Hello, I just recently bought this amplifier. I'm familiar with the Marantz brand as I own or owned some Marantz mid-fi stereo components in my past, started about 20 years back with my first amplifier being Marantz (PM-53). This little amp I still have in my secondary system and I like it for what I'm using it. I also have Marantz A/V receiver.
I need to say that I bought Marantz PM KI Pearl Lite totaly on theoretical basis as I did not heard it before. What drove me in the direction of Marantz is that I sold my previous Musical Fidelity A308 amp, tried some different amplifier in between, went for some High-end shows and dealer. At the end I hooked my Marantz SR6003 A/V receiver as a temporary solution as I was without stereo amp. I found out that it is not that bad as I expected to be. It is a little bit bizzare and this receiver started some trigger so that I went to read all about the Marantz stereo amplifiers (Marantz PM KI Pearl Original, PM KI Pearl Lite, PM-11S2, PM-11S3, PM-15S2...). After some examination on the web and reading reviews, I made some theoretical conclusions from users who wrote about Marantz PM KI Pearl Lite and Marantz PM8004 which is US version of this same amp.
I have to say that I tried many amplifiers, visiting many hi-end shows and also listening to some ridiculously expensive equipment from Devialet, Burmester, Classe, BFA. I owned and tried also some very expensive amplifiers in my system directly from Musical Fidelity, Gryphon, Jeff Rowland and I have to say that this little Marantz PM KI Pearl Lite is really a gem of the amplifiers. My initial impressions after living a couple of days with Marantz PM KI Pearl Lite is that this is one very, very good amplifier regardless of price.
It might not have the total bass kick of Gryphon but my impression is that is much more musical and relaxing for listening. I was listening for hours and I was not tired at all to stop, or to nervously skip to next title. This amplifier just makes music on a very natural way and makes it beautiful to listen to. It is just like you wanna give music a kiss that how much sweet it is . I listened to varieties of genres (Rock, Pop, Indie, classical, jazz, blues, electronic, test records from Chesky etc..) and I enjoyed all what I throw in. The best strength of this amp is area of vocals as I'm certain I now have most most realistic portrait of voices in my system again comparing Marantz PM KI Pearl Lite with very expensive amps I've tried in my system.
I’m now able to enjoy also with not so perfect sources like e.g. Internet streaming radio stations (Radio Paradise). That is so good as I really like to be surprised to hear music totally randomly and that is not part of my music collection.
Best thing about this amp is that is just a little bit on a warm side which I like. Also tone controls are a plus on this amplifier. With tone controls enabled you are able to put final sibilance from the worst recordings away and be able to enjoy them. You can also override tone controls totally by pressing source direct. With this enabled I think that you receive a tad deeper soundstage. On my opinion tone controls on this amplifier do not degrade the signal so much so you can enjoy both very much. It just depends on you when you will use them and when you will bypass them.
I have very transparent speakers (Anthony Gallo Reference 3.5) and I can sense all the changes that I make with any kind of components. I have to say that this Marantz amplifier is sonicaly the best amplifier I tested with these speakers regardless of price. I don't know how much can still open up through time? What more can I expect? My first impression is very, very positive and like it a lot. Is this maybe another legendary Marantz amplifier that will be appreciated for years? Time will tell.
What I miss: I use this amplifier in relation also to my A/V receiver and I use it to feed the front L/R also in my HT setup. I would like from Marantz that implements Power Amp Direct also selectable on the remote control. But I'm aware that this is not only a problem of this model but rather of all more recent models of Marantz integrated amplifiers. So now I still need to stand up from my couch, walk to the amp, press Power Amp Direct button on the amp and return back when I want to use amp in HT configuration. When I want again to listen to the CD I need to repeate the routine to disable power amp direct. I know there is some space for improvement of that feature here to be selectable via remote control.
I believe I will post some more impressions after some time to verify if that what I experience today stays or it was developed into something new.
Speakers: Anthony Gallo Reference 3.5 (with Anthony Gallo OPT speaker wires and Oyaide Across 2000)
Amp: Marantz PM KI Pearl Lite
CDP: Musical Fidelity NuVista 3D (for more critical listening) (ICs: Oyaide Across 750RR)
Sound Card: Asus Xonar Essence STX (for free time listening) (ICs: Cardas Golden Cross RCA)
A/V receiver: Marantz SR6003
Sub: Rel Britannia B2
Power cables: DIY with Tempoelectric Big Twist cable and Oyaide 079 plugs
Hiya, as primissed here is my revisit to the review that I initially published in December. I now live with this amplifier for nearly a year and I can admit that this piece of gear will stay with me. It is amazing. I listened so many expensive Hi-Fi gear and was always bothered with something that was lacking or it was too much. Usually a lot of equipment was on the bright side and that is one of the attributes that I like to avoid. Marantz PM-KI Pearl Lite rought into my system natural representation of music. I stopped to ask myself about equipment and now I just love to enjoy the music that I put on. Sometimes I find my self with closed eyes just imagining that musicians are with me inside room. Transparency and imaging is so great that I can rotate around them. Practically this amplifier is not obstruction to listen to any kind of music. I can throw in Jazz, soft female vocals, blasting house music or classic rock. Everything sounds good and very satisfying.
