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MJS
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3-Month Update on Marantz SA-8001...

Marantz SA-8001 Update

I bought a Marantz SA-8001 in early November, 2006. My first Stereophile post summarized my initial impressions of the SA-8001. Now that I

Monty
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Re: 3-Month Update on Marantz SA-8001...

Thanks for the excellent update and well put together review. I particularly appreciate your thoughts on the player because I will most likely be retiring my current Marantz player in the near future and the 8001 is at the top of my list of potential replacements.

As for your observation about the player demanding the listeners attention, I'm not sure that will decrease with further run-in time. I say this because your description closely mirrors my thoughts on my current Marantz player. Sweet and laid back aren't the adjectives that spring to my mind either. Ballsy, extended and authoratative do spring to mind. The lightning fast transient speed is both a blessing and a curse.

ohfourohnine
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Re: 3-Month Update on Marantz SA-8001...

Glad to hear things are going so well for you, MJ. I was pretty sure they would. I messed with cables too (Lord, don't let this start another "all wire is the same" rant) and wound up with Kimber Heroes. Seem to suit my player best and they don't cost an arm and a leg.

A really good digital player does become addictive. I still love vinyl, but I just bought the latest set of RCA Living Stereo reissues in SACD instead of vinyl.

Happy listening,

MJS
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Re: 3-Month Update on Marantz SA-8001...

Thanks guys -

Monty

MJS
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Re: Three more reviews on the SA-8001...

For some more reviews of the SA-8001, go to the thread below and scroll down to the first 3 posts. (The remaining posts cover the older SA-8260.)
I agree with the post that says quality CDs sound so good on the SA-8001 that SACD is really a bonus feature. I only have one SACD (Dark Side of the Moon) and it's really no improvement over high quality "regular" CDs.

http://www.audioreview.com/PRD_143997_1586crx.aspx

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Re: Three more reviews on the SA-8001...

Sorry to resurrect this old thread. I was curious if anyone has had the same experience as me with this machine.

I listen to orchestra recordings for the most part and I bought a demo unit of the SA8001. With the volume all the way up while playing the soft beginnings of SACD discs there is a medium-loud hiss. Switching to the CD layer, with the volume still up, the hiss is completely gone. I returned this demo unit and bought a brand new one. Got it hooked up today and the same hiss is there in SACD mode.

Does anyone else find this with their unit? The reason I ask is because I don't want to keep returning these if they all do this. It is very discouraging.

Also, my budget Sony SACD player has none of this hiss.

Thanks for any help I can get!
Opkectp

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Re: Three more reviews on the SA-8001...

I have a Marantz 7001 Universal Player and I know it's not the same machine at all, but it is more detailed and brighter than the Kenwood Sovereign DVD Audio player it replaced. I have been augmenting my modest classical CD library with many SACD titles, which are mostly reissues (Mercury Living Presence, etc.). I think you may be hearing the master tape hiss that is revealed by the added resolution of the Marantz. If this is also happening with direct to digital recordings, then I'm in the dark.

I crank up Seiji Ozawa's Bartok: Concerto for Orchestra (in Philips SACD Hybrid, 2005), which has some very wide dynamics and do not notice hiss in the quiet opening passages. However some Kinks and Elton John reissues exhibit some glare at higher volumes. I'm getting a variety of sound quality depending on the source material, but universally smoother and greater extension than Redbook versions of the same albums.

Good luck with your Marantz and keep listening. I was surprised at the differences between the Marantz and the Kenwood, especially how well the Kenwood performed in DVD-A for a 7 year old machine (until it died, that is!). The added detail and information extracted by the Marantz is both a blessing and sometimes curse.

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Re: Three more reviews on the SA-8001...

Hi there,

Thanks for responding and trying to help. The SACDs that worried me the most were recent recordings, which I imagine are direct to digital, not old recordings that have been transferred to DSD.

Well, I wrote an email to Marantz customer service and was told that there were no known issues such as I was describing. Then, today, I got through on the phone to the repair division of Marantz and was told by a receptionist that he had heard of my issue already and that this white noise I was hearing is a "known issue" itself and cannot be fixed.

What I am curious about is how the specs for signal to noise can be "beyond reproach", and yet allow for so much noise on all of the SACD recordings that I own. If I had read in the recent well-known review of this player that there was medium-loud white noise during SACD playback of softer music, I most likely wouldn't have purchased this model.

Just to clarify, there is a big difference in the type of noise on older SACD recordings and newer ones. I recognize tape hiss and this isn't the same thing. The recording that seems to be the worst is a newer DG SACD of Cleveland Orchestra playing Mahler 4.

