Marantz vs Musical Fidelity


Hello if anyone's out there. This is my first time posting so I'm not totally sure if I've done this right. I'm wondering if anyone has any experience with Marantz and Musical Fidelity to be able to compare the two. I currently have both the PM8005 and the PM14-S1 and I find them to both be very enjoyable yet both have quite different characteristics. I've gone through I think 4 different pairs of speakers and this has always been the case. I've kept all other components and accessories consistent so it's not like I've been changing everything up and then I'm curious why there's no consistency or something.

The PM14-S1 is super attractive with unbelievable build quality and a very velvety wonderful sound and I love it very much. However, I feel like it lacks balls for some reason. I currently have Sonus Faber Sonetto II speakers which are 4ohm, so I know I'm drawing the full current from the amp. 

The issue is that the pm8005 is much more lively and responsive to volume changes. I can tap the volume on the remote or just slightly turn it on the unit and the volume increases very noticeably. The 14-S1 takes much more changes in the volume to be noticeable and I feel as if it doesn't play as loud or won't get as loud. This could be the volume number on the front of the 14-S1 getting into my head and me being scared of the number when I really just need to crank it up. I know the two volume styles have different circuitry and I shouldn't expect the same performance, however considering how much the pm8005 is outclassed by this big brother I guess I'm just expecting more? When I listen to a record for example, I have to turn the volume up into the -30's and that's not necessarily rocking the house or anyting either. Am I wrong to think that this is an issue? Should I be worried to turn the volume up regardless of what number is on the front?

I even shipped off the 14-S1 to be looked at and the technician contacted me and said that all of the inputs and outputs were above-average and there is absolutely nothing wrong with the amp. Maybe I need to change something else that I'm not thinking about. I'm not going to go buy thousand-dollar speaker cables but maybe I should change them. I'm using Audioquest Mackenzie interconnects to hook up my SA8005. I also have the Marantz TT-15 turntable and it's output is even worse. CDs don't necessarily come through weak, I guess I just I'm expecting more gain or presence, to use those terms.

The bottom line is that I feel like the weaker amp is stronger but there has to be a reason for this. I refuse to believe that this reference series Marantz product is out performed by a non reference series product of the same company. Because of all of this I'm considering selling the PM14-S1 and buying the Musical Fidelity M5si to see what happens. Everything I'm reading about Musical Fidelity products sounds fantastic and it seems that I would not be disappointed. But I've thought that before. If anyone has any experience with this stuff please let me know because I'm hesitant to get rid of this reference integrated if there is something else that I just simply need to tweak. If anyone knows about the difference in volume styles on my twoamps please explain those as well. Thank you for reading.
jawillia
I find the Marantz Reference line a bit laid back. If you paired it with a brighter speaker, it probably would seem more lively. Like something from Kef. Musical Fidelity is neutral to slightly forward and will be a bit more lively. You were happier before. What speakers did you use previously?

Don’t worry about the number on the front of the amp.  It is not worth worrying about.  You should expect to have to turn the volume up more on the turntable, especially if you are using a lower out MC cartridge.  

You could switch to more forward sources. What cartridge are you using on your TT?  That might be worth changing.  That is a great CD player and it sounds like that is less of an issue.  

If ultimately you are interested I would take your Marantz on trade + cash for the M5. Save you the hassle of selling it. Personally, I would tweak though.  
I agree with @verdantaudio that the Musical Fidelity sound is more lively than Marantz. But I also agree that you seem to be focused on the volume, and not the sound character. Just turn up the volume and as long as you're not playing so loud as to damage your hearing, or to overdrive your downstream components, it'll be fine.
Thanks for the replays. All of the speakers I've had have had a similar sound of being held back by the PM14-S1. I also have a pair of Bowers & Wilkins CM6 S2 with matching stands and I felt it was the same case with those. As far as the turntable goes, I would hope the cartridge would be an appropriate match considering the integrated and turntable are both Marantz reference. 

I know that I seem focused on volume, I think a better way to say it is that it seems like all of the speakers I've had are more sensitive to the PM8005. It's as if the speakers jump to attention  for the PM8005. I guess that goes in hand with  the PM14-S1 being laid back.  I guess when I think of laid-back I think of a relaxed sound not necessary a lack of umf! There also seems to be less bass with the PM14-S1, and that's with the tone controls all set the same. I guess I just feel that a product that on paper and to the touch seems to be such a beast is underwhelming while it's little brother is somehow outperforming it. I just feel like something has got to be wrong here.
I agree with others. Don’t pay attention to the volume "number" on the front. Each device can have different logarithmic volume curves and represent them with completely different numbers.

That being said, I can see your comments making sense. The PM14 is very nice (as is many of Marantz devices), but overall Marantz equipment is voiced warm. The PM14 may be warmer sounding than the 8005. In my experience, a warmer sounding equipment will have a much more laid back midbass/midrange. Even though the power output is there, it just does not have a visceral impact of sound. The sound will not come across with a lot of "attack" or "authority" because the slew of the waveforms are too slow. Think of this as a comparison between someone slapping you with a bare hand and someone slapping you with a ski glove on. The slap happens with the same speed. It’s just the ski glove comes across very subdued.

verdantaudio had some suggestions to tweak your system by using a different speaker (such as the bright/fast KEF) or using a different source. You can also increase the speed by using a lot of silver or silver-plated wiring (interconnects, power cords, speaker cable). This will increase the speed/attack of the warm sounding PM14, but it never ends up that great. I have worked with warm equipment in my system and have tried many things to fix that "too slow / too laid back" issue. The problem is that once it passes through a very warm/slow device, such as the Marantz, there is absolutely no way to fix that back to a "neutral" sound. It’s like putting a band aid on a problem. You are better off switching the warm device with something else.