This amplifier goes beyond classical audiophile thinking and it is blowing the myths about expensive audiphile equipment. Marantz at least for me confirmed that really good piece of gear can be constructed for very fair and conveniant price and it can be used in correlation with very expensive equipment. I gave Marantz a very good source CDP Musical Fidelity NuVista, very good cables Cardas Golden Cross (ICs + speaker cables), good power cables with Oyaide connectors and of course speakers that are with me Anthony Gallo Reference 3.5. I can say that this config is made in heaven and I just utterly enjoy it like never before with more expensive amps.
I hope this review will help some people to decide or even save some great amount of money. Before purchasing this amp I had some competitors in hands like e.g. good old Gryphon Tabu, McIntosh MA7000, Musical Fidelity M6 500i and the closest I was to go with Modwright KWI-200. But you know all these amps are in the price tag from 3000EUR and up up up. Finally I decided for much, much cheaper Marantz PM-KI Pearl Lite. Short conclusion - It is a true Pearl and I love it.
This amplifier needs to be run in for a fairly substantial amount of time before it opens out. It should not be judged immediately. It is a solid performer with great control, balanced sound, a large expansive soundstage and excellent imaging. However, people who like a forward, punchy, bright, in your face sound could possibly find this amplifier initially seemingly tonally dull. I think this is an outstanding amplifier especially at the price it is available these days. The PM6004 which is a very good amplifier at its price seems more exciting on a first listen but it lacks the control and the grandeur of sound that this amplifier has. I also think the partnering electronics is important. When I play this amplifier with the Pearl lite cd player, it seems a bit bass light. However, when I use the Marantz NA7004 as a DAC (using the digital out with Van den Hul digicoupler as the coaxial cable) the sound is darker and more exciting with better bass. I listen primarily to classical music, this amplifier is outstanding for classical music.
Addendum: I have now been listening to this amplifier for more than 2 weeks with the Pearl lite cd player. Initially, I thought it was a bit sluggish and lacked dynamics (This may be partly due to the fact that it was not run in). I now conclude that this first impression is false. This amplifier is so natural sounding, tonally accurate and controlled that all the fuzz and loudness that passes off as excitement (which eventually is just fatiguing) is missing. I compared it to the Jolida 1501RC. I think both amplifiers are very fine- the Jolida has a slightly more rounded tone. However, the Pearl lite has more detail and more accurate imaging. For long term listening the Marantz is terrific. Female vocals are just ravishing on this amplifier, try Bernarda Fink singing Asie from Ravel's Scheherezade on Harmonia Mundi for example.
More thoughts: I am now really pleased with this amplifier. Try the recording of Salome with Georg Solti conducting, the soundstage is large and the voices which sound glorious are perfectly placed in the soundstage. I don't hear any lack of dynamics or excitement or rhythmic shortfall. It sounds truly grand. This is a very fine amplifier indeed irrespective of price. The perceived initial sluggishness has disappeared and the amplifier has become agile after running in.
I would like to add that the September 2012 issue of Hi Fi News and Record Review has given this amplifier the accolade of hi-finews outstanding product at a price of 919 GBP confirming what I have said. It was also Hi Fi choice's finalist of the year in 2010.
Having lived with this amplifier for more than a month, I now think this amplifier is outstanding, not merely fine and feel the review in WhatHiFi is misleading. It is truly musical which is the highest accolade I could bestow on it. Even though this review is long, I hope it helps future buyers because it describes the evolution of the sound rather than stating things fait accompli.
Anyone who buys this amplifier will find it refined, musical and fatigue free and that it grows on them.
I think you're absolutely right ! I bought my Pearl Lite in early October , at first I noticed the bass seemed a bit loose and too fruity for my taste , + it sounded a little reticent ,now after about five weeks or so its really opened up and the bass is lovely ! Deep and punchy but very nimble with it ! And a wonderfully open and expressive midrange , and it is refined, musical and above all unforced and fatigue free , a lovely amp !
Totally underrated amp , especially for the ridiculous price you can pick one of these up for now!
Very open, great soundstage, balanced sound and punchy.
Moved to one of these from a Cyrus amp/PSX-R combo and found the Marantz to be far superior all round.
I too have just bought one of these @ an online discount,very much like any modern Marantz amp(peek inside and its like my old PM70001K)
Perhaps not the last word in dynamics but is still a good amp,i have been having lots of sound probs since moving from a vast studio to a one bed apartment,my prevous all-Naim system was just too aggressive particulary my CDX2 (since changed to a Meridian 806) much more relaxed sound,its even been able to tame my Focal 816WSE's too
(the amp that is) like has been said not the last word in sound but will do for now while i save up for a Valve amp..
I was offered a demo ex at a really good price so I cannot complain about value for money. Upgraded from a Marantz CD receiver M Cr 502 and the difference is ( of course) substantial.
Two irritating things
1) The RC is almost an insult at least if you pay full price. Really cheap looking. It is a "multicontrol" for amp cd and tuner.
The volume control via the RC have far to large steps and there is no way to switch between A and B speakers. I really would have liked full control here as I am just now comparing loudspeakers ( upgrade devil is in charge)
2) The manual
I don´t feel "special" as a Pearl Lite owner when the supplied manual is the same as for the PM7004.
This Amp mated with Kef iQ5. During first listening the sound by this amp was disappointed me. After around 30hrs running in period and some trials with MID frequency control and repositioning the speaker I managed to get improvement in sound. But still lacks in bass. The inbuilt phono stage sound seems good and Marantz claiming it is from their high end model. But in practical it will work only in perfect setup because of its inability to filter subsonic frequency. In my case it is oscillating the speaker cone badly even for a small wrap in record and forcibly using external phono stage. Overall I expected more from this amp.
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