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Marantz SACD 30n Measurements (SACD Player, DAC & Streamer)

VintageFlanker

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Marantz SACD 30n Measurements

PXL_20220424_121948252.NIGHT (1).jpg

Hi folks,

Here is my objective analysis of the Marantz SACD 30n. This sample in particular has been gently loaned to me by Sound United France directly. It is a versatile piece of gear, being not only a SACD/CD player, but also a standalone DAC and a streamer. In addition, it can also act as a preamp and claims to have a decent headphone amplifier. It has been released in late 2020 and MSRP is 3199€ as of this writing, so not quite "cheap".​

PXL_20220424_143701988.NIGHT.jpg

The SACD 30n is unusually massive and heavy... It weights as much as a classic integrated amp (13.5Kg), it is 44cm wide and 42cm deep. It introduced the new Marantz's industrial design language when launched, along with the Model 30 integrated amplifier. I have to confess that I was not wowed when I first discovered it reading press releases and IRL in stores, but now that I have it at home, I kind of like the overall aesthetics. Anyway, it is beautifully crafted and finished, as it is to be expected in this price range. It is by the way Made in Japan. The screen in the center is monochrome OLED with decent brightness and viewing angles, which I personally prefer instead of some cheap colour screen, with poor resolution and contrast I've seen on much more expensive products.​

PXL_20220424_144247494.NIGHT (1).jpg

On the rear, you got the regular digital inputs and outputs, with also two antennas. It obviously supports WiFi or Bluetooth, with Denon/Marantz's HEOS streaming app. Unfortunately, it lacks the Roon Ready certification, but I have been told that the latter should come with a firmware update. As you can see, both fixed and variable output are separated (with also two distinct circuits inside the unit, BTW). You also noticed the lack of balanced XLR outputs, which is a pity at this price.

Like both the pricer SA-12SE or SA-10 reviewed by @amirm, the SACD 30n also comes with Marantz Musical Mastering (MMM) :​

PXL_20220425_224303936.NIGHT_2.jpg
PXL_20220425_193804403.NIGHT (1).jpg

Marantz is using its own in-house, proprietary design for digital to analog conversion. The aforementioned differs from either regular Delta Sigma chips we often see from ESS, Cirrus, AKM, or TI, or to some extents, R2R DACs. Here, D/A conversion is done by dual DSP chips, along with FPGA ones. All PCM signals are also upsampled to DSD 11.2Mhz. While I thought this approach was kind of recent, I found that MMM has been first introduced with the SA-11S3, back in 2012.​

PXL_20220425_193636282.NIGHT_2 (4).jpg

On top of that, you see above the discrete output stage (HDAM) for the fixed output. These kinds of architectures aren't exactly known for their transparency when it comes to measurements. So let me sum up: we've got a custom D/A design, with some discrete components. Great. Needless to say, the SACD 30n should start with a serious disadvantage for tests to come... or should it?

Measurements

Disclaimer: Measurements you are about to see are not intended to be as precise or extensive than what you get from a 30k€ AP. There is obviously both hardware and software limitations here, so not quite apples to apples comparison with Amir's testing. For example, I estimated SINAD (AKA THD+N) to be usually 5 to 6dB worse with my measurements rig, when compared to ASR reviews of the exact same products. Still, this data is enough to have a pretty good idea if the gear is bad or not, stellar, broken, or sub-par...

- ADC : E1DA Cosmos (Grade B), set to 2.7Vrms input. Minimum phase filter.
- Software : RMAA 6.4.5 PRO and Multitone Loopback Analyzer 1.0.15.
- Method : 8 runs for each test, then I choose the closest to the average. All regular tests are running 24bits / 44.1Khz except for Jitter and Multitone ones.
- Marantz SACD 30n : USB-B input, fixed (2.5Vrms) output for main results, unless specified otherwise.​

Fixed output
PXL_20220424_130024584.jpg

RMAA Summary

Test
Results
Rating
Frequency response (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB
+0.03, -0.15
Very good
Noise level, dB (A)
-116.9
Excellent
Dynamic range, dB (A)
115.4
Excellent
THD, %
0.00021
Excellent
THD + Noise, dB (A)
-106.4
Excellent
IMD + Noise, %
0.00070
Excellent
Stereo crosstalk, dB
-111.0
Excellent
IMD at 10 kHz, %
0.00061
Excellent

Well, it is not that bad after all... In fact, it is seriously good on many points ! THD is not only excellent at 0.00021%, but even better than specs (0.0008%), and effectively lower than my Matrix with XLR. Both Noise and DR are also quite respectable for results from unbalanced outputs, and again above manufacturer's specs (112dB SNR). Just looking at these numbers, I cannot really see any issue to speak about. With an AP, this could land in the 110dB+ SINAD territory. Sure, we do not reach the same level of performance of the best Chinese DACs, but for what it is : a product designed from scratch by a classic manufacturer, it is surprising in a good way.