It's a big let down to be told that an issue is known and that there is no fix. Well, why sell me a machine that doesn't function properly? I can imagine that if you listened only to music that is recorded loud and that has no silences or fadeouts that you would never notice this noise. In my own experience that is extremely rare.

I got into SACD for the incredibly high resolution that it offers. I can hear into recordings so much better and I do so for study since I am an orchestra musician myself. Hearing soft details at all is now impossible on these discs.

Am I way off base?

Thanks,
Opkectp

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Re: Three more reviews on the SA-8001...

Hi, I wanted to check with you, opkectp, or anyone else here, to make sure that the 8001 isn't producing this low-level hiss when playing CDs. Does it seem to strictly be an SACD problem.? I'm seriously considering buying one of these players and will probably not own very many SACDs.

Thanks, S.M. Rucker [color:purple]

opkectp
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Re: Three more reviews on the SA-8001...

The sound I'm experiencing is only on SACD mode. The CD mode sounds better than anything I have heard. I kind of want to keep it just for CDs. It seems to make CDs all sound like SACDs.

MJS
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Re: Three more reviews on the SA-8001...

Dan -
Sorry for taking so long to reply...I'll check my SA 8001 in the SACD mode tonight. I don't play many SACDs. In the CD mode this contunues to be a great player.

MJS
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Re: SACD "hum"

I just read OPKECTP's posts on the hum in the SACD mode. I only have one SACD - Dark Side of the Moon. Fortunately, I also have this in regular CD format. There was no doubt that when I put the SACD in and hit play, there was a clearly audible noise at moderate to loud volumes. (The first song, "Speak to Me" has a long intro as the heartbeat fades in.) When I played the same piece from the CD the noise was there, but much quieter. I know some of that noise was on the original master tape, but it was much louder on the SACD. I then played a new CD recording (Air - "Pocket Symphony") and the background was dead quiet even with max volume.
A lot has to do with what's on the disc, but the noise in the SACD mode was there. I'll try another SACD when I can, but this is still a terrific player in CD mode.
I'm not losing any sleep over it, but the problem shouldn't even exist.

Elk
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Re: SACD "hum"

From your description I am not sure any problem exists. This recording is replete with many forms of noise, effects, samples, all sorts of strange sounding stuff. All of these goodies are easier to hear on the SACD layer in my experience. (I don't know if the SACD layer was mixed or mastered any different than the CD layer.)

Are you certain this is not part of the recording? Have you listened with headphones?

Do you have access to any other SACDs?

MJS
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Re: SACD "hum"

That is very possible - I will get another SACD with an all digital recording trail. As I said, this player is so good with CDs that I haven't had any desire to explore SACDs.

Elk
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Re: SACD "hum"

It's worth exploring a bit.

Opkectp's earlier description does sound like there is a real problem with the SACD part of the player. Yet we discussing an excellent brand and I ahve trouble accepting that they realized a product with an obvious known problem.

If you load an SACD in/set it to play an SACD (to get the circuitry going in the player) do yoiu get noise even with the disk stopped?

Let us know what you conclude.

MJS
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Re: SACD "hum"

No noise with the machine on and the SACD stopped. It is very quiet.

Elk
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Re: SACD "hum"

Weird problem.

Please tell us when you learn more.

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Re: 3-Month Update on Marantz SA-8001...

Does anybody know why this player won't be available in Europe? At least not for 2008 - it isn't listed in any of the Marantz catalogs for 2008, and the Marantz office in Denmark claimed that they hadn't even heard of it!

opkectp
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Re: 3-Month Update on Marantz SA-8001...

Thank you all for trying to help figure out what is going on with this SACD player. I appreciate your input and responses.

Just to clarify a few things, the player makes no sound or noise when it is not playing the disc. That would be noticed immediately. This includes while it is paused.

Also, the noise is distinct from the hiss found on older analog recordings that have been captured on SACD. It is a more, for the lack of a better word, digital sound that could be described as super fast, random bursts of white noise, that is very highly pitched.

A while ago I took the player to the local HiFi shop where I made the purchase and hooked it up to their equipment. I could not hear the sound through their Marantz receiver and home theatre front speakers. The volume could not be turned up past the halfway point since there was easy distortion for some reason, but I put my ear up to the tweeter and could not hear any noise.

I use a passive preamp and a CJ tube amp. Maybe it is my equipment? I doubt it since Marantz claimed it was a "known issue" and that there was no fix. It was hard for me to swallow, especially since I had just purchased this highly reviewed unit (from Stereophile no less) and needed help getting it to do the basic job that it is supposed to do. The basically told me to F off in not so many words.

