Sunday, 19 June 2022 07:52

REVIEW: Marantz MODEL 40n - a highly musical all-rounder Featured

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When Marantz launched their 2nd generation amplifier in the new design, it became obvious that this is a leading amplifier where the manufacturer has done most things right. Including pricing. The road to requesting a test copy was unusually short.

Marantz has been resting on its laurels for quite some time when it comes to developing the design line. And the undersigned has been one of those who have applauded the gentle elegance of the previous line that was launched sometime in the first part of our century, with its carefully rounded corners and an otherwise straight front panel.

The new line

When Marantz launched its first generation of renewal almost two years ago, this was with two very interesting models. And at the same time, there was a challenge associated with these models in a market perspective, which meant that they may be a little more narrow than the models launched this year. The amplifier MODEL 30 is a class D amplifier, and it is a fact that parts of the audiophile market are a little reluctant to embrace class D as an amplifier principle, while others praise class D as the solution of the future. Not least with amplifier modules from Hypex, such as the NC500 that are in MODEL 30. Personally, I have the attitude that this must be considered from product to product, and there are a lot of exquisite class D amplifiers out there. The proof of the pudding… .. MODEL 30 does not have a digital department, which means that digital sources must be decoded externally. And of course it also means that Marantz with MODEL 30 has spent all the money on the amplifier, and not on additional services that you may / may not have satisfied elsewhere.

The other model was the SACD player SACD 30n. This is also an extremely exciting and great product, but a SACD player costing more than 30k NOK has some challenges in reaching large parts of the market, now that streaming is the new wine. On the other hand, the SACD 30n also has a streaming module from Heos.

2nd generation

It was therefore extremely interesting when Marantz launched a new generation in the new designseries earlier this year. That is - it was strictly speaking only the integrated amplifier MODEL 40n that was launched in February - the CD player was launched in May. And this time I suspect that Marantz has hit the market very well.

The amplifier is a class A/B, at a lower price than MODEL 30, and also includes a streamer solution. Marantz has previously been reluctant to integrate streaming into their amplifiers, due to concerns about radiant noise. On the new MODEL 40n, this is solved by placing extra emphasis on internal shielding. Therefore, it was very interesting to get hold of a test copy of the Marantz MODEL 40n.

The CD player CD 60 is a pure CD player at almost a quarter of the price of the SACD 30n.

The terrain

MODEL 40n is a streaming amplifier that in terms of price is in a segment where there are a number of interesting challengers from before. We have recently reviewed the EVO 75, which is a notch lower in price than the MODEL 40n, while the big brother EVO 150 is a few thousand NOK above. If we move north to Scotland, we find Linn Majik DSM at NOK 36,136, - with fairly comparable functionality and effect.

Naim also has interesting products in its Uniti series, not least the Naim Uniti Atom at NOK 34,990. And we know that Yamaha has a very good streaming engine in their MusicCast series. We have already made an agreement to review Yamaha's amplifier A-S1200, and hope to borrow a matching MusicCast streamer in the same review. And then Arcam has a model called SA30, which can also be an interesting competitor in this segment.

Design and finish

I was present at the digital press conference in the summer of 2020, when the people from Marantz and Sound United proudly presented the two products in the new design line. And to put it bluntly - the cheeses of quality and then, with the distance that video gross everything gives. And that quality impression is only enhanced by a hands-on experience. The weight, which for MODEL 40n is 16.7 kg, and the robust cabinet is the first impression that leaves traces. And of course, the elegant front panel with the discreet LED lighting on each side does not make it worse.

The peephole in the center of the faceplate is a classic and iconic trademark of Marantz. And then it gives a useful feedback to the user, both for daily use, where the selected input and volume level are displayed. And not least if you are going into the setup menu, where navigation with remote control works smoothly and logically. But I can not underestimate that it would have been very nice with an app for mobile or laptop where you can go in and make adjustments in Setup. And while I'm at first in the slightly whiny corner - the font size in this peephole could well have been a number or two larger, so that the setup can also be operated from the listening position.

The front plate is otherwise characterized by strong symmetry, with input selector and volume control with a little extra size on each flank, and four controls in the middle for Source Direct, bass, treble and balance, respectively.

The test copy is in silver, which may just as well be called gold or champagne. I'm also a big admirer of the new design line in black, although the slightly older Marantz products are preferred in Champagne.

Connections

The back of an amplifier is often the realm of triviality. Of course it is here too, but in no way without it also being a joy spreader. And in the first stage of the test, I followed what both Marantz and other manufacturers have as a motto for this type of electronics - just add speakers . And this is where the first pleasure on the back lies, because the MODEL 40n's speaker terminals have such a nice and robust design that they were a pleasure to handle when I plugged in DynaBel 2s for the occasion.

