TAS reviewed the PM11s3 and the SA11s3. Stereophile reviewed the KI Pearl Reference amp and an earlier model Reference power amp. All four pieces received very positive reviews. Marantz Reference gear can hold its own with anything anyway near its price range.
49 responses Add your response
264win, be happy in knowing you've got a great piece of gear.
Marantz helped create this audio rodeo and have always made a quality product. I have the PM-15S2b with matching SACD player and hear pretty much what you describe and when paired with the right gear, it can simply astound.
It's a crowded field when it comes to reviews so who knows why the oversight. I hope it isn't snobbery on their part. If so, then those who rely on reviews are missing out on something nice.
All the best,
My search for reviews of Marantz integrated amps have more often than not, at least in the ’reference line’ resulted in finding reviews of a combination of the Integrated amp and the CDP players. There have been very few reviews of each component separately. I do not know why this is so, but it has to a certain extent frustrated my attempts to get an understanding of each individual component (I own a SA11s3 and was interested in the PM11s3). I suspect this might have as much to do with the conditions imposed on the reviewers by the company as anything, but that is a WAG. I never did find an independent review of the PM11s3 let alone a comparison of its performance with other integrated ss amps.
Thanks for the responses everyone. I do really enjoy the Marantz PM-11s3 very much and was blown away at it's level of finish. Before pulling the trigger on the Marantz I listened to several other Integrateds in it price range. I demo'd the NAD Master Series M2, the Hegel H360, and the Devialet 120.
I know everyone hears and enjoys different subtleties in music and their flavor of component. But to my ears there was and is no contest between the four Intgrateds, with the Marantz being the best of the bunch. And maybe I'm just old school but the Marantz is almost twice as heavy as any of the others and is built much more higher-end with touches like the all copper chassis and massive toroidal transformer and other things that make it really outclass the other to me.
That is where my curiosity came in as to why such a nice piece has not been reviewed by Stereophile? I was sure I'd find a nice write up on it?
Anyway, I thought maybe Marantz had a falling out with them or something? But either way I am completely thrilled with the Integrated and think it will be with me for quite some time
As a PM15S2 owner, congrats on your new PM11S3. I have no idea why there is a lack of audio rag reviews of MARANTZ reference gear. All I know is that I demoed mine head to head against a McIntosh MA6300 and preferred that PM15S in sound quality, build quality, heft and price.
It does a remarkable job driving my Dynaudio Focus 260's and has helped me get off the dreaded upgrade spiral where my amp is concerned.
Enjoy yours brother, its a great piece of gear.
I've auditioned most of the Reference-line gear over the years, and own the SA-7S1 SACD player, and can attest to the quality of this stuff. It is really, REALLY good. My SA-7S1, even with all the recent advancements in digital, still more than holds it own.
I toy with the idea of getting a pair of MA-9S2 monos every now and again, but my setup really doesn't require that much power. But that doesn't stop me from drooling about them!
As for the *relative* lack of Reference-line reviews in the mainstream press, that's just one reason why I don't put a ton of stock in reviews. Much of the gear I own has never been reviewed by the big rags--or the smaller ones, for that matter! That doesn't mean it's not quality stuff. Lots of great products never get mainstream reviews, while lots of mediocre ones do.
Enjoy your PM-11S3!
i believe nonoise alluded to this - the relationship between a manuf & one of the review magazines is convoluted at best. It’s based on scratching each other’s back - you give me a good review & I’ll let you keep the device or sell it to you for a really good price. If the manuf does not accede to this, they don’t get a review or get a very judgmental review that does them more harm than good.
Several manuf won’t even give their gear to Stereophile for this reason.
In addition getting reviews (& favourable reviews) is based on advertising dollars the manuf gives to the review magazines. How many times have you seen an ad for Marantz in Stereophile? And, if you did, was it a small ad or a full page ad?
the review magazines do serve the audio community but under some specific terms & it would be good to aware of those terms. Rarely are the review magazines in it for noble goal of educating the public or bringing to your notice some small audio manuf....
I do think that it is a great thing to bring light to new equipment and new manufacturers of such, so if Stereophile does this then good on them... But if what is happening with writers only giving time to those who give away product, as you say bombaywalla, it's disheartening for sure.
@newbee This review was most informative for me. Hopefully if you are still looking for one it will help you ?
