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  1. #1
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    Marantz SA8003 Initial Impressions

    Well I took home a demo model of the SA8003 SACDP on loan today.

    I first brought it over to my friends house who has the SA8001 with a ARC tube line stage preamp, Belles Hot Rod amp and PSB synchrony speaks. We did AB comparison's and the bottom line is that the 2 units are very similar in sound with the 8003 maybe having deeper bass. Of course the 8003 is not broken in yet. I'll get a little more into the sound of the 8003 in a moment.

    The big differences between the 2 are cosmetics and the USB port on the 8003 which can be used as a docking port for your ipod. The 8003 has the same face plate appearance of the more expensive reference line. The 8003 is a better looking unit. It has a more refined look to it.
    It has a much more quiet transport mechanism and the drawer opens and closes a bit faster. The remotes are the same cheap remotes and are less user friendly than my 840c's. Unfortunately here in the US it only comes in black, in Europe in also is available in silver.

    Now for the sound. Once I got it home to my system, it had the same drawbacks as the 8001 I auditioned in home for 30days. The treble is slightly rolled off and pushed back. Detail and resolution cant compare to the 840c or my modified Music Hall. Transparency was not as good either. Now the good points. It was very analog in sound with a very smooth liquid midrange with much warmth (almost like tube bloom). Bass was pronounced and well composed but not nearly as tight as the 840c but more prominent and pleasing. The best of all, there was no fatigue. CD playback was good not great and SACD playback was very good with a similar soundstage that the Van Alstine DAC had but just not quite as good. Transparency was very good as well but not as good as the 840c or the VA DAC.

    I think that overall that I would be happier with the Marantz or the VA DAC because they are so smooth and liquid sounding and really give a boost in bass with my Magnepans. The 8003 does give up some resolution and detail however and I will miss that. Now I have to decide if I want to keep the 8003 or spend another $600 for the Van Alstine Hybrid DAC which has better std cd playback with great transparency, sound stage and better resolution and detail but no ability for SACD.

    If you have a system that is a little on the bright side or your looking for a more analog sound, the Marantz may be just the right source to make a difference. If you are considering the 8003, try to find a used 8001 as they sound pretty much the same. In fact there are 2 8001's on Agon going for $600.
    Last edited by blackraven; 11-15-2008 at 02:42 AM.
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp,
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  2. #2
    Aging Smartass
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    Thanks for the post. As a proud owner of the 8001, I've been waiting for a comparison of it to the new 8003. While I don't find the sound of the 8001 to be somewhat rolled off in the top end as you do, I don't have the slightest chance in hell of ever being able to have not one, but two $1,000+ CD/SACD players at one time to compare. Must be nice...

  3. #3
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    amusicdirect.com was blowing out the Reference SA-15, I can't remember the details but that might give you the best of both worlds.

  4. #4
    Ajani
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Peabody
    amusicdirect.com was blowing out the Reference SA-15, I can't remember the details but that might give you the best of both worlds.
    Musicdirect is still selling them for $1400... (instead of the usual $2K)....

  5. #5
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    Thanks, Ajani. They also allow a 30 day return.

  6. #6
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    I've considered the SA15 but the reviews I've read say it is no better than the 8001. Crutchfield also has it for a discount price. Does any one know of any reviews comparing the SA15 with the 8001?

    As far as the treble is concerned on the 8003, I'm comparing it to the 840c and a modified Music Hall 25.2 which are known for their detail resolution and crisp treble.
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp,
    Thorens TD-145 TT, Bellari phono preamp, Nagaoka MP-200 Cartridge
    Magnepan QR1.6 speakers
    Luxman DA-06 DAC
    Van Alstine Ultra Plus Hybrid Tube DAC
    Dual Martin Logan Original Dynamo Subs
    Parasound A21 amp
    Vintage Luxman T-110 tuner
    Magnepan MMG's, Grant Fidelity DAC-11, Class D CDA254 amp
    Monitor Audio S1 speakers, PSB B6 speakers
    Vintage Technic's Integrated amp
    Music Hall 25.2 CDP
    Adcom GFR 700 AVR
    Cables- Cardas, Silnote, BJC
    Velodyne CHT 8 sub

  7. #7
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    This guy's comments on the SA-15 mirror yours on the 8003 & 8001, so I can only assume they must have a "house" sound they stick to.

    http://www.techradar.com/products/au...1-94608/review

    I saw folks refer to a Stereophile review but I couldn't find it for you. My guess you are probably right and wouldn't be happy with the SA-15 if you aren't totally satisfied with the sound of the 8001/03.

