Marantz SA-1 SACD player Page 2

According to product manager Satoshi Suzuki, although the SACD specification is 120dB, the signal/noise ratio of a single TDA1547 DAC7 module is 106dB. "There are two pairs of DAC7s for each channel. We shift the DSD data one word (a half cycle of sinewave) and send that shifted data to the second DAC7 and mix the output. This is effective at reducing noise associated with noise-shaping because the data shift changes the phase of the noise." In CD mode, an 8x-oversampling digital filter sends the 16-bit/44.1kHz signal to the same array of eight Bitstream DACs.

But no matter how good the power supply or the DACs, nothing really happens without a good analog output stage. Some have criticized Sony for the parts-bin mentality evident in the SCD-1's output stage, well-built though it may be. However, without dissing Sony, Marantz explains that they use premium capacitors and other components for maximum sonic purity.

Suzuki: "Marantz believes that slew rate is extremely important for reproducing the wide-range frequency response of the SACD specification. So we use HDAMs—High Definition Amplifier Modules. The SA-1 uses eight of them: six are dual HDAMs in differential configuration, and four function as analog filter amplifiers. The output data from the dual-differential DAC7 modules is sent directly to these four HDAMs. In addition, two dual HDAMs are in the unbalanced output, two regular HDAMs in the balanced output circuit."

What the heck is HDAM, anyway? "Normally, the output stage in an unbalanced circuit is designed with discrete parts, but then it's very hard to make it completely symmetric. Our HDAM module has a well-balanced positive and negative circuit in a single package. That way, both channels are favorably processed."

Music and Operation
Using the SA-1 was nicely intuitive. The SA-1 defaults to SACD if you feed it a dual-layer disc, but you have to hit Stop before it'll reinitialize in either format.

I had a number of CD dupes of SACD releases on hand, including: BluesQuest (AudioQuest Music AQ-CD1052 and AQ-SACD1052); The Very Tall Band, with Oscar Peterson, Ray Brown, and Milt Jackson (Telarc CD-83443, same for SACD, a hybrid); Miles Davis' Miles Smiles (Columbia/Legacy CK 48849 and CS 65682) and Kind of Blue (Columbia CK 52861 and CS 64935); Dave Brubeck's Time Out (Columbia CD 52830 and SME SRGS4535); and the Steve David Project's Quality of Silence (DMP CD-522, SACD-04).

SACD-only recordings (some of which I have on LP!) included Miles Davis' My Funny Valentine (Columbia/SME SRGS4503), Charles Mingus' Ah Um (Columbia CK 65512), Thelonious Monk's Straight, No Chaser (Columbia/Legacy CK 64886), Mahler's Symphony 1 with Leonard Bernstein/NYP (Sony Classical SRGR718), Boulez Conducts Ravel (Sony Classical SS 89121), Bach by Glenn Gould, Mozart by Murray Perahia, Isaac Stern, Vladimir Horowitz, and Dave Brubeck's 40th Anniversary Tour of the UK (Telarc CD/SACD 83440-SA).

When I listened to dual-layer hybrid recordings, I listened to both SACD and CD layers on the Marantz, then flipped the discs into the Accuphase DP-75V 24/192 upsampler and the Linn CD12. When I auditioned SACD-only releases that I also had on CD, I did the same. Listen, switch, listen, switch...where am I?

Would the promise of SACD be realized in this pretty, pricey player? Slowly I turned, step by step...

440 Medinah Road
Roselle, IL 60172
(630) 307-3100