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  1. #1

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    Default Marantz SA8004 SACD player as a DAC?

    I'm running an SDA setup with a Squeezebox Touch running coax into a Wyred4Sound DAC2. Incredible sound, great with 24-bit hi-res stuff. But as much as I consider getting off my fat arse and changing a disc to be utter nonsense, and as much as I loathe being pigeon holed into how I can play the music back, I must say that the wider availability of titles on SACD gives me an itch to get a player.

    I'm thinking that although I love the thing, I could sell the DAC2 and have enough funds to purchase a SA8004 and still have a bunch of cash left over to buy some SACD's. I've read that this unit performs really well as a standalone DAC, so I'm thinking I'd feed the Squeezebox into the Marantz instead of the DAC2. One review said something along the lines of buy this unit for the DAC, get an SACD player for free.

    Just wondering if anyone's ever tried using this player as a DAC?
    Good music, a good source, and good power can make SDA's sing. Tubes make them dance.

  2. #2

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    I would recommend going with an entry level SACD and output to the very nice DAC you already have to get your feet wet and see if it works for you. I've got a sony and a pioneer universal players that do SACD and DVD that would be a good start for you. If interested I'd let either go for under $125 shipped, just pm me. No matter what you do, I'd hang on to the DAC or you will probably regret it later.

  3. #3

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    After reading what I just wrote, I realize it's too early for my brain lol. Obviously the DAC would only give you 2 channels so that is a problem. Some SACD do have a stereo track however. I'd still go with an entry level player into whatever pre or receiver you have that can handle 5.1 inputs.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by TNHNDYMAN View Post
    After reading what I just wrote, I realize it's too early for my brain lol. Obviously the DAC would only give you 2 channels so that is a problem. Some SACD do have a stereo track however. I'd still go with an entry level player into whatever pre or receiver you have that can handle 5.1 inputs.
    That and very few DACs will accept a direct DSD stream from the player for SACDs. Better check to see if the W4S DAC will support that.

    The SA8004 has gotten some killer reviews, but is 2-channel only.

    H9: If you don't trust what you are hearing, then maybe you need to be less invested in a hobby which all the pleasure comes from listening to music.

  5. #5

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    Not looking to go entry level on this one. I loathe the thought of having more than one dac. Either I'm double-investing in repetitive equipment or I'm sacrificing on both ends in order to meet a budget point. Neither appeals to me. As Erik says, there are very few dacs that can do DSD direct from SACD, ergo my earlier statement about being pigeon hole'd. I don't like that I'm forced into a particular kind of transport or dac. I want to rip them and stream them just like I do with dvd-a, cd, but that's another discussion. Regardless, the W4S DAC2 does not do DSD.

    SACD players that I would consider must have a fine enough DAC to compete with the W4S, and must also be capable of a accepting a digital input from the Squeezebox Touch, which could be looking to pipe 24/96 over coax.

    I posted my original question pretty late last night. Should have posted even later that I pulled the trigger on one of these from Crutchfield. Open box for $150 off, free two-day delivery, and 60-day return policy. If I return it I can use their pre-paid postage for $7. So for $7, I can evaluate this thing against the DAC2 for about two months. No brainer.

    My plan is to have the DAC2 and the Marantz both feeding into the Eddie Current, via the same RCA interconnects. Currently the DAC2 feeds the Eddie Current via XLR's, but I don't want to be mixing apples and oranges. Then I'll be looking for a few SACD's where I also have the 24-bit flacs from HDTracks. Then I can play the SACD and the Squeezebox at the same time, and compare the DAC in the Marantz and the DAC2, each playing the same 24-bit music, and I can just toggle back and forth.

    That should be enough of a test, but ultimately I'll still do a bit of testing flipping the Squeezebox back and forth between both DACs. But that'll require swapping wires around, whereas the first test just needs two different inputs on the preamp.

    Ultimately, though, I will only hang on long term to an SACD player that has a high enough quality DAC to replace the DAC2 as far as the Squeezebox is concerned.
    Good music, a good source, and good power can make SDA's sing. Tubes make them dance.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by nspindel View Post
    Not looking to go entry level on this one. I loathe the thought of having more than one dac. Either I'm double-investing in repetitive equipment or I'm sacrificing on both ends in order to meet a budget point. Neither appeals to me. As Erik says, there are very few dacs that can do DSD direct from SACD, ergo my earlier statement about being pigeon hole'd. I don't like that I'm forced into a particular kind of transport or dac. I want to rip them and stream them just like I do with dvd-a, cd, but that's another discussion. Regardless, the W4S DAC2 does not do DSD.

