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An audition

Covenanter

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Jul 20, 2012
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As promised on the “How do you know which speakers your amp is best suited to?” thread here is my report on some kit that I auditioned today. It reflects my subjective opinion and is based on my choice of music and recordings. Other opinions are available!

This is the music I used (in no particular order):

· Bellini – “I Capuleti E I Montecchi” DG 00289047708031

· Shostakovich Symphony 5 RPO Ashkenazy – Decca 421 120 2

· Grieg Lieder Von Otter – DG 437 521-2

· Dowland Lute Music Vol 1 – Naxos 8.557586

· John Armatrading – Classics – AM 982 3506 – Track – “Love and affection”

· Shostakovich Piano Concerto 2 – Leonskaja – Apex 8573 89092 2

· Joan Baez “Joan Baez” – Vanguard 79594 – Track – “John Riley”

· Jimmy Hendrix – “Experience” – MCD 11692 – Track - “All along the watchtower”

· Brahms Piano Concerto 1 – Grimauld – DG 479 1058

· Beethoven Violin Concerto – Faust – HMC 902105

· Tallis – “Spem in Alium” – CDGIM 006

· Cream – “Wheels of fire” – Polydor 531 812-2 – Track – “Those were the days”

As you can see this is a mixture of classical and 60s “pop”.

The kit I listened to didn’t turn out to be quite all that I meant to but circumstances change cases and I did cover quite a lot of stuff. Here it is:

· Kef R500 speakers

· Kef R700 speakers

· Marantz PM8005 / SA 8005

· Audiolab 8200CD

· Musical Fidelity M3i / M3CD

· Cyrus 8SE / 8DAC

I specifically didn’t listen to the Marantz 6005 / Kef Q500 to get a comparison to my current kit as it was clear immediately that this new kit was in a different class.

My notes are quiet long so I won’t reproduce them all but here are the highlights. All the kit produced excellent soundstages with instruments and voices clearly separated and stable. Everything sounded like it should, pianos like pianos, voices like voices, etc. So my detailed comments are on top of that!

Marantz + Marantz + R700

· Dowland – Clean and clear, good “image”

· Shostakovich PC2 – Very good piano tone, percussion well defined, ravishing string tone

· Baez – Brilliant! Voice clearly defined, guitar clear and separate

· Tallis – Slightly muddled voices, a bit disappointing

· Hendrix – Exciting but very well controlled

· Cream – Ginger Baker’s drumming stood out (as it should)

· Bellini – Excellent – opera as it should be heard. I can’t easily express how beautifully this was reproduced; two of the greatest opera voices of our time were there in the room with me!

Audiolab + Marantz + R700

I only really tried this to see if would render the Tallis better (the salesman thought it might) but it didn’t. Indeed I couldn’t really hear any difference to the Marantz on any recording

Musical Fidelity + Musical Fidelity + R700

· Dowland – Very impressive, fingers on strings more clearly heard. Maybe just louder?

· Shostakovich PC2 – A bit edgy, piano notes a bit “cracked”

· Baez – No! Shouty!

I stopped listening after the Baez as it was just horrid. Sorry MF fans. May of course be fine with other speakers.

Cyrus + Cyrus + R700

· Dowland - Clean and clear

· Shostakovich PC2 – Clear piano but slightly edgy

· Baez – Very good indeed but a little harsh in the loud passages

· Bellini – Excellent, as good as the Marantz

· Hendrix – Edgy

· Tallis – Slightly muddled voices

My summary of all that was:

· The Shostakovich PC2 recording is bright, close to the point of being over-bright. (It’s a standout performance though!) However, only the Marantz was able to present it properly.

· The Tallis is a mystery as it has always been seen as a fine recording. However, it is an old recording (1985) and it may be that this kit exposes its deficiencies. None of the kit reproduced it exactly as I would wish to hear it. It is fine on my current kit. Make of that what you will!

· The Baez proved to be a fierce test. This is a very old recording (1960) but is IMO one of the finest recordings of the female voice (and what a voice!). In loud passages it sounded harsh on everything except the Marantz.

· The Hendrix also proved tough and again the Marantz controlled it better.

· The R700s are wonderful with the human voice. Whatever the electronics used they absolutely shone.

