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PM6010 OSE is an excellent buy, and would compare favourably with the NAD. Think you would find the sound of the Marantz a little more open and explicit than that of the NAD, but the NAD may be preferable if you like things on the smooth side.
Thanks Andrew for the knowledge! I'm just finding this a bit difficult as there are so many amps going on ebay for around £130. Theres only a point in upgrading if I'll notice a difference compared to my Cambridge Audio A5.
The C320BEE does seem very popular though.
Other Marantz amps I've seen include: PM66 SE, PM6010 KI, PM7002. I'd be interested to know how these older amps compare with the new PM6002 (although that for me is out of budget anyway)
If anyone has any views on which is a better amp (not forgetting the C320BEE) please say!
PM6010-KI is a no quibble one for me. 65w p/c, excellent build, as AE previously said, you get a detailed and well presented sound that short on smooth but not harsh or shrill either. I find it very involving in my current gear, quite neutral too. I've had the amp since 2001 and - barring a quick flutter with a behemoth early 80s Technics amp where I quickly recanted the error or my ways - won't be changing it in a hurry again.
That line of amps, incidentally, I'd suggest was a bit of a high-point in the company's recent history. The 66, 6010 and 7200 in both standard and KI-modded versions are well worth seeking out IMO - if you like that kind of sound, you probably won't be disappointed.
Based purely on what others have said (reviews, word of mouth, instore kit I've heard), I think the NAD gear gives you a very dynamic sound, good detail, without being overly bright; possibly the kind of thing you could easily sit down with for an evening - not stressful on the ears, in other words.
In terms of how it would mix with other kit, I think NAD partners well with a wide range of other manufacturers gear, though I might steer away from very warm sounding equipment else you risk ending up with hi-fi in the comfy slippers mode! Some people like that kind of sound though, so don't write it off either.
Marantz would be more forward I think, just as detailed but with a more "open" sound; I like good detail in the playback and I want to tell the difference between the instruments with a good sense of space between players. My current set up gives me a good feeling of realism and involvement in the music with traditionally trickier instruments to replicate coming over particularly well - grand piano, bass kick drums/floor toms - however, whether it's the "best in show" is another thing entirely.
I'm definitely not saying the NAD wouldn't do this, but given the choice between - and especially - the KI rated Marantz gear and a standard 320BEE, I'd be leaning towards the former over the latter. Even the standard OSE Marantz variants are good, but maybe a slightly closer call.
I used to have a Marantz PM6010 OSE KI partnered with a Marantz CD6000 OSE KI running through Monitor Audio BR2's via QED Silver Anniversary XT speaker cables and QED Silver Spiral interconnects and found the sound wallowy, and overly smooth for my taste.
Replaced these with a NAD C320BEE and NAD C521BEE and things improved significantly, for me at least. Overall presentation was just so much better.
That's interesting to hear; I wonder if the CD player may have been the culprit, or attendant cabling or speakers?
I've used the Marantz amp for about 8 years now, with Linn, Marantz and Technics CD sources as well as a Rega P3 / Audio Tehnica AT440MLa vinyl set-up and the amplifier wasn't lacking in any department. That's also having partnered Mission 733i & 752 speakers.
Just goes to highlight the importance in matching carefully; at least I know what to avoid now!
I don't think it was a cabling issue, to be honest. To me, it's just the characteristics of the Marantz sound. My last hi-fi was a PM6002 and a CD6002 going through B&W 685 speakers with Van Den Hul 'The Wave' interconnects and Chord Silver Screen Plus speaker cables, and the results were pretty much the same....to me. I was not impressed with the sound quality.
Thanks for those replies. Interesting to hear that the NAD C320BEE can be subjectively better than the PM6010 KI. The issue for me is the NAD C320BEE only retailed for just over £200. An older amp which was initially more expensive should sound better, right?
Well, you have two differing opinions. NAD make very good kit, often underspecced, whilst I've had this amp for 7 years, used it with two different sets of speakers and three four different CD players (add a Kenwood DP7090 to my earlier list) and it's done a superb job with each.
And "better" is subjective; the other poster threw out the baby with the bathwater and made a wholesale amp and source change. My contention is the amp wasn't the culprit but suspect either the source, cabling or speakers. I've never heard this amp with that kit so don't kow how it sounds. In any case, it's all academic without listening, but I'll stand by what I said earlier; the Marantz KI amps of that era (66, 7200 and 6010) were no slouches. Your call to make though which one you go for!
Theres no C320BEE's on ebay and the last few went for quite a bit more than expected: £140ish
I can get a PM6010 OSE for £115 shipped, do you think this amp is any good and would there be a noticeable improvement from my current A5?
Is there much difference between the KI and OSE models?
Would I be better holding out for a C320BEE?
NAD make some extremely good kit, no question and they have a good customer base who know they're getting quality gear for a wallet friendly price. How good can a £180 amp be? Ithink if it's got NAD on it, probably very good indeed.
The KI gear is also pretty decent, I won't wax lyrical beyond the plethora I've already put on (!), but as has already been said, the Marantz will give you a more forward sound, very detailed, crystal clear (depending on what you partner it with) and the NAD might be a shade smoother. Both do a good line in the dynamics of the music. Have a look round the web and see what reviews you can find for these amps - or other forums to get some wider scope on user opinions.
Value added comes in all forms though don't forget and as far as NAD are concerned, they could never add much value in terms of asthetics, with the amp it's all down to performance, whereas pricier amps do usually look something more like their price to. So for you to take two different prices and nautrally assume that because one is pricier than the other that the there is obviously going to be a performance gain, isn't necessarily true as there is no direct correlation. I have heard many pricier speakers sound much poorer than my own for instance but don't forget today's budget sector amp market is so competitive to, yet another reason for the cheap pricing. There are many reasons to purchase NAD but it seems like you won't appreciate why until you have listened to some amps of theirs. So I would recommend finding a dealer near you that has ideally NAD and Marantz in stock for you to demo. By the way, i like Marantz to I should point out but I prefer NAD especially at the budget you are looking at but it's also true that either are going to be a big improvement on the A5.
Managed to secure a C320BEE for £105 shipped so should be here at the end of the week. Thanks everyone for your assistance!
What i'm wondering is if it's worth replacing the preamp jumpers with something like QED Quenex 3 or the current 5 star cable about £20-£30 (preferably used on ebay, cheaper)?
Looking on the net, some people say its not worth it at all where other people say the amp opens up with decent interconnects. If it matters, I noticed a difference using the jumpers with my B&W speakers and my homemade jumpers made out of the speaker cable I use.
Those cables do look good! Glad to hear that they made a difference.
Last night I ended up buying a QED Qunex 2 cable for £12.67 delivered (Superfi). Although an old cable, seemed to get good reviews. Will try these first, also got a Cambridge Audio Arctic/Atlantic (silver/gold connectors, greenish thick cable).
Wasn't planing on changing any other cables. I mainly listen through the iPod and would think that the QED cable i've got is more than enough for the system i've got - same to the speaker cables which are 5 star what hi fi rated and are a step up from the award winning silver anniversary XT. As the XT300 still retains 5 stars as well as the anniversary XT, I would hope that its a good enough cable!