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Amplifier Marantz PM-52 SE review

It was Marantz who began the trend for Special Edition models which, to the casual enthusiast, might seem a neat way of paying more for distinctly less. The PM-52SE is certainly much more expensive than the basic ?230 PM-52.

Cast a glance back to PM-50 and you’ll seethe styling of this latest 50 Series has hardly altered. The tone controls have been abandoned, but its complement of source direct, balance, tape switching and four line plus MM/MC phono inputs remain broadly unchanged.

Under the bonnet, Marantz has relinquished the high-power Darlington output stage of the PM-52 and returned to the bipolar transistors of the PM-50. This time, however, it’s also upgraded the mains transformer and supply caps, improved the tolerancing of components in the phono stage and returned once again to a fully copper-plated chassis. Subtle revisions that command a ? 199 premium.

Sound quality

The Marantz PM-52SE didn’t make a particularly good start, but as listening progressed its strengths showed through. On the first track it presented a fair amount of detail in a tuneful, even forceful way. High frequencies had what one listener called a rice paper quality, and low bass was not that well represented, although the upper bass was tightly controlled.

The interplay of the jazz musicians on track two was nicely portrayed and the timbre of the various instruments well preserved. Definition was, however, not that spectacular, two panellists noting a degree of blurring on the saxophone. Joni Mitchell’s voice and the instruments on the track sounded confident, if not as civilised as they had been, but the essential feel of the track was well presented.

Using the phono input was rewarded by a result worthy of the medium. The sound opened out, extending in both image and bandwidth to reveal the dynamic abilities of vinyl.

Conclusion

The Marantz PM-52SE asks a high price for its improvements, but as the results show, it’s not money spent in vain. This is a musically satisfying amp that’s well suited to both CD and vinyl. Recommended.

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