Marantz CD15 CD Player Page 2

Well warmed up and run in, the CD15 was used for a couple of weeks on several systems, and throughout all the sessions, it proved to have a consistent approach to music replay.

First impressions were of a strong, confident sound, crisp, explicit, dynamic and focused. These impressions remained throughout the audition period, and were further reinforced as location, interfacing and system matching was optimised for the player.

Superbly refined, the CD15 succeeded in abolishing grain and roughness. Its sound was finely textured, seamless and highly resolved. Excellent levels of detail were retrieved regardless of the specific frequency register or the complexity of the music and it possessed high definition throughout the frequency range.


The player's fascia, front corners, sides and top plate were all extruded aluminium. The layout was minimal with controls confined to power, play, pause, previous and next track, plus display off

American Beauty
Describing its character, the sound was just a shade brilliant, with a hint, just a hint mind, of 'chromium plate' while the midrange was a touch lean and slightly electronic. If judged as being cool compared with some replay systems, the CD15 could not, however, be fairly criticised as either clinical or cold. The full bodied lower midrange and the powerful, extended bass defied any such characterisation.

In some respects, the Marantz CD15 has an American flavour. By this I mean that the bass packs a real punch, is precise and has real weight at the lowest audible frequencies. Broadly well balanced, the player's midrange performance showed just how revealing the CD15 is, in its ability to faithfully portray the natural tone colour and timbre of sounds.

Stereo images were to a high standard with very good depth and focus, while image width was fine. Ambience in recordings was well realised, with this and the high transparency combining to help establish convincing, well layered perspectives in the soundstage illusion. In the treble, the level of recovered detail was exceptional, achieved without grain, excess 'edge' or false sibilance – this was a genuinely low-jitter sound.


Original pages from the Aug 1995 issue of HFN which saw Martin Colloms assess the Marantz CD15, the company's flagship player at the time of review

In all these respects it matched and even beat classic player references such as the Accuphase CD70V, reaching towards the state-of-the-art levels seen with the Wadia 16 and Krell KPS20i.Where the Marantz CD15 gave rise to conflicting opinion was when it came to rhythm and timing.

Rhythmic expression was rated as 'above average'; unexceptional in view of its other qualities. Some of the swing, flow and verve of favourite tracks was blunted, but the firm bass and dynamic expressive midrange helped to hold up the standard in the face of a loss in timing precision heard in the treble. Treble percussion – hi-hat and the like – could not establish a really clear rhythmic pattern, nor did the treble align itself very tightly with the musical pulse established in the bass and mid register.

On Balance
As I have frequently mentioned in reviews, this subtle aspect of sound quality is often separated from benchmark characteristics of high-fidelity focus, clarity, neutrality and so on. The importance of good rhythm will depend on personal taste and sensitivity, system matching and programme.

In an effort to explain the ratings for sound quality, if 'hi-fi' parameters were paramount then the CD15 would get a straight win at 40 marks. But if the rhythm aspect is crucial, some listeners might knock it back as far as 20! I have chosen to split the difference and give the CD15 a worthy 30. This is not as arbitrary as it sounds since the score sheets did in fact carry numbers in the suggested range.


Befitting its flagship status, the CD15 arrived with a custom designed remote handset. Weighty but slim, it sported a satin anodised fascia and a ten-key number pad allowing rapid track entry and programming

Tried via its balanced outputs to assess the flavour of their alternative driver and coupling technology, the CD15 was disappointing. Now the sound was darkened and closed-in and the entire soundstage compressed in both width and depth, together with a noted loss of lower level ambience. The bass had less depth and crispness, and the treble a whitened glare, which was most surprising. All this led to an overall rating of 20 for the balanced output, below average for the class.

This luxury Marantz player is of audiophile quality, being built and finished to the required standard. It demonstrated an exemplary performance in both resolution and linearity, while in the lab it was as technically perfect as any tested to date, with very low noise and distortion at all levels and frequencies. It tracked well, demonstrating good vibration resistance, though like all good players, also benefited from an isolating platform. It was fitted with properly executed balanced outputs but the sound was not a patch on the single-ended line outputs and these have presumably been included to meet the particular requirements of a specific market.

Via line, the CD15 impressed with its very good stereo precision, control and detail, these remaining constant over a wide range of frequencies, loudness, programme type and complexity. It was however less than fully convincing on treble timing and rhythmic flow.

Nevertheless, my overall ratings were certainly high enough and I strongly advise potential purchasers to audition for themselves this recommended, high-performance one-box CD player.