|Marantz SA-15S2B Limited Edition SACD Player Review|
|Home Theater Audio Sources DVD-Audio/SACD Players|
|Written by Andre Marc|
|Friday, 20 April 2012|
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When I finally got around to listening to Redbook CDs on the SA-15S2B, the results were equally impressive within the limitations of the format as compared to correctly produced SACDs. Great sounding CDs sounded magnificent, with weighty, authoritative bass, a fleshed out midrange, and sweet, clean highs. A disc newly acquired from Amazon, Seattle icon Mark Lanegan’s utterly brilliant new Blues Funeral, sounded thrilling. The huge gothic, psychedelic soundscapes -- anchored by his haunting, throaty vocals -- soared into the stratosphere.
The newest CD from Tinariwen, a band of nomads from the deserts of Mali, Tassili, is another percolating stew of Arabic funk blues. They yet again mix electric and acoustic instruments, chants, and tribal beats. The Marantz had plenty of top end sparkle and midrange transparency. The SA-15S2B performed as well as any stand-alone Redbook CD player I have had in my system.
Since the SA-15S2B has an optical digital input, I evaluated it as a DAC connecting my Squeezebox Touch via the DH Labs TosLink Cable. I streamed FLAC files from ripped CDs and high resolution downloads. By the way, the Marantz accepts sample rates up to 96 Khz. Once your source is connected you need to simply select the DAC Mode function. Incoming sample rates are displayed on the front panel.
I was extremely impressed with the sound of the SA-15S2B as a DAC. There was a clarity, precision, and an addicting vivid quality to the presentation. I really found the solidity of the imaging, the weight of the low frequencies, and the midrange transparency to be as good as any DAC as I have heard in my system. It successfully locked into all sample rates up to 96 Khz, as verified via the front panel.
Listening to the 88.2 Khz, 24 bit download of I Learned The Hard The Way, by the great retro soul group Sharon Jones & The DapKings, was a truly wonderful experience. There was great texture to the horns, piano, drums, and Jones’s distinct voice. Cueing up the 96 Khz, 24 bit download of the Fleet Foxes second album, Helplessness Blues, yielded the same results. Tons of texture, huge soundstage, and nice clarity, bass weight, and overall transparency on the albums quirky, densely layered arrangements.
After spending time with the SA-15S2B in DAC Mode, I really wondered why Marantz has not brought to market a stand alone DAC. I think it would send a serious message to the competition. I can’t over stress how good the player sounded being fed outside digital signals.
One final note concerning the Filters. I tried both Filters 1 and 2, and decided to stick with Filter 1 for 90% of my listening. The differences were extremely subtle. Since the filters can be selected from the listening chair via the remote, it is easy to play around and see if one or the other filter flatters certain recordings.