Marantz has been on a serious winning streak with their recent line of SACD players/DAC combos, streamers, receivers, home theater line, and stand alone DAC models. Especially the HD-DAC1 DSD DAC headphone amp and preamplifier , one of the absolute bargains of the decade so far at $799. I call it the “one that got away”, as I regret letting the review sample go back to the factory.
Marantz has introduced a number of new products over the past two years, and the one that caught my eye recently is the HD-AMP1. As the name would indicate, it is an integrated amplifier, and it can accommodate both digital and analog sources. It is styled in the same manner as the HD-DAC1, and costs $1099. For a buck under $1100 you get an amazing amount of features, and all you need to do is add a source and speakers.
Features & Finish
- 70 watts per channel into 4 Ohms, 35 watts per channel into 8 Ohms
- 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, and 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®
- compatible with MP3, WMA, AAC, FLAC, ALAC, AIFF, and WAV music files
- asynchronous USB technology with advanced noise isolation for reduced timing jitter
- built-in high-performance headphone amplifier with three-position gain switch optimizes performance with low-, medium-, and high-impedance headphones
- Marantz HDAM® (Hyper Dynamic Amplifier Module) and HDAM-SA2 modules used in analog circuitry
- Marantz Musical Digital Filtering technology with 2 user-selectable digital filter algorithms
- vibration-resistant solid aluminum front panel and double-layer bottom plate
- included wireless remote
As you can see, the HD-AMP1 is basically one stop shopping. The only omission I see is a built-in phono stage, assuming you spin vinyl. I don’t. Any line source or digital source you can imagine can be connected via one the two RCA inputs, with no limitations on resolution. USB, Coaxial and optical inputs are also supplied, as well as the ability to hook up, and charge, any iDevice or external USB storage device. A real nice additional feature is the subwoofer output. A remote control allows you to access virtually any function.
Unboxing the HD-AMP1, I was very impressed with the build quality, elegant styling, and premium-grade connectors all around, including well-spaced and rugged speaker binding posts. The whole package elicits confidence, and the supplied documentation is first rate. Another thing that should be noted is the amplifier was voiced by Marantz legend Ken Ishiwata, their longtime product designer who has, in my opinion, golden ears.
The HD-AMP1 was set up in my office system, running with Magnepan MMG speakers, and a SOtM sMS-100 server via the back panel USB input. I used DH Labs digital cables and Transparent analog cables. I also fed it a vintage Sony TC-350 reel deck as well as a Simaudio 280D DAC with the built in MiND module via the analog inputs. I also took advantage of the subwoofer output for use with the excellent JL Audio Dominion d108 subwoofer.
The MMGs, which require generous current and power to come alive, were well served by the HD-AMP1. It effortlessly supplied more than enough juice without a hint of strain. Absolutely no worries there! The HD-AMP1 also instantly locked onto the incoming USB signal from the SOtM and decoded successfully every file format and resolution it was sent, including DSD128 and DSD256. (I own exactly two recordings in Quad DSD, and I was able to play them!). 11.2M appeared on the display, denoting the sample rate of DSD256.
The HD-AMP1 was exceptionally quiet, with no trace of electronic haze or graininess. The presentation was so nicely balanced, one could mistake the HD-AMP1 for a tube/solid state hybrid. Midrange textures were rich, and bass was controlled, deep, and very satisfying. I heard nothing sonically out of place and, as a matter of fact, imaging and body were as good as I have heard from integrated amps costing two to three times as much. No joke.