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

EJ3

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I must say as I consistently repeat myself on this forum, read below. I am a firm believer in measurements, I feel synergy plays a huge role, and also that your source is by far the most crucial piece of equipment. I purchased an amp for 20 dollars, it's sinad is less than -40 db and was measured here on ASR. I never checked to see if this amp was any good because one the price was nothing and two I simply wanted to see what the amp sounded like as I was experimenting. The oddest thing I have found is that prior to even checking the measurements which was months after using this amp and still to this day I very much do enjoy using this amp. Not saying that it is the best or even does anything extremely well, however I do not hate listening to it and you would assume right off the bat something designed so poorly and measuring so bad would be total trash.
I have equipment which is extremely well measuring to compare against. My extremely well measuring system does sound better without a doubt, however even so I do not have any urge or reason to not use this component because I personally like it and it's use is for a second system I have in my home.
But in absolutely no way do I feel like my main listening system, which is in the five figures was a waste of money, nor that I could replace that amp with this 20 dollar amp.
I feel that it would honestly only be fair for someone to truly understand what these measurements mean by having listened to the worst and the best as well. It further helps me isolate two other factors, how so many of these companies have gotten away with selling mid grade measuring products with high price tags and also how subjective reviewers praise something that ends up measuring like kaka.
I also have to thank Amir as two of the components he tested and I incorporated into my system is what made magic to my ears, and also another one measured by someone else not on this site I believe. So there's absolutely no chance I can tell anyone not to check these reviews out or support this websites mission.
I agree:
My Frazier Super Monte Carlo pair
(AVERAGE OMNIDIRECTIONAL RESPONSE ! watt input
5 1/2 dB variance, 60 Hz to 16 kHz, ref. 86 1/2 dB, easily corrected with EQ. (starts doubling below 40 Hz)
CBS Labs found that the Monte Carlo could produce the standard 94 -dB test level with only 1 watt of input power, confirming the manufacturer's claim that in average rooms only 1/2 watt will be needed. Despite its small size the Super Monte Carlo reaches to below 40 Hz.
All right, so it's not power-hungry; but can it take power with equanimity? The lab hit 40 watts -for an output of 108 dB -before encountering excessive distortion, indicating excellent dynamic range as well as good power handling. And in pulse tests the speaker handled over 130 watts (average) before distorting excessively.)
They can easily be powered by my ADVENT 300 (please see this review: Advent Model 300 Vintage Receiver Review by AMIR).
I primarily use this setup bypassing the internal amp & using the ADVENT 300 as a phono stage & for FM. I run a pair of NAD 2100 amps from the pre-outs.
This is a great bedroom or den setup (& to run a TV/Video monitor sound through). I have many people tel me it sounds better than most of the stuff they use for these purposes.
Does it compare to my main system? No!
Is it APT (a reference to my pair of pre-amps in my main system [one of which was tested here: Apt Holman Preamplifier Review (vintage Audio]) for it's main purpose? Yes.
 

MacCali

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Just a reminder for a few "Golden Ears" here.

Amplifiers have been quite excellent for more than a few decades, offering few opportunities for engineering breakthroughs. There are significant differences in topology, measured specifications, physical design, and cosmetics, not to mention price, but the sound of all properly designed units is basically the same. The biggest diversity is in power supplies, ranging from barely adequate to ridiculously overdesigned. That may or may not affect the sound quality, depending on the impedance characteristics and efficiency of the loudspeaker. The point is that, unless the amplifier has serious design errors or is totally mismatched to a particular speaker, the sound you will hear is the sound of the speaker, not the amplifier. As for the future, I think it belongs to highly refined class D amplifiers, such as Bang & Olufsen’s ICEpower modules and Bruno Putzeys’s modular Hypex designs, compact and efficient enough to be incorporated in powered loudspeakers. The free-standing power amplifier will slowly become history, except perhaps as an audiophile affectation. What about vacuum-tube designs? If you like second-harmonic distortion, output transformers, and low damping factors, be my guest. (Can you imagine a four-way powered loudspeaker driven by vacuum-tube modules?)
"Peter Aczel" RIP
Completely agree with your statement.

Personally I don’t know what makes an amp great or doesn’t make it great internally in terms of measurements.

But being so new to audio and my experience going to these audio shows, I’ve seen 2-3 “million” dollar systems which sound like garbage. Probably a dozen systems over half a mill that sound like crap too

I don’t mean to imply that expensive means quality performance as Amir has debunked that several times.

I am just saying of the total about 100 demo rooms I’ve been to 15% of those were actually quite pleasant to listen too. Maybe another 10% passed as alright and the rest were basically bad news.

I think overall this means that even if you dish out all this money and bought 70 systems all at who knows what cost you still won’t be happy.