THD + Noise (at -3 dB FS)
thd.png

Left
Right
THD, %
0.00020
0.00022
THD + Noise, %
0.00049
0.00049
THD + Noise (A-weighted), %
0.00047
0.00049

Frequency response
fr.png

Left
Right
From 20 Hz to 20 kHz, dB
-1.38, +0.03
-1.39, +0.02
From 40 Hz to 15 kHz, dB
-0.15, +0.03
-0.16, +0.02

Noise level
noise.png

Left
Right
RMS power, dB
-115.6
-115.8
RMS power (A-weighted), dB
-116.8
-117.0
Peak level, dB FS
-101.3
-102.2
DC offset, %
-0.0
+0.0

Dynamic range
dynamics.png

Left
Right
Dynamic range, dB
+114.3
+114.3
Dynamic range (A-weighted), dB
+115.5
+115.3
DC offset, %
-0.00
+0.00

Intermodulation distortion (swept tones)
imdswept.png

Left
Right
IMD + Noise at 5000 Hz,
0.00063
0.00062
IMD + Noise at 10000 Hz,
0.00061
0.00057
IMD + Noise at 15000 Hz,
0.00064
0.00060

Intermodulation distortion
imd.png

Left
Right
IMD + Noise, %
0.00070
0.00069
IMD + Noise (A-weighted), %
0.00050
0.00049

Stereo crosstalk
cross.png

Left
Right
Crosstalk at 100 Hz, dB
-109
-110
Crosstalk at 1000 Hz, dB
-110
-110
Crosstalk at 10000 Hz, dB
-112
-107

The SACD 30n nailed almost any test, except for a few. First is the simple Frequency Response, that you see with the two filters measured, instead of L/R channels (perfect match between both anyway). Filter 1 brings too much drop from 10Khz and above, that I assume is there on purpose. Filter 2 on the other hand, is audibly convenient, while not the flattest around (-0.5dB at 18Khz). Dynamic Range showed a bit of weird behaviour, with spikes at upper frequencies that I'm not used to see in this test. Shape usually remains the same in both Noise and DR tests. THD+N is quite decent with no audible flaw. There is also a repeatable peak at 100Hz I cannot explain (about -125/-130dB) that is quiet enough anyway.

Let's see what is the deal with both S/PDIF inputs:
USB VS Optical VS Coaxial
Test
USBOpticalCoaxial
Frequency response (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB
+0.03, -0.15+0.03, -0.16+0.03, -0.16
Noise level, dB (A)
-116.9-116.9-116.8
Dynamic range, dB (A)
115.4115.1115.3
THD, %
0.000210.000210.00021
IMD + Noise, %
0.000700.000720.00071
Stereo crosstalk, dB
-111.0-111.1-110.9


No difference whatsoever. As it has to be expected for any properly designed DAC.


Variable output
PXL_20220424_131023133.NIGHT (1).jpg
Test
Preamp @1V
Preamp @1.7V
Preamp @2.7V
Preamp @3.5V
Preamp @4.5V
Frequency response (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB
+0.03, -0.18
+0.03, -0.18
+0.03, -0.18
+0.03, -0.18
+0.03, -0.18
Noise level, dB (A)
-112.5
-114.7
-114.9
-114.9
-115.0
Dynamic range, dB (A)
111.6
113.4
113.6
113.7
113.7
THD, %
0.00131
0.00480
0.00410
0.00358
0.00316
IMD + Noise, %
0.00180
0.00442
0.00382
0.00341
0.00309
Stereo crosstalk, dB
-102.2
-102.6
-102.0
-101.9
-102.0

thd.png

Here is the variable output that uses a dedicated preamp circuit. It is an old school analogue approach as opposite to the most common digital attenuation. Yet, volume is still digitally controled, which is good. About that: unfortunatletly, no front panel button will work for the volume, you have to use the remote for that. I hope it could be considered to be add this with further firmware updates. Output may go up to 5Vrms, which is suitable to drive many power amps these days. Results are very consistent between levels measured, except for THD that moves up and down. It is effectively less clean than the fixed output, with <1Khz distortion added. Harmonics >1Khz are still acceptably restrained at -100dB or so. Overall, I call it suitable for transparent music listening.

