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Review: Marantz Model 50 Amplifier and CD 50n Network CD Player

While they can certainly be used separately, the Model 50 amplifier and CD 50n network streaming CD player together form the foundation for a terrific 2-channel system.

Kudos: Terrific look, build, and sound quality; units make a terrific duo; CD50n offers tons of options

Concerns: No remote backlight

Remember when “executive audio systems” were a thing? You used to see these in catalogs from the likes of The Sharper Image or Hammacher Schlemmer. They were all-in-one systems designed to sit on a desk (I guess?), providing the hip executive with a compact system to enjoy music while crushing million-dollar deals and Don Draper-ing that after-lunch cocktail.

But from what I can remember, these systems really weren’t that great; they usually had pretty limited power, didn’t offer much room for expansion, and came with speakers that pigeon-holed you into a solution. More geared towards a junior executive at best.

While these new Marantz components are not billed as an executive audio system, to me it felt like they were the total evolution of what a modern executive would have in their office or home listening room. And for today’s audiophile — executive or not — you need a system that offers performance and flexibility. Want to stream? Want to listen to a TV? Want to play a CD? Want to spin some vinyl? Have a favorite speaker you prefer to use? These Marantz Cinema components check all the boxes.

Marantz Model 50 Amplifier and CD 50n Network CD Player

While they can certainly be used separately, the Model 50 amplifier and CD 50n network streaming CD player together form the foundation for a terrific 2-channel system, with the flexibility to drive virtually any speaker system and add sources as needed.

Cinema Series

Marantz reintroduced “the porthole” design to its lineup quite a few years ago, as a callback to the analog VU meter design used on its original amplifiers. But following that, many years passed without the lineup receiving much of a cosmetic design refresh. Back at CEDIA 2022, Marantz launched its new Cinema Series, giving not only a technology upgrade to its line but also a complete cosmetic overhaul.

Visually, the new industrial design is killing it. Available in either Marantz Black or Silver Gold, the components are striking looking. And while there was nothing inherently wrong with the old design, with a front panel that was mostly plastic, the components just didn’t look or feel high-end. These Cinema Series components have eliminated plastic from the front and utilize a slightly textured and subtle diamond pattern that highlights the extruded metal front plate, giving the units a subtle bit of depth and dimension. Marantz calls this a “sculpted surface” and, according to the company, “The mathematically derived, subtle texture of the front panel visually represents the rich detail and three-dimensionality for which the Marantz sound is most well-known.”

While the Cinema Series retains the porthole — now utilizing an OLED display — the front panel has a symmetrical, minimalist, and clean look. Marantz says, “We designed Model 50 to be thoroughly modern, yet timeless. Hallmark aesthetic cues like symmetry, warmth, and tactile satisfaction push the boundaries of audio equipment design inspired by icons of our past.”

Even without the marketing hype, the components now exude luxury and look at home in a high-end system.

First Impressions

Like you, I unbox a ton of gear, and usually, it is a ho-hum experience. But beyond the cosmetic restyling, Marantz is also paying attention to the unboxing experience with its Cinema Series, and it’s something I definitely noticed and appreciated. More importantly, if a customer opens one of these units, their first experience with the product will be a positive one.

Inside the box on top of the component is a welcoming little white box that houses the manuals, remote, and other accessories all cosseted in fitted compartments. It is a small touch, to be sure, but it is a subtle way of saying, “We care about this product, and want you to enjoy it.”

Marantz Model 50 Amplifier
Marantz Model 50 Amplifier - Rear
Marantz Model 50 Amplifier

My one nit is with the included documentation, as the pack-in Quick Start Guides are pretty anemic, especially with the amp. The guides do have a QR code and web address directing you to Marantz’s site for the full owner’s manual, but as components selling for $1800 each, they should come with the manual in the box, especially as the CD manual clocks in at 155 pages online.

Beyond that, the build quality is immediately apparent as you remove the components from their packaging. The amp weighs in ounces shy of 32 pounds and the CD player is nearly 23 pounds. In the days of cheap, plastic, digitally powered components, these feel hefty and substantial.

I mentioned the styling earlier, but the components are filled with little touches that speak to design and quality. Things like the brass screws on the sides, rear, and bottom of the chassis, the well-spaced gold-plated RCA connectors, and the beefy speaker finding posts on the amp all say this is a serious bit of kit.

While most interaction with the system will likely be done via the remote control or app, never underestimate the tactile importance of a component’s “knob feel.” The controls on the Model 50 have the right amount of resistance, with the input selector having a nice soft “stop” at each input. Even compared to older Marantz AVRs, the volume knob feels more luxe and substantial, turning in .5 dB increments for precise leveling.