Of the analog inputs, there are 3 ordinary RCA inputs, in addition to an MM phono input and a direct input to the power amplifier. The latter is an input that can be used as an HT bypass, among other things, if you want better sound from your front channels in an AV setup. For the same reason, both MODEL 30 and MODEL 40n have been included in our unique overview of amplifiers with HT bypass .

By the way, this overview was given to a cousin earlier this year, in the form of an overview of stereo amplifiers with HDMI inputs . You can find that overview here , and the Marantz MODEL 40n has a self-written space with its HDMI ARC input. For among the digital inputs on the back, we find an HDMI-ARC input, which makes it easy for those who want to use the MODEL 40n also as a hub for the sound from a TV, and who find it a bit overwhelming with the solution we nerds use with dedicated AV receiver that sends the front channels to the power input on the MODEL 40n. See more about testing these two connection options further down, in the section Two approaches for MODEL 40n together with TV

The other digital inputs consist of an optical and a coax input, as well as a USB-A that allows you to stream from a USB storage device.

What has been dropped on MODEL 40n compared to MODEL 30 is a pre-out. Personally, I would have preferred to replace Rec-out with a Pre-out, since recording to analog media is not very common at the moment. By the way, dropping Pre-out is a Sound United specialty at the moment, because Denon also runs this sport on models in price ranges that were previously equipped with Pre-out. But in the name of justice, it must be mentioned that the MODEL 40n has a subwoofer output, and it is also equipped with an adjustable Low-pass filter, in steps of 20Hz from 40 - 120Hz.

The amplifier

We have mentioned it before, but feel free to repeat it - MODEL 40 has a classic class A/B amplifier. Marantz justifies this with the fact that some customers demand the slightly warm sound from their classic A / B amplifiers. And although I personally have no clear preferences, I think this freedom of choice is a big plus as a market consideration.

The amplifier is stated to have a power of 70 W in 8 ohms in 20-20,000 Hz with both channels operated simultaneously. THD is stated to be 0.02%, and the attenuation factor with 8 ohm load in 20 - 20.000Hz is 100.

Wireless transmission

Before we get started on the Heos department, it must be mentioned that the MODEL 40n in addition to WiFi also has Bluetooth. The version is Bluetooth 4.2, and support for the codec SBC. I took a quick test round with pairing and connection of Samsung S10, and got confirmation that SBC is the only Codec that is supported. On the other hand, this codec is mandatory for all bluetooth products, so you wont`t get stuck anywhere with only SBC.

The connection is painless, and even when you have finished playing and playing from another input, it automatically switches to the Bluetooth input when it is reconnected from the mobile. Bluetooth and WiFi are supported with their own antenna on the back panel, and WiFi is supported with both 2.4 GHz and 5 GH.

Heos

The first thing that happened when I connected the review sample was that Heos suggested a software update that was only a few hours old. And that kind of offer is hard to decline for us who have ambitions to be up to date with everything, but who probably do not quite succeed with it anyway. And this upgrade is a rich illustration of the fact that Heos is frequently on the field for refining this ecosystem that they have in common for Denon and Marantz's products. And who knows - maybe there will be even more brands in Sound United's portfolio of Heos compatibility soon?

Heos started as an independent product brand, but has gradually been incorporated into Denon's product line with various smart speakers and sound bars. And the advantage of Heos is for the same reason that you can use this ecosystem across multiple products.

For most of us, streaming services are probably the most important part of Heos, even though the ecosystem also offers Internet radio and DLNA. Among the streaming services we consider to be particularly relevant in Norway, only three have direct support in Heos - Spotify (Connect), TIDAL and Deezer. And TIDAL has not yet received support for their version of Connect in Heos.

You may also stream from your mobile with the other three streaming services Qobuz, Apple Music and Youtube Music, but then it will be via Bluetooth or AirPlay 2. I have a strong desire that at least Qobuz will be incorporated into the Heos ecosystem during this year .

By the way, I have long called for a Windows app for Heos, but can really reassure myself that there is a rather decent app called Heos Remote, prepared by a third party - a gentleman named Daniel Vistisen. It works for the most part, even though it is not perfect.

The good news is that all three streaming services supported directly work with gapless playback, and this also applies to playback from the other streaming services via Airplay 2. That is - for Deezer, I experience a small gap with duration of a fraction of a second. And a small oddity is that this only happens when the music is selected via the 3rd party app Heos Remote for Windows, not via the original Heos app. And only with Deezer. But this little glitch that is only noticeable on some live recordings is so insignificant that I do not shy away from the Windows app for that reason.

Roon and Chromecast

The Marantz MODEL 40n is compatible with Roon via Airplay. This gives the possibility of streaming music to the unit via Airplay, and also controlling the volume. The physical attenuation then happens at the MODEL 40n. You may also use the popular parametric EQ in Roon with the MODEL 40n.

Chromecast is not supported by the MODEL 40n.

