Marantz Model 40n Streaming Integrated Amplifier Review
Eric Teh tries out this slick-looking new mid-price integrated amplifier from an iconic marque…
Model 40n Stereo Integrated Amplifier with Streaming
Marantz was founded in New York in 1952. Over the years, a series of ownership changes saw the company move to Dutch ownership under Philips and then Japanese ownership. Today, Marantz is a part of Sound United LLC, which also owns Bowers & Wilkins and Denon, amongst other brands.
The Model 40n that you see here is described by Marantz as a 'Network Integrated Amplifier' and looks like a dead-ringer for the Model 30 'Master-Tuned Integrated Amplifier', which sits above the Model 40n in the product catalogue. The front textured faceplate gently scoops inwards, showcasing reflections from the light strip mounted on both sides of the centre panel – classy stuff.
A centralised porthole displays basic information such as volume level and the selected source. Four small control knobs are dedicated to tone and balance controls (including a bypass), while two larger knobs on each side control the input and volume. The design is aesthetically pleasing, with a symmetrical and balanced look.
Unlike the Model 30, which uses Hypex Class D modules, the 40n relies on a traditional Class AB transistor circuit, which shows when you pick it up – the 16.6kg weight comes mainly from the large double-shielded toroidal transformer used in the power supply. Measuring 442x130x432mm, the Model 40n is a standard-size component that should fit into most domestic situations.
The Marantz has plenty of power on tap, with specified output at 70W per channel into 8 ohms and 100W per channel into 4 ohms. Connectivity is fantastic with three pairs of line-level inputs and a MM phono stage, as well as outputs for a recorder and subwoofer (with selectable crossover points). An HDMI ARC input greatly simplifies hooking up your TV. A power amp input also facilitates use in a home cinema setup or if you want to bypass the preamplifier section.
Digital inputs include coaxial and optical, but there is no USB-B input which is unusual. The lone USB-A input on the back panel is for direct playback of music files stored on a thumb drive or hard drive. The onboard ES9016K2M Sabre DAC from ESS handles signals up to 24-bit, 192kHz resolution, as well as DSD 2.8 and 5.6. The USB-A input plays files encoded in DSD, WAV, FLAC and ALAC. As luck would have it, there is no support for AIFF files which are the bulk of my music library!
The amplifier can be connected to a home network either via Wi-Fi or through its wired LAN port. Once hooked up and the Heos app downloaded, you are ready to go. Heos offers support for a variety of streaming services, including Apple Music, TIDAL and Spotify. It is Roon tested but not certified, limiting Roon streaming through Airplay at Red Book quality. You can also stream music through Bluetooth, although Marantz uses Bluetooth Specification 4.2 and the SBC codec, which means it's usable, but nothing to write home about. Purists will like the fact that you can switch off the network and wireless functions for higher sound quality if you have no streaming ambitions.
Setting up the Model 40n wasn't quite as straightforward as hoped. Although it recognised my home Wi-Fi network, it failed to connect. I hooked up a LAN cable, and the Marantz immediately detected a new firmware upgrade and spent nearly half an hour updating itself. My original choice of interconnects, a pair of Lessloss Entropic C-Marc RCA cables, could not fit due to the spacing between the terminals, forcing me to look for a slimmer alternative. Some words of praise must be given to the binding posts, though, which are some of the most beautiful and high-quality items that I have used in any gear, regardless of price.
I am not a big fan of the remote control, finding the lettering to be impossible to read in dim light. The buttons are also too similar in size, resulting in a lot of fumbling in the dark. The display does not show any track information, which means that your phone or tablet has to be used for controlling music streaming.
These setup niggles were quickly forgotten once the Marantz started pumping out music. The first thing that you notice is its sure-footed grip on bass lines that is tight, deep and tuneful. The second is the sense of flow – music just washes over you organically. The soundstage is presented as a cohesive canvas instead of spotlighting instruments and vocals. Tonally, the Model 40n has what I would describe as 'soft-neutral' tuning. Even-handed throughout the frequency range, there is a pleasantness to mid and high frequencies that lacks harshness and sharp edges. However, it does this without sounding rolled off or lacking in detail.
