Marantz has launched its most advanced hi-fi combination to date. The Premium 10 series, comprising the SA-10 SACD/CD player/DAC and PM-10 amplifier, features new Marantz audio technology.
Both models are expected to be available in January 2017.
Marantz SA-10 SACD/CD player/DAC ($6,999) replaces the SA-7, the previous Marantz Reference disc player. Although widely acclaimed, the SA-7 was purely a disc player but with the changing audio landscape, and the rise of high-resolution audio and computer-stored music, change was inevitable.
Beyond it being a high-end disc player for CDs, SACDs, and even high-resolution music burned on recordable media, the SA-10 is what the company considers a state-of-the-art digital-to-analog converter.
Today’s digital technology has made it possible to replace conventional digital-to-analog conversion with something much more advanced, allowing the SA-10 to become the first player/USB-DAC that doesn’t actually have a DAC. The reason is Marantz Musical Mastering, a brand-new approach to a problem almost 35 years old, making the most of music stored in digital form without introducing artifacts requiring extra processing after conversion. A two-stage process, MMM-Conversion and MMM-Stream, draws on Marantz expertise extending back to the first days of CD, and brings into play the company’s commitment and experience in both SACD and the DSD format behind it.
Partnering with the SA-10 is the PM-10 amplifier ($7,999), which the company considers the best integrated amplifier that it has ever produced. The previous Reference amplifier, the SC-7/MA-9, was a pre/power amplifier combination, but Marantz wanted to deliver better performance from an integrated amplifier. Only now has the technology allowed the Marantz engineers to achieve this.
While retaining a purist all-analog design, completely balanced throughout its signal path, and using a dual-mono construction with differential amplification delivering a massive 2x400W. Even the continued interest in vinyl has a place in this New Reference system, as it does in most Marantz amplifiers: the PM-10 has a meticulously designed all-discrete phono stage for both moving coil and moving magnet cartridges.
The idea for the Marantz SA-10 was to build the best disc player/DAC the company has ever made. And that meant going back to basics in every area. From the disc transport itself to the way the digital signals are processed, as well as ensuring the design was entirely future-proof by providing an asynchronous USB-B input for the connection of a computer, this model is advanced.
To play SACD, CD, DVD-R/RW, and CD-R/RW discs, the Marantz team avoided the usual route taken in players of this kind, using an “off-the-shelf” DVD-ROM drive of the kind commonly found in computers. Instead, and in their quest for ultimate sound quality, they built their own: the new SACD-M3, the latest in an acclaimed range of disc mechanisms built for Marantz players, is unique to the SA-10, and can play not just CDs and SACDs, but also high-resolution audio stored on either CD or DVD recordable media.
“From the time of CD players, the transport was one of our strengths, and with SACD it’s the same,” explained Marantz brand ambassador Ken Ishiwata. “Of course, doing things this way is expensive, but if we want something special we have to do it. And besides, there aren’t many SACD mechanisms available today. However, there really is no way of making this kind of mechanism cheaply, so it’s limited to our top-of-the-range model.”
The digital-to-analog conversion process, available to both discs and external sources connected to the player’s digital inputs (which include asynchronous USB for the connection of a computer), is equally innovative, the company says. Rather than down-converting ultra-high-resolution files to suit a conventional digital to analog converter, as happens in some rival designs, the SA-10 up-converts everything to DSD256, in a process known as Marantz Musical Mastering – Conversion.
Two dedicated master clocks are used to ensure all digital signals are upsampled directly to DSD 256—or four times the SACD standard—without any need for sample rate conversion. And there’s a choice of two filter settings to allow the listener to shape the sound.