 

Remote control

The physical remote control for MODEL 40n is a very nice acquaintance. It has a suitably fine weight, with a top plate in aluminum. The only wish I have is that there should be better contrast in the font from the background, and if possible also a little larger font. Now it is a bit difficult to read the text on an otherwise very neat and logical remote control

 

Setup

As previously mentioned, you get to the setup menu via the setup button on the remote control. Once you get there, there are four main sections you can enjoy:

  • Audio
  • TV
  • General
  • Network

It is under Audio that you will find the settings that are interesting to talk about - the others mostly contain trivia. In the Audio department you will find settings for the digital filter, where there are minimal sonic differences. Lock Range, on the other hand, may be of greater importance. Here, the narrowest setting is ideal for the sound, since it should have the lowest jitter. I found that with my WiFi with slightly variable stability, it was an advantage to open up to the medium setting to secure against dropouts. Volume Limit speaks for itself, while Low Pass filter indicates where the subwoofer signal should be cut off at the top. Here I chose 40 Hz together with dynaBel 2S, and 60Hz in the final test round with Xavian Mia 2.

Under General you find a setting that might deserve your attention. If you don`t use the Power Amp In the factory setting of 15 minutes will be an excellent choice. But if you use the Power Amp In the situation is different, because the signel arriving via the signal sensor in this input should already be attenuated, in a degree depending on your source and litening habit. This in contrast to the other signals, that normally have a peak at around 2V. As a result of this the Auto-Standby might turn in unintended if there are longer periods with low signallevel. And the longer you set the Auto-Standby time, the less likely it is that this should happen. I tried with playing music with two different recordings with very diggerent recording level (and thus also dynamic range). The first needed a volume setting of -27dB on the remote preamp to not go into Audio Standby, while the other one could cope as low as -47dB. This issue is familiar from some other integrated amps with the combinastion of input signal sensing and HT-bypass, and could be solved with different sensitivity of the signal sensor for these kinds of inputs and the other inputs.

 

The headphone output

Before we get started with the main part of the test, with the mandatory test tracks via TIDAL, we take a round with the headphone output. Marantz has promised that great emphasis has been placed on the construction here with HDAM circuits.

Sennheiser HD650

I took a round with three of my favorite headphones in variable price ranges. The headphone output is a 6.3mm unbalanced TRS, so the balanced cables for the first headphone in the test round - Sennheiser HD 650 - with 4.4mm Pentacon terminal will be unemployed here. They give a little boost in both gain and dynamics when used with the headphone amplifier Topping A50 and the DAC-AMP iFi Hip-DAC. The HD650 is a headphone that is almost a bit inevitable to have in a well-stocked headphone collection, partly due to its excellent midrange.

With its 300 ohms and a sensitivity of 105dB, the HD650 is known for being a bit heavy-duty, and requires its own of a headphone output / amplifier. It is therefore usually not a very good partner for portable devices, and even with a dongle DAC you can not serve anything if you want good dynamics and some headroom. With the headphone output on the MODEL 40n, the HD650 was a summer breeze. With the volume of 22 - 25 (out of 100) I get a comfortable level of listening, and good dynamics. Admittedly, I experience a bit more transparency on the Topping A50, but it's a pretty close match. And then I lose some of the warm balance with the Topping.

Denon AH-D7200

These previous top models AH-D7200 from Denon which was admittedly demoted to deputy commander when the AH-D9200 arrived a little later. I was so fascinated during the review a few years ago that I had to take a Carpe Diem when it appeared «an offer I couldn `t refuse» in the second hand market.

Despite a stated impedance of 25 ohms, and a sensitivity of 105dB, these are slightly heavier than the HD650. But no more than that these also are easily handled byMODEL 40n. The AH-D7200 has a considerably more bass-heavy sound than the HD650, although the rounding of the bass on the HD650 is generally not perceived as annoying.

Hifiman HE400i 2020

The last model I tried out was the Hifiman HE 400i 2020, and also the most affordable with a price tag of around two thousand NOK, depending on when and where they were bought. And at that price, they are a real bargain. This is a model that was replaced by the HE 400SE a year ago, where SE stands for Stealth Edition. There are some divided opinions as to whether it is an improvement over its predecessor or not, and I myself have not heard the SE model. The impedance is at a low 35 ohms, but the sensitivity is also low - 93dB. This gives the impression that they are by far the heaviest headphones in this trio. But they are still run perfectly fine by MODEL 40n.

Sound balance with all three headphones slopes slightly towards the warm side, and then you have to judge for yourself whether this suits your preferences, depending on which headphones you use. I myself really enjoyed the HD650 on the MODEL 40n, despite the fact that they basically have a slightly warm character.

