We simply couldn’t ignore this amp. Firstly, because Marantz Model 1060 is probably the most well-known, respected and popular vintage amp of all time, secondly because as a fan of Marantz products of the 70s (and beyond) I can’t leave it out. Especially that I have it in my “stable”. I wondered for quite a while how to approach the amplifier, about which almost everything has already been written. But recently we had an unusual opportunity to compare my 1060 with its bigger brother – much less well-known Marantz Model 1120.
Both amplifiers come from more or less the same period: Marantz Model 1060 was manufactured in the years 1971 – 1976 (until 1977 according to some sources), my unit came from the production line in March 1975. Model 1120 was manufactured in the years 1973-75 (according to some sources from 1972), the unit we received was made in July 1975. Model 1120 (60W per channel) has double the power of 1060 (30 W per channel), but the differences do not end there. The second very important difference is power amp design: 1060 is a capacitor-coupled amp. This solution was widely used in early transistor amplifiers, but by mid-70s it was essentially abandoned. The 1120 uses a newer solution, direct coupling. Theoretically, the latter solution results in higher linearity, better bass extension and less distortion in low frequencies. There are also a few minor functional differences between the two amplifiers: tone controls (1060 has potentiometers for bass, mid and treble common for both channels, in 1120 there are only bass and treble controls, but there are separate pots for each channel), inputs (they have the same number of inputs, but 1060 has one set of line inputs on the front panel), -20 dB muting, which 1120 has and 1060 does not. Visually, both amplifiers are very nice, with good symmetry and sensibly placed switches and controls. Both have the Pre Out/Main In jacks. Model 1060 is the little brother not only in terms of power, but also dimensions. There is one more big difference: Marantz Model 1060 was manufactured in Japan, the Model 1120 in the U.S.A.
We connected the two amplifiers to our Quadral Tribun MK IV speakers, turned on the music and listened. Fiio X5 II DAP served as a source, we listened to the following albums: Lera Lynn Resistor and Masters of Reality Deep in the Hole. Finally we also played “You Can’t Bring Me Down” from the Suicidal Tendencies’ album Lights … Camera … Revolution!.
30 watts is not much, but enough for home use – particularly rooms below 25 sq m. It is therefore not a “weak” amplifier, even when paired with quite demanding speakers.
Let’s start with the looks – here Marantz 1060 does really well, it is not as large as 1120, but really neat. Especially considering the symmetrically placed knobs (and here in 1060 has something to boast) and sleek, clean design. Everything is clear, sensibly laid out. The amplifier will definitely decorate the interior.
Sound – a really big advantage of Marantz 1060 is that it is typically “meaty” for this brand and this period while maintaining sound clarity. It’s really clear across the frequency range, with the typical flavor to the mids and lows, but not at the expense of clear highs, and it is often a shortcoming of amplifiers from this period. Vocals are clear, although (some might find this a flaw) somewhat softened, less clear compared to the Model 1120. But upon longer listen it becomes clear that the vocals are not lacking.
The lower frequencies are really nice, although 1060 is cap-coupled, which in the case of 40- years old capacitors can result in certain restriction on the lowest notes, this problem can be solved with new, bigger capacitors and the lower frequency limit of the amplifier moved even lower. The capacitor at the output of the amplifier is sometimes referred to as a necessary evil. In the case of Marantz Model 1060 it is not a big issue.
Highs – not outstanding, but certainly good, and taking into account the period in which the amplifier was manufactured and performance of competitive models, I have no complaints.
Compared with other amplifiers, some listeners may be missing some precision, but for me this is sometimes an advantage, especially when you listen long and loud to diverse music. For example with thrash metal or violins a sharp sounding amplifier can be tiring.
Flaws? After listening I noticed only two.
Firstly, precision – it is there, but not razor-sharp. Marantz makes up with pleasant atmosphere which it creates in the room with both sound and its very presence.
Secondly, availability. This is not an amplifier you can just up and buy. You have to hunt for it, and there is no guarantee of success. They do not appear often on auctions, and when they do, the price for is usually quite high for an amp of this class. What does Marantz 1060 have to offer to justify the price? Many options that are not available in cheaper alternatives and the fact that it is a collector’s item.
All my impressions result from direct comparison with Model 1120. Perhaps comparing it with a completely different amp (for example German or British) would result in a different experience. In this shootout, the far less powerful amplifier (1120 is a 60 W per channel amp) clearly won in terms of clarity in the upper registers, dynamic midrange. The only aspect in which it was weaker than the 1120 were the lowest notes; here the pore powerful, DC-coupled Marantz 1120 paired with Quadral won, not with higher clarity, but with capability to present this lowest sounds more audibly than the 1060.
The difference between a 30 W per channel amplifier and a twice as powerful unit is smaller than you might think. In practice, at home we rarely use power above 10W per channel. Marantz 1060 is entirely sufficient for listening at home, especially for popular music that has quite low (and sometimes pitifully low) dynamic range. More power can be useful when listening loud to a material with very high dynamics (especially classical music), where there are considerable differences in sound intensity and very high peaks. In this scenario, an amplifier with more power will distort less during the loudest passages.
As I mentioned earlier, both amplifiers are well designed visually and functionally. I find the tone control solution in Model 1060 more appealing – since we already have controls, additional pot for midrange is in my opinion more practical than separate tone controls for each channel, sans midrange. Line input on the front panel is very convenient, if you frequently connect and disconnect various sound sources like I do (although I would prefer it to be duplicated on the rear plate). In 1120 has the advantage of a Muting switch; in addition, while both models have spring clips for speaker wires, the higher model has much more comfortable and durable version.
