Sony originally came out with the SACD format in 1999. Unfortunately for those of us that invested in the format, mass market support never really came around, though in the audiophile community the format still thrives. The SCD-XA5400ES is one of Sony's latest iterations, and is their current reference model.
The Marantz tradition has always been about enjoying music. The Marantz SA-KI Pearl is a limited-edition SACD player from the Marantz Reference Series product line. The "KI" in the product name refers to Ken Ishiwata, who is the actual designer of the SA-KI Pearl. Ken Ishiwata has an impressive biography. He fell in love with music as a young man. He pursued a career in fashion photography following in the footsteps of his father. In the late 1970's, Mr. Ishiwata started his career with Marantz. Today, he is an accomplished violinist, audio engineer, electronics engineer, and brand ambassador for Marantz in Europe.
McIntosh has been producing dedicated SACD players for several years, and their latest edition to the line is the MCD500. This iteration has a much lower noise floor than previous models, which allows for the presentation of greater detail in soft musical passages. Our bench tests proved this to be the case, as the measured noise floor was at least 20 dB better than the MCD201 that we tested a few years ago.
Marantz can be thought of in two ways: the company owned by D&M Holdings with a huge market to satisfy, developing highly competitive consumer level products such as receivers and DVD players. Secondly, Marantz is an audio-first legacy from Saul Marantz, that produced vacuum tube gear in the 1950's, and leading the way to solid state in the 1960's. Here, we take a look at their SA-15S2 SACD player.
Marantz has been a renown audio company for a better part of the 20th century. Although it changed hands several times over the years, the quality never wavered from being superb. The average consumer these days may think of mass market receivers when the name Marantz is mentioned, but they also build some of the best high performance products in the consumer arena. The SA-7S1 is Marantz' top-of-the-line SACD player. It is fully balanced throughout - thus having XLR outputs along with the standard RCA unbalanced outputs - and has some of the lowest distortion bench test results I have ever measured. It sounds as smooth as satin whether playing SACDs or standard "old fashioned" CDs, and is built to make sturdy equipment racks creak when you place it on the shelf. Last, but not least, it is beautiful to look at whether it is playing or not.