Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Early Review of Marantz 2130

I posted this review to FMTuners on Monday April 16:

I like the sound of the Marantz 2130, it performs well, has almost every feature
found on FM tuners including, of course, a scope. The scope was why I bought
this tuner, after thinking that the scope on the 20B was too small to show
anything interesting about my favorite station KPAC. Actually, my 20B badly
needs a whole refurb, it makes occasional popping sounds, and the scope display
just has shrunken smaller than it should be, even with the small scope onboard.

This is a relatively accurate sounding tuner, and in that sense unlike the 20B
which I consider more of a musical instrument which somehow enhances
tunefulness. The 2130 is quiet and sensitive, quieting seems to be in same
ballpark as Pioneer F-26, still my reference tuner. The Marantz is easier to
play with, however, if you are exploring the dial, because all the controls,
including variable muting and variable output, IF bandwidth, high blend, mono,
and the quartz lock switch are on the front panel. I've long suggested I wanted
onboard attenuator rather than muting and here it is. I suggest using the
onboard volume control as a temporary attenuator while tuning, then turn it back
to 100% when fully tuned. It should not be used as system volume control
because it does not have perfect tracking between channels and there is
considerable image shift at the bottom end, just like almost all potentiometers.
Also, the quartz lock should be kept defeated as it tends to pull stations
slightly off center, even on my freshly authorized service center aligned unit.

About the sound, it's definitely on the warm side, but sounds open in the highs
as well. I'm wondering if there's small boost in the midbass and upper highs
above 6Khz. But it sounds very pleasant and not overdone and musically
enhancing, if indeed there are any frequency response tricks at all. I
generally think Kenwood tuners have a slightly brightish sound, I often think
this is honest accuracy, but it's not always appealing. Pioneer tuners seem to
get the balance right on, better midrange. The Marantz steps one step more away
from the classic bright Kenwood sound as typlified by KT-7500, but still has an
open sound, not sounding rolled off at all.

I greatly preferred the sound of 2130 to 600T. The 600T sounded coarse, grainy,
and dry compared with the Marantz. I confess my 600T has never been aligned and
possibly needs some alignment, even though the Pulse Count detector may need
less frequent alignment than any other design, and my 2130 was just aligned by
Marantz service center. OTOH, my 600T has been refurbed, and the Marantz
hasn't. But I have also been coming more and more to agree with those like
Anonymous Dave who say that old Kenwood Pulse Count detectors just don't get it
right. IMO, they weren't using a high enough 2nd IF frequency, and for that and
other reasons there is just too much information loss with that kind of system.
Less noise, less need for alignment, but less information too.

Overpriced? I've been shocked by the relatively low recent sale prices of such
all time greats as TU-X1 and L-02T, while it seems that people selling Marantz
tuners, especially 20B and other scope units, have been climbing higher almost
to reach them, and I think that's insane. But I like the sound of 2130 much
better than 600T, I believe they sold for about the same price in 1978, and the
Marantz has a scope. What's a scope worth? Well you can get nice used
professional scopes relatively inexpensively, but it's not easy to keep one of
those integrated with a hifi system. They're generally too big, and they always
find different uses right away. A dedicated scope would be nice. Nowadays
those go for high prices too. I just lost a bid on a Kenwood KC-6060A scope
which sold for $750. Mac MPI3's are listed for about $1000. BTW, I'm thinking
now that a scope could not be replaced by LCD display. It' has to be super fast
reacting, and show microscopic fuzz lines, to be useful.

Even if you have one of those nice hifi scopes, it takes one more equipment
space. I'm running out of equipment space in all my systems. Having the scope
integerated into the tuner, even if it's only a small scope, is nice. That way
it's always there, and it doesn't take more space. It makes for a very
reflexive tuning experience, you can see each station go by as you're spinning
the dial on the "multipath" display. Plus there's the very interesting L/R
display, which can expose some of the tricks being pulled as well as how much
separation you are getting. Plus, it's fun, lots of fun, and I think that's
important too.

I've heard these things can get filter mods and become top DX'ing machines after
that. I'm not really sure how much this tuner is limited by the lack of
narrowness in the "narrow" position, it's already pretty selective. Somehow I
doubt this has the kind of bulletproof or pristine front-end that the tuners
more praised here do, and that may be more of a limitation for ultimate dx'ing.
It *seems* plenty sensitive too, but there are most likely much quieter front
ends. OTOH, I think the air capacitor sets this above most varactor-based
tuners right there in most cases. FWIW, Marantz claims 110dB IMRR vs only 85
for my forthcoming L-1000T, I'm beginning to think that is a key spec for
musicality, keeping RF grundge out of the audio, so maybe this is more of a
sound quality spec even though it typically appears in the RF section specs.

No comments:

Post a Comment