Let’s get to the sound. Lera Lynn sounded good with both amplifiers, but none of them handled this album perfectly. Both amplifiers presented a wide and fairly deep stage. Marantz 1120 gave us beautifully extended very low bass, while Marantz 1060 had less lowest bass, but the rest of the low frequencies were presented in greater abundance. This sound “generosity” accompanied Model 1060 also in mids. Vocal was full and beautifully smooth, which on the one hand created an impression of a little lower clarity, but on the other vocal sounded more natural and much nicer than in the case of 1120. Marantz 1060 is renowned for its beautiful, velvety smooth mids and is a well-deserved fame. In comparison, Lera Lynn’s voice presented by Model 1120 seemed a bit weaker, thinner. It also did seem a bit clearer in the sense that the individual sounds were more clearly outlined, but for me, that sound would be an advantage only if I tried to catch the lyrics of a song I didn’t know. If you treat the voice as a musical instrument, Maranz 1060 presented that instrument in a more enjoyable way than 1120. Both amps handled highs from this album well, neither had a clear advantage. Then again, highs are not very demanding on this album.
That changed after playing the song ‘Counting Horses’ by Masters of Reality. In this piece there is a lot going on in HF, we have cymbals played in several ways, triangle, and acoustic guitar on top of that. Marantz Model 1120 created a quite pleasant mist (for lack of a better term), but lacked clarity and separation of individual sounds. The sound of triangle was audible, but hidden in the mist and its sound was quite short. But in the case of Model 1060 individual sounds were clear and well separated without losing a very pleasant sound. The sound of triangle was much more clearly audible and lasted longer. As for the mids, also in the case of this album 1060 Marantz sounded a little better, fuller, and this applied to both vocals and guitars, which had a greater weight. This time the 1060 also had the advantage in the bass, because this album lacked the extremely low sounds that Marantz 1120 so nicely brought out on the Lyra Lynn’s record. Model 1060 presented bass more generously and more pleasantly.
At the end we listened to Suicidal Tendencies to see how the amplifiers would handle heavier material. Here, the clearer, but thinner mids worked to the disadvantage of Marantz 1120 in my opinion. I had the impression of chaos creeping in; the fuller, smoother Marantz 1060 gave more vocals and guitars power, but it also tamed them and kept them in order. 1120 again lacked generous bass, which Marantz 1060 happily offered.
In summary, in Marantz 1120 has a slightly lower bass extension, but the 1060 is more generous with bass. The mids are a little clearer in the 1120, but they are thinner and a bit chaotic when listening to heavier music; the 1060 has fuller, stronger and beautifully smooth mids. When it comes to highs, the 1120 it creates a very pleasant but vague mist, and the presentation of Marantz 1060 is equally pleasant, but much clearer and more dynamic. If I were to choose one of these amps, it would be 1060 (luckily I already own one). But I can highly recommend, they are very pleasant-sounding amplifiers and the above described differences between them are audible, but not dramatic. It is worth noting that neither amplifier in the above comparison was fully restored – they were only cleaned and adjusted.
Marantz Model 1060 is a great amp, its fame is fully deserved. It sounds good and smooth at the same time, its only weakness it that it is a bit lowest bass-shy, but this can be remedied by replacing the main filter capacitor and the coupling capacitors with new, bigger caps. It has the looks, the sound and the functionality. While it is admittedly not cheap, it does not lose its value, it has actually gained value in recent years.
Marantz Model 1060 – technical data:
RMS power (declared by the manufacturer) – 2×30 W into 4 and 8 ohms, 2×20 W into 16 ohms
Continuous power (measurements made by users) – 2×37 W into 8 ohms
Music Power (declared by the manufacturer) – 2×45 W into 8 ohms
Harmonic distortion THD – less than 0.5%
Intermodulation distortion IM – below 0.5%
Frequency response – 15 Hz – 50 kHz (20 Hz – 20 kHz with a deviation of +/- 0.5 dB)
Damping factor – better than 45 at 8 ohms
Input sensitivity: line inputs 180 mV/100k, phono 1.8 mV/47k
Inputs/outputs: Tape (I/O), Aux 1, Aux 2, Tuner, Phono (MM cartridge), 2 pairs of speakers, headphone jack, microphone jack, Pre Out/Main In
Power consumption at full power approx. 190W, with no signal approx. 48 W
Dimensions: 360 x 120 x 280 mm
Weight: 8.2 kg
Information page (specs differ slightly from those in the service manual):
Marantz Model 1120 – technical data:
RMS power (declared by the manufacturer) – 2×60 W into 8 ohms, 2×70 W into 4 ohms, 2×30 W into 16 ohms
Music Power (declared by the manufacturer) – 2×90 W into 8 ohms, 2×105 W into 4 ohms 2×45 W into 16 ohms
Harmonic distortion THD – less than 0.2%
Intermodulation distortion IM – less than 0.2%
Frequency response – 10 Hz – 40 kHz (20 Hz – 20 kHz with a deviation of +/- 0.2 dB)
Damping factor – better than 30 at 8 ohms
Input sensitivity: line inputs 110 mV/25k, phono 1.1 mV/47k
Inputs/outputs: Tape 1 (I/O), Tape 2 (I/O), Aux, Tuner, Phono (MM cartridge), 2 pairs of speakers, headphone jack, microphone jacks, dubbing jacks, Pre Out/Main In
Power consumption at full power approx. 200 W
Dimensions: 390 x 145 x 356 mm
Weight: 12.2 kg
Information page (specs differ slightly from those in the service manual):
Marantz Model 1060 – gallery: