(MILF) Marantzs’ I’d Love to Fondle

May, 2008

Ok. Call it Hi-end burn out if you will. But I guess my foray into audio has taken a different path.
I have been bitten by the vintage bug the last few years and have acquired a decent collection over that time. One of the units that stand out over the pack is the Marantz Model 2325 receiver.

The Marantz 2325 is a 125 watt receiver and one of the company’s contenders during the “watt wars” of the mid 70’s. Retailing at about $800 when it was introduced in 1974, it would sell for about $3500 at present, counting inflation. I have always lusted for this receiver ever since high school but it was just a dream to own one with my mere student’s allowance. So when a friend tipped me that his uncle had one lying around and for sale, I quickly rushed over to see the unit.

I found the 2325 lying on the floor, dusty and ignored amongst the latest modern HT gear at the uncle’s den. The telltale signs (crackling noise as you adjust the volume, etc..) of neglect was present. Apparently, she hasn’t been used for quite some time.
What a waste! I told myself.
I asked if I could audition the unit for a night and promised to bring her back the following day.

This is her story.

A teenage model in 1976, she must be hitting her fifties by now. Yes, she did age; but gracefully if I may say. She may not have the reed-thin body of twenty something girls but still has the right proportions to catch that second look. I did notice some slight “bulges” here and there but hey, I aint no Robert Redford either.  🙂

After about an hour of cleaning the receiver when I got home, I marveled at the cosmetic condition of the 2325. Except for some minute nicks on the sides, the brushed aluminum faceplate seemed flawless. The dial was impeccable. Some scratches on the metal cover of the receiver was evident. But if I get hold of the original wood case in the future, I could bring this unit back to its original glory.

She just wanted to talk,
So I obliged.

This vintage receiver hasn’t been used for a while so I didn’t want to abuse the unit by playing at concert volume levels. I just wanted to check if all functions work and was curious if that legendary “Marantz Sound” could still send goosebumps up my arms.
She didn’t fail me. It was goosebumps galore as I played Ahmad Jamal’s “Wave”. That signature Marantz warmth was still there as I remembered it in High School. Lateral soundstage was unbelievable coming out of the Dynaco A25’s. Jamal’s keyboards were trotting from center to left and back while bass and drum brushes positioned themselves left and right respectively. Busog na busog ang midbass although I would have preferred a little more air on the higher notes of the keyboards. I found depth lacking so I switched to other tracks. Bill Evan’s “You Go To My Head” proved that the 2325 could adequately offer more depth and air. The cymbals were now about 3 feet back and the trumpet solo soared.

A woman her age probably hardly touches any beer. She asked if she could whip up some drinks from the bar and came back with two mean Martinis (shaken, not stirred) . 🙂

As she took the first sip, she inched her dress up a bit and folded her legs up on the couch. Elegant!

Still not wanting to push volume levels up, I decided to put on some lounge (aka elevator music).
Strings on Mantovani’s “Pieces of Dreams” and Billy May’s “Summer Samba” were just heavenly.
I don’t know if it is the supposedly bloated soundstage that Marantz delivers but there is something about listening to these tunes on vintage receivers that somehow match themselves to a T.
Am at a loss for words, so just call it “old school elegance” if you wish.

As she talked, I just looked at her. I could see the start of a few wrinkles on her face. But these somehow seemed to make her more attractive – like comparing natural beauty against the photoshopped cover girls in today’s magazines.
She caught me staring at her and stopped at mid sentence and smiled. I asked her why and she responded by taking off her shoes and asked if I could massage her foot. For a moment, I was taken aback. But then . . .

I obliged.

The 2325 definitely has its flaws. One is the arguably bloated soundstage. Focus may not be as pinpoint because of this. Critics also complain of a midbass hump on this unit. Air around individual instruments is sometimes lacking. It also may not extract the minutest nuance. If you want to count how many foot stomps Belafonte made at the Carnegie Hall or hear the spit as Carol Kidd sings, this is definitely not for you. But if you want to sit back and listen to Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” and unconsciously bob your head as the chorus kicks in or if you want to play air guitar as Santana belts out “Incident At Neschabur”, you might want to read on.
While lacking most of what audiophiles may look for in an amp, the 2325 delivers musicality with flying colors. It’s warmth is midway between tubes and clinical solid state – A Michelle Pfieffer among receivers.

