Marantz Model 40n integrated amplifier

On a cold, clear February morning, I attended my first in-person press event since the beginning of the pandemic. Marantz had invited me to a small group session in a suite at the Equinox Hotel at Hudson Yards but gave no indication of what was in store. After two years without live press events or audio shows, I was not going to spurn the offer no matter what would be presented: I was hungry for hi-fi. Upon arrival, I learned that Marantz would be featuring just one new product, a streaming integrated amplifier, the Marantz Model 40n ($2499). Sure, I'm in.

A short introduction linked present-day Marantz to seminal Marantz products from the 1950s, represented visually by the distinctive Marantz center "porthole," first seen facing forward on the Model 9 amplifier and now embraced as the company's core design motif. That porthole was originally a bias meter; today it contains an alphanumeric display (footnote 1).

The Model 40n was the solo star of the show, so several units were set up en suite. One was set between a pair of floorstanding speakers next to a turntable and below a large video display. During the demo, it played digital and analog music as well as video sound fed to it via HDMI-ARC. Another unit was set on a bookshelf, bookended by a pair of small speakers playing music stored locally, guided by the HEOS app. A third sample was tucked into a cabinet in the dining room, playing music from web radio and Spotify (via Spotify Connect).

However strong and important the link between the Model 40n and legacy Marantz products, the 40n is not your Grandpa Saul's integrated amplifier. It's a multifunction device that does phono, digital, and streaming and utilizes a tablet/smartphone app. Indeed, when I installed the review sample, I found the eight-page quick-start guide adequate only for the simplest quick start. The 113-page owner's manual, available for download on Marantz's website, proved essential to making full use of this multitalented integrated.

Unboxing
The Marantz Model 40n comes out of the box as a slab, not unlike its all-analog predecessors. The front panel has a subtly undulating relief pattern and accommodates a small power pushbutton on the left and a ¼" headphone jack on the right. Between, a smooth, wide escutcheon carries the signature porthole above that iconic row of six control knobs. The escutcheon stands just proud of the front panel and in low light appears to float thanks to two banks of adjustable LEDs hidden behind its flanks.

822mar.2

The porthole display is clear and bright, but terse. By default, it shows only the selected input source and the volume setting. It also displays the menu choices when you're adjusting the settings. The 40n has two major functional sections. The first, a pure-analog integrated amplifier, harkens back to Marantz's past with two channels of class-AB power, a phono stage, and an analog preamplifier with analog inputs (including phono and an input from a separate preamplifier, all on RCA) and physical controls. The second is a capable network DAC/streamer with digital controls. Not that you'd notice two sections: Integration between the analog and digital operations is seamless.

The six control knobs are arranged in the classic array. On the left and right are slightly larger knobs for input selection and volume control, respectively. In between are source direct, bass, treble, and balance (left to right). The source-direct option, as its name suggests, bypasses the control circuits for bass, treble, and balance adjustment. There are no permanent labels on the input selector, but it steps through the input choices sequentially, showing the label for the choice currently selected on the display. The remote control supports direct input selection, volume control, and access to settings but not bass, treble, or balance adjustment.

Menu-based setup can be achieved with either the remote control, a smartphone, or a tablet. The settings menu is simple, with just four menu categories: Audio, to select a reconstruction filter for the DAC, to set up a low-pass filter for connecting a subwoofer, and to set a streaming lock range (footnote 2) and volume limit; TV, to select which audio input the television is using, to set up the autoplay option so that the 40n automatically starts up when that input receives a signal, and HDMI power control, to switch to standby when TV audio is discontinued; General, to set LED brightness and auto-standby (which puts the amp in standby when no audio input is detected) and to reset the device; and Network, to turn off various network components (including Bluetooth) if they are not being used.

822mar.bac

Two pairs of the best multiway speaker terminals I have seen in a while are the most prominent features of the Model 40n's back panel, with robust metal rings that are comfortable to grasp and easy to secure. Side access enables bare-wire and spade connection, but a clear collar protects the rest of the post from stray wisps of wire. To the right of the speaker connectors is a two-conductor AC inlet, a Wi-Fi antenna receptacle, and a tiny reset button.

822mar.bac2

On the top left of the back panel is a tier of digital connections, starting with a receptacle for a second Wi-Fi antenna. To its right are a USB port, an RJ45 network connector, an HDMI-ARC (Audio Return Channel) connector, and coax and TosLink S/PDIF ports. Below the row of digital inputs is an RCA phono input pair and ground terminal. An array of RCA jacks is underneath: L/R line-level pairs labeled CD, Line, and Recorder, then outputs labeled Recorder and Subwoofer (this last with a single RCA) and a preamp input (labeled Power Amp In, for the small number of people who will use the 40n as just a power amplifier). Rightmost in this array is an input/output pair for establishing a remote control–sharing link with a compatible device, such as a Marantz CD player.

