Top quality copies are on offer from this 2,1200 CD recorder, says Andrew Everard: that's the plan at Marantz, where no fewer than 35 products form a massive revitalization of the company's range. Century is the line-up that dominates Marantz's middle ground and includes the new KISignature models we'll be seeing soon but Marantz's other ranges haven't been neglected. New to the Premium stable, for example, are a massive AV amplifier, a new version of the acclaimed CD-17 CD player and a power amplifier for use with the PM-17 amp in biamplification applications.

And, as you'd expect from a Philips subsidiary, Marantz has also developed a new CD-RW (rewritable) recorder. Aimed unashamedly at the audiophile, it has been extensively fine-tuned during the year since it was first shown in prototype form.

Sharing its style and champagne finish (black is an option) with other `-17' models and indeed the mighty CD-7 flagship CD player used as a source for this test the DR-17 is built around topquality digital components donated by Philips, along with proprietary Marantz technology. The transport is a CDM36 of diecast, not plastic, construction, and the digital to analogue conversion uses Philips' DAC-7 Bitstream devices, employed here in differential mode, along with the CD7 decoder. Close attention has been paid to layout and power supply provision a high quality transformer and discreet power supply circuit is used while the output stage amplification employs the Marantz HDAM system.

miniature components, rather than integrated circuits, they are thoroughly shielded in their own flat rectangular cans. So proud is Marantz of HDAM that not only is its own legend stamped on the gently curved fascia, but in bigger type than any other label.
A novelty here, at least for a Marantz, is HDCD compatibility, both for copying and playback. Pacific Microsonics' High Definition Compatible Digital system has quite a following worldwide, although it is unfamiliar to the majority of ordinary CD buyers in the UK, and the Marantz is the first CD-recorder, 'officially' to be able to copy and play HDCDencoded digital signals. Other DR-17 features are more familiar. There's a sample rate converter to handle inputs from other digital systems such as DAT Marantz DR-17 CD recorder Frequency range 20Hz-20kHz Dynamic range 98dB Signal to noise ratio 105dB Total harmonic distortion 0.003% A/D conversion Bitstream D/A conversion Bitstream (DAC 7) Input sampling rates 32/44.1/48kHz

Inputs Analogue, optical/electrical digital Outputs Analogue, optical/electrical digital Dimensions (mm) 458Wx83Hx324D Weight 8.0kg Price 21200 'and the 48kHz output of DVD machines, although when making copies from CD this is disabled in the interests of sonic purity. Analogue and digital inputs and outputs are provided, in the latter case on both RCA phono electrical and Toslink optical connectors, and there is also provision for use with the Marantz D-Bus remote control system, allowing synchronized recording with suitable CD players from the same stable.

Used with both Philips CD-RW and Traxdata Silver Audio 80minute CD-R discs, the DR-17 was tested in a system using the Marantz CD-7 as a source transport and sonic reference, with Musical Fidelity X-P100/X-AS100 amplification, Monitor Audio Studio 20SE speakers and a REL Stygian subwoofer. This controlled yet powerful system, offering prodigious bass capability and close attention to detail, provided a stern test for the copies made by the Marantz, and I'm pleased to report that it passed with flying colours.

Or, rather, a lack of colour, because the Marantz accurately duplicates information on the source disc, introducing no obvious alteration. Played on the CD-7, the DR-17's copies are indistinguishable from the originals, retaining all the bass power and presence of the Philip Glass Ensemble's 1998 recording of Koydanisqatsi (Nonesuch, 12/98), complete with the rich, dark tones of bass soloist Albert de Ruiter, and the fast, crisp instrumental detail. Most striking is that the DR-17 playing either its own recordings or pressed discs will stand comparison with the best playback-only CD players at the price, and has a gloriously open, airy, yet substantial, balance.

the Marantz sound is deliciously controlled, betraying no evidence of fudged attack or overhang, and delivering good weight in the bottom octaves of the instrument. As one might expect, the sheer power and space offered by the same disc when played on the 3500 CD-7 is missing, but the DR-17 comes close. In fact, copy the disc from CD-7 to DR-17, and an A/B comparison shows just how close. The 1996 HDCD recording of Stravinksy's Rite of Spring (Eiji Oue/NIinnesota Orchestra on Reference Recordings RRCD70) really comes to life when copied onto the DR-17, while merely sounding rather good on the CD-7, which of course lacks an HDCD decoder.

Of course, to an extent, the quality of recordings made on the Marantz will be determined by the digital feed from the CD transport or player. Given the need for a source transport from which to copy (at least until a manufacturer develops either a high-quality twin-tray player or some kind of hard-disc storage built in for disc-to-disc copying), this player may well be considered only for systems that already have a high-quality digital source. That, of course, will limit the appeal of the Marantz, but certainly not admiration for the technical achievement. Inside this superbly finished package is an extremely fine digital recorder, as well as an exceptional playback machine.