I don’t know exactly what was happening; maybe the Marantz “rounds off” the harsh edges where the other kit exposes them? What I do know is the Marantz was much more “musical”. It is interesting that I asked the salesman his opinion on each track (and I asked him before I expressed an opinion) and he agreed with me without exception. So it wasn’t just me! He actually said “the Marantz is more musical”. (This was the first time he had heard it as it isn’t a stock item for them.)

I then repeated the listening tests with the Marantz kit and the R500s. These are also fine speakers and I found no fault with them and indeed would be happy to own them. However, when it came to voices the R700s were much better. To quote the salesman “Joan was really in the room with us” and indeed she was.

It is not for me to recommend kit to anybody other than myself but if you are a classical music fan and looking at this price point then the Marantz 8005 range is something you should listen to. If you like the human voice and especially bel canto opera then you really should hear the Kef R700s.

Chris

PS I can comment on the other recordings if anybody is interested.
 

davedotco

New member
Apr 24, 2013
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Good report.

I am a little worried by the term 'musical', it clearly means different things to different people.

I know it is difficult but can you try and elaborate what occured that made you consider the Marantz the more 'musical' option. I usually consider this to mean more revealing of the musical performance rather tham basic differences is sound quality.

I know you mentioned the 'presence' of Joan Baez in very positive terms, it is this kind of difference that, for me, makes the difference.

Are you able to take this further?
 

Freddy58

Well-known member
Jan 24, 2014
25
1
10,545
Yes, very good review. I actually heard the PM8005 a few weeks back, and was quite impressed.

To me, "musical" means a sense of rythm and tempo, something that I felt that digital lacked (apart from Marantz CDP's) in years gone by. Note, I speak in the past tense, as I have been out of the scene for quite some time.
 

CnoEvil

New member
Aug 21, 2009
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I really rate the R700s, and think they are the pick of the range. The Marantz I only know by reputation, but can see why it would have sounded great.

If you have further insight to share, I for one would like to hear it.
 

Covenanter

New member
Jul 20, 2012
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davedotco said:
Good report.

I am a little worried by the term 'musical', it clearly means different things to different people.

I know it is difficult but can you try and elaborate what occured that made you consider the Marantz the more 'musical' option. I usually consider this to mean more revealing of the musical performance rather tham basic differences is sound quality.

I know you mentioned the 'presence' of Joan Baez in very positive terms, it is this kind of difference that, for me, makes the difference.

Are you able to take this further?
It is difficult to find the words to more precisely define something so subjective. However I will try. Any hifi system is artifice, it mimics reality but isn't reality. Some systems with some music can make the artifice so good that you can forget it and the music itself shines through. It was only with the Tallis today that I was distracted from the music with the Marantz. With the MF kit I was always aware that I was listening to something artificial and with the Baez something rather unpleasant. With the Cyrus I was generally very happy and with the Bellini I was in the opera house - I nearly stood up and applauded! It really only dropped its guard on the Baez and Hendrix. So that's what I mean by "musical" - something that lets the music shine through the technology.

On all the vocal stuff the R500s sounded good but the R700s brought the performers into the room. I understand the two speakers have basically the same drivers so the difference comes from the box in some way. (The salesman was quite shocked by the difference. I don't think he had heard top class vocal recordings through this kit.) I didn't mention it in the detailed review because I only heard it through the Marantz so no comparisons but the Grieg Lieder sung by Sophie von Otter, which is generally felt by reviewers to be one of the best vocal recordings ever made, was breathtaking and almost made my hair stand on end. I've only ever heard her live once but this was close to being in her presence, it was that good. So these are very musical speakers IMO as they don't distract you from the music.

I hope that helps.

Chris
 

NHL

New member
Nov 12, 2009
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Hi!

one review described the Marantz as 'romantic'.

How romantic?

Cheers
 

Cypher

New member
Jun 8, 2007
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Have you also listened to the PM Pearl Lite ?

The PM8005 is a great choice though.........always been a fan of the Marantz sound.
 

Thropplenoggin

New member
Jan 6, 2014
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Covenanter,

This made for a fascinating read over breakfast. Thanks for writing at such length...if only WHFSV would follow suit!

Throppers
 

Covenanter

New member
Jul 20, 2012
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NHL said:
Hi!

one review described the Marantz as 'romantic'.

How romantic?

Cheers
I don't know what romantic means in this context so it is hard to answer! I did fall in love with it though.