    I heard the NAD Master SACD player but only on CD. It gave a very warm impression on a very dark background. I was comparing it to an Arcam CD player. The Arcam seemed to have more detail but the NAD gave instruments a more realistic texture and weight, more of a thickness if you will. Although I felt the Arcam had more detail the NAD was so seductive. I was banging my head wondering which one to choose. The guy then brought the T+A player in and some of my trouble was over and some had just begun I say all this I guess to suggest you might give the NAD a listen. We were only using one disc so I didn't get a good feel for various types of music. One piece was Jazz with a saxophone which transported me right to a dark smokey club, the sax was so sweet coming off that dark background and it sounded right, not thin like some the more "detailed" units make them sound. It's like I would have been very happy with the NAD if I had not known I might have been missing something. If that unit is available to you I'd be very interested in hearing your impressions of it. I forget what retail is but a local shop here is wanting to move a demo. If interested I could find out a price for you. Spearitsound.com also carry NAD.

  8. #8
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    Audio perfection here in MPLS carries NAD, I might check it out later in the week. I havent totally given up on the 8003. The big thing for me is that it is non fatiguing and has more bass. So I could live with it. I will miss some aspects of the 840c, but I still have the modded music hall to use for std cd. The Van Alstine DAC is still an option. I'm going to give Frank a call and see if he will let me bring the 8003 to his house to compare it to his DAC's. Frank always likes a challenge.

    By the way, don't take my review wrong, the 8003/8001 are very good CDP's, but they are what they are, a $1K CDP that has its strengths and weaknesses. If I had the money, I would buy the SA111s2.
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp,
    Thorens TD-145 TT, Bellari phono preamp, Nagaoka MP-200 Cartridge
    Magnepan QR1.6 speakers
    Luxman DA-06 DAC
    Van Alstine Ultra Plus Hybrid Tube DAC
    Dual Martin Logan Original Dynamo Subs
    Parasound A21 amp
    Vintage Luxman T-110 tuner
    Magnepan MMG's, Grant Fidelity DAC-11, Class D CDA254 amp
    Monitor Audio S1 speakers, PSB B6 speakers
    Vintage Technic's Integrated amp
    Music Hall 25.2 CDP
    Adcom GFR 700 AVR
    Cables- Cardas, Silnote, BJC
    Velodyne CHT 8 sub

  9. #9
    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
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    Blackraven I can make my SA 8001 sound as you describe or the way I like it to sound. How do I do this? By using different IC's. I have two pair of Alpha Core IC's one being the TQ2 and the other the Micropurl. The TQ2 21 guage copper rolls off the highs and warms up the sound. Soundstage is more recessed and there is less distance from the vocalist to the backing band. The Micropurl 25 guage copper has better extension to the highs and with greater depth and seperation of instruments and focus. In the past I have used an AudioQuest IC and felt it warmed up and slowed the timing of music. I suggest you try a different IC and for me a smaller guage seemed to do the trick. I find my SA 8001 to have a very open, extended and non fatiguing treble. Of course I can change IC's and return to the sound you describe.
    JohnMichael
    Vinyl Rega Planar 2, Incognito rewire, Deepgroove subplatter, ceramic bearing, Michell Technoweight, Rega 24V motor, TTPSU, FunkFirm Achroplat platter, Michael Lim top and bottom braces, 2 Rega feet and one RDC cones. Grado Sonata, Moon 110 LP phono.
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  10. #10
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    The crowd gasps in horror, "No he didn't?" He suggested a difference in the sound of cables?

    I think an interconnect using silver or that to some degree would add some sparkle to the high end. Transparent uses copper in it's entry level but that is a great cable for letting the highs shine and tightening up the bass.

    Good suggestion though. A quality cable can take a system up another notch.

    But you have to believe and click your heels together before listening.