Marantz made the best tube based receivers on the market back in the 1960's! How do I know! I owned one! Warmth , clarity, staging! High end in the 60's was absolutely Marantz! Problem was they began to offer more basic priced equipment and lost the prestigous name with Audiophile appeal! Reference series from my knowledge is excellent! But dealers of Marantz tend to offer the basic line! 5000.00 units seem outrages to anybody but the Hardcore audiophile! When spending that type of amount, people tend to lean to a higher prestigous name! Why, well Marantz basic line! I'm a phile dating back to 1960! Not sure the thread contributors date that far back!
Reference series from my knowledge is excellent! But dealers of Marantz tend to offer the basic line!Your correct. Marantz has two lines of gear - their excellent Reference line made in Japan and is strictly two channel.
And then their is their basic line, made in China and comprised of mostly HT gear. This is where the money is at as true 2 channel HiFi has become a very small market compared to multi-channel surround sound. And we all know they are two different things.
If Marantz currently has a stigma in the audiophile world, its that they carry this basic HT line. But no doubt, this is also where the volume of their sales and revenues come from.
Paraneer: your statement of two channel being a lost configuration to surround systems is true! How knew that electronics would support Atmos 11 speaker surround sound! However, 2 channel is alive and well in audiophile purest systems! Start shopping for 5 figure or better electronics and refer to multi channel setups and you WILL get Grey Poupon spit in your face! High end purists find only PCM 2 channel acceptable! DTS and especially Neo 6 are considered hollywood tricks! Sort of like letting gas go in church!
Paraneer, I would add the PM8004 & PM8005 to the list of 2 channel equipment that is not in their Reference line yet still hand built in Japan along side of them. Im not sure if it's only these two other integrateds or all the 2 channel units that are made in Japan though?
The PM8004 is a really nice piece that was originally priced just under the 1k mark. I don't ever see them second hand but Im sure someone who is patient can grab one up for 1/3 less or so from the original price. So having excellent Marantz equipment can be affordable and is how I stumbled onto the line.
Great posts. I am at the same level of equipment and also love Marantz since the 1960s but that time I could not afford to have one of those beatiful stereo receivers with glowing blue dial, but few years ago I got the 8004 set (which now is in my bedroom) and a couple of years ago I bought the 11-s3 set (integrated amplifier, SACD and network player).
Last week I bouth a second-hand SC-7s2 pre-amplifier (now discontinued) and will connect it to the power section of my PM11-s3.
Curious fact about magazines is that if you pay attention, everytime you see a Marantz review, there is also a Marantz ad on that month issue. Maybe just coincidence.
Paraneer, I would add the PM8004 & PM8005 to the list of 2 channel equipment that is not in their Reference line yet still hand built in Japan along side of them.You’re right. Also, the PM7005 is built in Japan too. I should have said Marantz has two lines of equipment - gear that is built at the Reference Factory in Japan and everything else made in China.
The PM8004/8005 are excellent amps and I wouldn’t hesitate recommending either in the $1000-1200 range. In fact it was an audition with the PM8004 driving a pair of $10K Sonus Fabers that let me to its big brother, the PM15S2. I couldn’t believe how well the PM8004 was driving speakers ten times its cost. Very impressive.
Paraneer: Forgot to mention that I think that you are right about the stigma of Marantz offering lower end HT type...
Having said that I am one, and maybe because Im old school, that loves having a high end piece that has the Marantz name attached to it. To me, even though its far from being made from home, it still has history. Sure I wish it were still made in New York but I think that those assembling these latest Reference grade pieces know the legacy that they represent and I'm sure proud to own one!
264win, I followed your experience almost to the letter. Bought a Marantz PM8005 (found it at a great price) but soon after bought the PM11S3 (because that's what I wanted all along) and I couldn't be happier. I've had the Monitor Audio RX-6's for years and the 11S3 drives them fabulously. I have a separate Harmon Kardon for HT use. I sometimes use the Marantz to patch through for front L and R front speaker use while movie-watching. The best of both worlds (IMHO).
