So at the end of the day, where do these two Marantzes fit into the market? About the same as at the beginning: outstanding electronics that would do any system proud. The idiosyncratic way the balance and tone controls have been implemented in the PM-11S3 and the lack of a mono switch still annoy me. Deal- breakers? Not a decision I’m prepared to make for you, but that fabulous phonostage would and should loom awfully large if LPs occupy a lot of your listening time. As for the SA-11S3, well, unless I had much more discretionary income than I do, four grand is about the absolute most I’d consider paying for any product with a technology that changes as rapidly as digital does. But if I did make such a plunge, this Marantz would head the list, and by some distance, owing to its lineage, its perfect mediation of musicality and neutrality on Red Book sources, and its absolutely magnificent SACD performance.
One thing I see I’ve neglected is how beautifully styled these products are, the amplifier imposingly so. On either side of the display area, hidden behind the center escutcheons, Marantz has put a blue light that shines behind a narrow translucent cover from top to bottom. It makes for a soft lovely glow that, along with the curved side cheeks, mitigates the severity of all that gleaming black metal. My description hardly does it justice, but it confers an elegance that more or less symbolizes what these units are sonically: covering all the bases with an inimitable combination of power and poise yet scrupulously attentive to subtlety and nuance.
PM‑11S3 integrated Amplifier
Power: 100Wpc, 8 ohms; 200Wpc, 4 ohms, 20Hz—20kHz
Dimensions: 17‑5/16" x 6‑5/8" x 17‑7/8"
Weight: 59 lbs.
SA‑11S3 SACD/CD player
Sources: CD, SACD, CD‑R, CD‑RW, MP3, WMA, AAC,
Inputs: Optical, coaxial, USB‑A (front), USB‑B (rear)
Outputs: single‑ended, balanced, optical, coaxial
Dimensions: 17‑5/16" x 5" x 16‑9/16"
Weight: 37.5 lbs.
Warranty: 3 years parts and labor