We liked it enough to award it a Group Test win in May this year, but Marantz's CD5001 CD player is no more. Its replacement, this CD5003, arrives wearing a confident new suit of clothes – an of off-the-peg interpretation of the bespoke look of Marantz's £2500 SA-11S2 – and a higher price-tag.
To our eyes, it's a classy-looking machine, even if the positioning of the fascia buttons isn't too intuitive and the metal-and-fibreglass front panel does a fairly convincing impression of plastic.
Under the new exterior it's progression rather than revolution, with the CD5003 using the same audio circuit and DAC as the outgoing '5001, but there has been some purposeful tinkering around the edges – and the resulting performance is a similarly sedate evolution of the CD5001 sound.
The Marantz feels solid when loading a disc (in this instance, Smog's Dongs of Sevotion), and is quickly ready to play. The sound is broad and substantial, with plenty of low frequency heft allied to impressive bass modulation and drive.
The sound knits together convincingly
Voices in the midrange are detailed and expressive, each gasping intake of breath or punchy plosive revealed faithfully. And up at the top of the frequency range, percussive sounds are just bright and shiny enough. The whole frequency range knits together convincingly.
The CD5003 has sufficient speed and attack to deal with even the most testing dynamic fluctuations, and the low-volume subtlety to build an atmosphere effectively. The soundstage it describes is spacious and well defined, and the Marantz is decisive enough to keep unruly material under control.
Only an out-and-out dancefloor devotee will find anything to quibble with here: the '5003 is perfectly able to thump along with testing tempos, but while it doesn't have two left feet it's not the most nimble player you ever heard. Judge it, as we do, on a strict performance-per-pound basis, though, and you'll find it very persuasive indeed.