Marantz’s reference SACD player controls all the digital audio media you can find. It costs a manor house – and sounds like a castle.
Sound & Image mean
It finds things on your CDs you did not know was there. And it controls all audio files.
No wireless audio or network access. Only few SACD discs. And what it costs!
Like most manufacturers of entertainment electronics, Marantz changes its consumer series annually. Such a speed can not be found at the top of the program. Here you are waiting to get on the market with new models until it’s actually innovations. And that’s it now.
Maranz’s reference series had a few years on the back. The amplifier PM-11S3 and SACD player SA-11S3 both originate from 2013. What the Marantz people have been brewing in the meanwhile we saw in November, where Eindhoven in the Netherlands revealed the company’s new top models. Marantz ‘legendary sound writer Ken Ishiwata showed the PM-10 and SACD player SA-10. Both were ordered for testing immediately. The amplifier is not ready for delivery at the time of writing, but we have recently had the SA-10 standing in our test room.
SA-10 can not only play CDs, but also the high-resolution SACDs (Super Audio CD). The SACD format has never been widely distributed (about 6200 titles have been released since its launch in 1999), but the record audio format DSD is gaining ever-increasing popularity in audio file circuits as the format for high-resolution audio.
In addition to CD and SACD, the SA-10 can play DVDs with audio files in all common formats. More importantly, in a time when physical media lose ground day by day, it’s the fact that the built-in DAC (if it’s called it-see its own box) can be used to convert audio from all your digital signal sources. So the day you bought your last CD, the SA-10 will still be available.
As you can expect from a super-luxury product like this, the finish is impeccably completed. The cabinet is made of thick, vibration-dampened aluminum. Or rather, in a sandwich construction of aluminum and copper, which will ensure complete shielding from disturbing radiation. The buttons and the CD cover have a nice and precise time, and from the recesses where the nicely curved aluminum front meets the central display, blue light emits. It’s so delicious and done that you want to eat it in big pieces with your eyes!
Playing everything except from the net
Although the front is simple and stylish, there has been room for a headphone jack with a 6.3 mm jack jack. The back, which is in copper, accommodates almost all types of inputs and outputs one can imagine. There are coaxial and optical inputs and outputs, USB A (for USB storage devices) and USB B (for data). The analogue outputs come with rhodium-plated gold connectors of the highest quality. And of course, it is both RCA and balanced output. Of course, as both the SA-10 and its PM-10 amplifier have balanced signal path all the way through.
If you disregard balanced AES / EBU digital inputs, and you’re welcome to do, there’s a full range of direct digital inputs in the SA-10. There is no wireless internet access or Ethernet connector. So if you want music streaming or web radio, it must be done by using a laptop or digital receiver.
The remote control is a sober and beautiful – and surprisingly heavy – thing in plastic. So heavy to wonder if it’s put in a lot to make it look solid. Even though it is not up to the player in good building quality, it performs the task even when the SA-10 is used as a converter for other audio sources.
Just an album for!
The test of Marantz SA-10 has taken longer than normal. Not because it takes a long time to discover its obvious qualities, but because it’s so bad to turn the music back on and stick to the keys when you just wanted to hear an album …
Whether it’s about putting on a CD, playing an audio file from the NAS, or making music flow through Tidal, we’re used to being big or small experiences. That there are some albums and songs that just make fun, while others are hi-fi messy.
When listening to the SA-10, it’s like getting a new music collection with better-produced editions of the same albums. Not quite unlike the time I bought the first “half speed mastered” special edition of the Crime of the Century and The Dark Side of the Moon . Just better, and crazy much more expensive.
Of course, there are still good and bad recordings, but the fence posts have moved far beyond what I thought was on the recordings.
It is primarily about silence. It sounds strange, but the silence and airiness of the instruments on recordings are some of the best at Marantz’s new reference player. The tiny “fog” of the acoustic scene is blown away, and instruments and voices stand freely behind and around the speakers.
This applies to both real acoustic environments, such as when Gidon Kremer and Berliner Philharmonic interpret the Tchaikovsky violin concert so the resin dust almost crates in space. Or when the small snack at the tables at Stampen Stations in Stockholm once again forms a vibe for the vibra concert on the album Jazz at the Pawnshop. But it is equally true to Roger Waters manipulative reality at Three Wishesfrom the album Amused to Death. Voices and sounds appear far away in the perspective, everywhere around us, and sometimes quite in the face. But all the time precisely, clean and sober.
It’s worth it – if you want
Men is not $ 7,000 absurd lot of money? Yes, that’s it. At this price you can have a luxury holiday for the whole family for an exotic destination, a nice used car – or even a wedding. But the high-end is a priority issue, and some would rather have a top-quality signal source.
I’ve heard good DACs, SOtM sDP-1000 and Metrum Acoustics Payanne, both of which are in the same price range as SA-10, considering that they’re just DACs, while at Marantz they get both player and converter . But neither of them opens an almost equally clean-washed window to the concert hall, or gives you “all my albums is like new” experience.
The view that Marantz SA-10 is going to be a regular sales success is hardly big. Not with a five-digit amount for a player of an extinct music medium. And here we are talking about the CDs, as the SACD has never been right alive. But, SA-10 is luckily different and more than playing physical records, and are you looking for a digital converter in the absolute top class, there’s good reason to take Marantz into consideration. It rarely holds the ability to get the best out of digital media – and shine light into the listening room. Thus, it can be exactly what Marantz has intended: to create a new reference. Based on that, it deserves the top marks and the best recommendations.
Marantz has gone new ways in terms of digital conversion in SA-10. In fact, if you are in the philosophical corner, you can say that there is no DAC in the player.The SA-10 can generally handle two types of digital signals: PCM signals in varying bit resolution and DSD bitstreams.PCM signals from, for example, CDs are first sampled by a factor of 32-256, depending on the recording frequency of the recording. The result is a PCM signal of either 11.289 MHz or 12.288 MHz, depending on whether the sampling rate is a multiple of either 44.1 kHz or 48 kHz. Thereafter, the signal is transmitted through a so-called sigma delta modulator which converts it into a 1 bit bit stream, corresponding to a DSD signal that can be processed further.When playing a DSD file or SACD disk, the signal, which is a 1-bit bit stream, passes directly to the last part of the processing, converting it to an analogue signal.
The smart thing about working exclusively with a bitstream rather than a PCM signal is that the conversion to analogue form is simpler. A 1-bit bit stream consists of a high-frequency square signal, the width of the pulses being modulated with the original analog signal.
Brand Ambassador and Audiologist Ken Ishiwata explains that, in principle, you can jump all over the digital conversion and watch a low pass filter filtering from the high frequency carrier. Quite simply, the input of the Marantz SA-10 is not built up, but Ken Ishiwata says that the signal processing in SA-10 can be viewed philosophically as purely analogous. However, how exactly is done, he can not get in before Marantz’s patent application has been finalized.
- Inputs: Digital USB A and B, Coaxial (RCA), Optical, Remote Control (RCA)
- Outputs: Analogue RCA stereo, analogue balanced (XLR), digital optical and coaxial (RCA), remote control (RCA)
- Resolution: 32-bit / 384 kHz (USB), DSD64, DSD128 and DSD256 (11.2 MHz)
- File formats: MP3, WMA, AAC, ALAC, FLAC, WAV, AIFF, DSD
- Dimensions: 44.0 x 12.7 x 41.9 cm (plus cable)
- Weight: 18.4 kg
- Colors: Black, golden
Marantz SA10 & PM10
An overview of the Marantz SA10 CD player / DAC & PM10 Stereo Amplifier.