Think that’s something this guy really needs to understand, if Marantz makes him happy so be it.
 

GXAlan

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Just a reminder for a few "Golden Ears" here.

…the sound of all properly designed units is basically the same.

But to get to the point, I heard the benchmark at AXPONA and honestly I was not impressed at all by it, and I can see where you are coming from with all the issues you explained

Measurements never lie.
Measurements won’t predict likeability.

My anecdote is getting the Kenwood L-08m. This was a 1981 version of the Benchmark AHB2 since it was doing things like damping factor of up to 20,000. Objectively measures spectacularly.

This was my pandemic retail therapy, finding not only an ultra rare one, but one that was 117V/220V dual voltage capable. I actually bought it from the owner of the website TheVintageKnob.org from Europe.

After a delay getting the US, I sent it to QuirkAudio for a look over and restoration/full recap, etc. Several of QuirkAudio restorations have been measured here and the L-08c/L-08m were some of the best measuring devices on his QuantAsylum he has seen. (The L-08c being the best).

I sunk in more money than it would have cost me to get a AHB2 into this project and was eager to sit and listen…

…And it was pretty bad. Voices were thin and just didn’t bring a smile to my face.

If anything I should have expected a positive bias given the time and money, but it just didn’t sound great. This is where the story changes. Not burn in, but more experimentation, all sighted.

As I kept switching back and forth between the Marantz PM-90 (tested here) and the Kenwood, I came to a pretty convincing answer that I am pretty confident that I can ABX.

The Kenwood voices sounded thin, but if I closed my eyes and really thought about what I was listening, it was that the voices seemed to be coming from a object 2-3 inches wide. There really was a person in front of the microphone there. With the Marantz, there was a clear phantom center but the voices were larger than life. I couldn’t pin point where the singer’s mouth was exactly.

Here’s the thing. No matter how I tried to bias my thinking, there was no way for me to actually prefer listening to the Kenwood setup for that particular track.

Not “burn in” but experience. I started listening to more and more tracks over the course of weeks. And there was one orchestral piece that I was listening to and the pin point staging was incredible. Not just phantom center and left/right, but ultra precise soundstaging on the “in between” space. Here, switching back to the Marantz, I found the focus more typical of what I am used to hearing with all sorts of gear.

The conclusion is that, the measurements suggest that the Kenwood should beat the PM-90 in accuracy. For a well recorded symphony, the Kenwood sounds the best and some of that micro-imaging is incredible and grin making. On the other hand, on one of the music tracks I really enjoy listening to (from the La La Land Sountrack), I know that the Kenwood must be more accurate but no matter how I try to convince myself, the errors/coloration/crosstalk/distortion on the Marantz, plainly is more enjoyable to listen to. Even if you believe in capacitor burn in and I was finding very awesome sounding experiences because the capacitors had changed, if I went back to the first track I listened to, I still am unenthusiastic about the sound.

Having a mix of ultra precise and perhaps ultra euphonic components certainly helps since I can match the playback system to the song that I like to listen.

I won’t get into tubes, but I will say my SFS-80 with JAN 6550a and JAN 6DJ8 tubes definitely is more Marantz like in terms of making voices “larger than 3 inches wide”. I know the tubes won’t measure well, although the 6550a tubes were built in an era where accuracy not distortion was the goal and the JAN 6DJ8 also came from an era where tubes were needed for instrumentation. They sound very close to solid state.

For the record, I have owned Topping gear, Adcom gear, PS Audio, Proceed/Mark Levinson, old and new McIntosh, old and new Sony, etc.

I suspect that Denon gets to focus on maximum truth while Marantz gets to focus on pleasant coloration. I am sure they could have thrown in an ESS DAC instead of MMM, but I bet Marantz is doing great in terms of sales
 

MacCali

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Measurements never lie.
Measurements won’t predict likeability.

My anecdote is getting the Kenwood L-08m. This was a 1981 version of the Benchmark AHB2 since it was doing things like damping factor of up to 20,000. Objectively measures spectacularly.

This was my pandemic retail therapy, finding not only an ultra rare one, but one that was 117V/220V dual voltage capable. I actually bought it from the owner of the website TheVintageKnob.org from Europe.

After a delay getting the US, I sent it to QuirkAudio for a look over and restoration/full recap, etc. Several of QuirkAudio restorations have been measured here and the L-08c/L-08m were some of the best measuring devices on his QuantAsylum he has seen. (The L-08c being the best).

I sunk in more money than it would have cost me to get a AHB2 into this project and was eager to sit and listen…

…And it was pretty bad. Voices were thin and just didn’t bring a smile to my face.

If anything I should have expected a positive bias given the time and money, but it just didn’t sound great. This is where the story changes. Not burn in, but more experimentation, all sighted.