She somehow talked away her burden that past hour or so and asked if we could shift the mood to higher gear.
I placed some records for her to dance to as I sat back and watched her.
She danced as if transported back to her youth. I could sense she was in high spirits.
I was happy seeing her this way because this is the way she ought to be.

Ok, let’s crank up the volume, bring out the axes and put in some good ‘ole classic Rock n Roll because this is where vintage SS gears like the 2325 excels.
Savoy Brown “Tell Mama”, Cold Blood’s “Valdez in the Country”, Stones “Get Off My Cloud” – you get the picture.
The 2325 fed the A25s with ease and more. PRAT was perfect as the 125 watts drove like a 357 Chevy at the Skyway at 3am. The bane of a bloated soundstage that critics complain about is now a boon.
Give me that wall to wall sound when Steve Ray plays that slide. That midbass hump on the 2325 is a blessing when listening to the drum solo(anemic on other systems) on Zep’s “Moby Dick”.
I have never enjoyed listening to “No Time” by the Guess Who as much as I do now that the 2325 is hooked up. The lackluster recordings on Guess Who albums have always been my frustration. The coloration introduced by the receiver now makes it a pleasure to listen to.

So why does it sound good on these early 70’srecordings? Robert (rvc) and I have a theory.
Producers/emgineers of these records probably tuned their ears to stereo equipment such as the 2325 and mix/mastered the sound accordingly. Steve Hoffman confesses listening to his recordings then on
a receiver (forgot the brand/model) similar to the 2325.

She took a breather after about an hour of dancing. As she walked back to where I was sitting, I thanked her for a wonderful night. She took both my hands and looked me in the eyes. I could notice the start of a tear building up in the corner of her eye. I had the sudden urge to shrug away all pretense and give her a hug.

I held back.

She: Thanks too for tonight.
Me: Do you want another massage?
She: I’ll take a raincheck.
Me: No prob.
She: Ok, here’s what. Next time you give me that massage, I’ll have something for you too.
Me: Really? Mind if I ask what that may be?
She: Basta, wait nalang. I’m sure you’ll like it. . . (and with a naughty smile) I’m sure you want it . . .

Wow! I felt an unexpected rush of multiple emotions building up.
I know that we all, at one time or another, have had our fantasies of our own Mrs. Robinsons.
So do I do a Dustin now?
Naaaah! Too presumptious of me.
So when she asked if I could take her back home, reluctantly. . .

I obliged.

We hear music. In fact, as audiophiles, we listen to music. But how often do we really feel the music?

Stormy Monday – Allman Brothers band. Decent recording on the 2325 , but nothing to really write home about.
Suitable imaging with Dicky Betts on right, Greg on keyboards up center and Duane just behind Greg towards the left.
Depth? Two layers, three at most. Veiled? A little. Timbre? Can’t say. Highs and lows?
Could benefit from a little extension.
But was it musical? Did I feel it? Definitely!
Bett’s almost jazz-like rhythm seemed like a musical contradiction against Duane’s raw blues riffs.
At adequate volume levels, one could almost feel Duane’s intentional distorted slide playing on his Sunburst Les Paul as tribute to the title.
This is unlike his clean almost violin-like sound found in “Melissa”, E. Reed”, Layla” etc..
As the song progresses to the jazzy/swing segment, one could also sense, Greg’s buoyancy. Hindi nanggigil sa keyboard, Ang bilis ng bitaw.

It was past 3am by then so I decided to call it a day.

As we walked out towards the door, I thanked her again.

Me: Hey, hope we could do this again some other time.
(Slowly, she turned back to face me)
She: You know what? I think I’d like that massage right now. . .

Do I oblige?

End of part 1

————————————–
Dedicated to Pic Anonuevo.
My mentor, my friend.
He taught me how to listen.
Farewell buddy! Thanks for lending me your ear.

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  1. […] The Marantz Model 2325 is considered by many to be one of the best sounding Marantz receivers. It may not pack the power of the 2500 or 2600 (though it’s 125 watts surely can drive most speakers), but is regarded to be more musical than its higher powered siblings. Review of the Marantz 2325 (MILF) Marantzs’ I’d Love to Fondle […]



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