 

Playlist with speakers

Playback setup:

  • Marantz Model 40n
  • DynaBel 2s

For a year and a half now, I have used a standard playlist as part of the listening session on my reviews in Audiophile.no. The purpose is to have a reference both for the listeners and not least for myself which provides a good basis for comparison between different products. The test track is primarily developed in TIDAL, but I have also made an alternative test track in Qobuz, since this is actually my preferred streaming service in terms of sound quality since Qobuz has many albums released in lossless HighRes. Since Qobuz is only available via Airplay and Roon (which is also via Airplay), and part of the original test track is not available in Qobuz, the TIDAL version is used in this test.

You can open the playlist here

  1. Odin Staveland. Parade - Sillajass
    My immediate reaction is that I am presented with a different experience than I usually receive. Sillajazz is usually dominated by raw and unadorned music reproduction. Here is a much softer and more flattering presentation. It is far too early to draw any conclusions, but this is an interesting trend that must be followed throughout the test track.

  2. Erik Friedlander. Bohemia After Dark - Oscalypso
    Also here I notice a bit of the same tendency as on the opening track, but also experience a slightly different phenomenon. A very good rhythmic precision, which is also manifested in the fact that almost-synchronous instrument reproductions appear to be very distinct, and where even the small offsets in timing become clear. Here, too, perhaps more musical finesse than microdynamics is emphasized. And the resemblance to the opening track is a slightly exquisite and refined rendition of the music

  3. Nigel Kennedy. Vivaldi: The New Four Seasons: Summer: 8 Fear - Vivaldi: The New Four Seasons
    In the «Vivaldi passages» there is a striking focus on the melodic. Which of course is brutally broken in the Kennedy passages with a violent twist.

  4. Louis Armstrong. St. James Infirmary - Satchmo Plays King Oliver
    Unusually graceful and lyrical rendering of a track that is usually about completely different parameters. And although Louis Armstrong's vocals are present as just that, it is an additional dimension here, in the form of a silky soft reproduction. It is not least manifested in the reproduction of the clarinet that I must admit that I do not know who is playing.

  5. Arild Andersen. Patch of Light - Hyperborean
    Incredibly beautiful rendition of the strings in this track. It is beginning to be manifested that the Model 40n has a special competence in the midrange.

  6. Arild Andersen. Hyperborean - Hyperborean
    A crystal clear and distinct double bass played by Arild Andersen. And also here, Marantz makes it all be bit about midrange as well. It must not be misunderstood that the bass is not reproduced deep enough, but the harmonic structure shines.

  7. Frank Zappa. Rubber Shirt - Sheik Yerbouti
    Here it is both hefty and dynamic. And the deep bass is exemplary distinct. Steel control someone could have called it.

  8. Frank Zappa. Debra Kadabra - Bongo Fury
    A little surprisingly, there is extra detail insight here. But it must also be noted that the music may be reproduced a little softer than on the most mischievous setups.

  9. Frank Zappa. The Purple Lagoon - Zappa In New York
    Rhythmically and with good presence, is the first thing I register. The bass groove that starts just over a minute into the song is extra engaging. And the bass groove which starts at approx. 10.30 is rendered completely magically. But it's honestly not primarily the bass reproduction this amplifier is about. We must try to get back to that more precisely.

  10. David and Susanna Wallumrød. Chelsea Hotel - Chelsea Hotel (Live)
    Magnificent reproduction of Susanna's vocals, which are otherwise completely flawlessly reproduced on this set-up. Very great clarity in the reproduction.

  11. Helene Grimaud. Silvestrov: Bagatelles I - XIII: Bagatelle I - Memory
    An incredibly good spatial rendering in this recording on DG.

  12. Kleive, Reiersrud, Dissing. Kimer I Klokker - Den Signede Dag
    A strikingly soft rendition, but at the same time there is a lot of air around Povl Dissing's vocals. At the same time I register that the vocals rasp a little in some places - a new registration. The crescendo in the last verse is reproduced flawlessly. Almost.

  13. Reiersrud, Kleive. Track 12 - Himmelskip
    Extra air here, and a violent and almost atypical dynamic.

  14. Jan Garbarek. Mission: To Be Where I Am - It`s OK To Listen TO The Gray Voice
    The brushstrokes on this rendering are very precise. And melodic.

  15. Jimi Hendrix. Red House - Hendrix In The West
    Model 40n retains the musical focus on this masterful interpretation of Red House, instead of hanging on to the limitations of the recording.

  16. John Abercrombie. Red And Orange - Timeless
    In addition to the authority in Jan Hammer's synth bass, it's easy to get caught up in a nice warmth in the reproduction with MODEL 40n

  17. John McLaughlin. Every Tear From Every Eye - Electric Guitarist
    There will be a bit of bass focus here in the intro as well. But there is a very nice reproduction of the whole spectrum here, not least in the almost-synchronous interaction between McLaughlin and Sanborn

  18. Joni Mitchell. Overture / Cotton Avenue - Don Juan`s Reckless Daughter
    Steel control in the bass, while maintaining the musicality. The bass beat that occurs at 1; 45 sharp is insanely precisely rendered, and at the same time very melodic.