Your comment about the speakers "jumping to attention" with the PM8005 makes sense. Even though the power is the same, equipment that is more neutral or high resolution will have a faster attack and more of that "jump to attention" factor. The sound would just be more "there" in comparison to a very warm Marantz device.

So, in my opinion, I think you should look at selling the Marantz devices and putting in a more neutral or high resolution integrated. The Music Fidelity M5si would be a good choice. It is definitely not warm sounding and actually has more power than either of your Marantz integrateds (which is good because you generally want a larger power supply). There are other choices, of course. If you sold both the PM8005 and PM14S, you might have enough to go for the larger M6si.
auxinput
I agree with others. Don’t pay attention to the volume "number" on the front. Each device can have different logarithmic volume curves and represent them with completely different numbers.

Shazam! 😳
Jawillia, those are great speakers. Good choice. I think in the end what you are telling us is that you just do not like the sound of the Marantz.
There is plenty of wonderfully built equipment out there that sonically just does not suite one or another's taste. 
Sell both units and get The M6si. The Halo Hint 6 is another excellent integrated about $500 less expensive. If you like your speakers snapping to attention you want a direct coupled SS amp with a very low output impedance (high damping) and as much power as you can afford. The M6si is more powerful by 40 watts but the Hint 6 has a damping factor of 800 , can throw 45 amps at the speakers, has more features and is a better value. I would try to find dealers near you who will allow you to try the units at home. 
You have great speakers. Find the right amp, take a breather then add subwoofers and you will be one very happy music buff.
Thanks very much for the responses, I appreciate and enjoy the conversation.

The "attack" and "authority" and "snapping to attention" is exactly what I'm talking about. 8005 has it, 14s1 does not. I am very impressed with the speakers to say the least. I've had two other pairs of SF over the last few years and there's no comparison with these. I also enjoy them very much more than my Bowers & Wilkins. I'm definitely a soft dome tweeter person and not as much into the metal tweeters.

As far as selling, what's funny is I actually like the 8005. When I buy another CD player I'll have enough equipment for two completely separate, pretty decent systems which is part of why I want to keep the 8005. It also slipped from about 2" high off of the floor and a very small piece of one of the corner plastic flanks chipped so I pretty much feel married to it also haha. 

In a perfect world I would sell both amps, my Technics SL1200, and the Bowers and Wilkins and go for a Hegel H190. But then I feel like my CD player would be outclassed and back down the rabbit hole I'd go spending money I don't really want to spend.

Is the m6si really that much better than the m5si? I have no complaints from either Marantz powering the speakers, 100 watts and 140 Watts, so 150 watts would have to be fine, right? I can't find online what the VA rating of the MF transformers are. I know there are plenty of brands that have a smaller transformer than my Marantz's but are rated at higher wattage, such as the Roksan K3 at 550 VA with 220 w 4ohm. The 14S1 is 650 VA at 140w 4ohm and the 8005 is 625 VA at 100w 4ohm. Everything I've ever read has led me to think that the transformer equals current which is overall more important than wattage ratings. In that case maybe the 8005 is giving more than the m5si would. I don't know.

Thought?

I'll look up the Halo Hint.
I looked up the Halo, that thing is pretty impressive and it's actually 20 watts more in 4 ohm then the MF. For my taste it's super ugly, but definitely impressive. I'd actually be worried that all of its features would go to waste on me. Lots of great reviews for sure.

I looked up the damping Factor on both of my Marantz units and it's the same on both, 100. So I'm still comfused.
Is the m6si really that much better than the m5si?  I would say somewhat.  It will have the same general sonic signature.  And you are not buying the M6si to use all 220 watts.  You buy the larger amp because a larger power supply will generally have more "oomph" in the bass/midbass area and also usually be smoother and fuller in the midrange (even at lower volumes).  If you can afford it, go for it.  Otherwise, buy what your budget will allow.

The Parasound Halo integrated is nice.  Think of it as a swiss army knife type of device with every feature you could imagine.  However, the individual features (DAC, phono stage, etc.) are just average/mediocore.  If you need all the features, great.  Otherwise, there are better external DACs/phono/etc.  The Parasound are voiced just slightly to the warm side of neutral.  Very smooth, but the high frequencies are slightly rolled off and softened (maybe closer to the Marantz 8005 sound, but I can't be sure because I have never heard the 8005 directly).  The Music Fidelity will probably have a lot more attack than either.
I have a Marantz 14 S1 and love it with my Triangle Celia’s speakers, which are easy to drive. A volume of -40 plays plenty loud for me using the Marantz SA 8005. A volume of -35 is enough for my low output MC  Denon 103 cartridge with the VPI Scout for records. The Triangles can be somewhat bright in the treble, but they do so many things well. With the PM 14S1/Triangle combination, the sound is lovely and only slightly warm. I also have a Marantz PM 8005 which sounds good in its own right, but the PM14S1 sounds better. Both are made in the Marantz Reference factory in Japan.
If I were looking to replace the Marantz, I would want to hear the Rogue Pharaoh, the Musical Fidelity M6si, or the Hegel H200, presently on sale for a reasonable price here on Audiogon. However, the Marantz integrated amps are overbuilt and a keeper for me. Hifi News measured the PM14S1 at 115 watts in 8 ohms and 185 watts into 4 ohms...certainly enough to drive the Triangles.
Good luck on your search. As always, speaker matching is important and probably should be your main goal.
John Dean