Turntable Reviews

Marantz TT-15S1 Turntable

ARTICLE INDEX

Setup

The setup also helps describe some of the features of the Marantz TT-15S1 turntable – and although there is some assembly required the manual is straightforward.

Although you begin by leveling the chassis, I did find I needed to pick up the body frequently, so a final level should be checked at the end.

The solid high density acrylic turntable platter is quite thick at 25 mm (1") and is supported on a floating bearing center shaft which is grounded.

The two-point radial tone arm (also grounded) comes pre-assembled with cartridge. It's designed with a 17 mm overhang and stylus pressure weight adjustments in 0.1g increments. Setting for height (based on whether you use the felt turntable sheet) and direction is by looking to see that it is parallel using the edge of the platter to set the cantilever (which is designed simply and straight). Once the height and direction are set, an allen wrench is used to fix the assembly into position.

Although the cartridge came installed, I loosened it to set it again for proper alignment – a protractor gauge comes in handy. If you don't have one, there are many free downloadable ones that work fine.

An anti-skating screw and counter-weight give the tonearm the right amount of stylus pressure for the cartridge used. There is no adjustment for azimuth on this setup. (Again, check out our Vinyl vs. CD article for a description of these settings.)

Clearaudio Virtuoso

One of the impressive feats achieved in the Marantz turntable is the cartridge from Clearaudio, and because this cartridge has an $800 MSRP alone, the overall price of the TT becomes really quite reasonable.

The 6 gm wood MM Virtuoso specs out with a 20 Hz-20 kHz frequency response and has an approximate voltage output of 3.6 mV. The stylus pressure is specified at 2.2 gm.

I put a solid amount of break-in time for the Virtuoso – as much as 100 hours is reasonable.

The Sound

Most of my time with the Marantz TT-15S1 turntable was in conjunction with a McIntosh MA6300 integrated amplifier at the helm. KEF Reference 205/2 speakers worked nicely with the combination. I also used my Onix SP3 tube-amp with a Music Fidelity XLPSv8 phono preamp. Cables (except those attached to the tonearm) were either Wireworld or Goertz and all plugged into a Torus Power conditioner.

As part of the break-in and to loosely measure the output, I ran the Ultimate Analogue Test LP and was satisfied with the setup.

Immediately what strikes me is how quiet the turntable is with the combined combination of the Virtuoso cartridge. Hardly at the sacrifice of detail I might add. Bass was ample and naturally full, while midrange clear and articulate. Treble was on the slight side of warm which would be my personal preference anyway.

I'm a big Pink Floyd fan and an excuse to buy a new LP brought me to David Gilmour's new On an Island. Although I was disappointed overall with the music (a bit too mellow), I nonetheless enjoyed the typically Gilmour distant long guitar rifts. David's electric guitar was surprisingly warm to the accompanying acoustic guitar. The TT-15S1 rendered an edge to both, while amply filling in the bass guitar. Vocals a bit back but nicely placed, floating and dreamy. Background vocals actually improved the dynamic and dimension.

Joe Jackson's 1982 Night and Day LP convinced me how the Marantz shines. The orchestra bells simply rang with sweet timbre while the bongo's had snap and depth, most obvious in "Breaking Us in Two". Instruments were so nicely placed across the soundstage it hardly felt studio-like.

Although I enjoyed the entire album, the lead track coming off the record was "Steppin' Out". The pace and timing from the album was rich and detailed, and the highs truly aggressive. The TT delivered so much sparkle from this track it became the most demoed when someone came over to hear the Marantz for the first time. The bouncy "Cancer" is full of Joe Jackson's wonderful piano playing and it sounds natural and rangy.

Finding a copy of AC/DC's Back in Black brought my 17 year old son down for a listen. His CD version never sounded like this! Rock at its most basic - thumping drums, simple guitar licks, and that unmistakable voice. For us music lovers, this was fun. The TT-15S1 didn't complain once, but rather reproduced the full effect.

Changing the pace a bit (rather a lot), I pulled out a copy of some wonderful Renaissance vocals from the Parisian based Ensemble Clement Janequin, with the Fricassée Parisienne LP. Although I've never heard them live, this record exemplifies the group's devotion to secular music. The Marantz turntable and Virtuoso cartridge managed to space the voices from side to side, up and down, and from front to back in an eerily lifelike way. Voices were soft and strong, deep and sweet but always magically cohesive.