Marantz Model 40n Integrated Amplifier

On a cold, clear morning in February, I attended my first in-person press event since the pandemic began. Marantz had invited me to a breakout session in a suite at the Equinox Hotel at Hudson Yards, but gave no indication of what to expect. After two years of no live press events or audio broadcasts, I wasn’t going to turn down the offer no matter what came up: I was hungry for hi-fi. When I arrived, I learned that Marantz would only be offering one new product, a streaming integrated amplifier, the Marantz Model 40n ($2499). Of course, I’m in.

A brief introduction linked today’s Marantz to the Marantz flagships of the 1950s, represented visually by the distinctive Marantz “central porthole”, first seen forward on the Model 9 amplifier and now adopted as a motif. of central design of the company. This porthole was originally a bias counter; today it contains an alphanumeric display (footnote 1).

The 40n model was the solo star of the show so multiple units were fitted more. One was placed between a pair of floor-standing speakers next to a turntable and below a large video screen. During the demo, it played digital and analog music as well as video sound via HDMI-ARC. Another unit sat on a shelf, surrounded by a pair of small speakers playing locally stored music guided by the HEOS app. A third sample was stored in a cabinet in the dining room, playing music from web radio and Spotify (via Spotify Connect).

As strong and important as the connection between the 40n and older Marantz products is, the 40n is not your grandfather Saul’s integrated amplifier. It is a multifunction device that does phono, digital and streaming and uses a tablet/smartphone application. Indeed, when I installed the test example, I found the eight-page quick start guide to be adequate. only for the easiest quick start. The 113-page user manual, available for download on the Marantz website, has proven essential to take full advantage of this multi-talented integrated.

Unpacking
The Marantz Model 40n comes out of the box as a slab, much like its all-analog predecessors. The front panel features a subtly wavy relief pattern and accommodates a small power push button on the left and a ¼” headphone jack on the right. Between the two, a large, smooth crest bears the signature porthole above this The iconic row of six control buttons The crest stands just proud of the front panel and in low light appears to float thanks to two rows of adjustable LEDs hidden behind its flanks.

The porthole display is clear and bright, but terse. By default, it only displays the selected input source and volume setting. It also displays menu choices as you adjust settings. The 40n has two main functional sections. The first, a purely analog integrated amplifier, recalls Marantz’s past with two Class AB power channels, a phono stage and an analog preamplifier with analog inputs (including phono and an input from a separate preamplifier, all on RCA ) and physical checks. The second is a network capable DAC/streamer with digital controls. Not that you notice two sections: The integration between analog and digital operations is seamless.

The six control buttons are arranged in the classic array. To the left and right are slightly larger buttons for input selection and volume control, respectively. In between are the direct source, bass, treble, and balance (from left to right). The source direct option, as its name suggests, bypasses the control circuits for bass, treble and balance adjustment. There are no permanent labels on the input selector, but it cycles through the input choices sequentially, displaying the label of the currently selected choice on the screen. The remote supports direct input selection, volume control, and access to settings, but not bass, treble, or balance adjustment.

Menu-based configuration can be done with the remote control, smartphone or tablet. The settings menu is straightforward, with just four menu categories: Audio, to select a rebuild filter for the DAC, to configure a low pass filter for connecting a subwoofer, and to set a broadcast lock range (low note page 2) and a volume limit; TV, to select the audio input used by the TV, to configure the autoplay option so that the 40n starts automatically when this input receives a signal, and HDMI power control, to go to standby when the sound TV is interrupted; General, to adjust LED brightness and auto-standby (which puts the amp in standby when no audio input is detected) and to reset the device; and Network, to disable various network components (including Bluetooth) if not in use.

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Two pairs of the best multi-way speaker terminals I’ve seen in a while are the most prominent features of the Model 40n’s rear panel, with sturdy metal rings that are comfortable to grip and easy to secure. Side access allows bare wire and spade connection, but a clear collar protects the rest of the post from stray wire strands. To the right of the speaker connectors are a two-conductor AC input, a Wi-Fi antenna jack, and a small reset button.

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At the top left of the rear panel is a level of digital connections, starting with a receptacle for a second Wi-Fi antenna. To its right are a USB port, an RJ45 network connector, an HDMI-ARC (Audio Return Channel) and coaxial and TosLink S/PDIF ports. Below the row of digital inputs is a pair of RCA phono inputs and a ground terminal. Below is a set of RCA jacks: line level L/R pairs labeled CD, Line and Recorder, then outputs labeled Recorder and Subwoofer (the latter with a single RCA) and a preamp input (labeled Power Amp In , for the small number of people who will use the 40n as a simple power amplifier). On the far right of this board is an input/output pair for establishing a remote control sharing link with a compatible device, such as a Marantz CD player.

I connected my LAN cable to the RJ45 connector (always preferable to Wi-Fi for music playback) and a pair of Cardas Cross cables in temporary use away from my subwoofers, to the line inputs; their other ends connected to my Oppo disk drive. I connected a 2TB portable hard drive to the USB port for direct library access. The banana plugs from my Blue Jeans speaker cables fit firmly into the 40n’s speaker terminals. I downloaded and installed the HEOS app on my iPhone, then installed the Spotify and Qobuz apps on it and on my PC Win11 streamer. With the network input selected, the 40n is instantly recognized by everyone except the Qobuz Windows application. I could still play music from Qobuz, because the 40n was recognized by Roon and JRiver.

Over the course of a few weeks, I tried every playback option (footnote 3) offered by the 40n model, except for the phono input. Everything worked well, at least to the limits of the technologies and my ability to discern nuances in reading. I’d like to see a bitrate and sample rate readout, but experimentation confirmed playback with HEOS from NAS and local files up to 192kHz PCM and 5.6MHz DSD. Likewise with JRiver.


Footnote 1: For me, the horizontal level of the physical knobs (volume, balance, bass and treble controls, and input source selector) are a more palpable, visual, and functional connection to the aesthetic past of the device. ‘company.

Footnote 2: By limiting the lock range, you can reduce jitter, perhaps improving the sound a bit. However, too narrow a range can cause intermittent reading.

Footnote 3: I briefly tested the functionality of the HDMI-ARC input to confirm its usability but haven’t spent enough time with it to comment on the sound. It is hard to imagine that its performance would differ from that of other digital inputs.

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