It’s been hard not to preach the all-in-one gospel lately. Most people want simplicity in their lives, which is arguably a big part of why streaming has become the de facto musical delivery system of choice. Let’s be honest: As much as it pains me to admit it, vinyl playback is far from simple, and CDs, while easier to use than vinyl, still require physical storage space. A true high-end audiophile system is typically pretty complex, with multiple boxes, multiple formats, and a finnicky range of compatibilities to keep in mind. However, lately there has been a ton of incredibly good-sounding products that shrink the audiophile sprawl down to something more manageable, without sacrificing what matters most.
The Marantz PM7000N ($999) integrated amplifier is one of these devices. While it doesn’t include speakers in its chunky black box, it offers pretty much everything else: DAC, network streaming, Apple AirPlay, multiple line inputs, multiple digital inputs, and a phono section. Ever since starting this review, I’ve been able to shut off and ignore at least three different boxes that are currently sitting in my rack, which is nothing short of a miracle. And though I do love shining audio boxes, there’s something nice about getting rid of the clutter and focusing on the music.
On top of all its features and flexibility, the PM7000N has enough juice to run most speakers. It puts out 60Wpc into 8 ohms and 80Wpc into 4 ohms. It has two optical inputs, a coaxial input, USB, moving-magnet phono, and four analog inputs. That essentially covers every possible type of musical media, but Marantz also throws the already-mentioned AirPlay and Bluetooth into the mix. Because it has AirPlay, the PM7000N can act as a Roon zone, which makes it pretty easy to use. The DAC can handle up to 24bit/192kHz and DSD5.6, which covers my entire digital library. Since Wi-Fi is built into the unit, there’s no need to run any extra wire, although Marantz includes an Ethernet jack for exactly that, just in case. The PM7000N could access the shared music folder on my NAS with no problems, although navigating the folders was a little rough on the Marantz’s tiny screen. There’s also Google Assistant and Alexa, if you’re into those. And finally, if all of this weren’t enough, there’s Internet radio.
I know, that’s a lot of stuff. But the fact is, the PM7000N does a ton. It’s clearly designed to be a one-box solution sans speakers. The PM7000N can be dropped into a highly connected household and easily take control.
Setup was a breeze. I got rid of my integrated amp, my streamer, and my phono preamp, then plugged in the Marantz. I connected my Gold- enEar Triton Three+ speakers and was ready to go. The little LCD screen, while difficult to read from a distance, was pretty intuitive and walked me through getting my Wi-Fi network selected and the password entered. The unit updated itself, and then was good to go. Fortunately, I have a Ubiquity wireless access point directly beneath my office, so signal was never a problem, but if a wire is available I always recommend plugging it in and skipping the Wi-Fi.
Right away, I have to admit, I really appreciated that the PM7000N incudes tone controls on the front panel. Tone controls are sometimes considered pure evil, but I actually like to play with them from time to time. Now, obviously I’m not doing my serious listening with the bass cranked up to max, but I’m definitely having some fun when it is. For the purists out there, Marantz has its Source Direct mode, which bypasses the tone controls. Most of my listening was done with this feature enabled. In general, I preferred the sound with Source Direct on. (Even with the tone control set at their defaults, I found the sound was ever so slightly veiled without Source Direct.) Everything just sounded a little crisper with it enabled, so I stuck with that.
Aesthetically speaking, this Marantz looks a lot like most Marantz amps these days. It’s a chunky black box with blue LEDs, a reasonably sized if still somewhat small screen, big input knob, big volume control knob, and, of course, those tone-control knobs. There’s a quarter-inch headphone jack, which is always a nice option. The front plate tapers on the edges ever so slightly, giving the unit a wind-swept look. I like the Marantz design, and I love that classic Marantz logo, but let’s be honest: There’s nothing particularly special here. It’ll look fine wherever you put it, and that’s probably good enough.
One final thing before I dive into listening notes. Something that doesn’t get enough appreciation is a good, well-designed remote control. Maybe I write about remotes a little too much. (I’m sure someone’s typing an email about this already.) But honestly, the Marantz remote is solid. It’s plasticky, but it has just about every function imaginable in a really easy layout. The remote that came with my CXNv2 actually controls the Marantz right out of the box. That means fewer remotes, which is a seriously good thing. They may be important, but they sure do reproduce.
Now for the listening. I started in the digital domain because I’m in the process of getting Roon all set up, and hey, it turns out Roon really is as awesome and powerful as everyone says. There’s an app called HEOS available for those who want a free alternative, however. I spent a little bit of time with HEOS, and I’ll say that it functions, but I don’t want to use it.
By Drew Kalbach
I have a degree in English from Temple University and a Masters in Fine Arts with a specialty in poetry from the University of Notre Dame. I’m a full-time self-published author with over 100 books in both romance and men’s adventure fiction.More articles from this editor