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Marantz SA-10 Review (SACD Player & DAC)

Rate this product:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 61 21.9%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 137 49.3%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 71 25.5%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 9 3.2%

  • Total voters
    278

SuicideSquid

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I said if sinad is below audibility, you can't have audible differences between dacs.

You seem to think that is not true:

quote: In both cases, at normal listening levels, you will not be able to hear noise or distortion from either DAC in your scenario. That *doesn't mean* they'll sound identical. Frequency response, jitter, channel separation, and other factors will still affect how the DAC sounds.

You seem to think you can have linearity issues and still have inaudible sinad.

But is not lack of linearity going to reflected in sinad? Is not rolled off high frequencies distorting the signal? does sinad not measure this distortion?

I'm not sure why you think that a high-frequency rolloff is going to reflect in SINAD. Rolling off HF prematurely isn't going to increase noise or distortion - if anything, it's going to lower them.

Imagine a slightly-unhinged engineer who decides to take a similar design to the Topping D30, but who says "hey, everyone who uses this is going to be using it for lossy streaming, so instead of a roll-off between 20 and 24kHz, I'm going to insert a brick wall filter at 13kHz". So frequency response is flat up to around 12kHz and then drops off sharply, and everything about 13kHz is completely attenuated.

This isn't going to result in more noise, or more distortion. In fact, because you've cut everything about 13kHz, you're getting literally zero distortion in the top octave (because you've got zero signal to distort).

Our hypothetical DAC should post equivalent SINAD to the Topping D30, but is going to sound worse when playing uncompressed audio to anyone who isn't suffering from high-frequency hearing loss.

[edit] Regarding your comments about -112dB distortion being "not good enough" you should re-read the review. Amir said the distortion numbers were not competitive with inexpensive DACs. The point is not that this player will sound bad, the point is that a $7,500 piece of equipment should never be outperformed by a $99 one. Here is the conclusion, again:

"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."

IMO, if this player were $1,500, given its build quality and versatility, it would be worth considering. Performance is solid - in most respects (with the exception of some issues with high-frequency filtering) it's going to give you better performance than your ears are capable of detecting. But it doesn't do anything to justify its $7,500 price tag. I think a more interesting question would be "what if the Marantz had posted better numbers than a $99 Topping?" In that case, I still think it would not be justifying its $7,500 price tag, because such differences would almost certainly be inaudible.

Regarding your comment about jewelry: (most) Audio equipment depreciates in value rapidly. Anyone who buys a $7,500 SACD player with the intention of selling it twenty years down the line for more than s/he paid for it is in for a shock.
 
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don'ttrustauthority

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I'm not sure why you think that a high-frequency rolloff is going to reflect in SINAD. Rolling off HF prematurely isn't going to increase noise or distortion - if anything, it's going to lower them.

Imagine a slightly-unhinged engineer who decides to take a similar design to the Topping D30, but who says "hey, everyone who uses this is going to be using it for lossy streaming, so instead of a roll-off between 20 and 24kHz, I'm going to insert a brick wall filter at 13kHz". So frequency response is flat up to around 12kHz and then drops off sharply, and everything about 13kHz is completely attenuated.

This isn't going to result in more noise, or more distortion. In fact, because you've cut everything about 13kHz, you're getting literally zero distortion in the top octave (because you've got zero signal to distort).

Our hypothetical DAC should post equivalent SINAD to the Topping D30, but is going to sound worse when playing uncompressed audio to anyone who isn't suffering from high-frequency hearing loss.

[edit] Regarding your comments about -112dB distortion being "not good enough" you should re-read the review. Amir said the distortion numbers were not competitive with inexpensive DACs. The point is not that this player will sound bad, the point is that a $7,500 piece of equipment should never be outperformed by a $99 one. Here is the conclusion, again:

"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."
So if sinad is -112 db, you are saying sinad will improve if you take away the top half of the signal?

Amir is an excellent teacher.

Again, my point is, that if sinad below -112 db is inaudible, AS AMIR STATES, then it is of NO VALUE to have 'better' numbers because it is AUDIO equipment.

Further, Amir is inconsistent on pricing issues. He says he evaluates ignoring price, but then SOMETIMES he decides to make it an issue. Not 'objective' but rather, wishy washy.
 
