CD Player of the Year

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It wins our CD Player of the Year, but in fact it’s rather more than that. In­deed the CD mech­a­nism gets a pretty brief de­scrip­tion th­ese days in Marantz lit­er­a­ture next to all the other dig­i­tal good­ies, though it is of course a high-qual­ity tray-load­ing trans­port mech with all the ac­cu­racy you’d ex­pect from Marantz’s 30+ years of ex­pe­ri­ence in con­trol and sta­bil­i­sa­tion. It plays CDs and record­able CDs (and MP3, WMA and AAC files burned to CD, if you must), though we note no SACD com­pat­i­bil­ity here.

But it can also be used as a DAC, with two op­ti­cal in­puts, one coax­ial in­put, a USB slot on the front for sticks or drives, and the es­sen­tial USB-B socket on the back for play­ing di­rect from your com­puter.

There is also the choice of Eth­er­net or Wi-Fi net­work­ing, which then al­lows net­work­ing stream­ing as well. For all th­ese the NA8006 can play high-res au­dio as well as CD qual­ity and be­low, with slightly dif­fer­ent top-outs de­pend­ing on the in­put — you can play up to 24-bit/192kHz PCM and 2.8/5.6MHz DSD files from the op­ti­cal, coax­ial and USB slot in­puts, or over the net­work, as­sum­ing your net­work speed sup­ports it. From com­puter, how­ever, this rises up to a thor­oughly fu­ture­proofed 32-bit/384kHz max­i­mum for PCM files (it seemed to ac­cept 768kHz, in­deed) and 2.8/5.6/11.2MHz DSD through the USB-B in­put.

And there’s more. With the net­work con­nected the ND8006 gains the abil­ity to stream via Ap­ple AirPlay, which also makes it ac­ces­si­ble at CD qual­ity to Roon soft­ware. There is Blue­tooth, though it has no AAC or aptX so is lim­ited to the base-level SBC codec. Hope­fully you can avoid Blue­tooth by down­load­ing the HEOS app — be­cause the ND8006 is one of the in­creas­ing num­ber of prod­ucts to in­clude the HEOS stream­ing and mul­ti­room plat­form, which now al­lows voice con­trol from Alexa and Google smart de­vices.

Equally im­por­tant, how­ever, is the qual­ity within — at $1990, this is no en­try-level unit. It’s solid, and it’s heavy for a source, and within it’s all built with Marantz’s au­dio­phile-grade de­sign and com­po­nen­try, in­clud­ing the com­pany’s HDAM mod­ules and ESS9016 Sabre DACs. So tech­ni­cally solid, and mu­si­cally fine, play­ing beau­ti­fully into am­pli­fi­ca­tion of its own level or, in­deed, sig­nif­i­cantly above.

Marantz refers to it as “a unique com­plete dig­i­tal mu­sic source player”, and we think that’s a fair de­scrip­tion, though rather too long for an awards cat­e­gory. More info:

“More than a fine CD player, the ND8006 can be your DAC as well, and with HEOS on­board, also your net­work play­back unit for all man­ner of on­line and lo­cal mu­sic — all de­liv­ered to a very high qual­ity.

Qual­iFi’s Paul Ast­bury col­lects the Award.

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