  11. #11
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    I'm not a big believer in cables making much of a difference but I'll give it a shot. I have Audioquest Corals, Monster m1000i's which really are a nice IC despite having the Monster name, picked them and a pair of m950i's up for $30 each off ebay. (Hi-Fi choice magazine actually gave the m1000's a good review and are one of their recommended components) I will also try a pair of MIT's with the little emf filters.

    I'm listening to Christy Baron on SACD right now and its excellent.
    I just finished AB testing Shelby Lynn's Just A Little Lovin CD with a burned copy, comparing my modified music hall 25.2 and the 8003.
    The sound was fairly similar. The vocals on the 8003 sounded a little more nasal but slightly smoother. Bass was slightly deeper on the 8003 but it was tighter on the MH. Treble just a bit more foward on the MH. The differences were sublte though except for the vocals.

    Later I'm going to burn a copy of the Christy Baron Hybrid SACD -(Retrospective, which is an excellent cd) and compare SACD to STD CD.
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp,
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    Magnepan QR1.6 speakers
    Luxman DA-06 DAC
    Van Alstine Ultra Plus Hybrid Tube DAC
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    Parasound A21 amp
    Vintage Luxman T-110 tuner
    Magnepan MMG's, Grant Fidelity DAC-11, Class D CDA254 amp
    Monitor Audio S1 speakers, PSB B6 speakers
    Vintage Technic's Integrated amp
    Music Hall 25.2 CDP
    Adcom GFR 700 AVR
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    Velodyne CHT 8 sub

  12. #12
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    I'd be interested to see what the MIT does, it is similar to the Transparent with MIT being first with that style of cable.

    A test you might try is to use one of the CD players and see if you can tell a difference between the original and burnt CD. In most instances I can. If you can as well it may skew your A/B comparisons of players. My computer can make a 24 bit copy and it comes as close to making an exact copy as I've heard. Even with that if I back and forth differences can be detected. With a less capable recorder the differences become more obvious.

  13. #13
    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackraven
    I'm not a big believer in cables making much of a difference but I'll give it a shot.




    Here is a link to the Micropurls that work so well with my SA 8001. They offer a 30 day trial and are about $78 for a 1 meter pair.


    http://www.goertzaudio.com/interconnect.html
    JohnMichael
    Vinyl Rega Planar 2, Incognito rewire, Deepgroove subplatter, ceramic bearing, Michell Technoweight, Rega 24V motor, TTPSU, FunkFirm Achroplat platter, Michael Lim top and bottom braces, 2 Rega feet and one RDC cones. Grado Sonata, Moon 110 LP phono.
    Digital
    Sony SCD-XA5400ES SACD/cd SID mat, Marantz SA 8001
    Int. Amp Krell S-300i
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  14. #14
    Forum Regular audio amateur's Avatar
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    You seem to go through CDP's like they're cracker jack toys
    Enjoy

  15. #15
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    Seems so. The problem with the Cambridge was that there are no dealers here so you have to order it online and decide to keep it or send it back. And it was my wife who originally bought me the 8001 and 840c for a Christmas present without my knowing.

    I've also bought a new preamp so now its about system matching.
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp,
    Thorens TD-145 TT, Bellari phono preamp, Nagaoka MP-200 Cartridge
    Magnepan QR1.6 speakers
    Luxman DA-06 DAC
    Van Alstine Ultra Plus Hybrid Tube DAC
    Dual Martin Logan Original Dynamo Subs
    Parasound A21 amp
    Vintage Luxman T-110 tuner
    Magnepan MMG's, Grant Fidelity DAC-11, Class D CDA254 amp
    Monitor Audio S1 speakers, PSB B6 speakers
    Vintage Technic's Integrated amp
    Music Hall 25.2 CDP
    Adcom GFR 700 AVR
    Cables- Cardas, Silnote, BJC
    Velodyne CHT 8 sub

  16. #16
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Hummm

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Peabody
    ...

    A test you might try is to use one of the CD players and see if you can tell a difference between the original and burnt CD. In most instances I can. If you can as well it may skew your A/B comparisons of players. My computer can make a 24 bit copy and it comes as close to making an exact copy as I've heard. Even with that if I back and forth differences can be detected. With a less capable recorder the differences become more obvious.
    OK. Which sounds better: CD or CDR copy? In principle there is no reason to assume that the original will sound better.

