The Marantz PM5003 integrated amplifier (SRP: $449.99) is a sleek, stylish audio component that delivers outstanding sound quality to music lovers and audiophiles looking for good sound on a budget, or who are putting together a second-room, summer home or dorm room stereo system.
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As many HomeTheaterReview.com readers probably know, an integrated amplifier incorporates a stereo preamplifier and power amplifier in one "integrated" component, making it an ideal choice for listeners who don't have the space, budget or desire for separate components. Put another way, an integrated amplifier can be viewed as a stereo receiver without the tuner section.
The PM5003 has an understated, minimalist design that is both attractive and functional, with a brushed aluminum/reinforced resin front panel accented by curved "wings" on either side. The control complement is straightforward: two large knobs on either side of the front panel for source selection and volume, with smaller bass, treble and balance knobs along the lower edge, and Source Direct, Speaker A/B, Loudness and Power buttons. The front panel also has a headphones output and an IR receiver for the supplied remote control. The PM5003 measures 17-5/16 inches wide by 4-1/8 inches high by 14-9/16 inches deep and weighs 14.8 pounds.
The Marantz PM5003 features a current-feedback amplifier circuit that delivers 36 watts per channel into 8 ohms (45 watts into 4 ohms, from 20Hz - 20kHz). The PM5003 has five line-level inputs plus a moving-magnet (MM) phono input, and provides two record outputs. (There's no dedicated iPod dock.) Its bass and treble tone controls and Loudness button enable listeners to tailor the sound of the amplifier to personal preferences and room acoustics, and for audio purists, there's a Source Direct switch that bypasses the tone control circuitry for greater signal purity.
In addition to its audio inputs and outputs, the rear panel of the PM5003 offers Speaker A and Speaker B screw-type speaker terminals, an IR control input, three switched and two unswitched AC convenience outlets, and an AC in for the detachable AC cord. There is also a remote control input and output for the Marantz D-Bus (RC-5) system, which allows individual Marantz components to be connected together for unified system control.
Marantz has always paid particular attention to the design of its amplifier sections, and the PM5003 is no exception. It employs a topology known as current-feedback design, which is a circuit that is stated to have better ability to track quickly changing, wide-frequency-bandwidth musical signals than more typical voltage-feedback circuit designs. The amplifiers are purpose-designed by Marantz using discrete components, rather than sonically compromised integrated circuits.
This design pays easily heard sonic dividends. The PM5003's sound is smooth and free of any sonic grunge or distortion, rendering instruments and vocals with clarity and presence. The tonal balance is excellent, with no artificial midbass bloat or brightness (although the unit's tone and Loudness controls can dial in anything from a subtle tonal tweak to totally exaggerated frequency extremes). The PM5003 does not offer the degree of low-level detail resolution that a higher-end component can deliver; as a result, soundstage depth and width is slightly reduced, the high frequencies are a bit reduced in "air" and perceived openness, and the PM5003 doesn't deliver the last word in bass definition. However, I found its overall sound to be inviting and musically satisfying, whether listening to rock, jazz, male and female vocals or various and sundry other styles of music.
Competition and Comparison
To compare the Marantz PM5003 amplifier against its competition, read our reviews for the Rotel RA-1520 amplifier an the NAD C325BEE amplifier. You can also find more reviews and information in our Amplifier section.
• The PM5003 provides six audio inputs to accommodate multiple source components, including a turntable.
• This integrated amplifier delivers clear, uncolored sound quality.
• The PM5003 has an understated minimalist appearance that is easy to fit into a music system and décor.
• The unit is supplied with a remote control that can also control other Marantz components.
• The PM5003 comes with a three-year warranty.