Marantz, a world leader in advanced audio technologies, launches its most advanced hi-fi combination to date. The Premium 10 series, comprising the SA-10 SACD/CD player/DAC and PM-10 amplifier, features groundbreaking Marantz audio technology designed to deliver the best possible sound from high-resolution audio formats and CD alike. Taking its place at the pinnacle of the range, the new duo is so advanced in both technology and performance that Marantz describes it simply as The New Reference. Both models are expected to be available in January 2017.
Marantz SA-10 SACD/CD player/DAC $6,999
Today's digital technology has made it possible to replace conventional digital-to-analog conversion with something much more advanced, allowing the SA-10 to become the first player/USB-DAC that doesn't actually have a DAC. The reason is Marantz Musical Mastering, a brand-new approach to a problem almost 35 years old – making the most of music stored in digital form without introducing artifacts requiring extra processing after conversion. A two-stage process, MMM-Conversion and MMM-Stream, draws on Marantz expertise extending back to the first days of CD, and brings into play the company's commitment and experience in both SACD and the DSD format behind it.
Marantz PM-10 Amplifier $7,999
Marantz SA-10: The Biggest Advance In Digital
Audio Since The CD
To play SACD, CD, DVD-R/RW and CD-R/RW discs, the Marantz team avoided the usual route taken in players of this kind, using an 'off-the-shelf' DVD-ROM drive of the kind commonly found in computers. Instead, and in their quest for ultimate sound quality, they built their own: the new SACD-M3, the latest in an acclaimed range of disc mechanisms built for Marantz players, is unique to the SA-10, and can play not just CDs and SACDs, but also high-resolution audio stored on either CD or DVD recordable media.
Marantz Brand Ambassador Ken Ishiwata explains that "From the time of CD players the transport was one of our strengths, and with SACD it's the same. Of course doing things this way is expensive, but if we want something special we have to do it. And besides, there aren't many SACD mechanisms available today. However, there really is no way of making this kind of mechanism cheaply, so it's limited to our top-of-the-range model."
The digital-to-analog conversion process, available to both discs and external sources connected to the player's digital inputs (which include asynchronous USB for the connection of a computer), is equally innovative. Rather than down-converting ultra-high-resolution files to suit a conventional digital to analog converter, as happens in some rival designs, the SA-10 upconverts everything to DSD256, in a process known as Marantz Musical Mastering – Conversion.
Two dedicated master clocks are used to ensure all digital signals are upsampled directly to DSD 256 – or four times the SACD standard – without any need for sample rate conversion. And there's a choice of two filter settings to allow the listener to shape the sound.
But why do this? Well, the other half of the Marantz Musical Mastering package – MMM-Stream – is what prepares this DSD256 signal for analog output to an amplifier. Based on technology going back to early days of Bitstream conversion, this enables an ultra-simple conversion process.
Senior Electronics Engineer Rainer Finck has been working on Marantz Reference CD players for two decades, and was central to the SA-10 project. According to Rainer "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 analog 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 analog 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 Marantz says it's the first player/USB converter without a DAC – it doesn't need one.
Marantz PM-10: The Power To Perform
In terms of power supplies, the PM-10 has separate supplies for the preamplifier and each of the power amplifier channels. Thus enabling the delicate signals passing through the preamp aren't affected by the demands of the high power output stages. There's also a dedicated supply for the microprocessor controlling volume adjustment, input selection and other components, ensuring no noise from the control section finds its way in to the audio path.
The layout is fully balanced, from the input section all the way through to the final power amplifier section. It has two sets of balanced inputs, and also conventional unbalanced line-level inputs (plus a high-quality phono stage); the signal from these inputs being converted to balanced working before being passed through the amplifier. This ensures optimal signal purity and rejection of interference.
The preamp uses the famous Marantz Hyper-Dynamic Amplifier Modules (or HDAMs). These are tiny amplifiers in miniature, built from discrete components for the best possible sound quality, rather than using the 'chip-amps' found in rival designs. To make the most of that purity of design, the PM-10 is designed with the option of working in 'Purest Mode': when engaged, this deactivates any superfluous circuits, giving the signal the cleanest possible path through the amplifier. There's also a Power Amp Direct input, taking the signal straight from the input section to the power stage to allow the PM-10 to work as a pure power amplifier.
Like the SA-10, the PM-10 is constructed to the highest possible standards, with a double-layered copper-plated chassis for excellent rejection of mechanical and electrical interference, and casework constructed from thick, heavy, non-magnetic aluminum panels. Both products also sit on custom-made die-cast aluminum feet. Even the speaker terminals here are special: although the highest-aiming rivals tend to use components bought in from third party companies, the PM-10 has newly-designed and exclusive Marantz SPKT-100+ terminals, made from high-purity solid copper.
The Premium 10 Series: The New Reference