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.
Anyway, I streamed Wildflower’s new album Season 2 and used the PM7000N as an endpoint via AirPlay. The heavy rolling bass of the first track “Under The Night Sky” is played at odds with the almost sweetly lilting saxophone. I have the early-release white label vinyl version of this record, and I’ll say that while I prefer the physical record, the streamed version through the PM7000N sounded rich and thunderous at points, really pointing up that contrast in sounds. The track “Rush” was an up-tempo groove with some deft drumming and especially light touches on the cymbal. The upper registers were crisp and tight with good attacks. The PM7000N kept me engaged and, after a little while, I forgot I wasn’t spinning the vinyl—and kept wondering when I’d have to get up to flip the record.
Next I tried Emma-Jean Thackray’s album from 2018 Ley Lines. Thackray is a multi-instrumentalist and plays every note on the album, which is impressive, given how densely woven and intense the music is. Shimmering synth undergirds tight drumming and long, lilting trumpet solos, especially on the track “Red Bush.” The PM7000N did an admirable job reproducing the synth, especially the way it flitted between channels, creating an almost dizzying effect. The trumpet itself sounded a little shallow in places, which wasn’t something I heard later on when I switched my Parasound HINT 6 integrated amp back into position.
Sticking with that same track, I connected through Bluetooth just to test everything out—and it sounded pretty decent. I heard the difference between Bluetooth and the Roon streamed version at the margins—the bass wasn’t quite as deep or resonant, the synth didn’t have that same sparkle—but it’s Bluetooth, so I wasn’t expecting a ton. Still, that’s the flexibility again. If my network dropped out and I couldn’t stream Roon for some reason, I could still use Bluetooth to play downloaded files.
Moving on, I turned to Destroyer’s latest album, Have We Met. Dan Bejar’s voice is the unifying aspect of any Destroyer album, especially his meandering, slanted, and irony-laden lyrics. Bejar’s voice was generally clear, and the places where it breaks ever so slightly were resolved nicely. While the Marantz wasn’t perfect, I didn’t catch any overtly veiled moments. Synths and guitars sounded good too, especially on the track “Kinda Dark.” The guitar solo toward the end was gritty, and the PM7000N resolved the grunge in a really pleasant way.
Digital out of the way, I swapped my normal cartridge for a Grado Bluev2 and plugged into the PM7000N’s mm phonostage. I turned to Johnnie Taylor’s outstanding album Raw Blues, which I have as part of VMP Anthology’s Stax boxed set. Although it was definitely a step down in resolution from my normal setup, I felt that the impact was still there. Especially on “Hello Sundown,” Taylor’s visceral vocals were still practically dripping with whisky and cigarette smoke. The drums at the end of the track as Taylor practically shouts “Sundown!” really slammed hard, while the horns wailed and bent around his voice. That scream at the end, while fading out, still conveyed the harsh and gripping blues. While a significant step down from my daily normal system in terms of cost, it wasn’t an enormous sonic step back in terms of performance.
There’s something satisfying about a piece of technology that just works. I can run through a long list of devices that have passed through my house that were more trouble than they were worth. But the Marantz PM7000N wouldn’t be on that list. Far from it. Despite having a foot firmly in just about every camp imaginable, the PM7000N sounded great and worked seamlessly well. Despite some minor losses, overall the sound was smooth and even, relatively neutral and sweet. At $999, the PM7000N performs above and beyond the asking price, even just in terms of flexibility. For anyone looking for a high-end system without the high-end sprawl, the Marantz PM7000N offers great sound and great value.
Specs & Pricing
Type: All-in-one network receiver/player
Power: 60Wpc into 8 ohms, 80Wpc into 4 ohms
Inputs: Four RCA stereo, two optical, coaxial, USB, Ethernet, phono
Outputs: Headphone, subwoofer
Dimensions: 17.3″ x 4.9″ x 14.9″
Weight: 23.8 lbs.
1 Viper Way
Vista, CA 92081
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