Congrats on the Marantz gear. I am a fan. I dropped deep down the rabbit hole a few years ago -- purchased Magico, TAD, and other speakers, flagship amps from Constellation/Hegel/CJ/VAC/Air Tight/etc, three turntables and multiple cartridges, crazy in-out swapping of cables and power cords etc. Ad nasium. The positive is I learned to trust my ears over what I read. I learned to put organic, harmonic, musical presentation over analytical or warm ends of the spectrum. I learned that synergy does matter (e.g., amp matching to speakers, preamp as central signature). In the end, now for a few years, I stopped looking and chasing. What shifted me to the state of contentment? Marantz Reference gear. Specifically the SA7S1 sacd player and the Marantz MA9S2 monos. They beat all previous equipment at any price point. Then I had Jennifer Crock at JENA Labs modify them -- opened up the space and made it a "live" event. People who listen to my system who have more golden ears than me don’t comment or analyze, they state "That cd player is analogue sounding like your vinyl. If you ever decide to sell those amps I would like to buy them." I have two systems -- one with Maggie 20.7s and other with TAD CR1s. I have JENA Lab modified MA9S2 monos in both systems. I think in this equipment Marantz passed through some threshold of greatness and accomplished something that is unrivaled and under-celebrated. I believe many audiophiles (I was one of them) turn their nose up at Marantz since the brand is now associated with high volume home theater gear. But they did build and continue to build some of the most musical sounding superbly engineered/built reference gear around.
Probably right about the lower end Integrateds being made outside of Japan, but my PM8004 and PM-11S3 have a large Made in Japan stamp on the back and the build quality is incredible... Really the build quality is so nice on both I'm not sure they could be made anywhere any nicer and I'm sure anyone who has owned the Marantz Reference line along with other high-end components from other companies would agree!Thanks podeschi! I am still being amazed by the PM-11s3 daily when playing new music through it, especially with the UD7007.
I have to say that although I wouldn't trade the PM-11 for anything right now I am a little jealous about your MA9s and SA7! Those are quite the pieces and I can imagine how well they sound.
Having listened to the NAD Master Series M2, the Hegel H360, and the Deviate 120 before going with the PM-11 I can say "to me" the Marantz was just the perfect combination of all the Integrateds and was a easy winner of the group. So I can imagine the BIG Marantz monos and pre you have is really world class and quite the listen!
Which is why Nonoise it would have been nice to see these nice pieces from Marantz (PM-15S2b, PM-11S3, and the M-9s) get their day in the sun and some well deserved write ups by the likes of Stereophile...
After owning the PM-11 now I’m over that fact it didn’t get any press, but I just think that it deserves to be out there for others who are in the market like I was, and you at some point were, to read about and appreciate what Marantz has put into them
I am also on the Marantz bandwagon. I currently have a PM8005 and a SA8004 SACD player, as well as a Music Hall TT with MM cartridge. Speakers are Focal Chorus 836V. I love the overall sound, but always tempted by the upgrade bug. Room is odd shaped 12x20 with low ceilings ( basement). Given my setup, does anyone have an opinion whether upgrading to the PM 14s1 would make a noticeable or just a minor improvement? Going from the PM8005 to the PM 14s1 costs 2 1/2 times as much - is it worth it?
I can't speak of the differences between a PM-8005 and a PM-14s1 but I am sure the PM-14 is a better unit... Having said that, the PM-8004 I had was an outstanding little Integrated. It was so good that I have yet to let go of it because of how good it was! If the newer Marantz PM-8005s are as good or better then you do have a decision on your hands!
Now I guess this sounds like I'm kind of standing in the PM-8005s corner but I'm not. I'm just not sure how much more the PM-14 will give? Both the PM-8005 and the PM-14 are made on the same line in the Marantz reference house and both look very close internally and have close specs. Having said this again I'm sure the PM-14 is the better unit and will give you something more than the PM-8005 will.
Now the PM-11s3 is a completely different animal in construction, power, and the fact that it has the ability to double down (the other two do not) and is obviously rated at a very conservative rating. The difference I attained between the PM-8004 and my new PM-11s3 was a not so much a noticeable upgrade but as the seller put it a "HUGE jump up" in every way... He was right!
I think if I were in your shoes I'd do as I did and look for a PM-11s3 as you already have a great little Integrated. But that's just me and if you do decide to go with the PM-14 I'm sure you will be thrilled with it as these Marantz Reference Series pieces are, as I'm learning, very very good!
Given my setup, does anyone have an opinion whether upgrading to the PM 14s1 would make a noticeable or just a minor improvement? Going from the PM8005 to the PM 14s1 costs 2 1/2 times as much - is it worth it?You pose a tough question. I have nothing but respect for the PM-8005 & PM-8005. In fact, I was so impressed hearing a PM-8004 driving a pair of 10K Sonus Faber Cremonas, it led me to the PM-15S2. Which is near identical to the PM-14S1. So I bought one.
