Marantz CD60 CD player: Lost in the moors without Wi-Fi?
Millions of Canadians have woken up to find their home phones, mobile cords, ATMs, cable and home Wi-Fi offline. It didn’t help that my iPhone which uses Verizon in the US switched to Rogers as we started our trip to the French River; one of the most picturesque and least known parts of my native province.
The Canadian part of my personality just shrugged because that seemed to be normal for Rogers who owns a sizable slice of the pie and charges exorbitant rates for their less than reliable service.
The American side of my personality found a local donut shop in the early morning that used Bell so I could reach out to my friends and loved ones.
The human side is almost giddy that one is unconnected to the outside world and no one can disturb me. No news. No email. No phone calls.
I’ve been through this once before. No access.
There was also no streaming access; Qobuz still doesn’t exist in Canada, so I was limited to TIDAL or Spotify when my iPhone worked.
Sitting on the dock overlooking the waterway in front of our lent cottage, I was reminded why CD players are still of enormous value.
As I write this the sun is rising over a glistening bay in Wolseley, and we have 4 days left here. We have electricity and the Marantz CD60 includes a headphone jack and it really could have been useful without Wi-Fi and a selection of headphones in my backpack.
The CD collection here is quite sparse; the owners left 20 of their favorites with a rather worn NAD CD player that looks very 1990s.
The Marantz CD60 would have been much better. You can read my opinion here.
Looking for extra pillows in one of the guest bedrooms, I found two boxes of very old 45s. Folders. Not guns or marginal malt liquor. Sorry Lando.
The first box was an assortment of Sinatra, Elvis, Bobby Darin, Vivaldi, Johnny Mathis, Joey Dee & the Starlighters, The Belvederes and Conway Twitty; the sleeves were all in relatively good condition and I’m sure the owners have enjoyed them for many years.
There was an assortment of 1970s rock in the second box, but they all looked a bit worn and were the kinds of music you found at Kmart, or in the trash can next to the lunch counter in Kresge.
Turning 45 sparked a memory of my grandfather taking us to Kmart as little kids and stealing candy from the trash cans; the poor $2/hour kid who challenged him at the time got wet at the sight of a gun in his belt. Full screen mental illness.
When I told the story to my father, he became restless and distant. A rant on glorifying someone who deserved no thought and a quick history lesson on where I came from and how I needed to move on and stick with my own.
Apparently, someone missed their ability to stream YouTube videos on their iPhone a lot more than I did.
We looked for a turntable, but it looks like it died many years ago and the owner hasn’t disposed of the records yet. Part of me wanted to ask permission to keep them, but I felt like I was stealing someone’s memories doing it.
Before leaving for my native country, I ran the CD60 through Cambridge Audio Edge ACambridge Audio DacMagic 200M and DAC Holo Audio Spring 3 KTE just to see if the performance could be high when used as a means of transportation. The optical/coaxial digital outputs (no USB) made it easy to try out all 3 and it was interesting to see how that changed the overall sound quality.
A number of readers have pointed out that I failed to mention that the CD60’s front panel buttons are not backlit and rather difficult to see if there is not much light in the room. They would be right about that. Marantz should incorporate this into the next design.
The Marantz CD60 has a rather warm and organic tonal balance and it’s one of those components that makes even the worst recordings sound almost listenable; it does some really wonderful things with DCC, MoFi and JVC XRCD recordings that pushed the boundaries of digital recordings in the 1990s.
The horns had a texture, color, and degree of presence in the room that made concentrating on anything other than the music rather difficult. Coltrane, Byrd and Lou Donaldson blasted past my Q Acoustics 3050i speakers; the soundstage of each recording seemed wider and there was an obvious color shift.
The recently returned Cyrus Audio CDi-XR delivered music in a very different way than its Japanese rival.
The CDi-XR is synonymous with speed, clarity, detail and crisp lines; the music is carved quite firmly into the space between your speakers. All of this impressive performance comes at the expense of color and texture.
In a system with an abundance of that, the Cyrus Audio CDi-XR might be just what you need. In a system that borders on analysis, this neutrality will not work in the long term. It will be thrilling and detailed, but lacking in warmth and presence.
The Cyrus audio CD player has a fairly firm understanding of the low end and it most certainly delivers faster, tighter and more detailed bass than the Marantz, which offers a fuller sonic presentation at the expense of speed and detail.
Vocals can be slightly chilly through the CDi-XR and it certainly needs a warmer amplifier or pair of speakers to shine.
Christ the Redeemer
Have you ever felt your mind begin to go? I know how it feels. Donald Byrd’s hauntingly beautiful piece has always felt like a prayer or an anthem to me. I’ve been using it for years when listening to components. When Byrd’s trumpet blasts, either a loudspeaker wakes up and takes your mind and soul elsewhere, or it falters badly.
Listening to the CD with the CD60 hooked up to the aforementioned DACs reminded me how important tone and texture are when listening to any component.
The DacMagic 200M stripped some of the color and texture from the track and I found myself less drawn to its sound. I may have been wrong. It wouldn’t be the first time I got something wrong. It felt like a different track.
The most expensive Edge A paints a more vivid picture; the sound spread across the width of the room and most of the colors returned. The internal DAC of this $6500 integrated amplifier is very competent and the combination was definitely something that would work for me in the long run.
The experience with the Holo Audio Spring 3 KTE was something else; a lively, organic and much more natural sound. The Spring 3 is way out of my personal reach financially, but it did something with the Marantz CD60 that made me not miss streaming platforms at all.
If I ever have to start over, this combination could be where I start and end. It’s starting to look more and more likely.
Marantz reaffirmed my belief in the sanctity of the flawed CD. Don’t give up on faith.