Marantz SA8004 SACD / CD Player / USB DAC Reviewed

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Marantz SA8004 SACD / CD Player / USB DAC Reviewed


Marantz_SA8004_SACD_review_front.jpgMarantz's latest SACD player, the stereo only SA8004, is reminiscent of a Swiss Army knife (or Leatherman for those who didn't grow up with Swiss Army knives) in that it is flexible and versatile beyond expectation. I have seen the SA8004 marketed simply as a SACD / CD player but it has a few more tricks up its sleeve.

Additional Resources
� Read more source component reviews by the writers at Home Theater Review.
� Find a pair of Bookshelf Speakers or Floorstanding Speakers to pair with the SA8004.
� Explore receiver options in our AV Receiver Review section.

One look as the outside of the SA8004 and there is no question that this is a Marantz product as it draws heavily from the current line's industrial design with the outer edges of the font panel being made out of a curved polymer material. I have come to expect an emphasis on sound quality form Marantz and was pleased to see that Marantz paid close attention to audio performance in the design of this product. The double layered chassis weighs in at just over 17 pounds and demonstrates the fit and finish that one deserves in a product that plays $999 such as this one. The price is especially impressive when one considers how many design elements the SA8004 shares with its big brothers in the Marantz lineup, the SA-15S2 and limited edition Pearl, not to mention the added flexibility discussed below.

The inside of the chassis features too many features to go into here but some highlights include a custom made, Xryon transport tray with a rubberized coating to minimize vibration, HDAM-SA2 output circuits, low noise toroidal power supply, lots of internal shielding, a front panel USB input that can accept a digital stream from an iPod (as well as control the iPod), a rear panel USB Type B input that can accept up 24 bit / to 96 kHz signals, Coax / Optical digital inputs that can accept up to 24 / 192 kHz bit signals, and many more audiophile touches.

High Points
� The SA8004's ability to bypass an iPod's internal DACs and extract its pure digital signal is a nice bonus.
� The SA8004 has digital inputs that can accept 24/96 via USB and 24/192 signals via both its coax and optical inputs.
� The ability of the Cirrus CS4398 DAC to accept 2.8224 MHz SACD DSD signals ensures maximum SACD performance.

Read about the low points of and competition for the Marantz SA8004 on Page 2.

HTR Product Rating for Marantz SA8004 SACD / CD Player / USB DAC

Criteria Rating

Performance

3.5

Value

4

Overall

4

Disagree with our product rating? Email us and tell us why you think this product should receive a higher rating.


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Marantz_SA8004_SACD_review_back.jpgLow Points
� The SA8004's lack of text display means you'll have to do a bit of guessing when playing back discs embedded with text files/content.
� Despite the SA8004's audiophile focus there are no balanced analog outputs present.
� The SA8004 is limited to stereo only and cannot output a multi-channel soundtrack and it cannot output the SACD layer of a hybrid disc digitally.

Competition and Comparison
When it comes to high-end disc spinners the competition is as vast as the price points are varied. SACD players tend to command a higher premium than the Marantz reviewed here, evident in the high sticker prices of the Mark Levinson No 512 SACD player, McIntosh MCD500 SACD player and even Marantz's own SA-KI Pearl SACD player.

Of course if you're on the lookout for a true universal player, one that has plenty of audiophile and home theater credibility than one shouldn't overlook Oppo's BDP-95 Blu-ray player. For more on these players and others like them please visit Home Theater Review's Source Component page.

Conclusion
I had the opportunity to listen to the SA8004 in an unfamiliar system but was immediately impressed with the player's performance. The SA8004 kept with the Marantz tradition with its relaxed, natural and musical presentation. The SA8004 might not be the last word in detail or have the lowest noise floor but it performs better than one would expect for a product in this price class.

If you are looking for a SACD/CD player that does not break the bank for a high quality stereo system the SA8004 deserves your close attention. (If money is no object and you are shopping for a reference grade player, Marantz has some higher end units as well.) Likewise if you are looking for a DAC or USB DAC, the SA8004 deserves your close attention as well. If you are looking for both a player and a DAC, the above applies even more. At $999 the SA8004 is a steal. Just a couple years ago you would have paid a few hundred dollars simply to extract an iPod's digital signal. USB DACs and SACD players of this quality can each easily cost as much as the SA8004. With the SA8004 you get all of this capability in one box, which also saves you money on interconnects and saves preamplifier inputs for other sources.

Additional Resources
� Read more source component reviews by the writers at Home Theater Review.
� Find a pair of Bookshelf Speakers or Floorstanding Speakers to pair with the SA8004.
� Explore receiver options in our AV Receiver Review section.


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