If I summed up my first impression of these components, it was “excited.” I couldn’t wait to get them connected and working and give them a listen! It was like a chef placing a beautifully plated dish before me. “Yes, looks beautiful. Can’t wait to taste it!”


One of the things I noticed about the Model 50 is that it is solely analog, with nary a digital connection to be found. Marantz claims this is “paramount in the design” and that “the decision to exclude digital audio ensures completely intuitive operation and eliminates the risk of interference from complex digital circuitry.”

What it does offer are six analog inputs, including an MM phono with ground. You also have a record output, pre-outs for an amplifier and subwoofer, and a Power Amp input that bypasses the volume control and preamp section of the Model 50, thus turning it into a quality 2-channel amplifier.

Marantz CD50N CD Player
Marantz CD50N CD Player - rear
Marantz CD50N CD Player

This Power Amp input is surprisingly versatile, letting someone utilize the Model 50 and connected speakers as a simple-to-use 2-channel system, but also easily integrate with a separate surround system by simply going to the Power Amp input. According to the spec sheet, connecting to the Power Amp input increases the signal-to-noise ratio from 116 to 125 dB.

There are also two sets of binding posts labeled A and B, both utilizing Marantz’s SPKT-1+ connectors. Beyond connecting two sets of speakers, these could also be used for bi-amplification.

Spaced symmetrically across the front panel below the OLED porthole display are an Input Selector, Speaker Selector (Off/A/B/A+B), Bass (+/- 10dB at 50 Hz), Treble (+/- 10dB at 15 kHz), Balance, and Volume. A 1/4-inch headphone connection mirrors the location of the power button on the right side.

The Model 50 has a large toroidal power supply and operates in Class A/B mode, producing 70 watts/channel at 8 ohms and 100 watts at 4 ohms.

Marantz has long used HDAMs (Hyper Dynamic Amplifier Module) in its products to improve sound quality by reducing noise and increasing signal speed by replacing standard ICs. The Model 50 uses Marantz’s latest and most advanced HDAM-SA3, said to provide extraordinary sensitivity and the feel of a vintage analog amplifier.

If the Model 50 is a straight-forward analog component, then the CD 50n is an audiophile-grade, digital Swiss Army knife that allows you to listen to all manner of modern music regardless of your preference. Obviously, the internal CD drive is perfect for spinning discs, but that’s just the start. There are dual rear-panel antennas for both Bluetooth 5.0 and Wi-Fi (2.4/5 GHz), and the unit supports Airplay 2 and Spotify Connect streaming. There’s also an Ethernet connection for hardwiring to the network.

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With HEOS built-in, the unit can stream audio from TIDAL, Deezer, Amazon Music, Pandora, TuneIn, SiriusXM, iHeartRadio, and more. You can also stream audio from the local network, with support for WMA, MP3, WAV, MPEG-4 AAC, FLAC, ALAC, and DSD files up to 192/24 resolution.

The rear panel offers both Toslink optical and coaxial digital inputs and outputs, as well as a USB connection for a thumb drive. For the highest resolutions, there’s a USB-B connection with asynchronous DAC for connecting a PC that supports DSD streaming up to 11.2 MHz and PCM up to 384 kHz/32-bit.

And if that isn’t enough, there’s also an HDMI ARC input allowing you to easily connect a TV!

To make sure the digital-to-analog conversion is handled at the highest order, the CD50n features 32-bit ESS Sabre DACs, and there are both fixed and variable analog outputs giving some flexibility in connection. The fixed output can connect to any preamp/receiver, while the variable output can connect directly to any amplifier, powered speakers, or the Power Amp input on the Model 50 for the straightest audio path. There’s also a front panel 1/4-inch headphone connection, or you can Bluetooth audio to headphones.

For control, Marantz includes a rear-panel IR input and an RS232 connection, as well as the In/Out control connections for connection to other Marantz gear. The unit also supports Control4’s SDDP for easy addition to a Control4 project.

The amp required no setup whatsoever, and once the CD player is added to the network, most of its setup is completed in the HEOS app. Some “front-panel” settings can be adjusted, like selecting the audio filter, setting the headphone amplifier gain, setting the default TV input, and disabling certain inputs/outputs.

For my listening tests, I connected the CD50n’s variable output to the Power Amp input of the Model 50, which I wired to a pair of Monitor Audio Silver 500 towers. Beyond CDs and HEOS streaming, I also used the Victrola Carbon Hi-Res turntable (review online) for vinyl.