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rwortman

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SINAD is just a measure of noise+distortion. You can have high SINAD and still have poor linearity, for example, because linearity is not a measure of noise or of distortion.
You can’t have poor linearity that doesn’t cause distortion. THD and IMD are caused by non-linearity.
 

aj625

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I'm holding the position that if two things measure the same, they'll sound the same, and if they measure differently, they may sound different. If you're disagreeing with that statement, the burden of proof is with you, not with me, to provide evidence to suggest otherwise.

There are reasons you can have poor linearity without affecting SINAD - a poorly-designed filter that begins to roll off high frequencies below 20kHz, for example, will not affect SINAD, but may affect how a device sounds.
what link rolling off treble has with linearity or you are just for the sake of arguing giving such statements ? one who make generalized comments like this "If you put two DACs against each other, level-matched, that post inaudible noise, inaudible distortion, inaudible jitter, dead flat linearity, and low crosstalk, they're going to sound the same. If you put such a DAC up against one with with low noise and distortion, but poor linearity and poor crosstalk, they may sound different." should have some basis but you don't seem to have one, do you ? where are limit of audability defined ? do you have any link of test or you have just made these up yourself ?
 

rwortman

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Lets get our terms correct. Frequency response deviations are linear distortions. They have nothing to do with non-linearity.
 

SuicideSquid

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You can’t have poor linearity that doesn’t cause distortion. THD and IMD are caused by non-linearity.

Yes you're absolutely right. For some reason my brain flipped "linearity" and "level frequency response" at some point in this discussion. From context I think it's still clear what I was talking about but I apologize to anyone I confused (and am very embarrassed for making such an obvious error).
 

ousi

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I had this device when it was first launched. It's okay but I don't really like that it sounds too "analog" (likely due to the noise floor). Its DAC design upsample all incoming signal to DSD 512. Compared to my other CD-only players, it altered the sound of the CD somewhat, noticeable in A/B blind testing reliably (vs Sony CDP-XA20ES). For SACD, it also sounds different than the age-old heavy-weight Sony SCD-777ES which I had at the same time; Or DSD rip on a Sony HAP-Z1ES going through a Topping DAC (forgot the model). IMO, it seems to reproduce both CD/SACD with some coloration. At the end I sold it at a loss, and kept the last Sony SACD player SCD-XA5400ES, which was 1/5 of the cost but performs better than SA10 IMO.
 

srrxr71

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I had this device when it was first launched. It's okay but I don't really like that it sounds too "analog" (likely due to the noise floor). Its DAC design upsample all incoming signal to DSD 512. Compared to my other CD-only players, it altered the sound of the CD somewhat, noticeable in A/B blind testing reliably (vs Sony CDP-XA20ES). For SACD, it also sounds different than the age-old heavy-weight Sony SCD-777ES which I had at the same time; Or DSD rip on a Sony HAP-Z1ES going through a Topping DAC (forgot the model). IMO, it seems to reproduce both CD/SACD with some coloration. At the end I sold it at a loss, and kept the last Sony SACD player SCD-XA5400ES, which was 1/5 of the cost but performs better than SA10 IMO.

How does the topping compare to the SCD-777es?
 

Rottmannash

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Not every manufacturer has joined the “look at our impressive meaningless spec’s competition”. As restorer John alludedmto, there is more to a statement product than distortion and noise numbers. I don’t think it is correct to call a product like this poorly engineered.

1. It has not been demonstrated that pushing SINAD further and further below audible thresholds correlates with perceived better sound quality.
2. The audiophiles that this product is aimed at are not buying things based on what product has the best test results.
3. People that are fixated on test results aren’t buying $7500 disk players.

Given these factors, time spent by Marantz to chase ultra low distortion and S/N is a waste of resources. Products are engineered to sell them. Setting goals that don’t demonstrably improve sound and that your customers don’t care about is kind of dumb as is insisting that such products are incompetently engineered by those with different priorities. I am happy with my seldom used Yamaha BDA 1070 but if someone gave me one of these I would keep it.
Keeping a $7500 device given to you is quite a different thing from using your money to buy the device at that price-that doesn't speak to its value, only that it has enough value to you to keep and use.
 

rwortman

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Keeping a $7500 device given to you is quite a different thing from using your money to buy the device at that price-that doesn't speak to its value, only that it has enough value to you to keep and use.
It does somewhat speak to it’s value. If someone gave me some $7500 wires, I would sell them on Audiogon and spend the money on something else. So I think it’s a component I wouldn’t mind owning but it’s out of my price range. There are many things that I think are worth the asking price that are outside of my budget. I bought a Rotel amp to go with my Mcintosh preamp, not because I think Mcintosh amps aren’t worth the asking price, I just didn’t want to spend that much.
 

pablolie

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Ultimately budget is a very personal decision. Many of us have things we may spent on irrationally here and there.