I connected my LAN cable to the RJ45 connector (always preferable to Wi-Fi for music playback) and a pair of Cardas Cross cables on temporary duty away from my subwoofers, to the line inputs; their other ends connected to my Oppo disc player. I connected a 2TB portable hard drive to the USB port for direct library access. The banana plugs of my Blue Jeans speaker cables fit firmly into the 40n's speaker terminals. I downloaded and installed the HEOS app on my iPhone, then installed the Spotify and Qobuz apps there and on my Win11 PC streamer. With the network input selected, the 40n was instantly recognized by all but Qobuz's Windows app. I could still play music from Qobuz, though, because the 40n was recognized by Roon and JRiver.

Over the course of a few weeks, I tried every playback option (footnote 3) the Model 40n affords, except for the phono input. Everything worked well, at least to the limits of the technologies and of my ability to discern playback nuance. I would like to see a readout of bit rate and sampling frequency, but experimentation confirmed playback with HEOS from both NAS and local files at up to 192kHz PCM and 5.6MHz DSD. Likewise with JRiver.


Footnote 1: For me, the horizontal tier of physical knobs—volume, balance, bass and treble controls, and input-source selector—is a more palpable, visual, and functional link to the company's aesthetic past.

Footnote 2: By limiting the lock range, you can lower jitter, perhaps improving sound a little. However, too narrow a range can result in intermittent playback.

Footnote 3: I briefly tested the functionality of the HDMI-ARC input to confirm its usability but did not spend enough time with it to comment on the sound. It is hard to imagine that its performance would differ from that with other digital inputs.

COMPANY INFO
Marantz
5541 Fermi Ct.
Carlsbad, CA 92008
(800) 654-6633
ARTICLE CONTENTS

COMMENTS
michelesurdi's picture

this is so iconic

Kal Rubinson's picture

and your comment is so .......... ironic. :-)

miketototech@gmail.com's picture

When matched with some appropriate gear, I've enjoyed the sound of similar Marantz amps in this price range. But, to call the Heos system, in your words "excellent" is troubling. When compared to Roon, Sonos, and Bluesound the Heos app feels ancient and ugly. Gapless playback is a nightmare and only achievable with select formats and equipment. I could go on, but you get the point...HEOS is terrible.

Kal Rubinson's picture

I understand your comment and, to be clear, I found Heos to be excellent only in the context of the Marantz 40n ("its intended network implementation") and in comparison to the alternatives provided by 40n. I am not a fan of proprietary streaming products such as Heos and BlueOS.

Jack L's picture

Hi

HDMI-ARC is for sound of the TV programmes sending back to the amp. We know how 'good' TV sound can be. I won't lose sleep on it.

Listening is believing

Jack L

Long-time listener's picture

... for providing measurements for the tone controls. This is yet another Marantz amplifier that I refuse to buy because of their goofy, stupid implementation of their tone controls. For 95 percent of my listening I do NOT use them, but when I do it's important that they get them right. Take a look at Stereophile's review of the Outlaw Audio RR2160 receiver -- THAT's how you implement tone controls, Marantz! Do it, and I'll buy one of your amplifiers.

avanti1960's picture

they were introduced-
they have that "in dash" car stereo look, as in a '79 Trans Am dash!

avanti1960's picture

they were introduced-
they have that "in dash" car stereo look, as in a '79 Trans Am dash!

pbarach's picture

I have a Marantz product that I like very much--except for the porthole display. It doesn't give enough information, and it's essentially an eye test unless you sit close to your equipment.

Kal Rubinson's picture

It is a semi-intelligent power indicator, mostly useful for set-up.

wozwoz's picture

I am a fan of Marantz products and have both one of their amps (bit upmarket of this) and their SACD player. This product however makes me cringe: first, the last thing I would want is to be UNNECESSARILY radiated in my own lounge or music room by wi-fi radiation, when a simple cable will do the job vastly better, without compression or loss. Second, the entire concept of using Bluetooth, which is almost always compressed and lossy, is the very antithesis of hi-fi and makes a mockery of the product. I am yet to meet a hi-fi enthusiast so cheap that they cannot afford 5m of cable, or who does not even enjoy in the selecting of same.

wozwoz's picture

The beauty of hi-fi equipment has traditionally been its longevity: I know people with amps or turntables from 20 years ago that are still performing brilliantly, look superb, and attract wows. How long do you think an amp that requires an app is going to last? How long and how well have Marantz's previous network integrated components lasted before they have become outdated?

X