• Marantz PM6004
Our Verdict 
Stereo amplifier Product of the Year 2011. A big step-up from the older 6003 version, the PM6004 is very tough – if not impossible – to fault at this price
For 
Solidity and scale, but with precision and pace
excellent transparency
Against 
Again, nothing of note
Reviewed on

It’s a bold move to change a product that most people consider to be at the top of its game, but so competitive is the market these days that resting on one’s laurels leaves one open to surprise challenges from eager rivals.

That’s why Marantz is launching its updated and upgraded 6000-series amplifier – and matching CD player.

Tough competition to beatWith the PM6004 amp there’s an obvious goal: beat the Yamaha A-S500 that pipped its predecessor to our ‘Best Stereo Amp up to £500’ Award in 2010.

To that end, Marantz has instigated a thorough overhaul, ditching the integrated circuits of the past in favour of separate preamp and power amp sections built entirely from discreet components.

A thorough upgrade of the amp has achieved even more substantial improvements. It’s that ability to cut right to the heart of a track that’s most impressive.

More after the break

Play Nick Cave and Warren Ellis’ soundtrack to the bleak movie The Road, and the longing and melancholy of the weeping strings is made abundantly clear, thanks to a degree of transparency and timing that’s truly exceptional for this amount of money.Authority without oafishnessA swap to Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture brings with it a big change of pace and a massive challenge, but the PM6004 tackles it with supreme (and well-placed) confidence. Notes hit with punch and precision, but there’s also weight and solidity here that rivals struggle to match.

Even more impressive is the fact that this solidity combines with a lightness of foot that helps the amp dance from beat to beat without a hint of sluggishness. Do make sure you click the ‘source direct’ button to get the very best out of it, though.

Of course, a component that is individually superb can flop when paired with another, but that’s far from the case here. Connect the PM6004 with the Marantz CD6004 CD player and it’s immediately clear that they’ve been tuned to complement each other.

Works a treat with its partnering CD playerWhile the PM6004 is flexible enough to be partnered with other, non-Marantz electronics, as a pair they pull in the same sonic direction, and the resulting presentation is as fast-paced, detailed and dynamic as you could possibly hope for from a hi-fi pairing at this end of the market.

Add a pair of Tannoy Revolution DC6 T floorstanders (£800) and you’ll be especially happy, but B&W’s 685s (£380) or KEF’s Q300s (£450), both standmounted designs, are also highly recommended partners for what is a simply superb, affordable, hi-fi separates system.

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