Headphones amp
PXL_20220424_130444804.NIGHT.jpg
Test
@1V Low Gain
@2.7V Mid Gain
@4.5V High Gain
Frequency response (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB
+0.03, -0.15
+0.03, -0.16
+0.03, -0.16
Noise level, dB (A)
-114.6
-115.5
-116.9
Dynamic range, dB (A)
113.8
114.4
115.5
THD, %
0.00061
0.00245
0.012
IMD + Noise, %
0.00111
0.00265
0.012
Stereo crosstalk, dB
-77.9
-74.0
-74.3

thd.png

Still no extensive tests for the headphones output, with the lack of load board.... At few fixed levels measured, results are very good when using the Low Gain setting. Mid Gain also showed fairly acceptable results, while High Gain has strong output (I still had -2dBFS signal even with Cosmos set to 6.5Vrms input) at the expense of too much distortion. Marantz claims only "50mW / 32Ω" with is anemic. I'm sure, tho, that it could be measured as more powerful. For all Gain and volume, crosstalk has gone up quite significantly (TRS's shared GND for L/R the reason?).​


Jitter
(48Khz, 1-24Khz bandwidth, 16 averages, 262K FFT)

USB
Jitter USB 2.7.png


S/PDIF
SPDIF Jitter.png

We meet again the sidebands already observed in the 1Khz THD+N graph. Fortunately, their level is way too low to be any kind of audible consideration. S/PDIF (both Coax and Toslink) has overall lower peaks and noise floor, but add two little bumps that I'm not worrying about considering their level. Clearly, Jitter is not an issue at all with the SACD 30n.


Multitone 64
(192Khz, 20Hz-22Khz bandwidth, 10 averages, 262K FFT)

USB
Multitone USB 2.7.png


S/PDIF
Multitone SPDIF.png

Results are nothing short of excellent and one of the best I measured from any DAC with single ended outputs.


Conclusions
At this point, some of you may think about questioning the competitiveness of the Marantz SACD 30n. Does it measure better than some DACs at 1/4 of the cost? Nope. But again, that is not the point of this review. I assume that ASR is not the ideal target audience for this kind of "classic" audiophile products. Yet, my concern is to know if Marantz customers would get scammed spending 3000€ for a good-looking, Japan made, but improperly engineered or intentionally flawed piece of gear. Good news: they won't. The SACD 30n measures well, with no flaws from a technical standpoint. Furthermore, when knowing that it is a complete in-house design for its D/A conversion, then I almost call it excellence. Others things to be considered, it works well with plenty of features, it is well-built with tons of components and will probably last longer than some competitors.

In any case, I would like to address my gratitude to Sound United (AKA Denon/Marantz) for sending me this unit and that way, consenting to third-party verification. This is the kind of transparent behaviour we should expect from any manufacturer.

Flanker rating: Competent
 
Last edited:

Matias

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Thanks for yet another great review! I am glad you are doing them too.
 

AdamG247

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Rja4000

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Hi
Thanks for this atypical review.

I highly appreciate the fact you perform your own measurements and Amir promotes them here.

May I suggest a few enhancements?

1. I think you should specify the tested device functionality in the title
Then you know what to read for

2. Although I understand you want to warn reader for a difference coming from the measuring gig, the following sentence seems very weird.
I estimated SINAD (AKA THD+N) to be usually 5 to 6dB worse with my measurements rig,
Where are those 5 to 6dB coming from ?
Especially while most of your measurements here are A weighted while Amir's are not.
My experience, and most measurements I've seen from others using E1DA don't show such a big gap.

And why do you measure at -3dBFS, to begin with ?

3. RMAA is a basic piece of software.
It's performing quite different measurements from AP measurements set Amir is using.
Why use it and not REW, which is more common (and more readable) ?
(I'll try at some point to validate results using different software.)

4. You covered most of the measurements to qualify the device.
Just one topic:
For a home-made DAC, Amir's typically most discriminant test is the IMD SMPTE vs level test.
Could you run this one ?

Also, what do you mean by IMD sweep (vs frequency) ?
What exact IMD is that ?
IMD SMPTE is strictly defined.

Will you purchase Ivan's excellent load board for headphones testing ? (You'll also need a good DMM then)
 
Last edited:

da Choge

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Absolutely beautiful photos! Well done -- And I like the graded tinting !!!

"P.S. If I wear the old red/green glasses, would the images show up in 3-D???" -Amir

Amir - Are you slightly Red/Green color-blind like me? -- Or are you almost as old as me to remember those movies (and I thought those glasses were Red/Blue all this time) :D
 
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dadregga

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For some reason, SACD/DSD still fascinate me. Has anyone come across a deep dive techincial review of the format and whether or not it has any real benefit (or fault) over PCM?
Yes. There are several threads in this forum on that subject.

tl:dr it has no intrinsic benefit, and the only major fault vs equivalent PCM is that it's harder to work with and play back (so most things just convert it to PCM under the hood).
 

Tom C

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For some reason, SACD/DSD still fascinate me. Has anyone come across a deep dive techincial review of the format and whether or not it has any real benefit (or fault) over PCM?
For two channel there is zero benefit, only disadvantages, downside and cost.
However, it is still the most widely available format for purchase of multichannel recordings. Apple’s Atmos offerings are a streaming alternative, but comparing catalogs is problematic. It’s almost a different beast.
 

