It’s the start of 2022 when writing this, and CD and SACD are supposedly ‘dead’ formats. So it might seem strange for Marantz to launch a new silver disc player. But the 30n is more than that; it’s also a streamer and hub, and thus hugely versatile. Marantz describes its new creation like this:
“The Marantz SACD 30n marries a classic premium SA‑CD / CD player with a modern digital source’s hub/preamp. It plays hi-resolution files including FLAC HD and DSD from your home network, local USB storage, and online sources such as streaming services and Internet radio.
“It features HEOS streaming, voice and multi-room support, and DAC functionality, as well as Apple AirPlay 2 and Bluetooth integration. The SACD 30n is future-proofed, accepting file formats all the way up to 11.2Mhz quad-DSD and 384kHz/32-bit PCM via USB-B/USD-DAC.”
Skin in the game
Speaking as someone with skin in the game (I’m currently in the market for a streamer and looking at various acronym-led options) a product like the 30n that features a CD/SACD player and Streamer interests me greatly – providing the performance on silver discs is outstanding.
To partner the SACD 30n, Marantz offer the matching Model 30 integrated amplifier. This is a compact 100W Class D design featuring tone and balance controls and an MM/MC phono stage. The UK price of both of the 30 components is £2,899 each.
Both the Model 30 and SACD 30n have a quilted front panel, with a raised central section that’s back-lit from the sides. It looks very unusual – both classy and nicely understated. Pictures of the items don’t always make this clear – you have to see them to appreciate the styling.
I began with the SACD 30n, and it quickly became obvious that it’s a very capable CD/SACD player. I’d been enjoying the Denon DCD A110 player very much, and the 30n matched it for clarity and detail, while delivering a slightly more immediate and assertive sound.
On both standard Red Book CD and SACD, the 30n produced an impressively-clean and focused sound that had great presence and dynamic range. Given that the SACD 30n costs £100 less than the Denon, and features a built-in streamer/hub, it’s excellent value.
Compared to many other silver disc players, CDs on the SACD 30n had a nice depth and weight that made them sound more like SACDs. SACDs sounded better still – solid, weighty, and clean, with bite and clarity, plus a nice unexaggerated naturalness.
Playing Copland Orchestral works Vol 1 SACD [Chandos CHSA 5164] the bass drum on ‘Fanfare for the Common Man’ had truly awesome heft and depth – real floor-shaking bass, but only if your speakers are capable of reproducing low frequencies below 25Hz.
I’d say the Denon DCD-A110 and matching PMA-A110 amplifier offer superior build quality over the Marantz items, but not by much. The Denon items are heavier and more solidly-made, but the quality of finish is about equal and the Marantz certainly looks classy and attractive.
Marantz’s HEOS app works well, and allows you to stream from subscription platforms such as Spotify, Tidal, Deezer, Napster, Amazon music, Soundcloud, etc. At the time of writing (June 2021) the SACD 30n does not support MQA files on Tidal, but this is a future possibility.
Marantz tell me MQA support could be added in a future firmware update, should they decide to go for it. So, if you’re a Tidal user, lack of MQA might be a deciding factor, but maybe not for long. The 30n sounded very good with Tidal, but MQA files via Arcam’s ST60 were generally better. Some MQA files are only 44.1kHz and deliver CD quality, while others are 96kHz and sound superior. Playing ‘Come Together’ from the Beatles Abbey Road album [Apple], the MQA version (via the Arcam) sounded more dynamic and better separated.
The non-MQA file sounded ‘flatter’ and voices/instruments did not project out from the speaker enclosures. The MQA file had more depth and space, and the placement of voices and instruments in the stereo soundstage was more holographic and real-sounding. However, comparing the 30n against the ST60 on Tidal with non-MQA files, I’d actually put the Marantz slightly ahead of the Arcam for clarity and separation.
Given the range of options offered, the SACD 30n is simple and straightforward to use. A small rotary control selects functions, and runs HEOS Favourites (subscription needed), Internet Radio, Music Servers, USB Music, Bluetooth, CD/SACD, USB-DAC, Co-Axial, Optical 1 and 1, and Set-Up.
You can select most of these options from the supplied remote handset. The display on the SACD 30n is clear and easy to read, but – unlike many current streamers – you don’t get a representation of the album cover when streaming.
I used the SACD 30n via USB with a hard-drive containing downloaded music. For some reason, the SACD 30n didn’t always read the file name. Many of these I’ve created myself, usually with the composer’s surname at the first item. But sometimes the SACD 30n chose to read hidden metadata.
All of which means that instead of an item coming under (say) B for Beethoven or Brahms (as per the file name) it’s found under S – S for Sir John Barbirolli… Maybe there’s a way around this – I’m not sure. But interestingly, the Arcam ST60 did not do this.