  19. Kari Bremnes. Kanskje - Det vi har
    Surprisingly unrefined reproduction of Kari's vocals, although it's usually the bass that's the subject of this track. That is rendered flawlessly. In a new attempt with a slightly lower volume (50), Kari's vocals are also well reproduced.

  20. Kari Bremnes. Like før dagen går ned - Og så kom resten av livet.
    Nicely rendered, but here too I'm a bit unsure of the sound of Kari's vocals. But the rest of the spectrum works very well.

  21. Kari Bremnes. Barn av Blå Krukke - Blå Krukke
    An almost strikingly warm reproduction of a track that is typically reproduced with a kind of V-characteristic in the frequency response. Is it better? Well, at the time of writing, I think so, but that may change, of course. And then another existential question creeps in: is there also a bit of limited microdynamics? The question is taken further in the test track for observation.

  22. Kari Bremnes. A Lover In Berlin - Norwegian Moods
    A strikingly less treble-focused reproduction and correspondingly warm sound than what is reproduced via a number of other setups. Some will use the term musically and not analytically. Now this is starting to form a profile that we may see more of as time goes on.

  23. Kari Bremnes. Du har sett dem - Månestein
    The currently last track in the Kari sequence of the test track. And also here, a strikingly controlled treble reproduction appears on a track where I sometimes think it can be on the verge of uncomfortable. And at the same time we are completely free of the sharpness that many KB recordings are bothered by on other setups.

  24. Keith Jarrett. For Miles - Bye Bye Blackbird
    Initially, I'm very excited about what characteristics will appear here. For this track can have a very analytical rendition of especially Jack DeJohnette's fabrication of cymbals and other pleasing elements in the drum set-up. It becomes too clear that we are presented with a very fine sound balance, which at the same time maintains a very good reproduction of details. Also by Gary Peacock's walk over the neck of the double bass. Keith Jarrett's piano has a very good sound balance, with no hint of unpleasant sound that the piano can get on some setups and recordings.

  25. Sigmund Groven, Knut Buen. The Sound of Telemark - Myllargutens Bruremarsj
    This is also a somewhat particularly interesting track, because it has a very large amount of ambience in the recording from the machine hall in Rjukan. MODEL 40n manages to tame the reproduction of this very well - it all becomes a clarified and controlled performance.

  26. Ketil Bjørnstad. Land - Odyssey
    Nice and well-controlled rendition of this recomposition of Myllarguten's Bruremarsj, where Ketil Bjørnstad and Frode Alnæs are the main musicians. The soundscape has an extra great musicality compared to a number of other layouts, and warmth is again a key word. Although this may sound like a not particularly demanding track, there is actually quite a wide spread in the rendering on different layouts. And MODEL 40n stands for praise.

  27. Ketil Bjørnstad. Moren - Sunrise
    on this track a common question tends to be: is the focus on details, or on the description of the stairwell. And with MODEL 40n, I'm not for a moment in doubt - it is Edvard Munch's description of this small drama in the stairwell that is conveyed. But that does not prevent the details of the music from having a nice place in the soundscape.

  28. Kolbjørn Falkeid. Alt - Solskinnsdypet
    Arve Henriksen is brilliantly reproduced here, even before the drama has completely started. Kolbjørn Falkeid's recitation has a somewhat surprising resonance that I am particularly aware of, while Bjørn Kjellemyr's bass is quite fantastically reproduced.

  29. Ketil Bjørnstad. Sylvelines Hus - Berget det Blå
    This was a bit in the stereo - if not childhood, then at least puberty. And then it happened that the drummer and bassist stood in their respective corners. In this case, it was Pål Thowsen and Arild Andersen, respectively. And on this rendition, there is also a slightly notoriously light sound. And although the MODEL 40n can not help us with the stereo setup, it is a little help to get in the sound balance. The slight caution that is revealed in the treble comes in handy on this recording, which back in time was my awakening in Bjørnstad terrain.

  30. Leonard Cohen. Happens To The Heart - Thanks For The Dance
    Great rasping bass in Leonard's vocals.

  31. Leonard Cohen. The Story Of Isac - Songs From A Room
    One of the best renditions of Story of Isac I've had since I took this Cohen classic to the test track.

  32. Lynni Treekrem. Sjalu Type - Storm
    An incredibly good rendition of a very original interpretation of this Lennon classic.

  33. Lynni Treekrem. Veslemøy - Haugtussa
    Here I am often exposed to lots of details, but MODEL 40n focuses more on wholeness and music.

  34. Mari Boine. Chasing Myself Into Reality - See The Woman
    MODEL 40n keeps track of events like few others. Especially in the bass, because there can be a slight hardness in Mari's vocals some places.

