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Marantz HD-DAC1 DSD DAC & Headphone Amp Review Print E-mail
Friday, 09 January 2015
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Marantz HD-DAC1 DSD DAC & Headphone Amp Review
Set Up and Listening

ImageMarantz has been introducing new products into the marketplace at quite a clip over the past year. Even as a reviewer, it has been hard to keep up. Their recent lines of A/V Home Theater receivers are stellar, and even the entry-level products push the price-to-performance ratio to the limit of what I thought was possible. Their recent entry level two channel components offer crazy value, as I recently found out with the PM5005 and CD5005  integrated amp/CD player.

Marantz digital has always impressed me, from the first time I heard one of their superb SACD players. Their disc spinners have smartly been reintroduced with digital inputs, which is what the market wants. They also have two superb streamers, the NA-8005 and the flagship NA-11S1. The NA-11S1 was a knockout, built to a standard befitting Top Shelf status. Decoding virtually every commercially available resolution including DSD, it left very few stones unturned. I also loved the NA-14s1 SACD player/DAC, which also decoded DSD via a USB input.

Marantz has decided to fill in a bit of a gap in their line with the introduction of the HD-DAC1 headphone amp, DSD DAC, and preamp. It sells for $799, and has several unique and distinct features. First, it is drop dead gorgeous, a real conversation piece. It has wood finished side panels, the classic Marantz porthole display, large solid input selector, and volume knobs.

Marantz says they have loaded the HD-DAC1 with their most recent circuits and output stages. According to Marantz, the HD-DAC 1 “uses Current Feedback amplification technologies from Marantz’s high-end Premium 11 Series. The HD-DAC1 can drive audiophile high-impedance headphones up to 600 ohm with ease. All thanks to its three-level gain control, Marantz HDAM-SA2 modules, a high current audiophile DAC (CS4398).

Optical and coaxial digital inputs as well as a USB-B port enable you to stream music directly from your PC or MAC; iDevices can also be connected via the USB port on the front. For even more connectivity also included is an analog input. The USB-B works in asynchronous mode to support not only 192 kHz / 24bits high-resolution audio but also the DSD 2.8MHz and 5.6MHz for maximized performance quality. When connected to a computer, we built extended isolation around the USB-B input to eliminate the chance of a high frequency noise being generated by the computer when entering the HD-DAC1. Also included is a jitter remover and Dual Clock for extreme accuracy. Info on volume, input, resolution, etc. is shown on the Marantz Porthole Display. Lastly, a solid aluminum front is supported by a double layer bottom plate.”

The HD-DAC1 also includes a very nice aluminum remote control for adjusting volume, selecting input, and more. Larger-than-normal footers are a nice touch too, supporting the sturdy chassis. As a matter of fact, everything about the HD-DAC1 seems more expensive than its asking price. It exudes class and quality out of the box. But, of course, sonics are what separates audio products, and when you read on, you will see it did not disappoint.


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