The Model 40n's bottom end is powerful, propulsive and slightly warm, with just a hint of upper bass lift which gives low frequencies a bouncy and lively feel. This quality was most beneficial with my Tannoy Kensington GR speakers, where the Marantz filled out the lower registers, adding weight and fullness. For example, This Town by Patricia Barber opens with Patrick Mulcahy on double bass. As he is joined by Barber on vocals and piano, and Jon Deitemyer on drums, the Marantz didn't miss a beat in preserving the rhythmic flow of the performers. The plucked notes were deep and distinct, and there was no overhang or bloat despite the fast fingerwork.
Listening to Inception: Dream within a Dream conducted by Hans Zimmer, the track opens with a suspenseful and haunting beginning. As the orchestra built up, the Model 40n preserved the grandeur and scale of the music. Its quoted 70W of power here proved to be deceptive, as the Marantz sounded like a much bigger amplifier, with very good separation and full control over busy passages.
心動 (Tempting Heart) by Kit Chan is a simple arrangement that showcases her powerful vocals and signature vibrato. Kit's voice sounded natural, with good depth, articulation and texture. The midrange had an open and pure quality that served as a clear window into the recording. Moving the tempo downwards, Senses by Manu Katche is a more contemplative piece. Here, the Marantz demonstrated that it was not all brawn as it gently conveyed the subtle phrasing of the performers. The cymbal work, for example, sounded delicate and expressive.
The built-in phono stage – alternatively known as 'The Marantz Musical Phono EQ' no less – handles moving magnet cartridges only. As my Luxman PD-171a turntable uses a Denon DL-103R MC cartridge, a Graham Slee Elevator EXP MC step-up amplifier was required to boost the signals to MM levels. The phono stage surprised me with its sonic performance, sounding clear, dynamic and confident at all times. In fact, the quality of the phono stage is high enough for me to recommend the Model 40n if vinyl is your main source. Spinning a copy of Misty by Tsuyoshi Yamamoto Trio (45 RPM, 200g reissue by Impex Records) mesmerised me – as I was temporarily transported back to Aoi Studio, Tokyo in 1974.
If you are into personal listening, the headphone stage is decent – although it did favour more high-impedance designs. My Beyer DT-880 and Massdrop Sennheiser headphones sounded great (250 and 300 ohms, respectively), but the same couldn't be said for a pair of E-MU Teak headphones (50 ohms) that seemed muddled and confused in comparison.
The versatility of the Model 40n also allows a number of upgrade paths as funds permit. I found its internal DAC to be adequate for its task, with decent clarity but a somewhat flat-sounding presentation. Unsurprisingly perhaps, using another DAC like my Chord Hugo TT2 brought music performance to another level, with a boost in dynamics, fine detail, and dimensionality.
I also tried bypassing the internal preamplifier section with a First Sound Presence Deluxe MkIII tube preamp. It was nice to see the Marantz scale up, proving that the power amplifier section is a star in its own right. This combination had the best of both worlds, with the added colour and air from the tube preamp and the grip, power and drive of the solid-state power amp. As a matter of pairing, this amplifier confidently tackled any speaker I threw at it, ranging from the KEF LS50 to the much pricier Alexandria Audio Monitor and Tannoy Kensington GR speakers. That makes the 40n more than future-proofed, even in the itchy hands of an audiophile.
Marantz's Model 40n proved to be an absolute winner, delivering a rich feature set and outstanding performance at a bargain price. Perfectly enjoyable in stock form, it also provides myriad upgrade paths if and when you are ready to take things further. Surely destined to bring joy to its owners, the only headache that it's going to deliver is to rival manufacturers.
For more information visit Marantz
Tinkering since he was a wee little Audiophile, Eric also collects fountain pens and watches. He is on a never-ending journey to find the meaning to life, the universe and everything.
Posted in:Hi-Fi Amplifiers Integrated Amplifiers Applause Awards 2023
Tags: marantz sound united
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