Marantz’ HEOS app is a lot better than Arcam’s MusicLife app, though hopefully the latter will soon have a significant upgrade that sorts out its problems. I could navigate files on my USB hard drive connected to the SACD 30n using HEOS, unlike the Arcam/MusicLife.
Given all the exciting headline features of the SACD 30n, the Model 30 amplifier could easily be overlooked. I went over to it from my £8k Musical Fidelity NuVista 800 and was impressed by the clarity and focus of the Marantz. Class D seems to deliver a sound of great solidity and precision.
I typically find Class D amps a little ‘dark’ in terms of tonal balance. There’s a slightly lack of ‘sparkle’ and brilliance perhaps, but overall the presentation itself strikes me as very natural and truthful. I like the effortless focus and clarity of the Marantz Model 30. It’s an exceptional amplifier.
To draw an analogy, the Marantz Model 30 is a bit like freshly-squeezed orange juice compared to fizzy orange squash. It offers a purer, truer flavour without false excitement or drama, yet delivers the music with great integrity that involves and moves the listener.
I’d be intrigued to hear it in a variety of situations, driving other loudspeakers, but in my set-up it works extremely well – to the point where I’d be very happy to live with it full-time. I even liked the ‘sound’ of the tone controls; the way they let you boost/cut the extreme bass and treble.
That said, I preferred to use the amp on its ‘direct’ setting, which by-passes the tone controls and balance control. The built-in phono stage was very good too, and I liked the visual readout of volume level in decibels.
Being Class D, the Model 30 amplifier operates very efficiently and draws very little power. It gets very slightly warm during extended use, but runs cooler than a typical Class A/B amp. The SACD 30n is shown standing on the Model 30, and you could do that without overheating problems.
Opinions seem polarised when it comes to a CD/SACD player that incorporates a streamer and USB DAC. Those who prefer downloads and streamed music may well regard silver disc as obsolete. So a product that combines CD/SACD playback with streaming might seem a ludicrous combination.
Others, like myself, may still prefer CD/SACD as their main source, but require a good streamer. Given how good the SACD 30n is playing silver discs, it’s likely to be an upgrade on older CD players. For those with Hybrid SACDs but no dedicated SACD player, something like the 30n is worth considering.
True, it’s more than double the price of a Streamer such as Arcam’s ST60, but I’d argue it represents very good value. For someone like myself, with a big collection of CDs and SACDs, the Marantz is arguably a better option over a dedicated streamer.
Neat and Compact
Then there’s the matching Model 30 amplifier. It’s neat and compact, yet delivers music with impressive clarity and precision. I like it’s focus and ability to deliver detail without seeming splashy or edgy. But, is there a slightly lack of sparkle at the top end?
Maybe; but possibly it’s more a lack of control and a slight added emphasis with other amps. I sometimes wonder if there’s a slight lack of top-end openness with Class D, but at the same time I love the ‘nothing added, nothing taken away’ clarity of the sound.
I find both Marantz 30 models especially good at low dynamic levels. The music retains focus and solidity, and never gets smeared. All told, the Marantz SACD 30n and Model 30 is a very impressive combination that sounds really great and offers outstanding value. Go hear it!
- Type: Integrated amplifier
- Inputs: five line-level stereo RCA pairs, one MM/MC phono input, exterior preamp input, remote control bus terminal
- Outputs: 1× RCA stereo pair record output, 1× RCA stereo pair preamplifier output, ¼” headphone jack
- Power output: 100W/8Ω, 200W/4Ω
- Frequency Range: 5Hz–50kHz
- THD: 0.005% (1kHz, 8Ω)
- Signal to noise ratio: 88dB (MM), 75dB (MC), 107dB (line)
- Dimensions (W×H×D): 44.3 × 13 × 43.1cm
- Weight 14.6kg
- Price: £2,899
- Type: SACD/CD player featuring network audio streaming and DAC Mode
- Inputs: 1× coaxial S/PDIF, 1× optical S/PDIF, 1× USB Type A, 1× USB Type B, built in dual-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
- Outputs: 1× RCA stereo pair (fixed), 1× RCA stereo pair (variable), ¼” headphone jack
- Sampling/File support: PCM files up to 32-bit/384kHz and DSD files up to 11.2 MHz, Gapless playback of FLAC, WAV, AIFF, and ALAC files up to 24-bit/192kHz (DSD files up to 5.6 MHz)
- Frequency Response: 2Hz–50kHz
- THD: 0.0008%
- Dynamic Range: 109dB
- Dimensions (W×H×D): 44.3 × 13 × 42.4cm
- Weight: 13.5kg
- Price: £2,899
Tel: +44 (0)2081034770
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