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Marantz HD-AMP1 Integrated Amplifier & DSD DAC Review  Print E-mail
Home Theater Power Amplifiers Integrated Amplifiers
Written by Andre Marc   
Wednesday, 27 April 2016
Article Index
Marantz HD-AMP1 Integrated Amplifier & DSD DAC Review 
Listening and Conclusion

Listening

Santana IV -- the brand new release from the legendary band reformed with its original members some forty seven years after their debut -- sounded robust and exciting through the HD-AMP1. While it won’t be mistaken for a classic analog release, it is pretty dynamic by today’s standards, and the music is breezy and fun, full of latin, psychedelic, and bluesy jams. The HD-AMP1 made it easy to hear all the classic Santana percussion, background chants, and keyboard lines. The release of Santana IV prompted me to go back and listen to a bunch of classic Santana releases including the 24/96 remasters of Borboletta and Welcome, as well as SACD rips of Caravanserai and Love Devotion Surrender. I don’t think I have ever heard these albums sound better. The HD-AMP1’s DAC section was performing some sort of magic, as these albums sounded fresh and vibrant, even though I have heard them hundreds of times.

MARANTZ HD-AMP1

For something modern, I streamed several albums by Black Mountain, an excellent band from Vancouver. Their music incorporates everything from pych-folk, punk, heavy progressive, and even Black Sabbath. Their self-titled album was a real treat via the HD-AMP1, with its trippy, angular songs billowing out of the speakers with great clarity and purpose. Their most recent album -- the stunning IV -- sounded huge, with fuzzed out guitars, epic jams, and a very cool, spacey vibe. The HD-AMP1 pulled me in, and made me even more excited about the fact they were coming to play a local venue.

During the final stages of my review, we all got the sad news about the loss of Prince, whose discography has been a cornerstone of my music collection. I cued up a slew of his albums in tribute. The HD-AMP1 framed his singular genius beautifully, and on later period albums like LotusFlow3r, PlectrumElectrum, and last year's HItnRun Phase One, he showcased his electrifying lead guitar, Parliament/Funkadelic influences, and hard rock leanings with great success. The HD-AMP1-Magnepan combination was superb with these recordings, providing the perfect amount of excitement, with popping bass lines anchoring progressive funk stylings.

I listened to the HD-AMP1’s analog inputs by connecting the Simaudio 280D DAC, with built in MiND ethernet streamer. The results were the same, mirroring my impressions of the overall character of the USB input. This speaks very well of the analog output stage. (Oh, and the Simaudio DAC costs two and a half times more than the HD-AMP1, so color me impressed.) I am quite pleased that Marantz chose to include analog inputs, as this allows for use of an SACD player, tape deck, or vinyl/outboard phono stage setup.

MARANTZ HD-AMP1

I tested the iDevice/USB input as well, and music stored on an iPad Air in AIFF sounded terrific, with an immediacy that was very enjoyable. Basically the same results I heard with the HD-DAC1 and its front iDevice input. The HD-AMP1’s front panel USB input can playback AIFF, WAV, and FLAC, to 192 kHz, and ALAC up to 96 kHz for removable storage. It also allows for DSD playback up to DSD128.  This is a big upgrade from earlier Marantz products, which were limited in file type and resolution. This is fantastic news.  

The ergonomics of an integrated amplifier is especially important, and the HD-AMP1 was flawless in that regard. The volume knob and remote offered plenty of sweep, and navigating the menu via the source selector was very easy. The amplifier, left on 24/7, was slightly warm to the touch. It did perform at its best when left powered up.  All in all, a very tidy, elegant package.

MARANTZ HD-AMP1 front

Conclusion

The Marantz HD-AMP1 is a great addition to the Marantz line. The sonics were absolutely beyond reproach at this price point (and well beyond). The feature set is remarkable, and the built quality is exceptional. I really wish I had something to complain about, but I don’t. Perhaps the only omission on the digital side is a Bluetooth connection. Hardly a deal killer.

The Marantz HD-AMP1, at $1099, is going to be my go to recommendation for folks looking for an audiophile grade amplifier, DAC, and file player. I can think of no other product that currently competes with it directly. The HD-AMP1 is a no risk purchase in my book.

Buy the Marantz HD-AMP1 from Amazon.com


Specifications



Marantz HD-AMP1 Integrated Amplifier & DAC: $1099

www.Marantz.com

-35 watts x 2 channels into 8 ohms (20-20,000 Hz) at 0.1% THD
-70 watts x 2 channels into 4 ohms (20-20,000 Hz) at 0.1% THD
-ESS SABRE DAC ES9010K2M and dual master clock crystals
-back-panel USB port supports PCM digital audio sources up to 32-bit/384 kHz resolution, -native support of Direct Stream Digital (DSD) files up to 11.2 Mhz (DSD256) resolution
-front-panel USB input plays USB memory devices and iPod®/iPhone
-built-in high-performance headphone amplifier
-wireless remote

Review System 1


DAC: Simaudio 280D
Tape Deck: Revox A77, Revox B77
Server: Bryston BDP-2
Preamp: Rogue Audio RP-5, Aric Audio Unlimited
Amplifier: Audio Research VS55, Simaudio 760A, Rotel RB-1590
Speaker:  Bryston Mini T
Cables: Stager Sound, Acoustic Zen, Element Cable, DH Labs, iFi, SVS
Accessories: Symposium Rollerblocks and Svelte Shelves, Shakti Stone, Bryston BIT-15, Salamander rack

Review System 2


Music Server: SOtM sMS-100 w/ Battery XPS
Preamp: Aric Audio Expression, Belles Soloist 3
DAC/Streamer: Simaudio 280D w MiND
Power Amplifier: Onkyo M5000R
Tape Deck: Sony TC-350
Speaker: Magnepan MMG, Spendor S35R
Cables: Stager Sound, Transparent,  DH Labs, SVS
Accessories: Cable Pro Noisetrapper, iFi iPower, Audience aR6






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