What Hi-Fi (UK)
The path to self-improvement is never-ending: no matter how successful or saintly we are, there is always a way to better ourselves. The same also applies to hi-fi – regardless of how good a piece of kit is and how many accolades it has won, there’s always room for improvement.
Marantz is many steps along the journey towards making the best budget stereo amplifier possible, most recently with the PM6007, which set out to improve upon the 2018 What Hi-fi? Award-winning Marantz PM6006 UK. In our review of the PM6006 UK Edition, we said our only wish was that its vast connectivity included Bluetooth and a USB input, but that’s not where Marantz sought to improve its 6000 Series line. Instead, the enhancements are centred around the performance – and who can argue with that?
Marantz implemented a new DAC into the PM6007, with the AKM AK4490 replacing the Cirrus Logic CS4398 found in its predecessor. It is complemented by two digital filters – a slow roll-off and sharp roll-off – that users can choose between when playing from a source connected to either of its two optical or single coaxial inputs. Such versatility has trickled down from the brand’s premium digital processors, such as those built into the SA-10, SA-12SE and SA-KI Ruby.
In an effort to improve performance across the analogue inputs (of which there are four line-level, plus a movingmagnet phono), new components in the power amp and phono stages have been swapped in. The latter has also benefitted from upgraded circuitry – similar to that found in the PM7000N’S phono stage – to achieve a higher signal-to-noise ratio. And while the entry-level amplifier still doesn’t have a USB input or Bluetooth, Marantz has added a subwoofer output to accommodate those who want to add extra thwack to their stereo set-up.
Styling-wise, the PM6007 is more or less a carbon copy of its predecessor. In fact, Marantz hasn’t revamped the aesthetic much at all in the line’s 13-year history. Placed side by side, only the odd finish and button differential would distinguish the new PM6007 from the PM6002 released in 2007, apart from the model number printed on the facade.
That familiarity is disappointing, but it is a nicely finished chassis that, while perhaps too densely populated for some tastes, does offer traditional hi-fi appeal.
The clearest evidence of the line’s evolution lies in the PM6007’S performance. Its sonic character is as familiar as its casework: smooth, full-bodied and balanced, with a pleasing spaciousness. Like its predecessor, it’s about as agreeable a performer as you could ask for at this price.
Where it pulls away from the PM6006 UK Edition is in its clarity, precision and rhythmic punch. Marantz has traded some of that smoothness for more oomph, and tightened up the bass, and the result is a more spirited presentation.
The dramatic opener of Portishead’s live performance of All Mine comes through with more presence, while the PM6007’S clearer disposition also makes more of the special occasion provided by the accompanying 35-piece orchestra. Switch to Högni’s rhythm-driven Moon Pitcher and the layers of ambient strands are more cohesively entwined, the new Marantz’s musicality rigorously precise.
Textures take on new levels of tangibility, too. The melodic fingerpicking underpinning Matt Berninger’s acoustic-led Last Song is subtler, both in terms of the way the notes are formed and how they flow dynamically. His characteristically brooding vocal rises confidently above the aqueous acoustics, but the PM6007’S vocal delivery doesn’t feel as rock-solid and grounded as that of its predecessor.
Marantz has done well to maintain consistency across the connections, with the DAC, headphone output and phono stage proving strong. Over coaxial, a little clarity and precision is sacrificed, but fullness and dynamism remain intact. We prefer the slow roll-off filter for its slight edge in exactness and naturalness over the less-fluid, sharp roll-off.
That performance reveals itself through the phono stage and 6.3mm headphone output – though, rather understandably at this level, the phono input doesn’t quite offer the clarity and sparkle of the line stage.
The Marantz 6000 Series has allowed the company to have a firm grip on the budget hi-fi market over the past few years and, with the PM6007, the amps line has been strengthened even further.