Marantz has begun shipping its eagerly awaited flagship Premium 10 Hi-Fi components. First glimpsed at last year’s summer D&M dealer expo, the SA-10 CD player/DAC and PM-10 amplifier are being heralded by the brand as a new audio reference.
Certainly the duo are substantially made and recognisably Marantz in design, with a double-layered copper-plated chassis,casework constructed from thick aluminium panels and die-cast aluminium feet. Buyers have a choice of silver or black finishes, accented with blue illuminations when in use.
The SA-10 replaces the SA-7, the previous Marantz Reference disc player. The SA-10 is unusual in that it doesn’t actually have a DAC! Instead we get Marantz Musical Mastering, a two-stage process (dubbed MMM-Conversion and MMM-Stream).The disc mechanism (for SACD, CD and rewritables) is made in house. The SACD-M3 disc mechanism can play high-resolution audio stored on either CD or DVD recordable media. There’s also an asynchronous USB-B input for the connection of a computer.
Rather than down-converting ultra-high-resolution files to suit a conventional digital to analogue converter, the SA-10 upconverts everything to DSD256 (Marantz Musical Mastering – Conversion), which four times the SACD standard. Two filter settings to allow the listener to shape the sound.
The Marantz Musical Mastering package (MMM-Stream) then preps this DSD256 signal for analogue output to an amplifier. Based on technology going all the way back to early days of Bitstream conversion, this enables an ultra-simple conversion process.
Senior Electronics Engineer Rainer Finck, says: “As I was one of the Philips engineers way back in the late 80s, and worked on the company’s Bitstream converters – the last one was the DAC-7 – we could draw on all this knowledge to build our own bitstream converter for the SA-10. The output from the MMM-Conversion process is, in effect, already an analogue signal, being a very high-frequency stream of single pulses. With all the hard digital work done, this stream needs nothing more than a very high-quality low-pass filter to deliver the purest possible analogue audio output. For all its apparent complexity, this is actually a very simple, very elegant solution to digital processing – and it’s unique to the Marantz SA-10. That’s why we say it’s the first player/USB converter without a DAC – it doesn’t need one!”
It says much that the PM-10 is an integrated amplifier. The brand’s previous reference amplifier, the SC-7/MA-9, was a pre/power combo. Power output is rated at 2x200W (into 8 Ohms). It’s designed for both analogue (vinyl!) and digital sources.
The SA-10 will retail for £5,999 the PM-10 is £6,999.