    Have you ever attempted to discover whether your CD and CDR copies are bit identical, such as by copying both to separate WAV files on your computer with EAC, then doing a file compare? If they are bit identical, then sound differences in sound come from (a) the ability of you player to read one or the other more error-free, and/or (b) jitter induced by one format versus the other? Even if they are not exactly identical, that is, the 1-4 errors per disc as typically detected by EAC, this tiny incidence of error is almost certainly not the cause of any differences in sound.

  17. #17
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    I'm not that skilled with a computer to do that. What ever the cause the difference is there and it's not only on one player that I detect differences. What I hear is a difference in the bass response, copies being boomier and less flat, and in the extreme high end, copies being a bit brighter or etched.

    In most instances I prefer the original. One time I recorded something for my daughter and was listening to the copy and the original and that difference in the treble actually made the copy preferrable, it gave it a raw or more live sound that was interesting.

    Many times a stand alone recorder didn't cost much more than a typical CD player and I can't imagine them being able to make a perfect copy. I'm sure it's possible to make a perfect copy but at what price to a consumer would this come.

  18. #18
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    I put the original in the 8003 and the copy in the music hall. I'll have to try it the other way around and see how it sounds. I also have 2 original copies of Fleetwood Mac Rumors and 2 original copies of Chris Isaak -Heart Shaped World that I will AB.
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp,
    Thorens TD-145 TT, Bellari phono preamp, Nagaoka MP-200 Cartridge
    Magnepan QR1.6 speakers
    Luxman DA-06 DAC
    Van Alstine Ultra Plus Hybrid Tube DAC
    Dual Martin Logan Original Dynamo Subs
    Parasound A21 amp
    Vintage Luxman T-110 tuner
    Magnepan MMG's, Grant Fidelity DAC-11, Class D CDA254 amp
    Monitor Audio S1 speakers, PSB B6 speakers
    Vintage Technic's Integrated amp
    Music Hall 25.2 CDP
    Adcom GFR 700 AVR
    Cables- Cardas, Silnote, BJC
    Velodyne CHT 8 sub

  19. #19
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    Hey all,

    New user here. I had to sign up after reading the review on the Sa8001 vs. the 8003. I pasted a copy of my opinion here, that I had previously posted on another site. My review was very different from Blackraven's. Cheers-

    My opinion of the Marantz SA8001 vs the 8003 follows. I did a lot of research prior to deciding on the 8001, & upon purchasing, loved the unit. It would not play some multi layer SACD discs. Since the 8001 was discontinued, Marantz offered the 8003 as a replacement, at that time not yet released. I purchased another 8001, concerned that the 8003 may not be an improvement. I was able to do side by side comparisons for about 3 weeks using Martin Logan speakers. The 8003 sounded less refined, much more harsh to my ears. Bass seemed much more muddy, and over driven. The Zylon disc tray is fancy plastic. Compared to the almost rubber type material used in the 8001 tray, I believe Zylon to be a downgrade. When a disc is loaded, you could hear the 8003 spin up from across the room. It was as noisy as my cdrom when burning discs. You could even hear it when selecting different songs. The 8001 is barely noticeable with an ear close to the unit. I sent the 8003 back even though I received it ($100 more retail) for the same price. The 8001 is a stellar unit. There is a very noticable difference in sound between the units, not to mention build quality. I proudly own the SA8001

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by I dont know

    My opinion of the Marantz SA8001 vs the 8003 follows. I did a lot of research prior to deciding on the 8001, & upon purchasing, loved the unit. It would not play some multi layer SACD discs.





    I proudly own the SA8001
    I've experienced problems like that myself, and can usually "trick" the unit into playing them. When pressing the desired track number on the remote results in a "no disc" display in the window (when there is a disc in the tray), I make certain the mode is selected to "SuperAudio CD," and hit "Play." Then the machine seems to load without difficulty, and I simply skip to the track I wanted. I've never experienced any such difficultes with regular CD's.


    I'm still amazed at how much better many of my older CD's sound on the 8001, and how wonderful some of the newer SACD's sound. Certainly one of the smartest investments in equipment I"ve ever made.

  21. #21
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    [QUOTE=emaidel]I've experienced problems like that myself, and can usually "trick" the unit into playing them.

