PRICE --------- 15500/-
PRICE -------------- 15500/-

A lengthy and worldwide recession has few benefits for anyone. But if you manage to survive with your pay packet intact, there is at least one good point: the way in which it sharpens up the appetite for competition. In a buyer's market you can't hope to succeed unless you can offer a product that performs superbly at a keen price.

So maybe it shouldn't come as too much of a surprise to find ourselves going through something of a mini 'golden age' so far as excellent budget-priced amplifiers are concerned.

And nowhere is the battle more keenly waged than at the critical £200 point. Because of the weakness of sterling during the early part of this year and devaluation after Black Wednesday, many importers have had to raise prices by 10-15 per cent: a good amp for around £200 is really quite a bargain.

A few months ago I wrote enthusiastically about the excellent Technics SU-A600 which offers superb performance and value for just under £200. Now, at the same price, Marantz has unveiled its new PM-44SE, a stripped-down audiophile design tweaked for the UK market.

I Marantz has already won an enviable reputation for the performance and value of its budget components, with the Special Edition lines being particularly well thought of. Its I concern with quality has paid off - recession or no, Marantz has enjoyed increasing sales lliese past few years while others have seen theirs shrink. All the same, the high standards set by recent amplifiers from JVC

A hefty mains transformer feeds a Linear Drive Power Supply and Technics present formidable competition; it was far from being a foregone conclusion that Marantz would be able to trump or even match these superb designs.

No need to worry. The PM-44SE turned out to be a little gem. I always like it when a product arrives, is hooked up, and without further ado delivers superb sound. In a nutshell that's what happened with the PM-44SE; from the start it was easy to accept, easy to listen to.

There's something intrinsically right about the sound of this amplifier. It's clean, forward, lively, and pleasantly assertive. With both vinyl and CD it sounded detailed and engaging, with excellent dynamics and presence. Stereo imagery was superb. Above all, the PM-44SE's greatest virtue was its transparency and naturalness.

Tonally, the PM-44SE has a bright open sort of balance; it is both sharp and articulate rather than rich or warm. Dynamics are excellent, and the music always has plenty of life and forward momentum. Because of this, you're immediately involved in whatever is being played - the music projects out to you confidently rather than sounding recessed.


Output power: 2x30W (8 Ohms 20-20kHz)
2x50W (4 Ohms 1kHz)
THD: 0.08% 1kHz/-3dB at rated output
Frequency response: 10Hz-80kHz
(+0dB, -3dB @ 1W)
Line inputs: 150mV/47kOhms
S.N Ratio (A weighted): 98dB (direct)
Tone controls: Bass (100Hz) ± 8dB
Treble (10kHz) ± 8dB
Power requirement: 230V AC 50Hz
Power consumption: 120W
Dimensions: 434 x 115 x 286mm
Weight: 5.5kg
Back in 1986, DENON started the "UK Design" amplifier trend with the PMA-707 which was tuned for the fiercely competitive UK market. Since then the very successful PMA-250 series has been designed in the UK and built in Europe by DENON Germany, all in close co-operation with DENON Japan.

The PMA-250SE internals are bigger, beefier and all new. Rated at a conservative 30 watts the sound is more subtle, better focused and the PMA-255UK kicks hard, sounding like a much bigger amp. The new design also delivers superior bass power & drive with better load handling.

Inputs: CD, tuner, tape, aux1, aux2. Optional RIAA (phono) pre-amp.
Controls: volume, treble, bass, balance.
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