Your Focals are pretty efficient and you probably wouldn't notice the extra power the PM-14S1 brings to the table. But you may notice its preamp section so I would definitely audition one if your able to. Also, as you know, seldom do we experience quantum leaps in performance when upgrading in this hobby. Its usually on the magnitude of only 5%. But its this elusive 5% boost in performance that keeps us in the game.
Thanks for the feedback. I am inclined to hold on until I can go for the PM-11S3. I have looked at lots of ways to upgrade , but frankly, the current system sounds pretty damn good and my wife is not a big music buff, so playing at higher listening levels is pretty rare. I think my equipment choices so far have matched up pretty well, and while I have read up on other brands ( Hegel, Parasound), I know I like both the Marantz sound and build quality. When funds allow, I hope to upgrade both the integrated and the speakers to the PM-11S3 and a pair of Focal 1038BE's - these brands seem to pair well and I would expect to hear significant improvements with these vs my current system.
sjtm, As I said before if you do end up with a PM-14s1 I'd bet that you will hear a difference and be pleased with it...
On the other hand if you do wait for a PM-11s3 as you stated I wanted to give you my opinion on some of its traits vs the PM-8004. Now as I have stated many times before in this thread that the PM-8004 is an outstanding integrated that really outperforms is price point! But it lacks in performance quite a bit when being compared to the PM-11s3...
I see you stated that it is rare that there are listening sessions at high volume and you take this into account? I can tell you that the PM-11s3 even at lower volumes is a real performer! The PM-11s3 has the ability to add very finely focused detail and space while at the same time adding incredible PUNCH even at low levels when compared to other Integrateds! It really is something that has to be heard but my speakers just came alive and with greater authority! The difference between it and the PM-8004 at lower levels in the bass department is really incredible. The PM-8004 does a good job at keeping everything clean and detailed but the PM-11s3 really adds a huge level of grip over the lower end and even keeps the mids producing in a silky and sultry way with power even at lower levels.
Most amps just sound lazy compared to the PM-11s3 at lower levels and need that extra call of power to wake them up... Even then though there is another attribute to the PM-11s3 that accompanies its detail, it is very fast! I mean it is incredibly fast! Fast, detailed, and articulate. The speed of the PM-11s3 was something completely new to me! I'm sure there are many high dollar amps out there that give this level of performance but if you have never had one in your home then you are in for a real delight as it is a real game changer when listening to your music!
One last thing, with my talk of all this speed, detail, and focus one might start thinking that the character is anything but Marantz? But it's not! The PM-11s3 has that Marantz warmth and signature in spades and sounds just as we have come to expect from Marantz!
Anyway, Good luck with your search and good listening!
I’m no Stereophile fanboy, but at the end of the day they only have so much space. After they are done reviewing $130,000 speakers 5 of their readers can listen to and 1 might buy, or the hearing aids they sing the praises for, there’s only so much room for affordable gear.
My point is, you take them far too seriously. Don’t be so innocent. Stereophile has a lot of agendas going on and they may not align with yours. There’s a lot more gear out there than you would think, it’s not that surprising that something you think is great wasn’t reviewed.
Personally, I find a lot of pleasure in finding those gems. Finding gear that sounds fabulous, is affordable and no one knows about.
Instead at being mad at them for not finding it for you (and who knows if you would have even seen the review) you should say to yourself "I did this by myself, and I did it better than they did! Hahahahahah"
Erik I was never mad at Stereophile and the only agenda that I might have, is in appreciation of a fine component...
But I will say this and you are right about it! I was being lazy in my search, wanting others to justify my opinion. And as you said I should have just relied on my own ears and my own thoughts, which I did in the end anyway.
After time put in I found that I really loved the Marantz Reference series and their sound. And it was just what I was looking for in the end.
So yes, lesson learned! Trust yourself and what a gem I have found in the Marantz PM-11s3!
... you take them far too seriously. Don’t be so innocent. Stereophile has a lot of agendas going on and they may not align with yours.That's quite a claim. Of course, Stereophile does have to sell advertising, so I guess you could call that an "agenda." But other than that, can you please tell us about some of the many agendas you claim Stereophile has?