    SACD players that I would consider must have a fine enough DAC to compete with the W4S, and must also be capable of a accepting a digital input from the Squeezebox Touch, which could be looking to pipe 24/96 over coax.

    I posted my original question pretty late last night. Should have posted even later that I pulled the trigger on one of these from Crutchfield. Open box for $150 off, free two-day delivery, and 60-day return policy. If I return it I can use their pre-paid postage for $7. So for $7, I can evaluate this thing against the DAC2 for about two months. No brainer.

    My plan is to have the DAC2 and the Marantz both feeding into the Eddie Current, via the same RCA interconnects. Currently the DAC2 feeds the Eddie Current via XLR's, but I don't want to be mixing apples and oranges. Then I'll be looking for a few SACD's where I also have the 24-bit flacs from HDTracks. Then I can play the SACD and the Squeezebox at the same time, and compare the DAC in the Marantz and the DAC2, each playing the same 24-bit music, and I can just toggle back and forth.

    That should be enough of a test, but ultimately I'll still do a bit of testing flipping the Squeezebox back and forth between both DACs. But that'll require swapping wires around, whereas the first test just needs two different inputs on the preamp.

    Ultimately, though, I will only hang on long term to an SACD player that has a high enough quality DAC to replace the DAC2 as far as the Squeezebox is concerned.
    I'd look for a good used value on an SACD player, do your own in-house ears on deathmatch and then flip the loser.

    By getting used, you won't lose out on any quick depreciation you would see if you bought a new player. I've gotten lots of used gear to try myself, then if it doesn't work out, I put it back on the market and don't see much loss at all.

    H9: If you don't trust what you are hearing, then maybe you need to be less invested in a hobby which all the pleasure comes from listening to music.

  7. #7

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    Well, that's why I bought open box, and from a vendor where I have a 60-day risk-free evaluation. That's plenty of time to decide if I want to keep it. Returning it to Crutchfield and getting all of my money back less $7 for shipping is a lot more appealing than trying to sell it third hand, in the even that I don't like the thing.
    Good music, a good source, and good power can make SDA's sing. Tubes make them dance.

  8. #8

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    This shipped today from Crutchfield, I'm guessing I will have it on Tuesday. Plan is to buy 4 SACD's to evaluate. I want titles that, for one, I really like and am familiar with. I also want titles where I already have 24-bit versions from HDTracks, and where I'm reasonably confident that the SACD and the HDTracks releases are from the same masters. So no MFSL SACD's are on the list, for example. Here is what I've picked:

    Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here (not from HDTracks, it's a rip from the DVD-A that came with the box set)
    Diana Krall - When I Look In Your Eyes
    Norah Jones - Come Away With Me
    Rolling Stones - Beggars Banquet

    I'll be playing the SACD's in the Marantz, and the Hi-rez flacs on the Squeezebox/W4S DAC2. Both will run over single-ended RCA (MIT Terminator 2) into the Eddie Current Balancing Act, which will then run in the Krell/SDA's. I'm very hopeful that I've chosen my recordings wisely, so that I'm doing as much of an apples to apples comparison as possible, without mastering differences coloring my comparison.

    I don't expect them to sound the same. All other things remaining constant, I wouldn't expect the W4S and Marantz DACs to sound the same. But I do expect it to sound excellent. At the end of the day, I want my DAC to be as neutral as possible, in a musical way. The W4S is a joy to listen to, but if the Marantz is as well, then the flexibility I'd have by running the Squeezebox through the SACD player will be huge.
    Good music, a good source, and good power can make SDA's sing. Tubes make them dance.

  9. #9

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    You know how we roll here....

    Full report with pics...or it never happened

    H9: If you don't trust what you are hearing, then maybe you need to be less invested in a hobby which all the pleasure comes from listening to music.

  10. #10

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    Here's a start:

    Name:  Screen Shot 2012-08-03 at 9.42.08 PM.png
Views: 40
Size:  168.5 KB
    Good music, a good source, and good power can make SDA's sing. Tubes make them dance.

