Thanks to numerous mini-amplifiers, it is possible to set up a stereo speaker system without requiring high amounts of space.
The Marantz PM6007 and Cambridge CXA81 offer two different experiences: Marantz offers an interesting presentation as it trades the smoothness in its predecessor to add rhythmic punches, accuracy, and clarity; resulting in songs that have greater presence. The CXA81 will give the impression of being firmly in the driving seat regardless of the speakers you use, and gives songs plenty of punch as you need them.
Marantz PM6007 vs. Cambridge CXA81 – How do they compare?
While both amplifiers have a familiar build and have little separating them in appearance from other options, the CXA61 is a solid option that feels superior to its rivals – including the Marantz PM6007.
The Cambridge CXA61 comes with a USB type B connection port, alongside the usual optical digital and coaxial digital inputs on its rear panel. Marantz, on the other hand, implements the same features in the PM6007 that were in its predecessor without much enhancements, although its appearance will appeal to traditional hi-fi enthusiasts. The biggest difference in its design is the lack of a USB connection port, as well as the lack of Bluetooth connectivity.
The addition of USB and Bluetooth connectivity in the Cambridge CXA61 makes it the winner of this round.
The most prominent indicator of the changes in the Marantz PM6007 is in the performance, with a distinct full-bodied and smooth sound output. All the textures in the audio take on additional levels of tangibility, but one drawback is the lack of solid vocal delivery.
On the other hand, the CXA61 offers numerous improvements and tweaks in its audio quality, and the result is a more playful and transparent sonic output. The tonal balance is impressive, offering the best mediation between refinement and attack, which makes it work excellently across different music genres, and its soundstage is clear and expansive to offer plenty of stability to both the vocals and instruments.
The Cambridge CXA61 offers better sound quality overall and a wider soundstage compared to the Marantz PM6007.
In the Cambridge CXA61, you will find a new DAC chip that allows it to be compatible with up to DSD 256 data streams, as well as 32-bit /384kHz PCM files. This is quite a comprehensive range, and covers almost any file type that you may use. Aside from this, it also has in-built Bluetooth functionality and an RS232 port. On the analog side, each channel has a 60W power output, and there are several ports – one 3.5mm jack on the front for portable music players, and four stereo RCA inputs on the rear.
In the Marantz PM6007, the biggest change is the new DAC that is based on an AK4490 chip. You can select one of its two filters when listening to music, allowing you to choose what fits best. There is plenty of consistency across its connections with the phono stage, headphone output, and DAC performing well despite its precision and clarity sacrifices. The 6.3mm headphone output in the front and the phono stage work together to deliver a punchy sound as well, but it lacks the sparkle that the line-level offers.
The Cambridge CXA61 wins due to its superior sound quality and connectivity options.
Marantz PM6007 vs. Cambridge CXA81 – A comparison overview
This amplifier is a step in the journey to achieve a premium-quality budget option, and any improvements it implements from its predecessor center around its performance. It comes with a new DAC, which is complemented by two fillers; a sharp roll-off and a slow roll-off. This allows you to select whether you want your audio to play from a source connected to either its single coaxial or two optical inputs.
While its design may look like an uninspiring slab of silver, its performance exceeds expectations thanks to its distinct lively sound. The bass output is its strongest feature, and does not dominate your music listening experience, yet it is good enough to handle genres that are not on the up-tempo side such as jazz.
It can offer up to 60 watts of power, which is an improvement from its predecessor the CXA60 amp. While its build also incorporates a subwoofer output on its rear, you will not need it thanks to the great low-ends. This advantage also extends to the mids and treble, where you will find most vocal and instrumental work. If you can afford the amp, it will be among the best buys you will get, and offers a great value of service for your money.
The Cambridge CXA61 may be pricey, but it justifies the price thanks to its excellent build quality, wide feature range, and sonic abilities. The Marantz PM6007 is impressive in its smooth sound output, although we would have preferred the inclusion of more features such as Bluetooth connectivity and more ports.
Verdict: So, which is better? Marantz PM6007 or Cambridge CXA81?
The Cambridge CXA81 is our clear winner, as it does not give you much to complain about in both performance and design elements – aside from its substantial high price tag.
Can I connect the pre-outputs in the Cambridge CXA61 successfully to external EQs?
Yes, as it will use the amplifier as a pre-amp. However, the amplifier itself does not have a main-in connection.
Can I connect a CD player or turntable to the Marantz PM6007?
Yes, it has a set of dedicated digital connections for a CD player and for turntables.