As I kept switching back and forth between the Marantz PM-90 (tested here) and the Kenwood, I came to a pretty convincing answer that I am pretty confident that I can ABX.

The Kenwood voices sounded thin, but if I closed my eyes and really thought about what I was listening, it was that the voices seemed to be coming from a object 2-3 inches wide. There really was a person in front of the microphone there. With the Marantz, there was a clear phantom center but the voices were larger than life. I couldn’t pin point where the singer’s mouth was exactly.

Here’s the thing. No matter how I tried to bias my thinking, there was no way for me to actually prefer listening to the Kenwood setup for that particular track.

Not “burn in” but experience. I started listening to more and more tracks over the course of weeks. And there was one orchestral piece that I was listening to and the pin point staging was incredible. Not just phantom center and left/right, but ultra precise soundstaging on the “in between” space. Here, switching back to the Marantz, I found the focus more typical of what I am used to hearing with all sorts of gear.

The conclusion is that, the measurements suggest that the Kenwood should beat the PM-90 in accuracy. For a well recorded symphony, the Kenwood sounds the best and some of that micro-imaging is incredible and grin making. On the other hand, on one of the music tracks I really enjoy listening to (from the La La Land Sountrack), I know that the Kenwood must be more accurate but no matter how I try to convince myself, the errors/coloration/crosstalk/distortion on the Marantz, plainly is more enjoyable to listen to. Even if you believe in capacitor burn in and I was finding very awesome sounding experiences because the capacitors had changed, if I went back to the first track I listened to, I still am unenthusiastic about the sound.

Having a mix of ultra precise and perhaps ultra euphonic components certainly helps since I can match the playback system to the song that I like to listen.

I won’t get into tubes, but I will say my SFS-80 with JAN 6550a and JAN 6DJ8 tubes definitely is more Marantz like in terms of making voices “larger than 3 inches wide”. I know the tubes won’t measure well, although the 6550a tubes were built in an era where accuracy not distortion was the goal and the JAN 6DJ8 also came from an era where tubes were needed for instrumentation. They sound very close to solid state.

For the record, I have owned Topping gear, Adcom gear, PS Audio, Proceed/Mark Levinson, old and new McIntosh, old and new Sony, etc.

I suspect that Denon gets to focus on maximum truth while Marantz gets to focus on pleasant coloration. I am sure they could have thrown in an ESS DAC instead of MMM, but I bet Marantz is doing great in terms of sales
I honestly am unsure what natural sound measures like, guess that can never be measured accurately without a microphones take on it. IE when youre outside in nature and what your ears here, is there distortion? what's the sinad? what's the THD + N?

I say this because that clear is what sounds the most natural to your ears

But I would like to add that I think this extremely super super clean sound is not the thing anyone can fully enjoy unless they probably go off of the bias that it's a perfect measuring device.

I cant say this for certain, but I do hear that the 789 and 887 have a sterile sound. Not agreeing or disagreeing with this, but just going off the measurements I wouldn't be surprised if it is that based on BM experience.

In addition, you must realize everything you have heard prior to those units, benchmark etc, has had something in it you always hear. Distortion, noise, whatever it may be, so when you hear it youre like this sounds like poop cause it's so totally different than everything else

I'm still young, and honestly I do not believe I got golden ears and I am new the hobby. Honestly though from dacs I can hear a difference. I have not heard every variation of a dac, like for instance a 4497 inside every possible manufactured dac to come to sincere conclusion. But to my understanding I do like a darker sound I guess you guys would reference as. At first I really enjoyed BB chips, before ever listening to a AKM. Then I had a ESS dac which wasn't flagship, but I did not enjoy the presentation. Then I tried the AKM and followed by the CL dac and it was okay too.

Like I said this can all be bologna since I have not had a chance to hear them all. Wouldn't say that dacs have a sound but rather a tint or maybe a difference in detail, not sure how to really describe it.

But my topping D70s is by far my favorite dac, actually enjoy it so much I tried to purchase a second one. Even with those whatever you want to call it sterile whatever, the AKM chip has the proper touch I guess to bring some life to the music. Make it musical or whatever you want to call it

Furthermore, I notice with my preference that same goes with amps. I really love class A amps and tubes. I am not really trying to touch tubes cause I know it's going to get wild for my wallet.

Even then I am unsure how this works, I have settled on parasound OG amps as my favorite. I first bought the HCA-1000, then the 1200ii and 1500. The thing I find really odd, the 1500 has a higher class A bias. However, the HCA-1000 is super rich and warm and to me sounds more of like what a class A brings to the table and has almost half the amount of bias. I am not sure what it is that's going on inside these amps that makes a different sound or if it is the class A part I really enjoy about the amp.

