When is a CD player not just a CD player? When it’s an SACD player, and a DAC.

Australian HIFI - - CONTENTS -

Marantz prefers to call its SA-14S1 Spe­cial Edi­tion a ‘Su­per Au­dio CD’ player, rather than an ‘SACD’ player. It’s ob­vi­ously read the con­sumer re­search which re­veals that few peo­ple these days know what an SACD player is, the for­mat hav­ing done its dash back in the last cen­tury.

Such peo­ple would not re­alise that an SACD player not only plays back or­di­nary CDs but does so bet­ter than most CD play­ers. So some­one who owns a huge col­lec­tion of CDs is not go­ing to look for an ‘SACD’ player when try­ing to re­place or up­grade their old ‘CD’ player… which means that Marantz is miss­ing out on a huge pool of po­ten­tial buy­ers.

Surely such a per­son’s friendly hi-fi dealer would give them a heads-up on us­abil­ity? I’m sure he (and it’s usu­ally a ‘he’) would if such a per­son were buy­ing from a hi-fi dealer. Re­gret­tably, with the boom in on-line sales, many buy­ers won’t be in this po­si­tion… they’ll just be buy­ing from a web page. So whereas an ‘SACD’ player wouldn’t catch their eye, a ‘Su­per Au­dio’ CD player might just do the trick.

De­spite try­ing to in­crease the SA-14S1 Spe­cial Edi­tion’s ap­peal by clever ti­tling, Marantz has missed an ob­vi­ous mar­ket­ing strat­egy by ba­si­cally ig­nor­ing the fact that the SA-14S1 Spe­cial Edi­tion can also be used as a high-per­for­mance DAC for play­ing back hi-res au­dio files. Just connect it to your com­puter, feed it some hi-res tracks and away you go…


Marantz has cer­tainly done its best to make the SA-14S1 SE (I think we’ll just call it the SA-14SE from here on in, to save on ink), be­cause it’s built on pretty-much the same chas­sis as most other cur­rent Marantz prod­ucts, and uses the same front panel.

And why not? It’s a most at­trac­tive front panel, as well as dis­tinc­tive, be­cause it’s not the ‘flat face’ used by most man­u­fac­tur­ers, but has two scal­lops dished into the face where some of the con­trols are lo­cated. These scal­lops don’t only be­stow a dis­tinc­tive ap­pear­ance and pro­vide homes for the con­trols; they have also al­lowed Marantz to pro­vide some hidden light­ing so you can see the con­trols in low light con­di­tions. The light­ing (sub­tle blue, by the way, the pho­to­graphs re­ally don’t do it jus­tice) also en­hances the ap­pear­ance of the com­po­nent un­der muted light­ing con­di­tions. And just in case you were won­der­ing, the front panel is as solid as it looks… Marantz builds the SA-14E in its own fac­tory in Ja­pan.

The con­trols in the scal­lop to the left of the front panel dis­play are the Eject but­ton, and the Fast For­ward/Track Skip and Fast Back­wards/Track Skip con­trols. The con­trols in­side the right scal­lop are Play, Stop and Pause.

Un­der­neath the front panel dis­play are (left to right), a Type A USB in­put, a Disc/ In­put but­ton (about which more later), a Power On/Off but­ton, a head­phone out­put (6.35mm) and an Out­put Level con­trol.

The front panel USB in­put says ‘Made for iPod’ so it ac­cepts the ob­vi­ous—in­clud­ing iPhones—but of course it can also ac­com­mo­date or­di­nary USB sticks con­tain­ing MP3 (inc. VBR), WMA, AAC or WAV (16-bit/44.1k or 48k) files. As well as be­ing able to be used for au­dio, this front-panel USB con­nec­tion will also charge your iDe­vice, even af­ter the player has switched it­self to standby (which it does au­to­mat­i­cally af­ter 30 min­utes of in­ac­tiv­ity un­less you in­struct it to do other­wise by us­ing the op­tions built into the play­back menu that are ac­ces­si­ble via the re­mote con­trol).

This front panel USB in­put will not play back hi-res files. For that you have to use the Type B USB in­put on the rear panel, to which you connect your com­puter. This in­put ac­cepts up to 192kHz/24-bit PCM and DSD (DoP) DSD2.8 and DSD5.6 files. In or­der to do this though, you’ll need to down­load a ded­i­cated driver (a free down­load) from Marantz’s web­site and load it onto your com­puter be­fore connecting it to the SA-14S1. (But not if you have a Mac… only Win­dows ma­chines need the driver.)

As for the disc tray above the front panel dis­play, as well as play­ing back or­di­nary CDs—and SACDs—it will also play back

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.