Blumlein 88

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Another excellent job on the review. I must say I find this unit attractive and surprisingly the performance to match.

I'd guess you've already done this, but it might be a good idea to post something Amir has already tested with the AP and contrast the results you get on the same unit. I also think using REW in place of RMAA might get better results, but RMAA is certainly much quicker and simpler. So maybe that is another comparison worth making REW vs RMAA just so we all can see how they differ.
 

voodooless

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Great review! Fascinating what one can do nowadays with a handful of affordable gear!

So Marantz does seem to know how to make a decent player after all. This definitely rates above the broken SA-10! And it’s cheaper as well… though still a ridiculous amount of money.
 

polmuaddib

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All PCM signals are also unsampled to DSD 11.2Mhz
Great review and thank you for that!
If I understood correctly, final signal is DSD for all different inputs? So, in a way this is a measurement of DSD 11.2 MHz?
Looks a lot like regular PCM in the graphs....
 

fordiebianco

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Good Morning,

many thanks for the time and dilligence you invested in this. As an old fogey who has been buying Denon/Marantz hardware by the bucketload before coming to ASR, it is great to see that there seems to be still innovation and engineering excellence in the old Japanese hardware foundries.
 
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DWI

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Excellent review, as expected. This together with the Model 30 amplifier has won all the hifi plaudits, most recently EISA best stereo system. The amplifier is measured elsewhere and is fine, but possibly not quite as good as this part of the package.

What this review fails to mention is in the title: SACD. Still very popular in many places, especially Japan, and this unit introduced Marantz's SACDM-3L transport, a 'lite' version of the bulkier transport in the SA10 and SA12 and that is also sold as an OEM. It doesn't compare to cheaper Chinese DACs because the main point of the unit is the SACD/CD unit.

So this unit was designed to provide:
- a smaller SACD/CD player than the earlier models
- an all in one digital source that is justifiable without using the SACD/CD transport
- retro styling referring back to the original model 30 from 30+ years ago
- a two-box system, which I think started with the SA10/PM10, at a lower cost
 
OP
VintageFlanker

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May I suggest a few enhancements?

1. I think you should specify the tested device functionality in the title
Then you know what to read for

2. Although I understand you want to warn reader for a difference coming from the measuring gig, the following sentence seems very weird.

Where are those 5 to 6dB coming from ?
Especially while most of your measurements here are A weighted while Amir's are not.
My experience, and most measurements I've seen from others using E1DA don't show such a big gap.

And why do you measure at -3dBFS, to begin with ?

3. RMAA is a basic piece of software.
It's performing quite different measurements from AP measurements set Amir is using.
Why use it and not REW, which is more common (and more readable) ?
(I'll try at some point to validate results using different software.)

4. You covered most of the measurements to qualify the device.
Just one topic:
For a home-made DAC, Amir's typically most discriminant test is the IMD SMPTE vs level test.
Could you run this one ?

Also, what do you mean by IMD sweep (vs frequency) ?
What exact IMD is that ?
IMD SMPTE is strictly defined.

Will you purchase Ivan's excellent load board for headphones testing ? (You'll also need a good DMM then)
Hi @Rja4000, thx you very much for your remarks. Few points:
1) As far as I can see, it is already stated in the title.
2) Yes, I knew this could legitimately rise some questions. Yet, you have to quote the entire sentence to get its proper meaning. As said, when compared to the exact same products measured by Amir. I never mentioned THD+N(A), BTW, but THD+N (second line under RMAA THD+N graphs). For those not yet measured here, this is 100% speculation and entirely conditional.
Point 3 and 4 would need a much more extensive answer that I can't type on the way with my phone.;) But long story short: Yes, you will get a REW THD+N graph later tonight ("tonight" in France, OFC). Same answer goes for @Blumlein 88 and I already anticipate for @pma that might show up.:p
Nice, just please make photos with normal lighting. These red blue colors are distracting.
I hesitated to include at least one under normal lighting. For the rest, these are my review aesthetic codes and it won't change. You will get different colours sheme for each product to be reviewed (not intended to reveal anything about the results, BTW).
The lighting suggests it was tested in a European disco, which does make the results all the more impressive.
Could have been much more psychedelic:
Screenshot_20220427-085345~2.png

:p
I'd guess you've already done this, but it might be a good idea to post something Amir has already tested with the AP and contrast the results you get on the same unit.
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/topping-d90se-measurements-dac.32293/ ;)

Freudian slip?
Hahaha. It was late, dude. I will edit later, since I'm actually on the way and don't want to mess the all article editing it with my phone.
If I understood correctly, final signal is DSD for all different inputs?
As far as I understood Marantz claims, yes.

This definitely rates above the broken SA-10!
Come on, it wasn't that broken.;) Surely not competitive at its price, with not terrible results.
 
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