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Marantz PM7000N vs Cambridge CXA61

Zebede1980

Active member
Jun 14, 2020
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Does anyone have any information that can help with a comparison of the PM7000N and the CXA81? Obviously the pm7000n is a network player as well, but the review here scores the sound quality really well, so my question is - is it in the same league as the cxa81 for pure sound quality, other features aside, or does it lag behind and pay a price for being a all-in-one box at this price range?

has anyone heard them both side by side?

cheers!
 

ast2312

Well-known member
May 3, 2020
31
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Hi,

I can share my experience of the CXA81 which may help. I was also considering the 7000N but decided on the CXA81 largely based on how I decided to use it.

I wanted to limit box size and keep all my multi-room platform simple with my existing Sonos products.

What I ended up doing was using my existing Mac mini (headless) and direct feed into the CXA81. I then installed roon and can control everything by remote app. Obviously everyone has different uses and set-ups but considering the 7000N provides a one box solution I would consider my set-up close to that.

The SQ of the CXA81 is vey impressive. Having owned Naim and Devialet I was still blown away by how good the CXA81 performs.

I did consider that the 7000N has treble and bass controls (especially that I have them in a small room) but roon has DSP and EQ which can be used if needed. Only disadvantage with roon is the cost unfortunately.

I was not able to complete an A/B comparison between the CXA81 and 7000N but also did not feel I needed to as I was happy with the sound from the Cambridge.

Hope this helps.
 
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Zebede1980

Active member
Jun 14, 2020
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Thanks for the feedback, it’s really useful to hear and has already helped with my thinking. The marantz appeals as it has all the services built in, but I really do want sound quality to be the primary factor. I already own a echo link which I plan to use to feed amazon music hd into the amp by toslink. That would basically give me the same feature set as the marantz for my needs, probably making the cxa81 the better choice.
the reports for the marantz just sounded so good for sound that I wondered if I was missing a trick!
 

ast2312

Well-known member
May 3, 2020
31
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45
Hi,

Glad it helped. I am sure the Marantz is very good and the reviews support it. Just a few things that helped me choose the CXA81 is the DAC quality as well as the future flexibility if I do decide to do something slight different (as it is still a separate amp).

I do think the key to the selection is understanding the setup. For a while I was considering the Bluenote and did try it but preferred the sound of the CXA81 DAC.

That just led me to experiment with roon and then I found a match I could not better in my situation.
 

DougK

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Dec 8, 2013
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Whatever you do you would need to audition these side by side as our ears are not all the same. If you want to buy blind that's fine, I've done it several times and been happy with the result, however, there is nothing like a listening session to make the final call.
 

Zebede1980

Active member
Jun 14, 2020
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Whatever you do you would need to audition these side by side as our ears are not all the same. If you want to buy blind that's fine, I've done it several times and been happy with the result, however, there is nothing like a listening session to make the final call.
Definitely agree, I am aiming to do my research and form a plan and then go and listen to it to confirm I’m happy. But with current situation don’t want to mess anyone about trying 4 different setups!
Also, richer sounds are offering extended home trials so I am planning to buy it there and have that insurance!
 
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rainsoothe

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Apr 30, 2012
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Definitely agree, I am aiming to do my research and form a plan and then go and listen to it to confirm I’m happy. But with current situation don’t want to mess anyone about trying 4 different setups!
Also, richer sounds are offering extended home trials so I am planning to buy it there and have that insurance!
Best way to go about it, you get to hear the stuff in your own system and, most importantly, room.
 

37up

Active member
Jul 16, 2020
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I've had the CXA81 for a few weeks and am slightly torn by it, some times I think it is the best thing in the world, sometimes I find it a bit too bright and lacking in the low end. I'm receiving a PM7000N tomorrow to demo side by side.

I was upgrading from a Marantz PM6003 and KEFQ100s to CXA81 and KEF LS50s.

It's been a very hard decision. The CXA81 is definitely sweet at times but to really enjoy it I've had to use an equalizer in my Amazon Music app, something in me says that's wrong and I don't want to depend on an app on my phone to enjoy my £1000 amp!

Once I get them side by side I will let you know what I think.
 
