The music coming out of your iPod doesn’t sound as good as it would coming from a CD. Period.

That doesn’t mean you have to spend $1,000 to squeeze the best possible audio out of your songs, does it?

Hence, we learn the plight of the audiophile. How good can music sound? How high can the quality get? How much should you spend?

The Marantz SA8003 was a treat. It puts out clear, rich bass notes, great midrange sound, and surprisingly clean treble with just a hint of imperfection at the highest tones. But we asked the company why anyone should pay $1,000 or more (the SA8003 is one of their midprice models) for a CD player.

After all, it’s a laser hitting a disc. What makes their lasers any better than Sony’s or even Coby for the matter.

Here’s the complete, unedited response from Kevin Zarow, vice president of marketing for Marantz — you decide:

“There is a noticeable difference between a $200 CD player and an “audiophile quality” $1,000 Super Audio CD (SACD) player like the Marantz SA8003 “" and it’s something that even casual listeners will be able to hear immediately. The much higher fidelity SACD player actually enables you to hear subtle things in your favorite music that you’ve probably never heard before, like more realistic vocals, deeper, richer bass notes, as well as a wider, more three dimensional sound stage. Beyond that, the build quality between players is significant. A player such as the Marantz will weigh a lot more, due to a more robust chassis, designed to reduce vibration which by the way, improves sound. The power supplies, DACs and CD drive mechanism will all be much higher grade and great attention will be paid to the signal path to insure that you hear the music in its purest form and not the electronics.”

The SA8003 also has a USB port if you really get lonely for MP3s and music files. The optical output also

Pros: The SA8003 is an audiophile-quality CD player with crisp, clear sound, and rich bass. It also has a USB port for playing MP3s.

Cons: You really have to want it to spend $1,000 on a CD player, since your DVD player, video game console, and computer can all play CDs.

The final word: Speaking strictly from a quality perspective, the SA8003 is great. Remember though, this is just a CD player and it’s only going to sound as good as the speakers and amplifier you already have.

Don’t miss John Guilfoil’s “Five ways to listen to music without an iPod” story, in The Boston Globe.

About The Author

John Guilfoil is the editor-in-chief of Blast: Boston's Online Magazine and the Blast Magazine Network. He can be reached at [email protected]. Tweet @johnguilfoil.

2 Responses

  1. Manuel

    PHAIL John. PHAIL.

    The fact is, it’s NOT just another CD player. That’s like saying the Blu-Ray player costs too much, and you should just get another dvd player like a 19.99 version.

    Sadly SACD has lost the format war like HDDVD did. Not that much marketing, since the true quality could only be shown through demonstration ( usually in store), or by bitrate means such as radio=96k, cd=1411, vinul=48 kHz 16 bits (which the ‘average joe wouldn’t understand); but in any case SACD still loses to the uncompressed quality of HDDVD and BD. The size restriction just begins to matter the more music you put on it. Because frankly, while it may not SOUND like a normal CD, it still is contained on one.

    And therein lies it’s flaw, If they would have pushed it at the right time, it would have sold. But sold at the wrong time, with not that much effort has caused the format to fall by the wayside, which I think is a shame. They may still have a chance….but they would need a marketing team like no other. To literally yank the Ipods off of people’s hands.

    Or do a SACD vs. Ipod commecial. 🙂 But you can’t beat the portability of an mp3. But I for one wouldn’t mind having an SACD player in my house. I’m biased, I’m an audiophile.

  2. Michi

    SACD is not “contained on a CD”. a SACD is actually a DVD, (with a UDF 2.0 file system) on one layer, and a normal CD on its second layer.

    When you put it in a SACD player, it reads and plays back the 2.8MHZ (yes MHZ) audio layer.

    When you put it in a normal CD player, the DVD layer, due to the way it is put on the disk, is ‘invisible’ to the infrared laser of the CD player, and the “normal” 44.1khz CD layer is read.

    Dual layer SACDs also exist for 8GB of audio.

    Its main competitor was DVD-Audio, which was 96khz or 192khz, compared to SACDs 2.8mhz. (and mp3/aac/cd’s 44.1khz.)

    Data rate is around 5-9mbps for SACD and DVD-A. CD is 1.4mbps. MP3/AAC as we know is 64-320kbps.

    Don’t confuse data rate with sampling rate.


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