  11. #11

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    Marantz is in da house! Still waiting for some new interconnects to arrive before I can really start doing any real testing. Oh yeah, and some SACDs!
    Good music, a good source, and good power can make SDA's sing. Tubes make them dance.

  12. #12

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    congrats and enjoy

  13. #13

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    Ok, now this....... is starting to get interesting!

    Beggar's Banquet arrived in today's mail. So I hooked up the SACD player to check it out. I won some MIT Terminator 2 stuff on eBay (interconnects and speaker cables) and the interconnects should arrive tomorrow. So i was really waiting for those to arrive before starting.

    In the meanwhile I hooked the SACD player up to the Eddie Current with some old Monster RCA's I have, probably about 20 years old. I'd previously rolled these out of my system in favor of Signal cables and was so impressed by how much better they sound than the Monsters. So I wasn't expecting much. Compare that to the DAC2, which runs balanced into the Eddie Current on MIT Exp Proline interconnects. So in my mind, that alone should have given the DAC2 a bit of an advantage. I cued up Sympath For The Devil on the Squeezebox and the SACD and did a bit of switching back and forth.

    Well! This Marantz unit is one serious piece of gear. I was loving what I was hearing. It's open box, so likely has a few hours on it, so maybe it's already got a bit of play time on it and has broken in a bit. It sounded fuller than the DAC2, with much more oomph to the bass. When listening to the DAC2, I heard the piano very much up front, and the bass was rather soft. The SACD sounded a lot more like what I want the Rolling Stones to sound like! That song is a great analytical piece as well as just amazing music. Lots of nuances to the percussion, there's the great piano, the ripping bass line, the echo on Mick's voice. On the Marantz it just sounded fantastic.

    So I was a bit nervous that what I was hearing was a sonic benefit to the SACD versus the 24-bit flacs on the Squeezebox, rather than differences in the DAC. That's easy enough to test, since the whole reason I picked this player was that it can also act as a DAC.

    Then came part 2 of the test, where I plug the Squeezebox into the Marantz DAC and compare the SACD and the 24-bit flacs both coming out of the same DAC. To my delight, they sounded pretty identical to me. I don't claim to have anything close to golden ears, but to me all of the differences I was hearing previously were due to the implicit differences in the two DACs. Once I was listening to the 24-bit flacs through the Marantz DAC, all the life that I felt had been missing previously was present. If I were blindfolded I highly doubt I could tell the difference between the two transports.

    I'm really looking forward to doing some more testing once I get my hands on the better interconnects and more music, but so far this is working out just as I'd hoped. In fact, even better! Given how expensive the Wyred4Sound is, I really was not anticipating liking the Marantz more. I was just hoping to have it sound close to as good as the W4S. I wasn't expecting to like it more.

    Final judgement needs to wait until the rest of what I'm waiting for arrives in the mail. But what I've heard so far, I really like.

    Oh, and by the way, the 24-bit Stones stuff is awesome.
    Good music, a good source, and good power can make SDA's sing. Tubes make them dance.

  14. #14

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    After the Beggar's Banquet test, I've been doing a bit more listening to the Marantz as a DAC, and this piece is no doubt a keeper. I'm very, very impressed. Still only have had the one SACD arrive in the mail so far, but I've listened to a bunch of 24-bit flac as well as redbook stuff, all via the Squeezebox. This is a great, great combination. It's the best of both worlds - complete flexibility and awesome sound quality for anything non-SACD via the Squeezebox, and SACD through the player. And as a complete bonus, the Marantz is considerably cheaper than the Wyred4Sound. Sold.
    Good music, a good source, and good power can make SDA's sing. Tubes make them dance.

  15. #15

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    Nice write up.

    Some stuff works better than others, some folks like a certain sound over others - ears on baby and decide for yourself!

    H9: If you don't trust what you are hearing, then maybe you need to be less invested in a hobby which all the pleasure comes from listening to music.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Erik Tracy View Post
    You know how we roll here....

    Full report with pics...or it never happened
    By the way, what's happened to images on the forum? I went to push up a pic of the Marantz in my rack last night, and it wouldn't load. And all of my pics from other threads, this one included, have vanished. Once upon a time, there was a pic in post #10.
    Good music, a good source, and good power can make SDA's sing. Tubes make them dance.

