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Help building around a vintage Marantz 2225 receiver

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Quick Synopsis:

I have a vintage Marantz 2225 that I really want to put into a decent sound system and need advice on picking headphones, speakers and DAC to complement it within a ~$500 budget.  My most pertinent question for a headphone forum is: which headphones (preferably open, full-sized, circumaural in the $100 to $200 price range) would play well with a Marantz 2225 receiver?  I'm considering the Sennheiser HD 558 for $130, but I have no idea if the impedance matching is right or whatever else it is I'm supposed to consider.

 

 

Details and Additional Questions:

I purchased a Marantz 2225 (a circa 1976 stereophonic receiver) and serviced it as a hobby (replaced capacitors and fuse lights and re-biased circuits).  I enjoyed the project and the receiver seems to be working great, but I don't have the proper equipment around it yet for quality audio.  I approached this project more as an electrical engineer and random fan of older audio and radio equipment, but now I want my Marantz to actually put out some nice sound!

 

I am not an expert on combining sound system components yet and have several questions on how to pick equipment that would complement the Marantz within a reasonable (~$500) budget. I'd greatly appreciate your advice on any or all of these three topics:

 

1) Headphones. Many headphones require or recommend an amplifier.  I typically see this as a designated headphone amp as opposed to part of an integrated amp or receiver. The Marantz 2225 Receiver has a designated phones jack on the front, so can I safely treat my Marantz 2225 like a headphone amp?  If I were to buy a pair of headphones like the Sennheiser HD 558 ($130), would it play nice with the Marantz 2225?  This thread over at audiokarma (http://mail.audiokarma.net/forums/showthread.php?t=512826) suggests a vintage Marantz will work well as a headphone amp, but I'm still confused on the details of properly matching headphone and amplifier.

 

2) Speakers. I'd like to couple the Marantz 2225 with a pair of shelf speakers for regular use in my room, but I could potentially make space for floor-standing speakers. I've read good things about both the shelf speakers Audioengine P4 ($250) and the floor-standing Pioneer SP-FS52 (also $250 for the pair). I've currently hooked up the receiver to an extra pair of JBL Venue Series Arena speakers (a bulky pair of shelf speakers that sound okay and can certainly go loud, but I'm not a big fan of them overall). Would any of these make for a good match to the Marantz 2225?  I've also tried the Marantz with a pair of floor-standing Sony SS-F6000 speakers, and that sounded much better to my ear than with the JBL Arena speakers, but those Sony speakers are tied up elsewhere in my house.

 

3) Audio Source. I occasionally play vinyl records with my Audio-Technica LP60 turntable or listen to the AM/FM radio on the Marantz receiver, but most of my music is digital (mostly 256 kbps mp3, some lossless) and comes from either my PC or mp3 player. I'm looking into getting an external DAC since my PC sound card is lousy. The DAC will typically stay attached between my PC and Marantz receiver, but I might want it to be versatile enough to work with an mp3 player or directly source a pair of headphones. Would the Fiio E17 USB DAC Headphone Amplifier ($140) combined with the FiiO L7 Line Out Dock ($10) be a good choice for this setup?

 

My listening habits: I listen to a very wide variety of music, most of which is in my 10,000+ mp3 files of mediocre bitrate.  I listen to classic rock and folk music the most in this manner. When I take the time to really listen, however, the music that really gets to me and for which I really care about audio quality are mostly female vocals (e.g., Nina Simone, Patsy Cline, Adele) and classical (e.g., Beethoven symphonies and some cello and piano sonatas).  So if I start upgrading for audio quality, I'd rather keep those in mind as opposed to the rock music.  I'm less finicky about the audio quality for my rock music... for the most part.  I like my music to sound full and warm if that makes any sense, filling the room and seeming to wrap itself around me.  Because of that, I'm also a huge fan of the "wall of sound" production technique as found in a number of Spiritualized and Beatles tracks.

