A trip down memory lane: Marantz Model 2230B

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Marantz models from the 2xxx and 4xxx series are among the best receivers from the 1970s, they owe it to both build quality and great sound. They have numerous fans around the world. This fame is well-deserved – these devices are audio masterpieces, which often still work well after some 45 years thanks to good quality components and equally good design, and sound-wise they can compete with modern gear that costs thousands. No wonder they are not cheap – prices range from $150 to $1500 depending on the condition, and TOTL models can be even more expensive.

I found my first classic Marantz Model 2230B by chance over 10 years ago. I spotted it in a record store, standing in a corner with a Marantz 5020 tape deck from the same line – as a decoration, and not a very visible one at that. Back then I had no clue about its value, its looks simply caught my eye. After returning home (it was before the era of internet in everyone’s pocket) I checked online and I decided that this receiver should not keep standing there collecting dust. It took me about a week, but I managed to persuade the store owner to sell it to me. We couldn’t even check if it worked, because it was an American 110V version. In any case, I bought that Marantz, got a voltage converter, connected it and turned it on. It lit up and made sound. And it sounded so well that in the next minute I became a huge 70s Marantz fan.

I kept the 2230B for 2-3 years. During that time it consistently outclassed many older and newer amplifiers (and that included not only classic Pioneers and Sansuis, but also newer amp made by the likes of NAD, Rotel, Arcam, Musical Fidelity). I remember the A/B test of the 2230B and a Musical Fidelity Electra amplifier. The sound from the MF was flat, muffled and simply boring. After switching to the Marantz the music came alive, deepened, the stage expanded, details appeared… The difference was not always that huge, but the Marantz always came on top. I would describe the sound as a balance between resolution and musicality. All ranges were clear, with lots of details, but not clinical or aggressive. On the contrary, the receiver had a very pleasant, warm sound. Listening to music with it was a real pleasure. And it had no problem driving large 4 ohm tower speakers.

Unfortunately, after a move I had to put the receiver quite close to my chair and over time the voltage converter hum became unbearable. Unfortunately I could not get rid of it. More or less at the same time, I discovered that quad receivers from the 1970s are much better for listening to multi-channel discs than modern HTRs. So I said goodbye to 2230B and replaced it with a quad Marantz Model 4240 (which I still own).

Why this trip down memory lane? Marantz 2230B came up again thanks to our reader. Mr. Grzegorz asked me for receiver advice. He was planning to buy a Sansui 7070, which he eventually not buy after it turned out that the price did not reflect it’s questionable technical condition. But our articles drew the reader’s attention to classic Marantz. After a month or so Mr. Grzegorz contacted me again, this time with questions about Marantz 2230B, which I promptly recommended. Mr. Grzegorz bought the Marantz, and after some listening with his new toy he shared his impressions with us in an email that we publish in full (with his consent):

“Hello!

I would like to share my impressions about my purchase with you.

Although I focused on Sansui receivers in my search for stereo gear, after reading Audioroom blogs and your advice I could not resist the offer I found on German eBay. I bought a Marantz 2230B receiver. I paid a little over 200 euros. I picked it up in person, but I’m not taking that into account because the trip was combined with planned family vacation.

Now on to my impressions. The appearance of the receiver does not cause any concern. The front panel, sides, top do not evoke buyer’s remorse and thoughts like “What have I done”! It can be said that that is in a good shape for a 45-year-old. The rear has a bit more wear, namely there are traces of corrosion on screws and antenna connectors.

The receiver works fully. The dial light, the stereo lamp, the backlight of the tuning and signal strength meters also made an impression on my wife, who does not share my passion for home music listening. Operation is simple and intuitive. I had some problems with connecting the speaker cables, resulting from the thickness of the wires I had, and connecting external sources – single color sockets, marked only R and L – and I’m used to the colors … A moment of hesitation, probably due to the excitement of having new equipment, which color was the R channel, and which was L?

Listening experience? In short: top notch! Although I do not have hi end speakers (or equipment), for me everything sounded like hi end. A turntable, a radio tuner and a multi-format player allowed me to enjoy music. Often while listening to a well known album I would discover new elements, which my ear somehow did not pick up earlier. In contrast, poor recordings still sounded bad. During the listening sessions there was no disturbing humming or noises.

I’ve had it for three weeks now and everything works (knock on wood).

I also took a peak inside and, to my surprise, there were no piles of dust on the boards. It is possible that the receiver was cleaned before sale. Knowing the condition of antenna connectors, I expected to find corrosion centers in the same area inside. And I was not wrong. The tuner board and the nearby area of the chassis look affected – they were clearly exposed to some liquid … The rust on the edges of the transformer cover – probably also got wet. What caught my attention is the wax on printed circuit boards, especially around capacitors. I am not an electronics technician and I do not know about AV repairs, but I think it is a factory protection of these parts. Perhaps this is why the liquid did not cause damage. Some mounting screws are painted blue – a seal. All parts appear to be original. In conclusion, no buyer’s remorse!