  35. Marianne Baudouin Lie. Many Thousands Gone - Atlantis, Utopia And Wolf Dreams
    Nice and warm sound, which does not mask for details.

  36. Mats Eilertsen. Endless - Reveries and Revelations
    Here there is often an inferno in details, while the MODEL 40n focuses more on bass, timbre and sound.

  37. Mats Eilertsen. Signal - Reveries and Revelations
    An almost magical perspective

  38. Siri Svale Band. Don`t Explain - Blackbird
    A bass intro that sparkles does not manage to completely mask a hint of sibilant rendition of Siri's vocals. But what a rendition on this classic from just over 30 years ago.

  39. Beyoncè. DONT HURT YOURSELF - LEMONADE
    Hefty rendering

  40. Øyvind Kristiansen, Jonas Kilmork Vemøy. Forsaken - Hymns of Compassion
    Masterfully reproduced, with an authoritarian bass. Beate S. Lech's vocals often have an annoying sibilant sound - here it is almost gone.

  41. Radka Toneff. The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress - Fairyytailes
    Very nice rendition of a legendary track.

  42. Erlend Apnaseth Trio. Vake - Lokk
    Magic music with a controlled reproduction.

  43. Maria Joao - Mario Laginha. Horn Please - Cor.
    Magical atmosphere in this track which is beautifully rendered.

  44. Lill Lindfors. Ankomst Til Hades - Ett liv
    Magical rendition of the highlight of this album
  45. Billie Eilish. Your Power - Happier Than Ever
    Good reproduction, although Billie's vocals can be a bit intrusive at high volume

  46. Marc Johnson. Freedom Jazz Dance - Overpass
    A great and precise rendition, including solid and precise bass.

  47. Irmin Schmidt. Piano piece I - 5 Piano piece
    A great recording, which is reproduced extra nicely in this layout.

  48. Anette Askvik. Liberty - Liberty
    Nice sound balance, with good warmth in Anette Askvik's vocals, and good depth in the bass

  49. Jeff Reily and Peter Anthony Togni. Ave Verum - Blackwood
    Skinless rendering

  50. Chiaroscuro Quartet. String Quartet No. 1 - Beethover: String Quartets
    It is quite possible that other setups may be at least as precise in telling where each individual instrument is located. But these setups may not be quite as good at conveying why they are there…

You can open the playlist here

 

We listen to recently released albums

We end this listening round with listening impressions from the albums in Record tasting no. 5-2022 . In this round, I have connected a 10-inch Klipsch R-110SW subwoofer via the sub-output, which naturally results in the bass going deeper than when the bookshelf speakers dynaBel 2S play alone, as they did in the test track. In the setup menu, I set the LowPass filter to 40 Hz. And as previously indicated, a full range signal is still sent to the main speakers. All the albums are played here in TIDAL.

First out is I Like to Sleep's recent album Sleeping Beauty. The album has a sound that is occasionally characterized by a lot of deliberately distorted sounds, in combination with an exciting and somewhat unique soundscape with vibraphone and baritone bass. And this soundscape is conveyed very well by MODEL 40n. Although the sound on the recording is not all the extremely resolved, the amplifier manages to give a very good mood picture together with the actual speakers. And the rhythmic shift a bit out in the track Cocoo gives very strong associations to Yes's similar rhythmic practice on Sound Chazer almost 50 years ago. And on the superb closing track, which is also a kind of title track on the album, it excels with a violent bass reproduction in a magical and mysterious soundscape. Here I am tempted to turn up more than some of the neighboring houses may be appreciating. And the sub-output really comes into its own on this track.

The next album is Weather Report's album Inception from February this year with live recordings from 1971, and a musical landscape that has many references to what Miles Davis was doing in 69/70 together with, among others, Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter. Here, a fantastic live feeling is conveyed, with lots of dynamics that makes it really a joy to listen to this album on MODEL 40n with the relevant speakers. The subwoofer does not have as obvious a role here as on the previous album, but contributes very well to give more fullness down the ranks. There is otherwise a very nice balance between clarity at the top and a good warmth in the sound.

Origin's debut album Innsig has an intro to the opening song with a rather formidable bass performed by Kjetil Dalland, and with a rhythmic drive that is very well reproduced. On this setup. The vocals of Ingvild Austgulen are magnificently reproduced here in the special Rap variant that Origin stands for. The rhythm in Louisa Palmi Danielsson's guitar on Villkvinna is also brilliantly conveyed.

On the album Svadilja by Hans Fredrik Jacobsen, it is the willow flute and singing birds that make up the orchestra. And this is not a bird song that is put on afterwards, but is recorded live at a location in Krokskogen together with Jacobsen's willow flute. This is actually quite formidable, and gives an impression of presence that goes so far that I feel the need to blow away some insects that can occasionally become a little approachable. And the willow flute is experienced very close and realistic. Then one might not think that a subwoofer gets to swing significantly when the willow flute and birdsong are to be reproduced, but that is a hasty assumption. For rhythmic drums on the flute and tramp on the ground are reproduced quite far down in the frequency register, and with great rhythmic drive.