@erik_squires, you claimed "Stereophile has a lot of agendas going on," but when asked for examples, you can only remark that "all businesses have multiple agendas." That's a logical fallacy known as begging the question, i.e. using the premise as the proof, a circular argument.
Lacking any substantiation on your part, I can only wonder what your agenda is.
I see the problem. I’m afraid I was thinking with inference which has been read as innuendo. My apologies for not making myself more clear.
The inference chain is as follows:
A) Stereophile is a company.
B) All companies have many agendas
C) All consumers have many agendas
D) B and C may not align (Technically this may be "induction" )
That’s all. Any other sub-text was not intentional. There is also no moral judgment being made on B or C on my part.
Congrats sjtm! Its quite a monster compared to the smaller PMs isn’t it! Please give us your thoughts, I’d like to see if your experience in upgrading to the PM-11s3 is the same as mine when I upgraded from the PM-8004...
Oh, and I never sold the PM-8004... It was just too good! So its in another room now lol
I have been living with my Marantz Pm-11S3 for a couple of months. The amp is paired with a Marantz SA-8004 SACD player and a pair of Focal Chorus 836V speakers. Just after buying the amp, I picked up a gently used Focal SW 800 powered subwoofer.
My listening room is not ideal - an L shaped room where the rear wall distance varies. I am also a newbie, having only listened to a handful of speakers and amps, so take my assesment for what it is worth ( perhaps just self assurance that I chose well).
Bottom line - no more purchases for the forseeable future - I have hit my listening nirvana. Everything works together extremely well. I had a concern that my previous amp (PM-8005), while an excellent integrated at its price point,was insufficient to drive the speakers both at very low listening levels and when cranked ( when I have the house to myself). In fact, I did experience some clipping at truly high volumes with the old amp. No more with the PM-11S3. In addition, I feel there is much better resolution when I play at very low volumes.
I also am very happy with the built in headphone amp. I have a pair of Sennheiser HD-700's and listened the other night to a Norah Jones SACD. Both the resolution and soundstage were impeccable. With my much cheaper portable headphone amp, these headphones can seem just the slightest bit shrill at the top end, but with this amp, they are flawless.
Finally, I listen principally to vinyl through a Music Hall MMF 9.1 TT equipped with a Dynavector 10x5 HOMC cartridge. I can only compare the PM-11S3 phono stage to a Musical Surroundings Phenomina II phono preamp. This is a great seperate preamp, but I see no need to bypass the internal phono preamp in the PM-11S3. It is excellent.
I put this system together entirely by buying used on Audiogon. Total cost, including Acoustic Zen Satori cables and Matrix interconnects, was $6,100. ( about $5K over my original budget). I know many spend more than this just for a cd transport, but I am where I want to be.
If you are putting a system together in this budget range, I heartily endorse any of the upper range Marantz products and especially the PM-11S3.
sjtm, Sorry I just now saw that you posted a follow up that I had requested. Sorry I didn't see it sooner!
I can see that your experience with the PM11s3 is close to the same as mine! Like you I cannot see myself replacing the PM-11s3 anytime soon at all! I am still blown away by it daily and so is everyone else who listens to it. So like you I am close to my listening nirvana... I do see me spending good money on a better TT and upgrading the speakers but as far as the Marantz Integrated goes, ITS A KEEPER! lol
Thanks again for your review!
I am definitely a Marantz fanboy. Today I picked up a gently used Marantz SA-11S3 SACD player - the companion piece to the PM-11S3. I loved my SA-8004 SACD player but when I saw the 11S3 series were discontinued, I thought I should find one soon as the replacements( PM 10-$8,000 / SA10 - $7,000) are dramatically more expensive.
Thrilled with my decision. Build quality is amazing and sound quality is a material upgrade over the SA8004. Looking forward to a long weekend of digital bliss,
As to sonic improvements,I am no golden eared expert and, frankly, rarely comprehend some of the terminology some reviews use (" the resonance was altogether chocolatey if a bit chalky and billowy") Huh?
My measure? - I put on Sara K "Horse I used to Ride" and she is in the room with me. Pure, detailed to the point of hearing each pluck of the guitar strings ( including one or two off notes). Her voice just goes on and on. I fell like I should get her a glass of water when she takes a break between songs. Much of this was there with the SA-8004, but it seems as if every element of the music is more in the room with me.
Sorry I cannot be more specific, but hope this helps somewhat.