The 1500 is surely the same style, just not as a rich in warmth. Yet, none of the newer parasound products do anything for me. I have listened to the HCA-2200 and 3500 which was the flagship back then, and even then, with those more expensive amps and higher class A bias but the HCA-1000 sounds better to me.

I find this even more odd, since clearly it's the same designer and with newer tech which you would assume would actually improve the experience. Also not saying that it's bad, but I feel like it's moving away from that rich sound.

Just touching on the fact that no measurements were considered on any of this, and even with the same line of product across the board only getting greater power and more current something is going on. The HCA-1000 has bipolar transistors and the higher ups got mosfets

Based on all this amp comments I made, this also leads me to believe it may not be the dac after all that I am hearing but simply the implementations. That's why I said take it with a grain of salt :) We got not clue what they had to do to that amp to make it so superior and those factors maybe what has taken the life from it
 

GXAlan

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I honestly am unsure what natural sound measures like, guess that can never be measured accurately without a microphones take on it. IE when youre outside in nature and what your ears here, is there distortion? what's the sinad? what's the THD + N?

The danger is that there is a lot of uncertainty and a difference between probability and possibility. If you had your friend read a poem to you and then had your friend record the same poem and then played it back on a speaker, you can decide whether the playback is the same or different.

It doesn’t matter if you or I hear your friend differently due to our own ears/brain, just if the speaker reproduces the same sound with the same dispersion characteristics as what was coming out of your friend.

This is where I think audio science works. We know what is needed to mathematically have the least error.

Where the challenge lies is when your friend is a mediocre singer. Now the question is if their pitchiness or lack of perfect singing tone can be pleasantly masked by introduced distortions/alterations.

Now that I think about it, the song that sounds bad on the “better gear” and better on the “less perfect” gear is from a track where Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are singer. They are clearly better singers than me, but both of them are actors not singers, so their singing talent probably isn’t as good as someone who is primarily a singer as opposed to an actor. Maybe the less good gear is able to blur the signal enough that my brain fills in the gaps with “good” talent. Doesn’t change the fact that I like the song and it makes sense for me to play it back on the system I enjoy the most.
 

MacCali

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The danger is that there is a lot of uncertainty and a difference between probability and possibility. If you had your friend read a poem to you and then had your friend record the same poem and then played it back on a speaker, you can decide whether the playback is the same or different.

It doesn’t matter if you or I hear your friend differently due to our own ears/brain, just if the speaker reproduces the same sound with the same dispersion characteristics as what was coming out of your friend.

This is where I think audio science works. We know what is needed to mathematically have the least error.

Where the challenge lies is when your friend is a mediocre singer. Now the question is if their pitchiness or lack of perfect singing tone can be pleasantly masked by introduced distortions/alterations.

Now that I think about it, the song that sounds bad on the “better gear” and better on the “less perfect” gear is from a track where Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are singer. They are clearly better singers than me, but both of them are actors not singers, so their singing talent probably isn’t as good as someone who is primarily a singer as opposed to an actor. Maybe the less good gear is able to blur the signal enough that my brain fills in the gaps with “good” talent. Doesn’t change the fact that I like the song and it makes sense for me to play it back on the system I enjoy the most.
I believe, even based on what Amir has pointed out influenced by floyd toole's research is that we all virtually here the same. He had posted that video on youtube a while back showing the study and results with various people in a true blind test.

That would clearly make sense since we are basically at about the same level of evolution, how well or how much you can hear will vary but the general idea of perception or comprehension I guess seems to be equal across the board amongst ears.
 

GXAlan

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I believe, even based on what Amir has pointed out influenced by floyd toole's research is that we all virtually here the same.

Right, we all hear the same in that we same overall preferences when choosing between speakers. That is science that has been repeatedly validated and truth. You can now reproducibly measure a speaker and mathematically compute a preference score.

What is variable is the MCID. Minimally clinically important difference. How many points is “worth it” for an individual person?

What is variable with more modern research containing a more diverse demographic from the purposes of headphones is that there is age dependent preference for bass. This is actually true for speakers as well, where a preference for ~5 dB bass boost exists.


From the comments section
Hi Sean,
doesn't it contradict prior loudspeaker tonal balance findings, where you found that neither experience nor age play a role in listener preferences?

Reply
Replies
  1. SeanOlivePhoto.jpg

    Dr. Sean OliveMarch 31, 2016 at 5:05 PM
    The early studies involved comparison of different speakers that varied more than bass and treble balance. Some speakers had resonances that produced serious colorations, distortions, differences in directivity. The headphone study basically takes a flat neutral headphone and asks people to adjust the bass and treble. That's where experience and age seem to take over. The same holds true for loudspeakers when we did a similar experience.
 
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