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DougK

Well-known member
Dec 8, 2013
745
431
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If you don't like it after a few weeks then it's not the right amp for you... try something else. Let us know how you get on with the Marantz.
 

rainsoothe

Well-known member
Apr 30, 2012
330
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19,070
If you don't like it after a few weeks then it's not the right amp for you... try something else. Let us know how you get on with the Marantz.
Maybe it's just not the right combination, I'm not sure either would work with the LS50, as they're pretty demanding speakers. They also can be a bit bright themselves.

I'd look at Arcam SA30 or something like that.
 
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Simon 13th note

Well-known member
Jul 27, 2020
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I can’t help with a comparison but I looked at the PM7000N in my film review. comparison to one cast from Cyrus. my recommendation if you want sound quality and thin out streaming features would be Hegel - a bit more probably. Add a streaming box to it. Node 2i
 

37up

Active member
Jul 16, 2020
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I tried the PM7000N and it was a definite step up from the PM6003 which I had. In the end I kept the CXA81 over the Marantz, but I haven't got anything bad to say about the PM7000N at all. If I had never heard the CXA81 I would have been more than happy with the PM7000N .

With the CXA81 some things sound really amazing (for example Linda Rondstadt's Poor Poor Pitiful Me), other things sound too bright (take for example 1960s Rolling Stones), This is not a problem with the PM7000N. The PM7000N was a more balanced, muscular sound, the CXA81 has great sound staging and when it sounds good it is very very good.

The reason I kept the CXA81 over the PM7000N was really in the end I wanted to upgrade my system and sticking with PM7000N didn't seem like a real jump. The CXA81 definitely is different from what I had before and so that makes it exciting, and in the end that won me over.

The other thing was the support for Bluetooth AptX HD, the irony was that even though the PM7000N was full of bells and whistles, for bluetooth, the CXA81 won. I hated the HEOS app that came with the PM7000N, I knew I couldn't live with the HEOS app, so that helped clinched the deal.
 

jonathanRD

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Jan 27, 2011
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I tried the PM7000N and it was a definite step up from the PM6003 which I had. In the end I kept the CXA81 over the Marantz, but I haven't got anything bad to say about the PM7000N at all. If I had never heard the CXA81 I would have been more than happy with the PM7000N .

With the CXA81 some things sound really amazing (for example Linda Rondstadt's Poor Poor Pitiful Me), other things sound too bright (take for example 1960s Rolling Stones), This is not a problem with the PM7000N. The PM7000N was a more balanced, muscular sound, the CXA81 has great sound staging and when it sounds good it is very very good.

The reason I kept the CXA81 over the PM7000N was really in the end I wanted to upgrade my system and sticking with PM7000N didn't seem like a real jump. The CXA81 definitely is different from what I had before and so that makes it exciting, and in the end that won me over.

The other thing was the support for Bluetooth AptX HD, the irony was that even though the PM7000N was full of bells and whistles, for bluetooth, the CXA81 won. I hated the HEOS app that came with the PM7000N, I knew I couldn't live with the HEOS app, so that helped clinched the deal.
Out of interest what speakers did you end up pairing with the CXA81?
 

manicm

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May 1, 2008
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18,920
It depends on what you want from a device. The PM7000N is a fully networked one-box amp i.e. you don’t need Sonos etc.

I understand that the CXA81 or even the 61 may sound better, but personally if WHF’s review is to be trusted I would choose it over the CXs, as my preference is for the one box solution. Especially paired with a B&W 606.

Alternatively try the Bluesound Powernode 2i as well - which has been universally praised. Either way in the 21st century having several boxes when just one will do just doesn’t appeal to me anymore.

Both the Powernode 2i and PM7000N represent excellent vfm, as both give equal importance to the amp section as well.
 
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jonathanRD

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Jan 27, 2011
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Hi everyone I came on here to give advice and help and chat, I make peanuts from the work, and the moderators come on and start criticising you For Sharing films and doing so. So I won’t bother.
Simon, if you came on here to give advice and help and chat, nobody is stopping you continue to do that - are they?
No need for you to reply as I won't respond, and we don't need to debate it. But you could stick around to give advice from time to time about your real life experiences :)
 
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37up

Active member
Jul 16, 2020
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Do you have all your new kit at home now? I am just interested in how you are finding the pairing in your own room?
I sent back the PM7000N, but for a while I had the following in my living room (I promised my wife it was temporary!) Although I still have Q100s running in an A/B mode.

