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Marantz SA8003 Stereo SACD/CD Player Review Print E-mail
Wednesday, 21 October 2009
Article Index
Marantz SA8003 Stereo SACD/CD Player Review
Listening Cont.
Going USB

Going USB

I had a bit of trouble with the USB and some MP3 files stored on a thumb drive. After struggling with an MP3 file folder where the player would read only the odd-numbered tracks, it was confirmed by Marantz that the problem was with the files themselves. Unknown to me, the MP3s had also been encoded in VBR (variable bit rate) format, and the SA8003 is not designed to read such files. When I reformatted the drive on a PC and loaded it with WMA files, the SA8003 read and played every file flawlessly.

Marantz SA8003 Front Panel

Though it's not my hobby to putter around with compressed audio, the SA8003 certainly does as much justice to WMAs and MP3s as I could imagine. But as my old boss used to say, “You can put lipstick on a pig but it will still be a pig.” A better use of the port is for playing back uncompressed audio stored on an iPod and letting the signal benefit from the player's DAC. I know my iPod has never “sounded” better than played through the SA8003, although the interface renders the iPod useless for navigating tracks. Users instead have to plod through files using the forward or reverse commands on the remote or player's front panel. A more elegant solution is NAD's C565BEE CD player, which sports a rotary knob that lets users spin through files and folders with ease.

Two other quibbles about the deck: First, it can play two-channel audio only, it cannot playback surround mixes. Second, the player will not display CD text – only track number and time - so if you want to know the artist or track you'll have to refer to the CD packaging. It does, however, display text info from digital files such as WMAs.

Final Thoughts

Maybe it's just my perception, but there seems to be a growing underground of music lovers who are flocking to SACD. I've read plenty of audio forums where members admittedly are buying as many of the high-resolution discs as possible before the format goes belly up for good. If you're of the ilk and like Marantz's Ishiwata believe that music matters, the SA8003 is an all-around performer that should keep you happily spinning SACDs – and CDs - for years.

System Setup

  • Marantz PM8003 (Reviewed)
  • Marantz SA8003 SACD Player
  • Yamaha DVS-5770 DVD-Audio/Video/SACD player
  • Bryston BCD-1 CD player
  • DCM KX-10 speakers
  • Axiom Audio M80 v2 speakers
  • Philips 14-gauge speaker wire

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