I'm in the market for a CD/SACD player, and I'm inclined to buy the Marantz SA8001 ($900). But I'm also thinking about the NAD M5, which is twice the price of the Marantz ($1800). Cost is a critical factor for me; I live on Social Security disability income. Still, the NAD appears to have distinct advantages over the Marantz, so I'm finding it a difficult choice.
As you might imagine, I have an extremely modest system:
- Roy Allison Mini Reference speakers
- NAD C352 integrated
- Pioneer DV-563A universal player (for CD/SACD playback)
I have several questions. Would the pairing of the NAD M5 with my NAD C352 offer any potential sonic benefit against the Marantz? The M5 also offers HDCD decoding. Does anyone know how well it performs or if it justifies the higher price?
Then there's the issue of SACD processing. The Marantz contains an older Cirrus Logic CS4397 (1999). I believe--but cannot confirm--that the NAD uses a Burr-Brown DSD-1792 from 2003. Perhaps more importantly, NAD says the M5 has a "special DSD mode" in addition to the 24/192 DAC. By contrast, Marantz doesn't mention DSD decoding for the SA8001, and the reviews don't specify. I can't imagine a $900 audio player would convert DSD to PCM, but who knows?
As I said, I'll probably get the Marantz SA8001. Yet the NAD M5 seems compelling. Is it so much better that it warrants the additional expense, especially given my budget and system constraints?
P.S. Jim Austin reviewed the SA8001; why not have him compare it to the M5?