Here’s the list of “shortcomings” that I noticed and that in my opinion do not affect the listening experience:

1. Left front foot is narrower and shorter – level difference corrected with felt pad.
2. Corrosion centers on the rear wall of the housing and chassis.
3. The ON switch gets blocked sometimes – weak spring?
4. Sometimes, with volume potentiometer in minimum position, I can hear the music in the speakers (very quiet and intermittent), it gradually disappears with the movements of the potentiometer knob.
5. At high volume (so-called max), although the right or left channel is disconnected and the balance slider moved to the other extreme, there is still very quiet music in this “inactive” speaker – is this because of the design?
6. Initially, there was also a smell when the receiver warmed up… I would compare it to the smell of an “old wardrobe”.

That’s about it The only question is: should I change anything? Attached are a few photos.

Kind regards! Grzegorz Cieśla.”

As for the shortcomings described by Mr. Grzegorz, fortunately these are mainly cosmetic defects in invisible places (corrosion and shorter leg) and very minor technical defects. A few comments from us:

1. Foot. Unfortunately, second-hand equipment, especially one that’s a few decades old, is incomplete sometimes. One non-original leg is probably the smallest possible defect of this type. It does not interfere with use and it is almost invisible – almost. I would consider moving it to the back and putting an original leg in the front, this way, this replacement will be completely invisible.

2. Corrosion. This, unfortunately, also happens in older equipment, sometimes due to storage in poor conditions, sometimes due to accidental spill, which the owner did not even notice. Interestingly, my 2230B also had some corrosion in the same general area, a bit lower and closer to the corner. If the traces of corrosion are small, not very visible, and not in places where their cause could damage electronics, there is nothing to worry about. That seems to be the case here. But I would clean the input sockets close to the corroded fragments, especially the tape in/out jacks. The contacts can be dirty.

3. The ON switch – this is probably the biggest problem. If it is not too annoying (the switch does not get stuck often), I would leave it alone. It is even possible that it will improve with use (if the cause is dirt). Alternatively, you can try to clean or replace this switch. It is possible to find original parts for Marantz receivers from the 70s, but unfortunately they are usually not cheap, so I would consider this option a last resort. You can also simply leave the switch in the “ON” position and turn the receiver on and off with a power strip, it will not damage anything.

4. Some crosstalk at minimum volume pot setting is a frequent symptom in the case of old potentiometers, it is due to wear or dirt. Such crosstalk might (but does not have to) disappear after cleaning, or even without cleaning with regular use. As long as it does not interfere with normal use, I would not worry about it. You can try to clean the potentiometer with a potentiometer cleaning agent.

5. Crosstalk between channels at high volume is normal in these Marantz receivers (and many other models from the 1970s). Most often it is due to the design and used components. As long as crosstalk is not bothersome, there is nothing to worry about. If it becomes bothersome, it could indicate a malfunction.

6. The “old wardrobe” smell after warming up also happens quite often. It usually disappears after a few days or weeks of regular use, when all moisture evaporates. In extreme cases the receiver requires a thorough cleaning, but we understand that in this particular case the smell has already disappeared.

In short, if the faults mentioned by Mr. Grzegorz are not annoying, our recommendations are limited to cleaning the sockets and the volume potentiometer, and moving the non-original foot to the back. We recommond setting voltage selector (rear panel) to 240V. An additional thing that is always worth doing after purchasing a used amplifier or receiver is to check the DC offset and quiescent current and, if necessary, adjust to specs. But this is for people who have some experience and at least a multimeter. And of course, it should be done with great caution – it is quite easy to cause a short during measurements and fry the outputs.

And a few words about the differences between the region versions. The American 2230B differs from the European 2230B, and it’s not just the power supply that’s different. The American version has a Dolby FM circuit in a place that is empty in the European version. There is also a corresponding switch on the front panel. But there is no low filter, which the European version does have.

Marantz Model 2230B is a very good receiver and we highly recommend it. It sounds just as good as it looks! Unfortunately, like any 70s Marantz, it is not cheap.

We would like to congratulate Mr. Grzegorz on the purchase and thank for sharing his impressions and photos (gallery below), and allowing us to publish them.

Technical information (European version):

Continuous power (declared by the manufacturer) – 2x30W at 8 ohms
Speaker impedance – 4-8 ohms
Total harmonic distortion (THD) – 0.3%
Intermodulation distortion (IM) – 0.5%
Frequency response – 20 Hz – 20 kHz, +/- 1.0 dB
Damping factor – 45
Input sensitivity: line 180 mV/80k, phono 1.8 mV/47k (overload 100 mV)
Inputs/outputs: Tape 1 (I/O), Tape 2 (I/O), Aux, Phono (MM), 2 pairs of speakers, headphones
Power consumption: max. 160W, idle 30W
Dimensions: 440 x 137 x 356 mm
Weight: 12,2 kg

Our reader’s new Marantz 2230B (EU version)

 

Archival photos of my Marantz 2230B  (US version)

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