I have owned very expensive audio equipment, not because I was convinced to the core it sounded much better, but because of pride of ownership, because it looked awesome (related to previous), the tactile experience was great (remember when you had to interact manually with equipment?), and I also had the room/space (expensive equipment tends to be quite traditionally large audio stuff, as in this case).

Now I interact with equipment via my tablet or a remote, I have a much smaller space, and I don't handle any physical media - it's all digital.

But I can't see how the device we discuss in this thread -which is built like a tank and engineered to more traditional audio standards- can in any way be viewed as a truly poor choice, up there with cable mythology or crystal esoterica. It isn't, provided you like the value prop. I wouldn't buy it, but I understand why someone else would.
 

srrxr71

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I agr
Ultimately budget is a very personal decision. Many of us have things we may spent on irrationally here and there.

I have owned very expensive audio equipment, not because I was convinced to the core it sounded much better, but because of pride of ownership, because it looked awesome (related to previous), the tactile experience was great (remember when you had to interact manually with equipment?), and I also had the room/space (expensive equipment tends to be quite traditionally large audio stuff, as in this case).

Now I interact with equipment via my tablet or a remote, I have a much smaller space, and I don't handle any physical media - it's all digital.

But I can't see how the device we discuss in this thread -which is built like a tank and engineered to more traditional audio standards- can in any way be viewed as a truly poor choice, up there with cable mythology or crystal esoterica. It isn't, provided you like the value prop. I wouldn't buy it, but I understand why someone else would.

I agree. I think many of us have. Times are different now. The biggest thing I have now is the Sony UHD player. Almost an anachronism when everything else is just tiny.

I don’t think I could go back to having an equipment rack personally, but if I did, I wouldn’t mind this player being in it. I think a big bad record player would be a better conversation piece though.

I can safely say my system now distinguishes itself by how it sounds now much more than by how it looks.
 

stvnharr

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It is good that this Marantz player has gotten a review here this month. The newer Marantz disc players have not gotten many reviews anywhere as I suppose disc players are "so yesterday" now. It is unfortunate that test discs were not able to be used here, but it's understandable.
FWIW, I do not have an SA-10. I have the SA KI-Ruby player, the Ken Ishiwata swansong just before he retired. The Ruby is the same player as the SA-12, and shares the same Service Manual. These differ from the SA-10 mostly in the analog output stage, with the SA-10 being fully balanced and the SA12/Ruby being differential single ended. Otherwise the players are near identical.
And to correct a statement in post #427 above, all disc and file inputs in to these players are made in to Quad DSD, or DSD 256, not DSD512 as stated in that post.
I purchased by player in July 2020 and have been more than pleased with it from the get go.

Two points have been raised by posters here numerous times. One is that the $7500 price point is high. And the other is questioning the market for such a player.
Yes, the price point is high. The SA-10 replaced the SA-7 player, which was at this same price point, top of the line Marantz Reference Series. The SA-12/Ruby is about half that price point in the US market. And the newer SACD N30 player is less by a thousand or so, in the US market. The prices in the EU markets and Asia/Oceania markets are a lot higher. I live in Australia and the Ruby was priced at $8400 Australian. However I was able to take advantage of a factory authorized sale and purchased my player for approximately the US price. And I got a full 4 year Marantz warranty. For those who think $7500 is to high, well pricey as it is, there are sacd players well over the $10k price point.

The market for these players is simple. People who have large collections of sacd's, as measured in the hundreds and thousands, need a sacd player with a reliable laser transport. These newer Marantz players provide that with the SACDM-3 mechanism. Sacd players have been plagued from the beginning by poor laser mechanisms. All the early generation players of the 2000-2005 era suffered from poor lasers needing near constant replacement until NOS stock got depleted leaving a dead and useless player. Second generation players were not really much better. It really was only when Marantz developed their own laser mech using the hopeless HOP1200 laser did things really change. The only other reliable sacd mechanisms were the Esoteric VRDS mechanisms, which were all very pricey. And then a few years ago Esoteric stopped supplying them to OEMS. Other players, like the Oppo tended to use dvd mechanisms with some success. But then the sacd market dwindled down, and also production of laser diodes fell. And then there were just not many options for sacd players.