Finally, we include the fifth album from the latest record tasting. Max Richter's album The New Four Seasons - Vivaldi Recomposed published by Deutsche Grammophon. One of countless recordings that have fun with Antonio's popular masterpiece. But it is not a daily occurrence that there is a Moog synth from the 70's in the instrument series. And it gives a bass that sticks out in the soundscape. But still, there are baroque instruments that dominate here, in contrast to what was usual in the more romantically emphasized recordings that were prevalent a few decades ago on Vivaldi's music. And the Marantz MODEL 40n manages to accentuate the crisp sound in baroque violins and a harpsichord, and gives the whole thing an extra exotic feel when the very deep synth bass breaks into the soundscape. And the almost furious atmosphere in the third movement of "Summer" is reproduced with a very good drive, and stands in stark contrast to the more crisp 2nd movement this autumn with its gloomy undertones. Yes,

Finally, I can not help but bring an album that I played via Bluetooth from Samsung S10. Johannes Moser's album Alone Together was released on June 17 this year, and has an absolutely magnificent rendition despite the fact that this is reproduced via the very simplest BT codec SBC. It all culminates in the most fascinating interpretation of Arvo Part's Fratres, on this album where he alternates between playing on his famous 1694 Guarneri instrument, and two electric cellos: a Ned Steinberger and a Yamaha electric cello

 

A round with Xavian Mia 2.

A small round with Xavian Mia II on the test track. These are tripod speakers that have a stated frequency response that rounds off at 55dB, and it sounds like it goes a little further up than dynaBel 2S. But it does not give a very intrusive deficiency, and I have reviewed bookshelf speakers that have had a far more obvious deficiency in the deep bass. In fact, I almost find that the MODEL 40n gives the Xavian a little extra support in the deep bass, without the subwoofer being connected. These Xavian speakers are well balanced in the rest of the frequency range, and do not have the slightly intrusive top that many other models are encumbered with. And this is a character that is supported by the musical and slightly warm soundscape that is performed by Marantz MODEL 40n

This means that it plays quite well on Nigel Kennedy's recomposition of the same seasons that Max Richter also enjoys. Lous Armstrong's St. James Infirmary also gets a fair rendition of this combo. And the string part in Arild Andersen's Patch of Light I on the album Hyperborean gets a little extra glow compared to some other amplifiers I have connected to the Xavian speakers. While the catchy title track Hyperborean is reproduced with a surprisingly rich, deep and precise bass. In every way, the impression is given that the MODEL 40n has full control in the bass. 

Two approaches for MODEL 40n along with TV

In the section "Connections", I went through the two different approaches to connecting a Marantz MODEL 40n to a TV set. I have tried both approaches, and give a small report here. This time, I'm taking a closer look at the two alternative layouts, so if this is not for you, you can just skip to the next main section.

HDMI ARC

The first is a method with ever-increasing popularity, and consists of connecting the amplifier to the TV via the HDMI ARC output. This provides TV sound digitally directly into the TV set, and also has the advantage that you get the operating comfort that HDMI CEC provides. The limitation is that the sound reproduction is only in stereo. Or 2.1 in this case, where a subwoofer can optionally be connected to MODEL 40n via a dedicated subwoofer output with its own adjustable LowPass filter.

A latest generation Chromecast with Google TV which is in reality a full-blooded alternative to Apple TV is in for testing at the same time, and in this round was connected directly to one of the the TV's HDMI input. At the same time, an HDMI cable was connected to the TV's HDMI ARC output and into the MODEL 40n's HDMI ARC input. After I went into the Chromecast's settings menu and turned Surround Sound to "off", this was a shot. Full CEC comfort, where the correct input on the TV is automatically selected. The same goes for the amplifier input, also thanks to the CEC. And the same goes for the volume control, which is also automatically forwarded via CEC to MODEL 40n, after I've been in the same menu on the Chromecast to disable the volume buttons on the CC remote control to control the AV receiver.

As the first round of the test track on Netflix, I choose FORMULA 1 - DRIVE TO SURVIVE, which has now arrived in the 4th season. This is a series with good sound, and which basically comes in Dolby Atmos. Of course, you have to give up just that with this slightly minimalist solution. But you do not have to give up an excellent sound reproduction that gives a great and engaging soundscape of Formula 1 races with high empathy. And not least thanks to the connection option for subwoofer, this gives an extra good sound experience.

The next round is with the brand new crime drama series YOU DON`T KNOW ME, which premiered on Netflix 17.6.2022. A series with a somewhat unusual dramaturgy, where the entire content is narrated by defendants from the courtroom, and which through the four episodes has an increasing intensity. And also here you experience a great sound reproduction via a 2.1 setup with dynaBel 2S and Klipsch sub.

