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Classic (1980 and Earlier) Marantz Gear
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Why Ben's Ears Are Happy...

The whole shooting match
This is the Marantz gear that I choose to listen to day in and day out; I actually have quite a number of classic units, Marantz and other brands as well, both tube and transistor, but these are my overall favorites.

The Stack

The tuner is a 2130, the preamp a 3650 and the amp is a 300dc. This stack of gear sounds just incredible. Fabulous. There's no way I can say enough about these three components - I have a lot of stereo gear (ok, so I have a ridiculous amount of stereo gear), a good bit of it high end, and these three components simply wipe out my other gear. I also have a 6300 turntable, which is great, as far as it goes. I'm not a huge fan of vinyl, though I'm perfectly willing to deal with it if I don't have a particular performance on CD. I will say that the 6300 does a fine job of getting the most out of what vinyl I have that hasn't been pre-empted by a CD. I also have the matching 5030B cassette deck, and finally, my unique Marantz 7700 Reel to Reel crowns this system.

Squeezing the last drop of performance from the tuner

The 2130 tuner is fed from a Magnum Dynalabs Signal Sleuth RF amplifier, which in turn is buffering an APS-14, a large, 14-element, dual-driven director-only design from Antenna Performance Specialties which I use to pull in my favorite classic rock station, KMHK, 179 miles away in Hardin, Montana. I live on the plains, so this is possible to do, though just barely! The antenna is up on a 50 foot tower and is served by a Hi-Gain rotor.

The Signal Sleuth is a tunable RF preamp that provides up to 30 db of gain. I use it for two reasons. First, the noise figure for the Sleuth's front end is about 10 dB better than the 2130. The 2130's front end design is twenty years old, so this isn't particularly surprising, though I note somewhat wryly that very few available tuners can match the 2130's front end performance today, never mind the rest of it's performance critera. Secondly, I distribute the output from the Sleuth to ten different FM tuners and receivers throughout the house - the Marantz 2130 tuner, a Marantz 2120 tuner, a Marantz 10b tuner, a Marantz 125 tuner , a Kenwood Kt-8300 tuner, a Pioneer SX-1250 receiver, a Pioneer TX-9500-II tuner, a Yamaha receiver, a Yamaha T-950 rack-mount tuner and a Technics ST-8600 tuner. So I use the Signal Sleuth as a buffer amplifier as well as a preamp and preselector. A huge benefit of a system that is set up like this is that the preamp cuts down adjacent channel signals quite sharply without any loss in system performance. It's a great device and it has added a lot to my enjoyment. It's about $300.00, for those of you who want to follow up on it. Not inexpensive, but absolutely worth the money if you are in a rural listening situation as I am, or if you want to distribute the signal to multiple front ends, as I am also doing.

And the real rural solution is...

Get yourself an XM radio. Pioneer makes one that broadcasts on FM (it's meant for your car, but a 12 volt DC regulated supply is all you need to get around that,) and so you can feed it to your tuner and not have to be concerned about more inputs. The Pioneer sounds awesome, even more so pumped through my 2130. Good bye cornpone radio, hello real music broadcasts!


I've tried all kinds of speakers, from stereo subwoofer-surround pairs using Linnaeum components to JBL L-100's to various Marantz speakers.

What I have settled on to date as my favorite speakers is a pair of Marantz HD-880's. I drove from eastern Montana to Seattle, Washington (and stopped by to see my family in Oregon on the way for a few hours) to pick these up, and the trip was well worth it. The woofers had been re-coned, and all the other drivers, the cabinets and the grilles were in excellent shape. Now, keep in mind I was just collecting these... while I certainly didn't expect them to sound bad, I was definitely not expecting them to blow away all my other speaker systems (I have 21 other pairs of speakers, not counting subwoofers.) But that's exactly what happened. They sound wonderful. The bass goes down further than my subwoofers do, and the highs seem to just go on forever. Classical sounds real, rock takes over the room, and jazz just makes your skin tingle. I run them with the port plugs out and the crossover adjustments set to nominal. If you can find a pair of these, they have my absolute highest recommendation. They're large, so make sure you have room for them!

The Gear

FM Antenna
(Click to enlarge)

My Signal Sleuth