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This review first appeared in the August 2009 issue of hifi & stereo magazine You can also read this review of the Marantz SC-11S1 / SM-11S1 in its original German version. We translated it through a syndication arrangement with our German colleagues. As is customary for our own reviews, the writer's signature at review's end shows an e-mail address should you have questions or wish to send feedback. All images contained in this review are the property of or Marantz. - Ed.

Reviewer: Jörg Dames
Financial Interests: click here
Source: Fonel Simplicité (variable outputs), Audiomeca Obsession II, Wadia 170i Transport & Apple iPod & Benchmark DAC1 USB
Pre/power - Myyrad MXA 2150, Funk LAP-2.V2, Bel Canto Design PRe3/Ref1000mkII; integrated - Fonel Emotion, Accuphase E212
Speakers: Thiel CS 3.7, Sehring S 703 SE
Cables: Low-Level - Straight Wire Virtuoso, high-level - HMS Fortissimo, Reson LSC 350

Review Component Retail: €3.300 and €3.700 for preamp and power amp respectively

Spinach - extremely rich in iron; Albert Einstein - bad in math; hair - grows faster with shaving. Ha! Certain diehard rumors care little for reality. And while debunking isn’t our job, a persistent hifi equivalent has it that Marantz amplifiers sound warm and soft. Testing the SC-11S1 and SM-11S1 pre/power combo by this maker will be our contribution to the subject, particularly since during my student days in the early 90s, I never let any Marantz amps into my crib for precisely those rumors. Time to investigate reality.

Whether you’ll need all of its features is questionable but the Marantz combo is the antithesis of the hair-shirt ascetic. Besides creature comforts like on/off for the blue backlighting and display, output power confirmation and desired amount of mute attenuation, phono fiends for example will delight in having both MM and MC functionality, selectable on the front panel. Variety continues with the input sockets – 2 x XLR, 5 x RCA.

Naturally, the two Marantz components can connect to each other RCA or XLR. You’d nearly expect tone and balance controls for the preamp by now and won’t get disappointed but you should still be surprised by the amp’s rare adaptable gain (17, 23 and 29dB respectively). Particularly with high-efficiency speakers, this can minimize self noise and broaden the useful range of attenuation of the chosen preamplifier; or to in general move a preamp out of the very low and usually not perfectly tracking range of its pot.

On the subject of turning the volume up, for most apps there’s no shortage of power and glory. Marantz claims 2 x 110 watts into 8 ohms and perfect 4-ohm load stability by doubling into 220. Load invariance in the face of low-impedance speakers—and no speaker presents a linear impedance in the first place—prevents dynamic losses and distortion. The SM-11S1’s output circuitry relies on cascaded push/pull architecture with Sanken LAPT transistors. Those in need of more power or extreme channel separation—and with sufficient cash reserves to acquire a second SM-11S1—can also bridge the amplifier to mono.

A signature trait of both components is the copper lining claimed to maximize shielding and create a unified ground potential. Common to both also are the Hyper Dynamic Amplifier Modules (HDAM SA2) which in principle mimic operational amplifiers but are built up with discrete SMDs on individual PCBs to, says Marantz, "significantly outperform conventional op amps in rise times and noise levels to sustain higher dynamics, precision and detail". The preamp’s innards display a PCB with Schottky rectifier diodes between the canned power trafo and smoothing inductor. The big coil explains why the preamp only seems to benefit from two transformers when you’d expect a higher dose of spinach – er, iron with the power amp. There’s also pot-less attenuation via Wolfson IC for minimized physical wear, improved channel separation and tracking better than +/-0.5dB.