Marantz HD-AMP1 Integrated Amplifier & DSD DAC Review 
Home Theater Power Amplifiers Integrated Amplifiers
Written by Andre Marc   
Wednesday, 27 April 2016

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.


Set Up

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.


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.


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.


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.



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


Marantz HD-AMP1 Integrated Amplifier & DAC: $1099

-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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