I purchased the Ruby player solely for it's reliable and warrantied laser mechanism. Then when the player sounded really great right out of the box, I was more than pleased. With a disc collection of 2000 titles, of which 75% are sacd titles, I need a reliable player. And now I have one.
 

rwortman

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I don’t think I could go back to having an equipment rack personally,
I don’t know now I get the functionality I need without one. I have a two channel setup interleaved with a 5.1 HT system. Even if you use amps with commodity class D modules, 5 channels of amplification and HT switching and processing takes up some space. On the two channel side, I want to be able to play CD/SACD/DVD-A even though I mostly stream, and I have a turntable. I have a tiny line stage preamp, a tiny phono preamp, and a tiny DAC and I am ditching them all for a nice big full featured preamp with a display I can read from across the room.
 

rwortman

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All the early generation players of the 2000-2005 era suffered from poor lasers needing near constant replacement until NOS stock got depleted leaving a dead and useless player
Hmm. I have owned a few CD/SACD players from an inexpensive Sony carousel player to four different DVD or Bluray based universal players including a Marantz DV6001 that got fairly heavy use and never experienced a laser problem. How long did it take for these laser problems to appear?
 

stvnharr

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Clarification due:
I should have stated AUDIO ONLY sacd early generation players suffered from poor lasers. And there were exceptions. I had a Sony carousel player, 2000ES I think, for a couple years and never had a laser issue. Players that used dvd mechs tended to have fewer issues. But any player with the KHM230AAA laser or the HOP1200 had issues after a couple years, if not less. Of course it depended on how much the sacd laser was used.
 

ousi

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The mechanism that the SA-10 uses is the "common" transport unit made for Sound United. Technically the transport is shared across Denon, Marantz and McIntosh. Hopefully it's reliable. If my observation is correct, the transport used in the SoulNote S-3 v2 is likely the same/modified.

And thanks for correcting me about SA-10 upsampling rate. It's DSD 256, which is 11.2MHz...

I had the SCD-777ES which had a dying laser unit, being one of the earliest SACD players. The other SACD player that had laser unit died for SACD was an Accuphase DP-77 (also uses Sony laser and mechanism). Interestingly, I also got some mechanism issues with Esoteric X-03 LE, not laser. The Esoteric K-03XD I had (which I just sold) had a noisy mechanism that I can hear across the room, and it left some tiny marks on the face of the disc. The one that actually lasted for a couple years was the Sony XA-5400ES which I had it 2 times and both units performed flawlessly - but that's the very last Sony SACD ES player. For a time I had the Yamaha CD-S1000 which I returned - because it would introduce skipping on a couple of my SACD discs even brand new!

My personal conclusion is that the SACD mechanism is a hit-or-miss. I regressed back to use CD player (my current one is a Sony CDP-XA7ES used as transport going into Matrix Audio Element X) and rip all SACDs with my aging PS3 to files instead; or just play the CD layer of hybrid SACDs.
 

ousi

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How does the topping compare to the SCD-777es?
The Topping DAC that I had at the time sounds a bit leaner (likely more accurate). The SCD-777ES has a slight raise in the mid-bass and the lower bass region, quite noticeable. A slightly more recessed high too. Some people like this kind of voice tuning.
 

stvnharr

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Hi, Yes the transport in the SACD-M3 transport is available to OEMS now. It has brought back Playback Designs and dcS to the sacd player fold. Also PS Audio uses it in their transport. These units are all quite pricey, and make the Marantz players almost in the budget category.
The marketing literature for the SACD-M3 really makes it seem special. Nonetheless, it does seem to be reliable, which is a real plus.

It could also be mentioned that one of the real drawbacks that limited sacd players is the steep licensing fees charged by Sony for the privilege of making a player. Most all players were/are made by the audio multi-national companies as they are/were the only companies that could afford the fees. The few small companies that ventured in to the sacd player market had to find ways to make the fees affordable. Several years ago the Late Charles Hansen wrote in a forum that when his company, Ayre, was considering the above that they ended up using a dvd transport as it included the licensing fees in the purchase of such. And while Ayre considered the Esoteric transports, the Esoterics did not include the licensing fees. And this alone is why any player using the VRDS transports cost a fortune.

Then there is the whole multichannel thing and HDMI. HDMI is a licensed connector and again, only the audio multi-nationals can afford it. Thus audio only sacd players just disappeared after the introduction of HDMI. Of course there weren't that many to begin with.
 

Snoopy

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Seems insane to buy this for SACD if you could just purchase a cheap Sony BluRay Player and rip the SACD as dsf file and play it with something like roon while maintaining a backup of the SACD and everything accessible in one place
 
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