We had a sneak peak at the M-CR502 back in July, and were quite taken with its lean, driving approach and sonic clarity – not to mention rather attractive styling. But at £500, it lacked a little in the soul department to truly bowl us over.

It's always about 'performance-per-pound' here at Stuff, though, and when we heard Marantz had dropped its asking price by £100 we thought it only fair to put the M-CR502 through its paces properly.

Optional speakers

First impressions are very good: the curved chassis and symmetrical layout is very stylish indeed, while the display is large and clear. Only the old-fashioned, clunky remote control disappoints.

You can buy the system on its own, or use the £100 you've saved to splash out on the Marantz LS502 speakers – designed specifically to partner the M-CR502.

The LS502s are decent small speakers with plenty of drive, attack and excitement, and the gloss-finish matches the top of the main unit. We also tested the unit with Tannoy's £110 Mercury F1 Customs.

If it were our money, we'd pay an extra £10 for the Tannoys. They retain the Marantz's precision intact while smoothing sibilance.

Returning to features, the ’502 offers support for WMA and MP3 files via USB or CD-R (limited to 192kbps and 320kbps), and two pairs of speaker outputs that enable you to play music in two zones – or to bi-amp the system.

It’s got rhythm

In the sound department, the ’502 has a quite stunning precision and rhythm. Every note is placed with pin-point accuracy; every track is attacked with rhythmic force – and this razor-sharp, detailed delivery is present and correct on DAB and FM broadcasts via its tuner, too.

At £400, we have no reservations about slapping a ‘hot buy’ sticker onto the M-CR502. The new price takes it an important step closer to the £300 Denon D-M37DAB, and away from the superior but more expensive Arcam Solo Mini.

At this lower price, we can also afford to ignore the sheen of insight and warmth that the £650 Arcam has in spades but is missing here. Instead, we can happily focus on how much more clean, punchy and precise the Marantz is than its cheaper Denon rival.


Stuff says... 

Marantz M-CR502 review

Clean, punchy and precise, the cheaper price tag transforms the Marantz M-CR502 into a killer micro system

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