Marantz Model M1

Occasionally, a product comes along that makes you say “Wow”. Does a new compact streaming amplifier from Marantz fit the bill? Would you like a compact streaming amplifier, with excellent high-res digital decoding circuitry, lots of streaming options, and plenty of power to drive most speakers? What if that product adds an HDMI e-Arc TV connection, and a subwoofer-out, so it can become a 2.1 channel system that makes your movies sound terrific?  What if it can do all that, with a $999 retail price? Welcome to the new Marantz Model M1!

Some streaming companies lately are creating a streaming product, and then adding an amplifier to it. The key to why the Marantz Model M1 sounds so good is that Marantz engineers first created a great-sounding amplifier, then put it in a modestly sized, great-looking package. At Gramophone, we’re blown away by how good this amp is. Then they added streaming capability and married that to their newly upgraded, HEOS 2024 streaming technology, so it’s easy to find your favorite songs and playlists.  

Design: a big ol’ set of separate components may not fit your space. Model M1’s beautiful chassis is remarkably compact, at 9 ½ inches deep, 8 ½” wide, and less than 3 ½” tall.  It fits spots where conventional audio may not - your kitchen counter or nightstand – and its beautifully curved chassis looks great. A vented top looks hip and keeps Model M1 running cool. The front panel capacitive touch controls are a great design element. 

Model M1 streams Bluetooth, and Apple AirPlay 2, and has HEOS built in, so it can be part of a whole house audio system. It’s crafted in Masimo’s Shirakawa, Japan facility, where other high-end Marantz components like Model 30 are made, and it sounds like it – clear, detailed, and warm. 

M1’s low distortion, beefy amp section can easily drive even difficult speaker loads. It’s rated at 100 WPC into 8-ohm loads, and 125 WPC into 4-ohms. Marantz’s goal here was to sound significantly better than the competition, and M1 floored us when driving B&W’s 702 S3 Signature towers, a $9,000 pair of speakers. Beethoven’s 7th sounded really engaging. ZZ Top’s Heard It on the X, with those crunching guitars, made us smile, even when we cranked it. 

Audiophiles will want to know that has a quiet noisy floor too. The digital processing sections of the amp (HDMI circuits and HEOS bar) are nicely shielded in the upper chassis. A powerful class D switching amplifier board is located on the bottom, with a thick base plate for cooling; keys to M1’s excellent sound quality. 

Marantz’s Sound Masters engineers included their Digital End-to-End Amplifier topology, and Marantz Musical Digital Filtering technology – the proprietary over-sampling techniques Marantz developed for their reference-grade products. We think you’ll find digital sources sound smooth and almost analog-like.

M1 is also easy to use, with the upgraded HEOS 2024 app. You can use the improved universal search function across various music services and platforms. Recently played tracks AND your favorite playlists are more accessible than ever before with HEOS 2024. No more switching services to find an obscure favorite song.

Streaming is simple, as you can easily create HEOS playlists, combine content from your collection, and mix them with various streaming services. An old friend now owns the M1 and mentioned “I had it up and running in two minutes”.   

The HDMI e-Arc connection with Dolby Digital + means you can watch your favorite movies and TV shows, and enjoy detailed 2-channel TV sound. It’s so convenient to use your existing TV remote to control the volume. Add a subwoofer for a sweet 2.1 channel “mini home theater”.  

Connections are impressive for such a small amp/streamer. Along the bottom row: a) subwoofer out, for serious low-end sound. You also have a user-adjustable low pass /high pass filters for a great blend between your main speakers and sub. b) stereo analog line input for your CD player, or turntable with a built-in preamp, or other legacy sources; c) an IR flasher connection to control Model M1 remotely, even if you hide it in a cabinet, plus, it is an IR learning device. Model M1 adds beefy speaker binding posts for spade lugs, bananas, bare wire, etc. 

Top row connections: you’ll find AC power on the right; a WiFi connect button; an ethernet connection for a wired network router; a USB port for listening to a music library on a USB flash drive; optical in for older TVs or other audio device;  and a Bluetooth button. 

If you want a true home theater, this may not be for you, as Model M1 is a 2.1-channel integrated streaming amp. If you want super high-quality audio, this won’t stand toe to toe with high-end separate amps and preamps. But we’re impressed that the Marantz M1 comes so close in sound, for such a beautifully designed, great-looking, compact, stylish streaming amplifier at a retail price of just $999 – far less than most high-end separates.