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Audition reality

The Marantz 11S1 combo impressed right away with a very particular character. This became apparent with "Val Jester" from The National, a cut with a close-mic’d yet calm and sonorous voice and restrained but melodious violin. This interplay came across wonderfully fluid and elastic, without any edges or corners but deep colors and full tones. In the treble, cymbal and rattle were perfectly integrated, hence not highlighted. Ditto the rhythmically somewhat reined in but extended bass runs which anchor the song and, over the Marantz combo, bestowed upon "Val Jester" the reach and warmth necessary to fully realize the desired effect.

In matter of relaxation, silkiness and sonic fullness on voices and acoustic instruments, the Marantz duo had a lead over my—in these aspects formidable—Fonel Emotion integrated. During an impromptu A/B ("Just a boy", A Book Like this, Angus & Julia Stone, 2008) while leashed to my Thiel CS 3.7, colleague Ralph on behalf of the Fonel suddenly ascribed a tad of hyper presence to the voice and a somewhat insistent forwardness to the harmonica. Believe me, that machine is usually beyond criticism here but as we all learn sooner or later, more is always possible, eventually.

As you might have already gleaned, the Marantz twosome offers an overall highly cultivated, long-term friendly but also somewhat – er, polite playback that’s not the last work in blood pressure provocation. Viewed as core virtue of hifi (the ability to render music fluidly with the least degree of edginess), the 11S1 components clearly comply with the flow-without-distraction mandate. Tight-fisted control, super dry bass beats and ultra crisp highs are less on the menu. Let’s take the treble temperature to get started.

There’s distinctly no risk to go pipsqueak or penetrating perp. More than one hifi fundamentalist will find it more restrained than by the book. On National’s "All the Wine", the sequencing of closed/open hi hat lost just a bit of pronunciation and intelligibility.

Conversely, the extremely varied, multi-layered, electronic trickery enhanced treble realms of Kevin Key’s 2001 The Ghost of each room remained stress-free and exceptionally filigreed. Up there it’s not merely a tad more set back or golden than the norm but also more fluid and declawed. Disagreeable terms like gray, grainy, steely or hollow are strangers to the Marantz combo.