AMPS:
Cambridge Audio CXA81
Marantz PM7000N
Marantz PM6003

SPEAKERS
KEF LS50s
KEF Q100s

I obviously tried all combinations.

I must say that initially I found the LS50/CXA81 combination to be too "bright" for my ears. I was drawn back to my old set up, but over time (it's probably my ears that changed not the kit), what I thought was too bright was probably just more detail. I do find it a wee bit light on the bass site. But I can definitely hear "more" going on, and on some stuff it is really exciting.

I had the CXA81 for a for a few weeks, before going back to the sales guy and said I wasn't 100% happy (he was top notch), and he suggested I tried the PM7000N as it would be more like the sound I was accustomed to. He was right. I had to buy the PM7000N, with the understanding that I would return one of the other (or both!).

I tried
new amp, old speakers;
new amp, new speakers;
new amp, both speakers
etc etc etc

I think the comparison is important, I think you HAVE to try them out in your living room, with YOUR music. I found that the CXA81/LS50 is unforgiving, for example, bootleg recordings are hard to listen to. But put something on that has some meat on the bones, and it really is good. The Marantz is definitely more forgiving.

Features of CXA81 which PM7000N did not have (this were nice to have, but helped seal the deal)
  • AptX HD bluetooth (I preferred using the Amazon Music app to the HEOS app, so this made more sense for me)
  • A/B speakers (I liked this as I have my old speakers wired into the CXA81)

Downsides CXA81:
  • NO TONE CONTROLS. I can mitiagate this with the equalizer in the Amazon music app. But I don't like doing that, so tend not to. All I was doing as adding some bass, so I added (in process) a sub woofer.
  • With HEOS you can get best available HD format from (for example) Amazon HD. My phone and FireTV aren't capable of the highest format.
TIP: If you buy the CXA81 from Cambridge Audio, they will give you 100 day return guarantee. I bought it from the only other place where you can buy it.

NOTE: I have also recently added a sub-woofer and I'm not certain what sub yet, but that's another story.
 
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jonathanRD

Well-known member
Jan 27, 2011
173
46
18,620
I think the comparison is important, I think you HAVE to try them out in your living room, with YOUR music. I found that the CXA81/LS50 is unforgiving, for example, bootleg recordings are hard to listen to. But put something on that has some meat on the bones, and it really is good. The Marantz is definitely more forgiving.
Interesting write up and I think the above statement is absolutely key and I hope anybody else in your position takes note of this.
At least now you know what you will like and not like about your purchases, and you have made a choice with your ears wide open to what you are getting.
Enjoy your new setup!
 
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manicm

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May 1, 2008
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I’ve been using the HEOS app for over two years now, and have no problems with it, it has a few minor quirks but you get accustomed to it pretty quickly.
 

37up

Active member
Jul 16, 2020
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I’ve been using the HEOS app for over two years now, and have no problems with it, it has a few minor quirks but you get accustomed to it pretty quickly.
Yeah, maybe I am a bit harsh on HEOS, I didn't use it much. In practise I actually use a 1st generation Amazon Fire TV, which has optical out straight into the amp. It's nice cause I get to use my TV as the display and my wife and kids love seeing the lyrics on the TV :-D
 
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LosAngelos

Active member
Sep 8, 2020
4
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wow never heard someone hate heos that much..In fact heos is a reason to buy for many people like me. I've been using PM7000N more than a month with only Heos app (to access media server flac files, flac audio on tidal ) and sound quality is nothing but phenomenal. Sax tones are so much real like it's playing in front of me,, never bright, just thick and powerfull as it should be.With many amps i tried including CXA80, violing, sax tones are going thing, bright ,not powerfull with bass / thick tones but with PM7000N, first time i feel such power of an instrument. Never use any kind of bluetooth connection due to big loss in audio quality, even aptx HD supports transfer rate only up to 576kbps almost half of a flac audio file. If you're in the market of such amplifier, BT is a no GO. Just use .flac files all the time to get best from your amp.
 
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