Marantz PM-65AV Amplifier
In an attempt to bridge the gap between audio- and video-philes, Marantz has introduced this versatile, high quality AV amplifier as part of its current range. Dubbed the PM-65AV is built around the same chassis as that employed for the more conventional PM-55 amplifier. The alloy fascia is split into two regions, with all the input selection, volume and tone controls situated above the peripheral facilities.
A single (MM) vinyl disc input is provided, alongside no less than eight line-level inputs. Five of these, labelled CD1, CD2, tuner, CDV and aux are accommodated by the standard rotary selector while the three remaining (VCR) inputs are selected using a bank of keys on the lower half of the fascia. The CD1 input may be routed 'direct', though this option only serves to disable the main selector and balance control; non-defeatable tone controls remain in-circuit at all times.
The comprehensive record-out selection also caters for the four independently buffered video (TV) inputs, which are remotely switched, using several LC4966 ICs. The video circuits are isolated from the audio sections on a separate polyester PCB and are fed from a separately regulated power supply. In addition to all this, Marantz has made provision for an external processor, such as a surround-sound decoder, while also incorporating two 'AV Sound' selectors. This latter option appears to be some sort of crude loudness contour however, for the PM-65AV does not include a discrete AV surround decoder of its own.
As you might expect, the internal layout is a trifle cramped, though there's still room for the customary STK3062 hybrid supply regulator/driver, a fair-sized mains transformer, and complementary pairs of Toshiba 2SA1301/2SC3280 output transistors.
In basic measurement terms, the PM-65AV is little different from any other Marantz amplifier. It offers a healthy output into 4ohms (136W in this instance), good stereo separation, low-ish output impedance (0.07ohm), and a moderately tailored MM RIAA EQ response with a - 3dB point of 20Hz. The line response is flat from 5Hz to 50kHz.
Channel balance was out by a constant 1-1.5dB regardless of input or level setting, indicating an offset tracking error in the volume control fitted to our sample.
Despite using the (rather limited) CD-direct option, there seems no well defined central vocal image, the performer always sounding as if he or she was emanating from the two distinct loudspeaker sources. The sense of stereo focus and tactility actually improves when the PM-65AV is used in its non-direct mode, but the overall balance remains noticeably lumpy, with a splashy treble and bass that plods along in a lazy fashion.
There was little sense of dynamic contrast, using either a conventional multi-bit or the PDM D/A convertor systems, but the amplifier still seemed able to convey a basic sense of rhythm or tempo. Indeed, despite some obvious colorations, it still managed to keep our listeners' feet tapping! Unfortunately the dedicated MM input took a further leap in the wrong direction, offering an unemotive and decidely monophonic account of most forms of music.
There are echoes of a PM-45 struggling to get out of this amplifier, but the free and bouncy sound lacks both structure and resolution. The PM-65AV is not a good advert for the audio-only amplifiers that make up the backbone of Marantz's range, but it's certainly worth considering by video buffs who desire both flexibility and a passably good sound quality.