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Amplifier Marantz PM-30 review

This review is a somewhat belated look at a product that serves as the building-block for Marantz’ popular PM-30SE. As you might expect, the basic PM-30 itself is no mere also-ran. You’ll save some ?30 over the SE version, trading the option for quick and easy bi-wiring for a pair of bass and treble tone controls. Controls, I might add, that can be bypassed along with the tape monitor and balance facilities by opting for the ‘Source Direct’ mode.

Round the back lurk a single set of unswitched speaker terminals but exactly the same range of MM disc, three line and two tape inputs. Inside, however, the PM-30 is saddled with Marantz’ most basic power supply, including a pair of 4700 μF reservoir caps that are best described as ‘cute’.

The topology of the moving magnet disc and line stages remains largely unchanged but costs are saved by using a cheaper op-ampinthe RIAA network and ceramic rather than polystyrene capacitors for input filtering. Nasty things, ceramic coupling-caps, even if the PM-30 seems to emerge unscathed.

The power transistors are less substantial too, though this has little effect unless it’s asked to drive insensitive or arduous speaker loads. Otherwise the PM-30 is an elegant, well-finished and quirk-free design.

Sound quality

Congratulated for its lively, expressive sound and impressive strength of bass, this amplifier made all our listeners sit up and take notice. Marty Paich’s trombone took on a genuine sense of life and vitality while the Rachmaninov Symphony growled with a tension matched only by the Rotel RA-930AX and Lecson Stereo amplifiers.

The various detachments of strings and horns were also defined with pin-point clarity, though no mention was made of the extra warmth attributed to the PM-30SE a year ago.

Turning to the CD input revealed new string detail on the Julia Fordham CD, a disc which was now blessed with a marvellous sense of space and vocal clarity without any obvious compromise in bass or treble extension. Christy Moore now had his rich, rough timbre returned intact – full of emotion and ‘presence’.

Conclusion

All inputs scored highly, though CD nudged ahead of MM disc with its marginally better dynamics and explicit resolution. A superb all-rounder, they volunteered, which at just ?130 makes an excellent choice for the first-time buyer. And with no technical quibbles to blot its copybook, the PM-30 drops neatly into the best buy slot.

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