I was shocked by their customer service. If someone is having a basic issue with your product, do you just tell them sorry, get lost? Oh, thanks for all of your money.

Seems to me that equipment reviews are deeply flawed in the way that they are carried out. Beside the fact that they are rarely double-blind, the unit reviewed being is supplied by the manufacturer's headquarters, and is undoubtedly gone over 20 plus times before it goes out the door. Why don't they pull 3 or 4 units off the shelves of different HiFi shops to review? That would at least give the consumer a chance to read about the real thing.

I am deeply dissapointed in Stereophile and have not renewed my subscription. I trusted them to give me an in-depth look into what I would get when I made this purchase. My confidence has been completely lost.

Elk
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Re: 3-Month Update on Marantz SA-8001...

Fascinating problem - and excellent description of the noise.

I suspect it is a problem experienced by relatively few and is indeed related to your setup. If it is indeed a known problem I would expect the manufacturer to at least provide you with an explanation as to its cause.

Why not return it? You are obviously very unhappy.

I don't understand directing your angry at the magazine; it's not there fault, they didn't make the product and are not responsible for servicing it. I am sure the review accurately presents what the reviewer heard.

As to review units being cherry picked - perhaps, but then why do some units presented for review have misfired circuits, etc. that are obviously wrong. Are the non-reviewed versions worse?

Editor
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Re: 3-Month Update on Marantz SA-8001...


Quote:
Just to clarify a few things, the player makes no sound or noise when it is not playing the disc. That would be noticed immediately. This includes while it is paused.

In theory, this rules out a problem with your downstream components, such as the passive control unit having a high-enough source impedance that it leads to RF interference problems. Does the nature of the noise change if you change cables? Have you checked the ground connections?


Quote:
It is a more, for the lack of a better word, digital sound that could be described as super fast, random bursts of white noise, that is very highly pitched.

I haven't heard this myself from an SACD player. Does it happen with all SACD discs or only with some?


Quote:
A while ago I took the player to the local HiFi shop where I made the purchase and hooked it up to their equipment. I could not hear the sound through their Marantz receiver and home theatre front speakers.

This was with SACD? If so, this suggests that it _is_ a compatibility problem with the rest of your system, not an intrinsic problem with the SACD player.


Quote:
I use a passive preamp and a CJ tube amp. Maybe it is my equipment? I doubt it since Marantz claimed it was a "known issue" and that there was no fix.

What exactly did Marantz tell you? I am thinking that as SACD playback does involve the player sending fairly high levels of ultrasonic noise to the system, there may be some high-frequency non-linearity in the C-J power amp that is reacting to this noise and folding it down into the audioband where you can hear it, to a degree that is dependent perhaps on the spectrum of the music being played.


Quote:
Seems to me that equipment reviews are deeply flawed in the way that they are carried out.

Forgive me but I don't follow your logic. We do report all the problems we have with review samples and do try, where possible, to predict incompatibility problems, but I admit that this mainly involves preamp and power-amp impedance matching problems and the difficult loads presented by some loudspeakers.


Quote:
Beside the fact that they are rarely double-blind...

Why do you feel that to be an issue? I don't nnow of any review magazine that exclusively uses double-blind listening tests. This subect has been debated at exhaustive length in the magazine over the years - you can find much of that discussion in our website archives. Stereophile's reviewers are experienced, informed listeners who report their experiences with the products they test, no more no less. I try to uncover technical problems with the review samples in the lab tests that accompany every full review, but I didn't find a problem like you describe with the Marantz player.


Quote:
the unit reviewed being is supplied by the manufacturer's headquarters, and is undoubtedly gone over 20 plus times before it goes out the door.

Sometimes the review smaples are inspected before they are sent us, most times they are not, at least to judge from the fairly high rate of faliure we experience, all of which we report in the reviews.


Quote:
Why don't they pull 3 or 4 units off the shelves of different HiFi shops to review? That would at least give the consumer a chance to read about the real thing.

This is not economically viable, I am afraid.


Quote:
I am deeply dissapointed in Stereophile and have not renewed my subscription. I trusted them to give me an in-depth look into what I would get when I made this purchase. My confidence has been completely lost.

I'm sorry to lose you as a suscriber but with respect, I am not sure how we let you down. If, as I suspect, the problem is one of incompatibility between SACD playback on the player and your specific system, that is something that is very difficult to predict without the reviewer having exactly the same system as you. We do list all the details of the systems our reviewers use to reach their value judgments. I am not sure what else it would be possible to do.

This is something, by the way, the dealer you bought your system from, should have known about. Unless you bought each component from a different dealer.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

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