Beauty is in the eye of the beholder but to me they are good looking boxes. The amp is a bit of a bruiser weighing some 12 kilograms and it is built like a brick ****house. Unusually it has 3 tone controls, Bass, Mid and Treble. It has Pre-out and Main-in so you could use it to feed another power amp (not sure why you would want to) and you can use it as a power amp. It also has an input named "Network" so I wouldn't be surprised to see a network product in this range (NA8005?)

Chris
 

NHL

New member
Nov 12, 2009
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Covenanter said:
NHL said:
Hi!

one review described the Marantz as 'romantic'.

How romantic?

Cheers
I don't know what romantic means in this context so it is hard to answer! I did fall in love with it though.


Beauty is in the eye of the beholder but to me they are good looking boxes. The amp is a bit of a bruiser weighing some 12 kilograms and it is built like a brick ****house. Unusually it has 3 tone controls, Bass, Mid and Treble. It has Pre-out and Main-in so you could use it to feed another power amp (not sure why you would want to) and you can use it as a power amp. It also has an input named "Network" so I wouldn't be surprised to see a network product in this range (NA8005?)

Chris
Long ago, I owned a Marantz amp with an Equalizer! Eventually it was bought by a bloke which liked Marantz based on the champange finish, more so than the sound.
 

Covenanter

New member
Jul 20, 2012
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I've been experimenting with the Tallis on my current kit to see if I could work out what was going on. I have three version of Spem in alium:

Tallis Scholars on Gimmell

Oxford Camerata on Naxos

Chapelle du Roi on Brilliant

and I've been listening to them all one after the other, something I've never done before.

I've come to the conclusion that the Gimmell is actually a bit muddled. Of course a piece of music with 8 choirs each with 5 voices is going to be hard to sort out, placing them all in a soundstage is tough. The Naxos comes out best in my comparison test.

If I am right, and I hope I am not subjectively and retrospectively seeking justification for what I heard, then it may be that the audition was just bringing out more clearly something inherent in the recording. If others have the recording and have a view I'd love to hear it.

Chris
 

matt49

New member
Apr 7, 2013
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I know what you mean about the Tallis Scholars (Gimell) sounding a bit muddled. I wonder if this is because they take the piece faster. Their recording comes in a minute quicker than Chapelle du Roi and two and a half mins quicker than Oxford Camerata. The last of these may also benefit (?) from the characteristic 'bright' Naxos mix, which, I have to say, sounds a bit overdone on my system.

I like the Chapelle du Roi recording for its dynamics.

Of course, there are all sorts of other factors in play: the acoustic of the hall, mic positions etc.

Matt
 

Covenanter

New member
Jul 20, 2012
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matt49 said:
I know what you mean about the Tallis Scholars (Gimell) sounding a bit muddled. I wonder if this is because they take the piece faster. Their recording comes in a minute quicker than Chapelle du Roi and two and a half mins quicker than Oxford Camerata. The last of these may also benefit (?) from the characteristic 'bright' Naxos mix, which, I have to say, sounds a bit overdone on my system.

I like the Chapelle du Roi recording for its dynamics.

Of course, there are all sorts of other factors in play: the acoustic of the hall, mic positions etc.

Matt
Matt

Thanks for that. It's nice to know that I'm not completely mad.

Chris
 

Covenanter

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Jul 20, 2012
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The credit card having been bashed the new kit, Marantz SA8005/PM8005 and Kef R700s, arrived today and I have set it up. If you buy the R700s please don't try to set them up on your own. They are big and weigh about 30kg and just getting them out of the box is a challenge. I got my concierge to help me, he is a big chap, and it was ok. I'm not sure if I could have done it on my own, especially getting them onto the spike shoes (which are supplied, a nice touch that).

There weren't any real negatives although having the instructions for getting the speakers out of the boxes printed on the bottom of the boxes isn't the best idea! I had to crawl into the boxes to get the fittings out as they were behind a tight fitting piece of polystyrene which wasn't going to move without direct intervention. You need to be relatively small to do this although the boxes are very big. (if you have just killed your wife and need boxes in which to put the body these are the ones for you.)

The Marantz kit is very easy to set up. You don't get a manual but a CD with the manual on it. The only oddity I have found so far is that the remote doesn't have a button to open the CD tray (or if it has I haven't found it yet).

First impressions are excellent (I am pleased to say). I am getting more detail revealed than from my previous system and the sound is being delivered effortlessly. So very happy right now.
I wasn't convinced that I was going to get a step-change but actually I have so it is worth the money. Got to find a home for the old kit now!