    Yeah, problem is this was a brand new 8001. It wouldn't say no disc, it would say can't play. I tried different combinations as you've described & still received a can't play on 2 out of 3 SACD's. The new one I purchased plays the SACD's the other wouldn't. There was definitely a problem with the first one.

  22. #22
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    We found the the 8001 to be much more noisy on spin up than the 8003. (it must be a quality issue) And in a direct head to head comparison on my friends system the 8001 and the un-broken in 8003 sounded exactly the same when we used good IC's on the 8003. With the cheap IC's that Marantz supplied the bass was slightly muddy.
    As far as the Zylon tray, it does look like cheap plastic compared to the tray of the 8001 but who am I to say that it is not less resonant than the tray in the 8001 as Marantz claims. Overall the 8003 looks better than the 8001 and sounds about the same in our AB test.

    If your leery about buying the 8003 then go for the SA15, its on sale for about $1300 since the new version is coming out soon.
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp,
    Thorens TD-145 TT, Bellari phono preamp, Nagaoka MP-200 Cartridge
    Magnepan QR1.6 speakers
    Luxman DA-06 DAC
    Van Alstine Ultra Plus Hybrid Tube DAC
    Dual Martin Logan Original Dynamo Subs
    Parasound A21 amp
    Vintage Luxman T-110 tuner
    Magnepan MMG's, Grant Fidelity DAC-11, Class D CDA254 amp
    Monitor Audio S1 speakers, PSB B6 speakers
    Vintage Technic's Integrated amp
    Music Hall 25.2 CDP
    Adcom GFR 700 AVR
    Cables- Cardas, Silnote, BJC
    Velodyne CHT 8 sub

  23. #23
    AR Newbie Registered Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackraven

    If your leery about buying the 8003 then go for the SA15, its on sale for about $1300 since the new version is coming out soon.
    I feel this is good advice, regarding the SA-15S1 comment. I feel Marantz had a unit that was too good in the 8001. Reputable reviews claim the 8001 sounds similar to the SA-15S1. Why would someone spend double the price, to get a similar sounding unit? I think Marantz addressed this in the 8003 by degrading sound/build quality. The 8003 looks cool, with it's plastic (fiberglass) & aluminum front panel. I think the reference models all use aluminum front panels, hmmm... I can't (I should say couldn't, as I returned the 8003) get excited about the USB capability either. I don't care to listen to compressed files in a reference room. Yeah, I know it plays uncompressed WAV files, but does anyone care? Maybe if it was better integrated. The 8003 is a "decent" sounding MP3 player, that also plays SACD's. Marantz no longer (in my opinion) produces a sub $2K "superb" sounding unit. If you don't do an A/B comparison, this unit is decent, at best if you can get past the roar it creates during initial spin up. I'm betting the 8003 doesn't end up in Stereophiles coveted class A list, as the 8001. Buy the SA-15S1 on sale, as suggested by BR.

  24. #24
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    I DON'T KNOW, we must have been listening to 2 different players because we could not tell the 8003 and 8001 apart in sound. And our 8003 had a much more quiet spin up than the 8001. This leads me to believe that it is probably unit dependent and poor quality control issues.

    And as far as the SA15 is concerned, i've read reviews where the SA15 has a subtle better sound than the 8001. They question is, is it worth the extra money?
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp,
    Thorens TD-145 TT, Bellari phono preamp, Nagaoka MP-200 Cartridge
    Magnepan QR1.6 speakers
    Luxman DA-06 DAC
    Van Alstine Ultra Plus Hybrid Tube DAC
    Dual Martin Logan Original Dynamo Subs
    Parasound A21 amp
    Vintage Luxman T-110 tuner
    Magnepan MMG's, Grant Fidelity DAC-11, Class D CDA254 amp
    Monitor Audio S1 speakers, PSB B6 speakers
    Vintage Technic's Integrated amp
    Music Hall 25.2 CDP
    Adcom GFR 700 AVR
    Cables- Cardas, Silnote, BJC
    Velodyne CHT 8 sub

  25. #25
    Ajani
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackraven
    And as far as the SA15 is concerned, i've read reviews where the SA15 has a subtle better sound than the 8001. They question is, is it worth the extra money?
    I think that's the central question that drives all audiophiles... And for high end products, people are willing to pay through the nose for incremental/subtle improvements....

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