It is an obvious conclusion for playback of movie material via HDMI ARC on the Marantz MODEL 40n that this provides a sound experience that by a formidable margin surpasses any soundbar I have heard, regardless of price range. And the subwoofer output on the MODEL 40n is of course an element that contributes extra to this on film reproduction.

Power Amp in

The only thing that can compete with movie audio via HDMI ARC with this amplifier is a setup where the movie audio first goes through an AV receiver or processor, and then sends the L/R front channel fro pre-out to "Power Amp In". This is then a variant of HT bypass, and a version that has a real bypass where the signal is routed outside the preamplifier section in MODEL 40n and goes directly to the power stages. This is in contrast to the other main variant, which basically works as what some British manufacturers like to call Unity Gain, where the volume is locked to a fixed value at the relevant input - preferably 0dB. The solution on MODEL 40n is more purist than typical Unity Gain solutions since the AV signal does not pass through two preamplifiers. At the same time, it is a slightly more cumbersome solution for some, since you have to select input selectors on the front panel if you are going to select Power Amp In, unlike the other inputs that can be selected from the remote control. It will also go with approx. 10 seconds for the amplifier to automatically turn off and on again. But this becomes a bit insignificant when the gain is an optimal sound solution.

In this review, the Power Amp In on the Model MODEL 40n was connected to the pre-out for the front channels on an Onkyo TX-NR696, in a 5.1.2 setup. Since there is a possibility of different gains on the MODEL 40n and the stereo amplifier I usually use in this setup, a new autocalibration must be run. And at the same time I used the opportunity to measure whether there is an AD and DA conversion for signals on the analog line inputs. MODEL 40n was acquitted at that point!

I did a new playback of FORMULA 1 - DRIVE TO SURVIVE and YOU DON`T KNOW ME, and it was not very surprising that this gives something extra in the exercise 3D-sound compared to 2.1 via HDMI ARC. Not least on FORMULA 1, which is in Dolby Atmos, while the other film is only in 5.1, but with a good and natural 5.1 mix. But there is of course a price to pay for the extra 3D information both financially and in the form of more stuff in the living room. Typical buyers of the MODEL 40n must be assumed to prioritize music reproduction, and then the HDMI ARC input is a great solution.

Finally, we take a new look at the album by Johannes Moser that I played in Bluetooth. It is also available in Dolby Atmos on TIDAL, and provides an incredibly good experience played through MODEL 40n for the front channels and the other channels from the AV receiver. Not least the track Exhalation written by Chris Ceronna has a very nice 3D rendering. This also applies to Arvo Pärt's Fratres, which is reproduced incredibly beautifully, and with a bass that sits far down in the tailbone. You can count on a deep dive into this album at the next Record Tasting.

Summary listening impression

Then it's time to summarize the listening impressions from the various test tracks. And as often before, I start in the lowest octaves. MODEL 40n has a bass reproduction that appears neutral, and with very good control over the speakers I have tried to run them with. Still, I must emphasize that on the Xavian speakers that can often expose a slightly limited depth in the bass, it felt as if the MODEL 40n provided a little extra traction. Because even without the subwoofer connected, it was very unproblematic to live with the sound balance. And dynaBel 2S has a good depth in the bass also in other setups, and this was well controlled by the amplifier.

The midrange is perhaps the most interesting here. For here, Marantz has created a very nice balance between giving a good detail and giving a midrange with a good body and a touch of warmth in the sound. It also results in a melody focus on some tracks, and strings are usually very nicely reproduced. This also applies to vocals, where a couple of demanding tracks with Kari Bremnes are the exception. A distinctly musical reproduction, which does not sacrifice detail.

The treble actually also has some of the same characteristics as the midrange. No uncomfortable peaks protruding. Here we have a nice detail despite the treble leaning more towards a touch of caution.

The perspective properties of the MODEL 40n are excellent, and do not lag behind the competitors I have experienced in the price range. The microdynamics are also great, but without excelling in relation to the average in the class. Then it is almost more tempting to point out the macrodynamics, which are well emphasized in this class A/B amplifier.

And then I noticed on some of the tracks that it was an extra rhythmic drive, which could evoke associations with what on some British products is called PRaT, which is the short version of Pace Rhythm and Timing.

Conclusion

Marantz has delivered an exceptionally great product at a very reasonable price with MODEL 40n. The design and finish make it stand out as one of the most appealing amplifiers in the class. And when this is complemented by such a good sound and distinct musical reproduction in an unusually complete and well-equipped power amplifier, the result has to be extremely good!

 

Guide price for Marantz MODEL 40n is NOK. 26.999, -

Read more about MODEL 40n at the Norwegian importer Neby AS

Read more about MODEL 40n at Marantz

Read 3117 times Last modified on Sunday, 19 June 2022 17:42
Karl Erik Sylthe

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