Before I jump into the performance, let me spend a quick second on the remote control. Both units ship with the same remote, and neither of them is backlit, which is kind of a bummer. Sure, a lot of control is done within the HEOS app, but when you need to use the remote it is tough to read in a low-lit room. Also, while there are nine input select buttons for the CD50n, there is only an input up/down toggle for the amp.

The first thing I noticed after powering the systems on was the sound, or more specifically, the total lack of sound. With nothing playing on the Model 50, there was not even a whisper of sound or noise coming from the speakers, even with my ear against the tweeter at high volume, which is mighty impressive, and speaks to the quality of the design and build.

I started off listening to some CDs, popping in Lyle Lovett and His Large Band, which opens with the dynamic instrumental “The Blues Walk.” You can appreciate the power of the horn section, as well as the amp’s control over the drums. The second song, “Here I Am,” opens with Lovett speaking, and you can really appreciate the volume and space of the recording venue, with the bit of reverb around each of his words.

This sense of space is something I noticed throughout my listening. Whether it was the “flatter” sound of Adele’s “Love Song” or the wide-open spaciousness of The Cowboy Junkies Trinity Sessions, I felt this combo helped me appreciate where the recording took place.

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Peter Gabriel’s Scratch My Back is filled with covers that are stripped down and reimagined with Gabriel’s vocals and a backing orchestra, and the Marantz combo wonderfully portrays all the longing and despair that Gabriel pours into his version of David Bowie’s “Heroes.” It also created a wonderfully solid phantom center channel, keeping Gabriel’s vocals tight in the center.

I switched to listen to some tunes on TIDAL via HEOS and noticed that the HEOS app recently received an update that allows for much better searching across services, which was a welcome change. This lets me easily locate an old favorite: Michael Hedges’ Aerial Boundaries. I’ve heard this album many times, and it is great at showing how a system can handle dynamics. The Marantz duo delivered the sharp attacks, but also produced the texture of the guitar strings, letting you hear as the strings vibrated and resonated after each blow.

The Model 50 was able to coax plenty of bass from the Monitor towers. Playing “Hotel California” from The Eagles’ Hell Freezes Over, it delivered solid, room-energizing bass notes from the opening big drumbeats, as well as the deep synth notes from Bela Fleck’s “Flight of the Cosmic Hippo.

I also streamed a variety of 192/24 high-res files from my NAS drive, and the CD50n handled these with no trouble. Again, what I noticed was the textural, almost tactile quality of the audio. Things like “I Try” from Macy Gray’s Stripped had so much feel to the strings of the upright bass, that you could picture the fingers plucking each note.

Of course, I had to spin some vinyl, so I threw on “Kind of Blue” and reveled in the smooth, lush, warm analog audio. The Model 50 really delivered with the delicate brush strokes and taps on the cymbals on the second side opener, “All Blues.”

I can tell I’m enjoying a review system when I alternate between wanting to race to the next track to listen to how it sounds and wanting to just sit and play through an entire album. This Marantz duo not only sounds as good as it looks, but it also had me enjoying hours of music in any format or manner I chose. For customers — executives or otherwise — looking for performance, flexibility, and simplicity in a stylish package, these models should be high up on your shortlist.


Product Specs:

Model 50

  • Pure analog stereo integrated amplifier
  • 70/100 watts/channel (8/4 ohms) Class A/B amplification
  • Marantz SA2 and SA3 HDAMs
  • Frequency response 5 Hz – 100 kHz; .02% THD
  • Connections: Inputs: Six RCA stereo (including Power Amp input), MM Phono Input with ground, Remote Control; Outputs: RCA Record Out, RCA Pre-Out, Subwoofer output, Remote Control Out, Detachable IEC power cable
  • 5-year warranty

CD 50n

  • Premium CD and network audio player with HEOS built-in
  • 32-bit ESS Sabre DAC
  • High-resolution support via USB up to PCM 384 kHz/32-bit and DSD 256; up to 192/24 across the network
  • Supports wired/Wi-Fi streaming via AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, Bluetooth, and HEOS built-in
  • Connections: Inputs: Coaxial Digital, Toslink Optical, USB-A, USB-B, RJ45 Ethernet, mini-jack IR, RS-232C; HDMI ARC, dual Wi-Fi/Bluetooth Antenna, RCA Remote Control; Outputs: RCA Fixed, RCA Variable, Coaxial Digital, Toslink Optical, Remote Control Out, Detachable IEC power cable
  • 5-year warranty


  • Model 50 Amplifier — 17.4 x 5.1 x 17-inches (WxHxD); Weight: 31 pounds, 12 ounces
  • CD 50n — 17.4 x 5.1 x 16.7-inches (WxHxD); Weight: 22 pounds, 11 ounces