Marantz is well known for its collectable CD player classics such as the CD94, CD7 and the CD12.
What they all have in common is that they look great, sound even better and are utterly reliable.
Retail price approx 1000 euro (no longer available)
Marantz, like Philips used CDM1 through CDM4 in their best players. Many of the 80’s units are still playing and I can testify myself to them being virtually indestructable. I have had and still have various old CDM-1 based players and with the exception of one CD84 that had a fault in the servo board, they all still play perfectly.
The CD94 is a brilliant transport, rivalling even the belt-driven CEC TL1-x.
Above: CD94 MKII
Retail price approx 4000 euro in 1992
The CD11LE is the successor of the CD12LE. The latter was made famous in no small part because a well known audio reviewer declared it his reference for analog-like digital playback. The CD11 had the difficult task of living up to this legacy, and in spite of careful marketing it failed. It being a bitstream player rather than multibit sure had something to do with this. Marantz did not sit around passively though and had Ken Ishiwata tweak the player in an effort to make it sound better. This tactic succeeded and the CD11 was moderately successful after all. The CD11LE is an even more tweaked version but I do not know what the differences consist of. In any event my CD11LE sounds mighty fine, even if it doesn’t have the CD94’s all out bass drive and overall slam.
Output transformers and TDA1547 bitstream DAC.
Utterly reliable CDM-4 CD mechanism
Retail price approx 4000 euro in 1988
The CD12 consists of the CD12 CD transport and the DA12 DAC. They comprise what you could say is a maximum version of the CD94, and the combo does sound similar indeed. However, the dearer combo has an even richer sound, more voluptuous bass, even more fluid treble and a more organic flow. I wish i2s connections were common back then, because the combo surely would have sounded even better then. My sample likely had gone off spec slightly because all CD’s sounded a little slow and rounded off. This is a partly why I was so impressed with the CD11LE, as it retained many of the CD12’s plus points while sounding more speedy and bringing new levels of transparency.
CD12 combo on top of the CD80. The latter IMHO was not as special as most other Marantz players.
CD12 transport inside with the copper shielding plates on.
With the copper plates removed
CDM-1: the world’s most reliable CD mechanism.
I can’t help it: there is just something about these classic players, be it their slick and fast operation or their fluid sound: there is something very right about them.
More CD Mechanism Masterpieces
The almost Complete CDM range of CD Mechanisms
Inside Pics of classic Philips and Marantz CD players
Classic Philips and Marantz CD players compared
Marantz DAC and Transport List
Philips DAC and Transport List
Wadia Digital Company Special