In February, I spent time with Marantz so that I can discover the new Marantz 40n Network Integrated Amplifier. The $2,500 amplifier drove several pairs of Bowers & Wilkins speakers around the hotel space with relative ease and I left after two hours of listening thinking Marantz had to introduce something less. expensive to match it. There were other CD players on display in the room but they were priced way more than I thought. I was hoping to see the 40n hooked up to something like the brand new Marantz CD60 which just premiered in Munich for $999.95 USD.
There are plenty of people who will shake their heads at something like the Marantz CD60 in 2022 with streaming holding 85% of the market right now – but I’m not one of that group. Not even remotely.
I started buying CDs in 1984 when my dad brought home a new Yamaha CD player from Bay Bloor Radio and after almost 38 years of buying my collection is approaching nearly 2,000 CDs.
I’ve spent almost four years ripping them onto multiple external hard drives and have the ability to access them through a Roon Nucleus Server which is connected to my home router and several Roon endpoints scattered throughout my house.
I also own several CD players because I always believe that a really good CD player sounds better than most network players.
But does it make sense in 2022 to invest US$999 in something like the Marantz CD60?
CD sales increased for the first time in 17 years in 2021, up 21% to $584 million. Although it will still take about a year to establish a real upward trend, the thing is, listening to music on physical media isn’t dead, and vinyl records (and even audio cassettes) might not be your only choice in this area. The ability to own music on a physical medium is important.
Ownership is a big thing for the younger generation; I’m pretty sure it’s still a great thing for older audiophiles who have been collecting physical media for 5 decades or more.
The CD60 features an industrial design and rugged construction that not only looks good, but contributes to stable performance without unnecessary vibrations. The chassis is quite large; maybe even too big for anything under the blanket. Marantz sticks to a similar chassis for all components in this line because it’s easier to manufacture that way and there’s a consistency in industrial design that most buyers will appreciate.
Marantz participated in the development of the CD format with its first player, the CD 63. Today, the CD60 has benefited from the legacy of engineering and refinement that includes the latest HDAM (Hyper Dynamic Amplifier Modules) used in the analog output stage. The new HDAMs offer superior response compared to standard solutions found in other branded products.
These modules have been further optimized for the CD60 offering significantly less distortion at high frequencies than the previous generation model.
The CD60 also includes the exclusive Marantz HDAM-SA2 high performance Headphone amplifier circuitry with three gain settings (Low/Mid/High) for a perfect match with almost any helmet. The headphone amplifier can also be turned off when not in use, eliminating any unwanted interference.
CD playback compatibility includes CD/CD-R/CD-RW discs. CDs containing MP3 and WMA files are also playable. HDCD discs are playable, but 4-bit extension access is not provided. SACD playback capability is not included (according to specifications provided by Marantz).
Connectivity includes both analog RCA and Digital Optical/Coaxial audio outputs, as well as wired remote connections for integration with other components or systems.
The Marantz CD60 also comes with a wireless remote in addition to its built-in controls which are available on the front panel.
The remote has decent range, but the text on the buttons is really hard to read if you have aging eyes like me or if you often forget your glasses.
The build quality is excellent and the operation has been flawless.
The Cyrus Audio i9-XR Integrated Amplifier (review this week) was on its way out when the Marantz arrived and I decided the price mismatch didn’t make sense as far as the build of the system was concerned.
My NAD C316BEE V2 and Shiit Audio Ragnarok 2 Integrated amplifiers make sense with the Marantz; the NAD is 50% cheaper but the synergy between the two was evident from the first 3 CDs that I listened to in the early morning before a series of trips.
The NAD and Q Acoustics 3050i speakers are an unlikely match, but it performs better than almost any amplifier I’ve tried with these highly underrated speakers from the British manufacturer.
The 3050i can be somewhat boring with the wrong amplifier and source, but that certainly wasn’t the case with the CD60; a slightly advanced sound, a warm and very resolute midrange and an excellent sense of rhythm.
Listen to Bruce Springsteen The Ghost of Tom Joad, I was immediately struck by the texture and presence of the vocals on the CD; I’ve always been a fan of the vinyl copy but the Marantz CD60 offered a very different take on this very dark album which is one of my favorites from his discography.
I’ve certainly heard more detail about this CD on much more expensive CD players from Naim, Cyrus Audio and YBA – but they didn’t quite have the same degree of midrange warmth and texture.
My Audiolab 6000CDT is an excellent CD transport for US$599 but there were obvious differences between the two almost immediately; the UK CD player is a cleaner sounding player with greater transparency and crisper images, but it is a much cooler sounding machine that often takes away the color and texture of the human voice.
You can change that with a much warmer sounding DAC or amplifier on the other end, but the Marantz packs more punch in the mids and below and I rather preferred that.
The horns have more than adequate bite with zero harshness in the treble; the CD60 delivers Miles, Coltrane, Dolphy and Byrd with color, texture and just enough detail minus the slight lack of lightness on top.
NAD and Schiit Audio amplifiers aren’t exactly state of the art so you’ll have to wait for me to write the second part of my listening notes where the Marantz CD60 spends some time with Cambridge Audio Edge A and Magnepan LRS.
My first impression is that the Marantz CD60 is a very capable product that might be able to shine in much more expensive systems, making it a solid buy at $995.
I will have more to say at the end of next week after two trips to Florida and again to Toronto for family reasons.
For additional eCoustics coverage: Marantz CD60 launch in Munich