Marantz Melody X Review
Jack-of-all-trades or master of none? Jay Garrett checks out the talents of this nifty little all-in-one…
Melody X CR612 Mini System
Marantz has a track record of pleasing the mainstream music-loving masses with its eye for detail and ear for music. Indeed, the company has been making successful mini-systems for decades, all of which offer an appealing blend of ease of set-up and use, with decent sound. This little champagne gold bundle of joy – the M-CR612, or Melody X to its friends – attempts to repeat the formula, in a rapidly changing technological world.
Announced in April with a ticket price of £629, it can now be yours in black or champagne for £469 – so we're already on to a winner! Despite being so dinky (110x280x300mm, 3.4kg) it bundles a CD player, wired and wireless Ethernet plus Bluetooth connectivity and Apple AirPlay 2. Furthermore, there's DAB, DAB+ and FM radio plus internet radio access via TuneIn, and, thanks to its HEOS multi-room and streaming skills, you get Tidal, Spotify Connect, Amazon Prime Music and Deezer – not to mention faff-free multiroom hook-ups with other Denon and Marantz HEOS kit. This Marantz will even sniff out your NAS drive and play it back at up to 24bit/192kHz or double-DSD resolution.
Old school audiophile types will likely make use of its pair of digital optical inputs, plus a stereo RCA line input and corresponding output, and pre-out should you wish to add a subwoofer. There's also a headphone out. It's almost a disappointment not to discover a moving magnet phono stage included too – but then that would really be taking the proverbial, wouldn't it?
Marantz claims that the Melody X can drive a pair of speakers at up to 60W per channel, which is easily enough for the sort of models it's going to be working with. However you can add a second pair, whereupon all your transducers will get 30W each to play with – thanks to its four discrete channels of power amplification. Handily, each pair can be set at independent volume levels.
There are even more options, with the Melody X offering control via the fascia buttons and dial, the bundled remote handset, the official app or even by verbally telling it what to do. The latter option comes by way of Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant or Siri equipment on the same network as the mini system. Personally, I didn't feel the need for the app as Alexa worked remarkably well, as did the handy remote control.
The Marantz Melody X is a well-mannered flatmate, the kind you would not be scared to introduce to your parents. It is also remarkably consistent at serving up the goods no matter the source it's fed from, of which there are many options. It served up a strikingly good midband through the Focal Aria 906 speakers that I use for small domestic duties, giving an airy clarity that imbued female vocals and strings with plenty of life and detail. I only intended to play the opening tracks from Eivør's Slør CD but was enchanted. I'd have liked a bit more bite from the upper frequencies, however.
Streaming some Django Reinhardt & Stéphane Grappelli, I found the attack of the latter's violin to be a little lacking – it lacked the vigour I'm accustomed to from full-size hi-fi. There's an agreeable sweetness to the top end that helps carry the treble, but it doesn't quite deliver the aggression when needed.
There's a similar story down south – bass frequencies sounded full and distinct when Depeche Mode's Exciter was played from my phone using Tidal over Bluetooth. The album's fractured synths and twitching samples came across with plenty of space, and Gahan's rich vocals had presence and command. However, The Dead of Night failed to hit the depths that larger systems reach. Okay, so this might seem a little churlish considering it's a sub-£500 mini system, it's just that the wee Marantz proved so good in other respects that I noticed it more.
There is much to like about Marantz's new Melody X. Stylish and well-appointed, it brings its air of sophistication to work too – treating all sources with equal seriousness. Its midband, in particular, is quite treasurable for something so small and inexpensive – it makes music fun, so you'll not want to hit the off switch.
The only thing for buyers to ponder is that by spending a bit more money, they can get a step change in sound quality. Those looking for excitement from the frequency extremes should look at the Cyrus ONE Cast and Naim's Uniti Atom – but they will have to start saving their pennies. So when all is said and done, this affordable little stack system comes warmly recommended for being seriously fine value for money.
StereoNET UK’s Editor, bass player, and resident rock star! Jay’s passion for gadgets and Hi-Fi is second only to being a touring musician.
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