Marantz’s TT-15S1 turntable (buy at Amazon) is a time-tested all-in-one turntable for listeners who don’t want to obsess over every component choice. For $1,799, you get your turntable, arm, and cartridge. While some purists may cringe at the thought of not spending innumerable hours cerebrating over these component choices, there will be many more people thankful that someone else took the time to compile complementary components to make audiophile vinyl playback as simple as possible while maintaining a high quality standard.
What Makes the Marantz TT-15S1 Special?
- The Marantz TT-15S1 is an all-in-one solution, making it much easier to get your system up and running. While the system does not come pre-assembled, assembly is pretty straightforward. The manual provides clear, easy-to-follow instructions which is a pleasant surprise in an era when I see far too many poorly written manuals.
- Marantz wisely partnered with Clearaudio, a highly regarded German turntable manufacturer, in the development of the TT-15S1. Astute readers may recognize the Clearaudio Emotion as fundamentally the same turntable, although the Marantz comes with a Clearaudio cartridge and the Clearaudio curiously doesn’t.
- The tonearm is Clearaudio’s Satisfy model. This is not one of their low-end or budget offerings, but rather a well-made piece of equipment featuring anodized aluminum body, anti-skate mechanism, and a nicely machined, smoothly turning counterweight. The cartridge is a Clearaudio Virtuoso Ebony (moving magnet), which you’ll have to install yourself. There is a hole in the back left corner of the chassis that the top of the detached asynchronous AC motor pokes through. A silicone belt connects the motor’s puller to the approximately 1.2-inch-thick platter. The motor pulley has two grooves: one for 33-1/3 and another for 45 RPM.
- The TT-15S1’s chassis and platter are made from high-density, low-resonance acrylic and are finished in a white frost. The chassis rests on three substantial aluminum feet that are adjustable to provide a stable, level platform.
- During my listening sessions I walked back and forth in the room and my teenage son came in and out a few times and the Marantz did not skip or show any other signs of impairment due to the vibrations.
Why Should You Care About the Marantz TT-15S1Turntable?
A much as I love using Roon to play my tunes digitally, there is something cathartic about getting a record out and placing it on a turntable before settling in for a listening session. The Marantz TT-15S1 makes getting a vinyl playback system up and running easy, while still allowing for experimentation with other cartridges and accessories to find the perfect combination for you.
Some Things You Might Not Like About the Marantz TT-15S1 Turntable…
- The motor sticks up through a hole in the chassis with minimal clearance. The purpose of the separate motor is to keep the motor vibrations away from the chassis/platter. This is easy enough to do during setup, but the power switch is mounted on the side of the motor and it is way too easy to move the motor when flipping the switch and end up with the motor pressed against the chassis.
- The inclusion of a platter mat is a nice touch. It would be nice to easily switch back and forth between using the mat and the bare platter. Unfortunately, the height adjustment required to switch back and forth is time consuming as the whole arm assembly must be raised (or lowered).
- The lack of a dustcover requires some extra maintenance, at least in my house. There are some aftermarket options available but it would be nice to have as an option.
Listening To the Marantz TT-15S1 Turntable…
Listening to Vampire Weekend’s lighthearted “A-Punk” (buy at Amazon on vinyl) (XL Recordings) I found the Marantz TT-15S1 provided good detail with Ezra’s vocals and guitar. Treble extension was sufficient to realistically reproduce the cymbals as well. The limited drums on this track did not have quite the depth or impact as when played back on my digital sources, but that’s not a knock against the TT-15S1.
I enjoyed listening to Frank Sinatra’s “Nice and Easy” (buy at Amazon) from the album of the same name (Mobile Fidelity) so much I ended up sitting there until I needed to turn the record over. The combination of warmth and detail providing for an engaging experience. Sinatra’s vocals sounded solid, well placed, and natural. The horns were detailed and dynamic without ever being harsh. There was nothing not to like here sonically.
Does The Marantz TT-15S1 Turntable Have Any Resale Value?
Yes. Unlike digital components, analog components such as turntables tend to have longer lifespans and lots of people interested in the used market. The Marantz TT-15S1also comes with a higher-end cartridge, which itself has significant value. There are minimal wear components in the turntable system, namely belt and cartridge stylus. The Marantz comes packed with an extra belt and you should get about 2,000 hours out of the stylus if you take care of it. (A bit of reviewer advice: Clean your records before you play them. They will sound better, and your gear will last significantly longer.)
Who Is the Competition for the Marantz TT-15S1 Turntable
As vinyl is making a resurgence, there is a vast selection of turntables on the market from industry veterans as well some new entrants to the market.
Rega’s Planar P6 (buy at Amazon) is available in several configurations, including one priced at $2,245 that comes with an arm and cartridge. One difference from the Marantz that caught my attention is the external motor power supply box. The separate box takes up some extra room in your rack but should provide some extra electrical isolation.
The Pro-Ject X2 B (buy at Amazon) is another option in the mid-priced market that has a lot of promise. It sells for $1,799, and features direct drive, comes with a Sumiko Rainier MM cartridge with replaceable stylus, and features balanced outputs .
Final Thoughts on the Marantz TT-15S1Turntable
I am thoroughly enjoying my time with the Marantz TT-15SA (buy at Amazon) in my rig. The ritual of playing back a record, from cleaning the vinyl up to the point of lowering the arm, is relaxing and serves as a transfer point from the stresses of everyday life to relaxation with the music of your choice. Of course, the process is much more valuable when your music sounds good. Thankfully, the Marantz TT-15SA delivers the goods by providing good detail and excellent high frequency extension with a touch of warmth that makes listening both engaging and enjoyable for extended periods of time.