Chris
 

Covenanter

New member
Jul 20, 2012
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Vladimir said:
Did you do any measurements?
Not sure what sort of measurements you mean? I did check that the Marantz kit would fit into my shelving, which it does just. That was all.

Chris

PS I don't have a wife, only a ex-wife, so I don't need boxes for that.
 

MrReaper182

New member
Apr 6, 2014
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I'm glad you went down the demo route instead of buying blind like a lot of people do. :) Also great write up on how it all went.
 

Vladimir

New member
Dec 26, 2013
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I would have whipped out the FLUKE multimeter in the showrooom and demanded a proper analysis.
 

ISAC69

New member
Mar 13, 2012
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Covenanter said:
The credit card having been bashed the new kit, Marantz SA8005/PM8005 and Kef R700s, arrived today and I have set it up. If you buy the R700s please don't try to set them up on your own. They are big and weigh about 30kg and just getting them out of the box is a challenge. I got my concierge to help me, he is a big chap, and it was ok. I'm not sure if I could have done it on my own, especially getting them onto the spike shoes (which are supplied, a nice touch that).

There weren't any real negatives although having the instructions for getting the speakers out of the boxes printed on the bottom of the boxes isn't the best idea! I had to crawl into the boxes to get the fittings out as they were behind a tight fitting piece of polystyrene which wasn't going to move without direct intervention. You need to be relatively small to do this although the boxes are very big. (if you have just killed your wife and need boxes in which to put the body these are the ones for you.)

The Marantz kit is very easy to set up. You don't get a manual but a CD with the manual on it. The only oddity I have found so far is that the remote doesn't have a button to open the CD tray (or if it has I haven't found it yet).

First impressions are excellent (I am pleased to say). I am getting more detail revealed than from my previous system and the sound is being delivered effortlessly. So very happy right now.
I wasn't convinced that I was going to get a step-change but actually I have so it is worth the money. Got to find a home for the old kit now!

Chris
Hi Chris

Are you sure that the output power of 70W of the Marantz is enough for such big powerful Kef speakers ?

Don't you fill a weak bass , unstable soundstage or shortage in the small details ?
 

lpv

New member
Mar 14, 2013
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I must say I've heard all R speakers and 700's are really something... but with good electronics as I've experienced myself on a different auditions.. even small Q300 - which I did happen to have - with strong and not bright electronics were so good that I regretted selling.. should get better amp instead.. so OP got great speakers with room for improvement in electroincs section... of course, today he's happy:)
 

Covenanter

New member
Jul 20, 2012
63
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0
ISAC69 said:
Covenanter said:
The credit card having been bashed the new kit, Marantz SA8005/PM8005 and Kef R700s, arrived today and I have set it up. If you buy the R700s please don't try to set them up on your own. They are big and weigh about 30kg and just getting them out of the box is a challenge. I got my concierge to help me, he is a big chap, and it was ok. I'm not sure if I could have done it on my own, especially getting them onto the spike shoes (which are supplied, a nice touch that).

There weren't any real negatives although having the instructions for getting the speakers out of the boxes printed on the bottom of the boxes isn't the best idea! I had to crawl into the boxes to get the fittings out as they were behind a tight fitting piece of polystyrene which wasn't going to move without direct intervention. You need to be relatively small to do this although the boxes are very big. (if you have just killed your wife and need boxes in which to put the body these are the ones for you.)

The Marantz kit is very easy to set up. You don't get a manual but a CD with the manual on it. The only oddity I have found so far is that the remote doesn't have a button to open the CD tray (or if it has I haven't found it yet).

First impressions are excellent (I am pleased to say). I am getting more detail revealed than from my previous system and the sound is being delivered effortlessly. So very happy right now.
I wasn't convinced that I was going to get a step-change but actually I have so it is worth the money. Got to find a home for the old kit now!

Chris
Hi Chris

Are you sure that the output power of 70W of the Marantz is enough for such big powerful Kef speakers ?

Don't you fill a weak bass , unstable soundstage or shortage in the small details ?
That's one thing that came out of the audition. I was going to hear the R500s and indeed was very happy with them but the R700s were much better as described above. I was (and am) happy that the Marantz can drive the R700s perfectly well and I don't hear any of the things you mention. Indeed it was much better with these speakers than the more powerful Kandy as described above.

Chris
 

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