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Marantz ST7001 review

Its innards aren't that unique, but its tuneful character is

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Our Verdict

Bass is tuneful and extended, and the overall effect is of energetic, extremely communicative music-making

For

  • Good midband detail and precision

Against

  • Treble can thicken a little in busy music

Yes, the case, controls and display are different, but under the hood the main audio board here is very, very similar to the Denon TU-1800DAB, and the FM and DAB tuner modules are essentially the same parts, though we understand there are some small but possibly significant differences in the details.

So, is something funny going on? Actually, no: apart from the fact that Denon and Marantz are owned by the same parent company, this sort of thing is actually quite common.

The modules are bought in and it's quite possible the main audio board is too. And it's obvious there are differences between the two models from the most trivial measurement - their FM-broadcast output levels are substantially different, which could be a symptom of all sorts of things.

The Marantz is better equipped for remote control thanks to in/out sockets at the back, and it also sports a service connection at the rear. It even adds a timer and 'sleep' operation. You also get the usual DAB/FM features, such as various station-name-ordering options, RDS on FM, 100 presets and a display dimmer. DRC is implemented on DAB.

It wouldn't be all that surprising if this tuner sounded similar to the Denon, but there are some differences. The DAB performances are really too close to call, but on FM, the Marantz definitely has its own character.

This is most noticeable in the bass, with a highly likeable tunefulness in low registers - possibly not quite as well controlled as with some models, but given how many broadcasts tend to be over-present in the treble, we're not averse to some slight bass 'bloom', and that's basically what you get here.

It helps underpin many musical styles, and is only perhaps a trifle excessive with solo piano. By contrast, walking basslines in jazz trios and quartets sound just great!

Treble is extended but never overemphasised, and has a nice sense of acoustic 'air' under most conditions that makes for comfortable long-term listening, only thickening up a little when it gets really busy - and perhaps here the Denon just has the edge in clarity.

On the other hand, we feel this is pretty much the tuner to beat as regards detail and definition in the midband, offering as it does a precise and finely etched rendition of instruments and voices alike with solid and consistent imaging.

The differences are quite small, though. Because FM-tuner performance varies quite critically depending on the set-up, we suspect this may be down to sample variability, in which case the sensible conclusion seems to be simply that this tuner offers perfectly respectable detail, as does the Denon.

One quality that the model shares with last year's test sample is a really good sense of energetic musical drive in any kind of upbeat tracks, a feature which for many listeners will override considerations about the finest degree of detail. Indeed, this is a highly appealing and entertaining FM tuner.

With DAB performance, it makes a very good case for being a safe and good-value purchase.