 

Thanks for any help you can offer! I know that's a lot of questions for one post. Any advice you can give on any part would be much appreciated!

post #2 of 11

Vintage Marantz receivers from the mid-70's should be able to drive almost any can--certainly the Senn you mentioned, which is not difficult to drive.  That should remain true despite the fact that the link you provided states that it has only 25 watts/channel RMS.  My late 70's vintage Sansui (~90 watts RMS/channel) can drive my notoriously difficult to drive HE-6--and drive it well--from the headphone jack.

 

How the Marantz and Senn will sound together is something I can't tell you from personal experience.  I suspect that the combination will be at least decent.  Be careful and start a a low volume setting.  Cans from the 70's tended to be in the 300 Ohm +/- range


Edited by KG Jag - 10/19/13 at 2:58am
post #3 of 11
Cambridge Audio S30s are on closeout (new model coming out) and are an excellent speaker in your price range. Or spend a little more for the S70 towers.

The E17 will work well for you as a DAC/amp.
post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the replies. That makes me feel more comfortable about getting some good headphones to try out and ordering that DAC.

I went in a different direction with speakers, though, and am rather glad I did. I started tracking eBay and craigslist for vintage speakers. I found a good craigslist deal on Large Advents. They cost half what the new speakers I was considering would have cost, and they sound really great!

Now that I have good speakers and receiver, I've been comparing my different audio sources. I ordered the DAC on Amazon but don't have it yet. I'd rate my current sources as follows:

1) AT-LP60 Turntable. This plus the Marantz 2225 with the Large Advent speakers could actually qualify as a "mid-fi" setup. Sounds great to me.

2) IPod Classic. Surprisingly decent. It paints the music more than the phonograph does, and it loses some detail (it is mp3), but it's more "different" as opposed to unequivocally worse. For music that lacks detail or for background listening, it's fine and is certainly convenient.

-considerable gap-

3) Samsung Galaxy S2 playing mp3 or streaming. Very mediocre. Flat and dull compared to either of the above options. I might be able to improve it a bit by messing with equalizers or something on the android phone, but I wasn't motivated enough to get into that at the moment.

4) PC playing mp3 or CDs. It's a bargain gateway desktop with a ****ty soundcard. This is where the DAC will come in. I'll have to see if PC playing mp3 or CDs through an external DAC can sound as good as the turntable.
post #5 of 11
The external DAC will not be limited by the quality of your computer's sound card. An external USB DAC completely bypasses that. With a good DAC, your computer sound much better than your Galaxy S2. smily_headphones1.gif
post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 
Heh, well I'd sure hope it could beat the smartphone! I'll have to see though how a relatively lossless digital source (CDs in this case) with a quality DAC providing line level input to an amp stacks up against a turntable providing phonograph-level input.
post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 
Although if it even comes close, I will be perfectly satisfied for this setup. I really don't need to start collecting vinyl LPs right now!

tongue.gif
post #8 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by SloppyBanker View Post

Heh, well I'd sure hope it could beat the smartphone! I'll have to see though how a relatively lossless digital source (CDs in this case) with a quality DAC providing line level input to an amp stacks up against a turntable providing phonograph-level input.

Should sound very good smily_headphones1.gif

If you want even better DAC and can get by without the portability of the E17 and it's headphone amp, get the Schiit Modi. It's generally considered one of the best DACs for the money. I have the ODAC, which is generally considered comparable in class to the Modi, and I thought it was a bit of an upgrade over the E17. Not that the E17 sounds bad, but you could spend less with the Modi and have a touch more in SQ.
post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 
That's good advice. I'll have a tough choice now when the E17 I ordered arrives: open it, or send it back and pick up a dedicated desktop DAC either for less money or higher quality. I may not ever bother carrying around a portable DAC anyway.

I was thinking E17 wouod be a good versatile first choice, and it certainly would be, but... hmmm... decisions.
post #10 of 11
Or get the Modi, and then if you want a portable headphone amp, the FiiO E11. It's considered comparable to the headphone amp in the E17.
post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 

Bah, sorry, I've had a PC failure and need to replace that instead getting a dac and headphone amp.  Thank you for the tips on the Schiit and Fiio products.  I'll keep those things in mind when I get a chance to come back to this.

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