  17. #17

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    The ESS Sabre32 Reference (ES9018) DAC chip in your Wyred DAC2 is direct DSD capable but Wyred only has the DAC set up for I2S (CD) input via custom HDMI cable. If a DSD in mod existed, you could take any old SACD player and mod it for I2S/DSD out and play CD/SACD through the fine Wyred DAC. Maybe ask the Wyred guys if it is possible. They seemed friendly enough when I spoke to them last year. I ended up building a Twisted Pear Buffalo III DAC which uses the ES9018 DAC chip and has I2S and DSD input. This way I can stream from my 'putie or play whatever hard media someone brought over.
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  18. #18

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    Nah. I like the sound of the Marantz better. The W4S will be on the market once I get my act together a bit.
    Good music, a good source, and good power can make SDA's sing. Tubes make them dance.

  19. #19

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    So besides bass, what else does the Marantz do better with sound? Mids, highs, cleaner, more natural sounding? Can the marantz decode flac ? does it come with drivers to use WASAPI Asynchronous USB through the marantz? I am still on my 30 day on my dac2 i picked up and now you got me thinking if i should keep it or not.

  20. #20

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    Well you should return it anyway, and buy mine

    I find the Marantz to be a warmer, more musical sound. The bass is definitely more up front, the way I like it. Hadn't noticed how subdued the bass was on the W4S until the Marantz showed up. Mids are much more liquid. And I am noticing better extension in the highs with cymbols, etc.

    As for the rest of the technical questions, you'll need to research that bit, I just use the coax connection. I have the Squeezebox doing the flac bit for me and putting pcm into the Marantz.
    Good music, a good source, and good power can make SDA's sing. Tubes make them dance.

  21. #21

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    Get one from Crutchfield, they have a good return policy as well. Shoot them out against each other and keep the one that wins. Crutchfield has open box deals for $849, and OneCall had an open box for $800.
    Good music, a good source, and good power can make SDA's sing. Tubes make them dance.

  22. #22

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    Having not heard either side by side what you describe in the bass area is what I term "robo-bass", so controlled and overdampened it becomes mechanical, inorganic and can sound subdued.

    Lots of amps can be this way as well, very mechanical over controlled bass that looses all it's organic "real" properties. It becomes more artificial and less about real reproduction.

    H9
    "Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not".--Nelson Pass

    Pass Aleph 30; Eastern Electric Mini Max; Adcom GDA600; MIT S3/Z Pc; SDA 1C; Squeezebox; Tubes add soul!

  23. #23

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    The DAC2 on cd vs my Pioneer pd9, to me the dac2 had more bass than the pioneer internal dac. The denon i have has more bass then the pioneer also but, the pioneer is cleaner vs the denon. On my rig the dac2 bass is more like the bass from my denon sacd but the dac2 was cleaner to my ears in my rig. I have like a week left of the 30 days with the dac2 and they do have a re-stocking fee for returns from w4s. From looking at the Marantz, it looks like the usb would not be WASAPI Asynchronous USB. I am using Jriver for the player and it actually up-samples flac to 192 and gives it a bit more on the high end.

  24. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by heiney9 View Post
    Having not heard either side by side what you describe in the bass area is what I term "robo-bass", so controlled and overdampened it becomes mechanical, inorganic and can sound subdued.

    Lots of amps can be this way as well, very mechanical over controlled bass that looses all it's organic "real" properties. It becomes more artificial and less about real reproduction.

    H9
    My Aragon has this "robo-bass" quality to it. It is too controlled, IMO. It is deep and hard hitting as well, but mechanical. The Krell amps I have heard are like this as well. They are powerful with deep bass, but are also "mechanical" sounding. This is probably why nspindel likes the Marantz more, because it adds a little "sloppiness" and forwardness to the bass and takes away from the Krell amp's bass sound signature a little bit. That is what I have done with shaping the sound output as well, I have changed gear and tubes (upstream to the amp) to a large extent to get a more organic sound out of the Aragon. But, this only goes so far. It's difficult to get a truely organic sound from an amp that is geared to sound inorganic to a lrge extent. I am hoping the Pass Aleph 30 will give me more of an organic feel to the bass and the rest of the audio spectrum than my Aragon 8008bb does. BUT, I am hoping the Aleph 30 still has the power and authority similar to the Aragon.

    I am glad you are enjoying the new player/DAC.
    Taken from a recent Audioholics reply regarding "Club Polk" and Polk speakers:

    "I'm yet to hear a Polk speaker that merits more than a sentence and 60 seconds discussion."

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