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Marantz SA-11S3 SACD Player & DAC Review Print E-mail
Tuesday, 26 February 2013
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Marantz SA-11S3 SACD Player & DAC Review
Set Up and Listening

Using the SA-11S3 as a DAC was absolutely a pleasure. With the connected Squeezebox Touch and HP laptop/Jriver combo, I heard a world-class convertor. All the FLAC files I streamed were beautifully rendered with excellent dynamic range and a superbly natural tonal balance. I was able to play files with sampling rates up to 192 Khz without a hitch. The 88.2 Khz download of the The Lumineers self-titled debut album was glorious as decoded by the SA-11S3. The band’s brand of old timey pop folk was a lot of fun to listen to.

I will go out on a limb and even say that the Marantz’s back panel USB input maybe the highest quality USB DAC I have heard yet in my system. I also experienced excellent fidelity with an iPhone/iPod plugged into the front USB slot. The only real disappointment I felt was that this input does not support FLAC, AIFF, or resolution beyond 48 Khz, 16-bits. This is a bit of a nitpick, as there are three other inputs that handle up to 192 Khz, 24-bits. But this would have been a nice feature to have.

I confess to not spending too much time trying to hear the subtle differences between the two digital filters or the noise shaping functions. I spent most of my time with the SA-11S3 on filter 1, which sounded very natural to me. The transport was smooth as butter, by the way, and in every case, the front panel displayed the correct sampling frequency when fed external digital files.

Marantz SA-11S3


From what I have heard, the SA-11S3 may be the best digital source component from Marantz yet. It is a virtual Swiss Army knife of digital playback. The only thing it does not do is stream music from a network. As an FYI, Marantz is soon releasing a reference level streamer and digital file player similar to their NA7004 (but on steroids). For SACD, CD, and local digital file playback, the SA-11S3 is tough to beat on sonics, ergonomics, and build.

You could say I have been more than pleased over the last few years with Marantz digital. That is an understatement. The engineers at Marantz are world class, and the SA-11S3 reflects years of product development. Marantz should be commended for responding to market demand. A high end, reference grade SACD player with no digital connectivity is, in my opinion, DOA. Not only does the SA-11S3 act as a digital hub and a DAC, but it is one with no compromise in quality across the board. By the way, it is also a superb SACD player. If your digital budget tops out around the $4000 mark, you absolutely must audition the Marantz SA-11S3.  


Marantz SA-11S3 SACD Player/DAC: $3999

Format: 1-Bit DSD
Sampling Frequency: 2.8224MHz
Dynamic Range: 114dB (Filter 3)
Frequency response: 2Hz - 50kHz (-3dB)
THD: 0.0009% (Filter 3)

CD Audio
Format: 16-Bit Linear PCM
Sampling Frequency: 44.1kHz
Dynamic Range: 100dB (Filter 1)
Frequency response: 2Hz - 20kHz
THD: 0.0015% (1kHz, Filter 1)


Color: Black
Front Panel: 3pc Aluminum
Remote Control: Aluminum Top with Marantz Amp. Basic Control Function
Power Requirement: AC 120V 60Hz
Power Consumption: 26W (0.3W in Standby)
Dimensions WHD: 17-5/16" x 5" x 16-1/4"
Weight: 37.5 lbs.

Review System 1

CD Transport: Musical Fidelity M1 CDT
Server: Squeezebox Touch w/ CIA VDC-SB power supply
via Ethernet to MAC Mini w/ Western Digital & Seagate
external drives.
DAC: Bryston BDA-1
Headphone Amp: Pro-Ject Head Box II
Headphones: Grado SR60
Preamp: Audio Research SP16, Rogue Ninety Nine
Amplifier: Audio Research VS55, Bob Carver Black Magic
Speaker: Martin Logan Ethos, Thiel CS2.4
Cables:  Stager Silver Solids, Kimber KCTG (IC), Transparent  MM2 Super (IC), Transparent Plus (Speaker) Acoustic Zen Tsunami II (AC),Transparent (AC).Shunyata Venom (AC) Element Cable Red Storm (Digital AC), DH Labs TosLink, DH Labs AES/EBU, Audiquest, Forest, WireWorld Ultraviolet, DH Labs USB(USB) DH Labs (USB)
Accessories: Symposium Rollerblocks, Shakti Stone, Audience Adept Response aR6 power conditioner,Salamander rack

Review System 2

CD Player: Marantz 5003
Music Server: Squeezebox Touch via Ethernet to
MAC Mini w/ Western Digital & Seagate external drives.
DAC: Musical Fidelity V-DAC II, Rein Audio X3-DAC
Integrated Amplifier: McIntosh  MA6600, Electrocompaniet ECI 3,
Wyred4Sound mINT
Tape Deck: Revox A77
Speaker: Harbeth Compact 7ES3
Cables: Darwin Cables Silver IC, Kimber Hero HB,  DH Labs White Lightning (IC),QED Genesis Silver Spiral (Speaker),PS Audio (AC), Mojo Audio (AC), DH Labs TosLink, Audioquest Forest USB, Wireworld Ultraviolet USB
Accessories:Cable Pro Noisetrapper, Sound Anchors Stands, Wiremold, KECES XPS


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