Marantz ST7001 £300

31st Jul 2006 | 23:00

Marantz ST7001

Another DAB/FM tuner from the same stable as Denon

TechRadar rating:

4.5 stars

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

Like:

<p>Good midband detail and precision</p>

Dislike:

<p>Treble can thicken a little in busy music</p>

Now that Marantz is run under the same umbrella company as Denon (D&M Holdings, which also owns McIntosh, Boston Acoustics and Snell loudspeakers), one might perhaps expect some commonality of components and design between this and a similarly-specified Denon tuner.

Indeed, the specifications list of this model looks very similar to that of the Denon TU-1800DAB. And under the hood? Well, the same DAB tuner module resides in each, the same DAC, the same FM tuner module, the same mains transformer... and very nearly the same circuit board.

It's not quite identical - the odd component here and there seeming unique to one model or the other - but the similarities are marked to say the least.

Basic specs are exactly the same too - DAB, FM, MW, electrical and optical digital output from DAB, RDI, RDS on FM and squillions of presets. Build quality is respectable and the unit occupies a considerably larger case than the Denon, with slightly more fresh air inside. It's nice to use too, with manual tuning aided by the swift-responding rotary knob.

Component effects

So should we expect the same performance? We don't want to jump the gun on our conclusions, but in the course of conducting the lab tests, we did find some component changes in the FM module that have some marked effects. By the way, almost all our listening was carried out before we realised quite how similar the two units were.

In the event, comments on the ST7001's sound tallied broadly with those on the TU-1800DAB but varied in enough specifics to suggest that the technical differences between the pair may not be so very trivial after all. That's on FM, anyway: DAB seems frankly indistinguishable in every way. But analogue radio, while it comes in loud and clear with considerable gusto and insight, has its own particular characteristics.

Most noticeable is the bass, which seems a touch more present through the ST7001. It's not any deeper, nor is its level obviously higher, but it seems a little more palpable and if anything, a shade more tuneful too. The extent to which this is obvious depends quite strongly on musical material and it's not that marked on most commercial pop radio. Subtler classical and jazz tones show it up much more, however.

In the midband, we thought the present contender behind the TU-1800DAB on detail and imaging, but no less lively. In some situations it can come across as more energetic, which we assume is due to the difference in the bass. Meanwhile, the treble is basically clean, but once again lacks some of the clarity and openness that the very best FM tuners can achieve.

As a result of those differences, admittedly not vast in the great scheme of things, we found this tuner to be more immediately appealing than the Denon, but not necessarily more involving to listen to in the long run.

With most pop music styles it scored about the same, but for classical, all things considered, it seemed a touch less convincing. All the same, it's clearly a perfectly decent budget tuner and a safe purchase for most lovers of the airwaves. Hi-Fi Choice staff

Lab Report

The most obvious difference between this and the TU-1800DAB is in output level, which at 1.6V is the higher by some 4dB. It was this that alerted us to the changes within the FM module, which we assume are also responsible for the slight, but quite possibly significant, difference in distortion between the two units. Under most conditions the ST7001's distortion is a little higher, third harmonic reaching the sort of level (just under 0.5%) where it can cause subtle coloration-like effects: this may well account for the bass differences noted. There's also a difference in frequency response between the tuners, but this may be indicative of no more than component tolerances and about half a decibel brighter treble is not a make-or-break difference by any means. Overall, though, the picture is the same, with a similar tendency for noise floor to rise in the presence of loud audio. This allows single-channel distortion to dominate. A generally good set of results.

MarantzHi-Fi/audio
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