For critical listening sessions, I fed lossless and high-resolution audio to the PM7000N via UPnP, sourced from both local files stored on a PC attached to my home network and from Qobuz's large library of music.
I'm not the kind of person who likes to beat around the bush, so I'll say this up front: the PM7000N is mighty impressive. Nearly everything I listened to, be it rock, acoustic, indie, Americana, and even some progressive metal was an absolute treat. No matter the music, the sound always seemed to possess pinpoint resolution and clarity. What's more, these sonic attributes combined with Marantz's slightly warm house sound (yes, this amp has it too), providing a satisfying level of weightiness and scale to the music that I really enjoyed.
I started off my critical listening with Zac Brown Band's "Sweet Annie." Brown's vocals on this track are characteristically raspy, and some amps can emphasize this trait and make them sound a bit harsh and grating. But that wasn't the case here. Vocals remained appropriately raspy, but smooth enough not to warrant concern.
Another thing I look for in this track is how an amp handles the reverb of the band's instruments, especially in contrast with the relatively dry vocals. If the amp were adding something, the vocals wouldn't stand apart from the instruments as distinctly as they do.
Next, I cued up a classic, Elton John's "Benny and the Jets." This track was mastered to sound as if it were recorded in front of a live audience, and through the PM7000N, this illusion really works. The intentionally holographic sounding music, noise from the crowd, and reverberating vocals from Elton were spot on, completely living up to the track's intended aesthetic.
What's more, the PM7000N delivers excellent soundstage and imaging. To test this, an album I use on a regular basis is John Mayer's Born and Raised. Mayer makes excellent use of these stereo effects on nearly every track on this album, but with the title track in particular, I found that piano, harmonica, and backup vocals could be found almost entirely in the left channel as intentionally mixed, while acoustic guitar and percussion could be found mostly in the right. The remaining bass notes and Mayer's vocals were rendered appropriately smack dab in the middle between the speakers with pinpoint precision. If you're an imaging and soundstage junky like I am, the PM7000N won't disappoint.
To test something a bit bass heavier, I cued up Chris Stapleton's "Death Row." With the PM7000N's warmer tone overall, I wanted to make sure bass heavy music didn't sound overpowered. I use this track for testing purposes because it features some heavy-handed bass guitar notes throughout. I've noticed that through other warmer toned amps, these bass notes can come through sounding somewhat homogenized, as if they've lost definition and fidelity. Thankfully, the PM7000N rendered the bass guitar just fine, finding that sweet spot between satisfying bass impact and realistic detail.
Like Zac Brown, Stapleton's singing can sound harsh and a bit grating overall, especially when listening through lesser performing equipment. This is partly due to Stapleton's tendency to tiptoe right up to the edge of yelling. Again, the PM7000N managed to cut through this just fine. His loud and raspy vocals remained appropriately so, without being glossed over or perhaps sounding like they've been clipped as I've heard through other hardware.
I was curious about the PM7000N's source direct and Pure Audio modes, so I played around with them a bit on some of these tracks, but I couldn't make out much of any difference in overall sonic character when enabling these modes. Then again, the amp was setup in my living room, which isn't the best for testing modes that typically offer only relatively small increases in sound quality. If I were to set the amp up in my dedicated two-channel space, with better acoustics and higher-quality speakers, it may have been easier to spot sonic differences if they were there.
Let's switch gears a bit and talk about how the network functionality performs. After all, this is one of the main selling points of this amp and a feature Marantz has pushed quite hard in the literature. I'm happy to report good things overall. A true test for the amp's network stability and reliability was a dinner party I hosted a few weeks ago. Anyone who's hosted such an event knows what a pain it is to try and juggle serving food, drinks and be the dedicated DJ all night. It can be a nightmare made worse if your sound system isn't working properly.
With my trusty Samsung Galaxy S10+ in my pocket all evening, I was able to seamlessly switch between Spotify, Qobuz, and local tracks found on my desktop PC without a hitch. I could even control the volume through my phone, too. I know this doesn't sound all that impressive, but there are a lot of audio products out there that might get hung up switching between these various streaming inputs and require the device to be restarted to regain normal functionality.
What's more, I was happy to find that the PM7000N supports gapless playback, something a lot of network renderers don't support. Again, this doesn't sound like a big deal until you don't have support for it and realize how many albums out there require gapless playback for an authentic listening experience.
Streaming music isn't the only area where the PM7000N offers a seamless experience. The amp's source detect function works extremely well, too. Normally, I listen to music with my television off, but when I want to watch something, I'm typically forced to manually select a new input when using other integrated amps. That's not the case here. As soon as I turn my television on, the amp detects the new source and switches over to the appropriate optical input, and when I'm done watching television and begin to send music from Spotify or Qobuz, for example, it automatically switches back.
When you add all these little software niceties together, it really goes a long way into making a product of this sort feel truly premium.
While I absolutely love the PM7000N from a sound quality point of view, I feel its lack of native support for Qobuz is a letdown. You may have noticed that I talked about using Qobuz with the PM7000N throughout this review. Doing so meant relying on a workaround that involves using a piece of software called BubbleUPnP for Android. This app allows you to browse Qobuz on a mobile device or tablet and send audio to the PM7000N via UPnP. While I found this solution to work quite well, you do lose out on the far more aesthetically pleasing and intuitive user interface found within the actual Qobuz app. Of course, iOS users can rely on AirPlay 2 to achieve the same ends much more seamlessly.
Comparison and Competition
Denon offers the PMA-150H as a direct competitor to the PM7000N. Priced at $1,099, you'll find a number of shared features between these two integrated amplifiers. For instance, both feature similar power output ratings and integrated HEOS network audio functionality.
The most striking differences between the two is in chassis design. The Denon is far more compact and lighter, making it a great option for those in need of an amp that needs to fit in a tight space. It also features a far more modern design aesthetic when compared to the Marantz.
Each uses a different DAC chip, allowing the Denon to stretch PCM and DSD compatibilities a bit higher in resolution. The Denon also features a USB-DAC input option, which the Marantz lacks, making the Denon a potentially better option for those who use a computer as a source device. However, the Marantz includes a phono preamp section that the Denon lacks, making the PMA-150H a nonstarter for those who own a turntable.
For those considering the Denon, check out our review here to see if its features and sonic characteristics are a better fit instead.
Over the past couple years, I've had the opportunity to listen to a number of integrated amplifiers near the Marantz PM7000N's price point. And while some of these integrated amps do offer more watts per channel and more features, none of these other amps have matched or exceeded the raw sound quality the PM7000N delivers. Combine this excellent sound quality with the PM7000N's network capabilities and I think this is one of the most well-rounded integrated amps out there right now near its price point.
• Visit the Marantz website for more product information.
• Visit our Amplifiers category page to read reviews of similar products.
• Marantz NR1200 Two-Channel Slim Receiver Reviewed at HomeTheaterReview.com.