Like it or not, we've entered a new era where most audio enthusiasts are now opting to stream their music rather than relying on physical media. To keep up with the times, Marantz's new PM7000N integrated amplifier ($999) is the first stereo hi-fi component from the company to support HEOS multi-room audio streaming integration, allowing owners to enjoy music from a variety of services without the need for a dedicated source component.
Through the dedicated HEOS app, owners can stream audio directly from popular services such as TuneIn, Pandora, Spotify, SiriusXM, Amazon Prime Music, and TIDAL. If you haven't fully embraced streaming, or if you still have a large library of downloaded files, the network card still allows for UPnP audio playback, allowing you to stream downloaded files on your computer or NAS as long as the amp is connected to your home network. The network card also adds in new-age features such as voice control from the likes of Josh.ai, Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, and Google Assistant.
At the PM7000N's launch event, Marantz discussed their embrace of streaming, citing that with so many lossless and high-resolution options currently available, they see these high-end subscription tiers as a convenient way for consumers to enjoy music at a quality that artists and producers intended people to hear it in. With Marantz integrating a network audio card capable of streaming and rendering these subscription tiers, it has the potential to make the PM7000N a complete all-in-one audio solution, where all owners need to do is add speakers for a complete two-channel system.
Of course, the PM7000N still includes many of the features typically found on a modern integrated amp. So, for those not looking to use the amp as an all-in-one, you'll still find a selection of analog and digital inputs on the back of the unit to connect additional source components.
Taking a look at the specs, Marantz says the PM7000N will output 60 watts per channel into eight ohms and 80 watts per channel into four. The PM7000N utilizes a shielded toroidal transformer for its power supply and features a fully discrete Class A/B current-feedback topology. The amp also employs Marantz' highest-performing SA3 Hyper-Dynamic Amplifier Modules (HDAM). Marantz says their amplification circuit provides wide-bandwidth, low phase distortion, and excellent transient response and transparency across all audible frequencies. This is partly due to the HDAM-SA3 modules use of discrete surface mount components with short mirrored signal paths for each channel, which Marantz designed specifically so the amp circuit can offer better dynamics, accuracy, and more detailed sound compared to off-the-shelf IC op-amps most other manufacturers are using.
The PM7000N features a newly designed electric volume control circuit and DAC section. Not only does the new volume circuit offer more linear control, Marantz designed it for improvements in distortion, channel separation, and dynamic range, while the new AKM AK4490 DAC chip decodes PCM audio up to 24-bit/192kHz and DSD up to double rate.
If you're planning on mating the PM7000N with a turntable, you'll be happy to know the phono preamp section has seen upgrades over previous generation integrated amps as well. Marantz has gone with a FET for the input stage, which the company says simplifies the signal path, resulting in lower distortion for vastly improved signal purity.
Marantz went into the design of the PM7000N knowing that digital audio processing can be a noisy task. So, to isolate the analog section from noise created by the network audio card and DAC section of the amp, Marantz encased them in a shielded enclosure. To take things a step further, the PM7000N features three separate Pure Audio modes, allowing you to fully disable individual digital sections of the amp if it's not needed to cut down on superfluous noise. If you're using an analog source component, all of the digital operations of the amp can also be completely disabled, allowing the audio signal to be amplified in its cleanest form.
The PM7000N follows Marantz's familiar design aesthetic, though with a few minor deviations from the norm. Instead of the normal porthole display, the front of the unit features a rectilinear OLED screen, along with dedicated controls for power, input selection, volume, menu navigation, balance, and source direct mode. You'll also find a quarter-inch headphone jack, as well as knobs to adjust EQ, with dedicated adjustments for treble and bass should your system or sonic preference require some adjustment. The amp features a mix of metal and metal-look plastics, and measures in at 17.3 by 4.9 by 14.9 inches, with a rather hefty weight of 27.9 pounds.
I installed the PM7000N in my living room system, on a shelf below my LG OLED television, and connected a pair of Monitor Audio GX50 bookshelf speakers to the set of SPKT-1+ binding posts on the back of the amp. Marantz says these terminals use dense brass and thick nickel plating to provide excellent contact with your cables. I opted to use banana plugs and found, in practice, the fit was indeed tight.
To provide bass frequencies in my living room, I use a pair of Bowers & Wilkins PV1D subwoofers. While I wish the PM7000N offered a pair of subwoofer outputs, I ended up using a simple Y adapter plugged into the dedicated single subwoofer output on the back of the amp. The output features low pass filter options in 20 hertz increments, starting at 120 hertz and going all the way down to 40.
If you're placing the PM7000N in your living room like I did, you're probably going to end up connecting your television to the amp. To facilitate that, the amp offers several digital and analog audio input options. I opted to connect my television to one of the optical inputs, but owners can also choose to connect a television or other source components to a coaxial input or one of three unbalanced RCA analog inputs.
For the vinyl heads out there, as previously mentioned, the PM7000N features a phono input option as well. Just be aware that Marantz specifies the phono preamp section to be compatible with moving magnet cartridges rated for 47k ohms loading only. So, you may need to swap out cartridges in order for your turntable to work properly with this amp.
Once you've got your equipment hooked up correctly and power the unit up for the first time, you're greeted with a one-time setup process. It's pretty straightforward, with the most difficult task being network setup, either wired or wirelessly.
As mentioned above, the PM7000N supports HEOS, and as such you'll want to download the HEOS app to get the most of it. The app is available for both iOS and Android, and if you have other HEOS compliant devices in your home, the app works similarly to Sonos, allowing you to control and send audio to those devices individually or in groups.
If for some reason you don't want to use the HEOS app, you don't have to for all of the streaming options available within HEOS. I found I could enable Spotify Connect directly within the Spotify app and bypass HEOS altogether. Alternatively, the network card is DLNA compliant, meaning pretty much any UPnP app out there can send audio to the PM7000N over your home network without using HEOS, though the option for UPnP is there within the HEOS app if you aren't already using another app for this task.
Click over to Page Two for Performance, The Downside, Comparison & Competition, and Conclusion...