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Marantz SC-7S2, MA-9S2, and SA-7S1 Reviews

November 13, 2009 By Gary Altunian

Click the images below for bigger versions:
Marantz SC-7S2
Marantz MA-9S2
Marantz MA-9S2 inside
Marantz SC-7S2 remote
Marantz MA-9S2
Marantz MA-9S2 back panel
Marantz SC-7S2
Marantz SC-7S2 back panel
Marantz SA-7S1
Marantz SA-7S1 back panel

Marantz goes for truth in nomenclature with their new Reference series

The Reference Series is Marantz's no-holds-barred line of audio components, which includes several amps, preamps, integrated amps, control amps and disc players. 

The flagship components in my review system are two MA-9S2 monaural power amplifiers, the SC-7S2 Control Amplifier and the SA-7S1 CD/SACD player.

Marantz SC-7S2

This review isn’t about digital-to-analog converters, sampling rates and digital filters, although I'll devote a few words to talking about the gear and the tech stuff. Most of what you need to know about the gear is best learned on the Marantz website as the long list of features would exceed my allotted word count for this article.

Rather, it's a review about listening to fine audio components and why conventional wisdom is often wrong. If you appreciate exceptional music reproduction, this review will whet your appetite for the best.  

I can't think of a better speaker system to evaluate the Marantz components than the Wisdom Audio Sage L75s. I have listened to them extensively for the past six months and in my recent review of these spectacular speakers, I noted that “the L75 comes as close as I've heard to audio perfection and what it does well, it does extraordinarily well.”

 Marantz MA-9S2

Specifically, the planar magnetic drivers of the L75s are exceptionally revealing and have remarkable transparency, detail and resolution found in few loudspeakers. The L75s require bi-amping, and I used the two Marantz MA-9S2 monaural amps for the mid-range and high-end frequencies above the 275 Hz crossover point for the Wisdom Audio speakers.

The Marantz Reference components had several important sound characteristics that the dedicated audiophile and the less-experienced listener would both appreciate. The system sounded incredibly alive with exceptional realism, clarity and pinpoint definition of even the subtlest sounds in every recording.
Marantz MA-9S2 inside
The guitar in Sting's “Saint Agnes and the Burning Train” from The Soul Cages sounded sharply focused—like a detailed photograph taken with a fine lens. The longer I listened to the system, more subtle articulate acoustic details became apparent—some I'd never heard even in familiar recordings.

Marantz SC-7S2 remoteTo an audiophile's ear, this is heaven. Each musical element was distinct and clearly separated from the others.

On many tracks the spacious soundstage sounded so three-dimensional it's as if I were listening to a multichannel music disc with subtle audio cues positioned to the sides and rear of the room. Center imaging was so vivid and palpable, especially vocals, that a center channel speaker could not reproduce it any better.

The sibilance in vocal tracks was crisper and more succinct than I've heard with the Wisdom Audio speakers with other electronics.

Each “S” was silky smooth and delicate, with extreme precision and not smeared or sizzly sounding. It was one of the most remarkable characteristics of the Marantz system and was clearly apparent on LaVerne Butler's “Isn't it a Pity” and Norwegian singer Kari Bremnes' voice in "Dine Øine.”

The texture of Renee Olsted's delicate voice was striking and crisp, revealing every subtle detail and breath.

If I were an experienced recording engineer I could probably recognize the microphone used in her recording of "Midnight at the Oasis.” Renee has a remarkable voice (and she recorded this disc at the age of 15), and I've never heard this recording sound so natural and musical.


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