problem though.

I would rather dispense sound audio advice. So we’ll let the OP decide because now I am pretty bored with you and your juvenile style of writing.

BTW, your posts would be much more coherent if you learned how to use the quote feature on this board. Its really simple - everybody knows how.

Marantz PM 10. 
"Keeping track? I wouldn’t have to even if I was so inclined. But I am not surprised. You might be vying for Vandersteen shill of the year award. Or trying to sell them and not doing a very good job. I just wonder if your doing Mr. Vandersteen any good though. "

You have been keeping track. Read your own post, I didn't bring it up, you did. As far as getting the shill of the year award, I'm trying. If I'm not number 1, definately 2 or 3. I bet I sell more speakers than some of his dealers.

"Remember, I never said a bad word about them. I even said they are very good speakers but may not be the right speaker for the OP."

Yes you did. I never suggested otherwise.

"Again, I would never recommend a brand of speaker to anyone as they are that subjective and I would never be that presumptuous to know what's best for someone in the confines of an internet forum. My own, yours or another brand. You seem to have no problem though."

Right again. I have no problem at all with it. The OP asked for opinions. Unlike you, I'm not cold hearted enough to leave the poor guy at the mercy of Stereophile and TAS.

"BTW, your posts would be much more coherent if you learned how to use the quote feature on this board. Its really simple - everybody knows how."

I'll make a deal with you. Learn how to build a system, and I'll try to become a better secretary like you.


Yawn!

Still struggling with the quote feature, huh?
"Still struggling with the quote feature, huh?"

I doubt it since that's the best reply you could come up with.