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Marantz SA-10 Review (SACD Player & DAC)

Rate this product:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 61 21.6%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 137 48.6%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 75 26.6%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 9 3.2%

  • Total voters
    282

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Marantz SACD player and USB balanced DAC. It is on kind loan from a member and costs US $7,499.
Marantz SA-10 Review SACD USB Balanced DAC high-end player.jpg

The industrial design is good although usability is poor with super tiny fonts for various settings (e.g. filter number top left). Disc tray opens and closed buttery smooth -- a requirement for highend transports. The remote control is shiny silver which is odd and is plastic on the back. Back panel shows the connectivity:

Marantz SA-10 Review Back Panel XLR SACD USB Balanced DAC high-end player.jpg


Nice to see support for USB audio as so many of these products live in the past without. The SA-10 is incredibly heavy at 40 pounds. It weighs more than their Audio Video Receivers with many channels of amplification! I guess it gives comfort to owners that they have bought something of quality.

Marantz SA-10 DAC Measurements
Inclusion of USB eases my testing as I can drive the unit with all my standard tests. Let's start with our dashboard using RCA out:
Marantz SA-10 Measurements SACD USB RCA DAC high-end player.png


And now balanced XLR:
Marantz SA-10 Measurements SACD USB DAC high-end player.png


I must say I was relieved that it did not measure poorly. SINAD of 105 dB lands it in the competent category:
Best SACD Player Review.png


But of course way, way below what we can get out of even budget desktop DACs. Distortion is at -112 dB which makes it inaudible but again, is not competitive. Note that I played with various optimizations such as Digital Off but none made any difference.

SNR is not great for a device in this price category:
Marantz SA-10 Measurements SACD USB XLR Balanced DAC high-end player.png


That's about 17 bits of dynamic range. State of the art DACs reach up to 22 bits.

Multitone does well due to reduced levels it drives the DAC at:
Marantz SA-10 Measurements SACD USB Multitone XLR Balanced DAC high-end player.png


Linearity is good enough but again, we expect more:
Marantz SA-10 Measurements SACD Linearity USB XLR Balanced DAC high-end player.png


Jitter performance was disappointing:
Marantz SA-10 Measurements SACD Jitter USB DAC high-end player.png


The jitter components can easily be identified by frequency and sources found and eliminated. See how it was independent of which input is used so it means that the jitter is internally generated.

IMD test shows the impact of higher than desired noise level:

Marantz SA-10 Measurements IMD SACD USB XLR Balanced DAC high-end player.png


Company really believes in these super slow filters that allow a bunch of ultrasonic images to be there:
Marantz SA-10 Measurements SACD Filter USB XLR Balanced DAC high-end player.png


Even the faster filter 2 takes its time to do its thing. This directly impacts our wideband THD+N measurements as we take into account everything up to 90 kHz:
Marantz SA-10 Measurements SACD THD+N vs frequency  USB XLR Balanced DAC high-end player.png


A $99 board that came out around the same time it did (dashed blue) outperforms it handily.

Marantz SA-10 SACD Playback Measurements
I do not have any SACD test discs. Only a few were created and are not easy to find. So I just played some music and grabbed the spectrum:
Marantz SA-10 Measurements SACD DSD Noise USB XLR Balanced DAC high-end player.png


Notice the classic DSD stream ultrasonic noise. Some attempt is made to filter part of it above the peak of 100 kHz but by then the damage is done. There is as much noise energy at 100 kHz than we have at 3 kHz in music!

BTW, the first SACD disc I tried to play, Dvorak Symphony No 7 in D minor by Ivan Fischer would not play. The unit just said "no disc." Not sure what is up with that.

EDIT:
Marantz SA-10 CD Playback
Here is playback of 16 bit CD:
Marantz SA-10 Measurements CD high-end player.png


91 dB is the limit for dithered 16 bit content so player can't do better than that. That said, there is a spray of harmonic distortion that is unfortunate.

To see how the encoding works, here is a wideband view:
Marantz SA-10 Measurements CD wideband FFT high-end player.png


Looks like noise shaping combined with some of filter centered around 30 to 40 kHz.

Conclusions
The Marantz SA-10 measured performance is good enough to not embarrass the brand. But it is not remotely optimized enough to compete with DACs at 5 to 10% of its cost. Of course those DACs don't play physical discs so if you have a good sized library of SACDs, the SA-10 remains an option. But at such high cost? Very hard to justify based on my measurements.

Needless to say, I personally have no use for this device. My DSD content is downloaded and I just don't play my SACD discs. We would need to test lower cost SACD players to see where SA-10 lands.

I let you decide if this is a product worth recommendation.

Edit: video review posted:

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As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 
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respice finem

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Good one, if you need a SACD player and are an "oligarch" :p

For the average Joe, I'd recommend the el cheapo Sony UHD Bluray players, which also play SACD including multichannel (alas via HDMI only). BTW, the Marantz doesn't seem to have multichannel output?
 

xaviescacs

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That is the way I got it but I didn't look to see if that is the default in the manual.
I just remembered some people have said here and there that NOS filters do make an audible difference, so I thought, if it's the default one, perhaps is the way Marantz found to give the device some sound signature.
 
Last edited:
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amirm

amirm

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I just remembered some people have said here and there that NOS filters do make an audible difference, so I thought, if it's the default one, perhaps is the way Marantz found to give the device some sound signature.
Good point. The early roll off can be audible with people with extended hearing.
 

phoenixdogfan

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It should be completely transparent but of course it's absurdly overpriced for the ordinary buyer. And SACD's? Are they even a thing anymore?

But it at least looks and weighs the part. If you're going to spend upwards of $100-300k on a sound system, your CD/SACD player should look like it belongs with the Magicos and the Solutions.
 

Vini darko

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Thanks for the review Amir it did better than I expected ( not a high bar though ).
Did you play with the headphone out?
 
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amirm

amirm

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Did you play with the headphone out?
I did not. I figured if you are going to spend $6K on a player, you can spend a few hundred dollars getting a proper state of the art headphone amp. :)
 
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amirm

amirm

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And SACD's? Are they even a thing anymore?
They are still being produced by smaller/independent labels. But yes, for the most part they have shifted to online distribution.
 

TNT

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So none of these measurements are with a spinning disc?

//
 

TNT

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OK, the DSD ones. I was thinking there could be resons why it would perform better from a CD... no ground loop USB/Measurment connection, less incoming noise (USB?)... Obviously at 44,1....

//
 

nikosidis

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@amirm
A typo there in the title.

Maratnz=Marantz​

 
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