Disc Players

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Paul Miller  |  Nov 19, 2011
The latest Evolution drops SACD to focus on CD Krell’s first non-amplification component was the SBP 64X DAC. Twenty-two years on we have this high-end player, following on from the Evolution 505 but this time it doesn’t play SACDs. The two look pretty much the same: the front panel layout is virtually unchanged, although the transport drawer is replaced here by a disc loading slot. Above this is a bold, blue-lit dot matrix display.
Ken Kessler & Paul Miller  |  Jan 05, 2009
Canny audio manufacturers never seem to run out of new takes on old formats. Because of such lateral thinking, the humble and now familiar CD has weathered (easily) a few dozen silver disc variations, up to and including SACD and DVD-A, which achieved minimal market penetration. Leema’s equivalent of CD Viagra is to add so many DACs that you have to marvel not at the technological achievement, but at the price: the updated Stream still sells for under £1200. As the company puts it, ‘Sixteen 24-bit/192kHz multi-bit Delta-Sigma converters are used in Leema’s unique MD2 Active Differential Multi-DAC to produce an incredibly real and tactile musical performance with almost no noise and distortion.
Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Jan 13, 2015
Weighing over 20kg, the Loit Passeri CD player is the first product from the talented young designer Lup Yoong Kam of Singapore. Clearly a perfectionist, Kam has come up with a product that simply exudes quality. It is also a great piece of industrial design. At the outset, Kam commissioned well-known Russian designer Artemy Lebedev who envisaged the CD cover as a simple flat disc, ringed by a glow of blue light.
Ken Kessler and Paul Miller  |  Mar 10, 2011
A CD player with a valve displayed in the front panel: Luxman references its own past for the D-38u, a machine that oozes retro, right down to its chunky wooden sleeve Compact Disc was only launched in 1982/3, which – though its demise is perhaps now in sight – doesn’t seem that long ago. Yet here is Luxman with a player that is decidedly two-channel-only, its digital outputs are limited to coaxial and Toslink optical, it arrives with a wooden case, and it features a design touch that refers directly to one of its ancestors. If that’s not retro, what is? But Luxman, cleverly, has never been shoehorned into a genre, having excelled in every area save speaker manufacture. Its amps have a cult following, as did the vacuum-hold-down turntables, and the company always delivered decent CD players.
Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 02, 2020
hfncommendedLuxman has re-introduced what just may be the dream desktop rig, comprising the new NeoClassico CD player and tube integrated amplifier – or is it much more?

Can we agree that it's possible to love more than one system, as you would savour more than one type of whisky or wine? Masseto and Tignanello are simply not mutually exclusive. Luxman's re-imagined NeoClassico series is appropriately costly but not saddled with a 'high-end' price, so at £2500 for the D-N150 CD/DAC and £3000 for the SQ-N150 integrated amp, it is not an alternative to, nor a substitute for a high-end, high-power system. It is not out to usurp the role of your D'Agostino.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 15, 2019
hfncommendedBucking the trend that sees 'physical media' in decline, the latest model to emerge from the French company's disc player/DAC line-up is also its first SACD machine

Coincidence is an interesting thing: at the same time I collected the curiously-named Métronome AQWO for review, the mainstream news was buzzing with the decline of both physical music media and file downloads, and the seemingly unstoppable rise of streaming services. It was also echoed by editor PM in his Welcome page [HFN Feb '19].

Richard Stevenson & Paul Miller  |  May 05, 2009
The battle for supremacy at the top end of the Blu-ray player market is becoming ferocious. Players above £1000 seem to emerge weekly as big name manufacturers attempt to create a definitive statement product from which they will hang, in marketing speak, their more affordable mass-market offerings. You need to be at the cutting edge of the Blu-ray game just to keep up with the Joneses these days. FANCY AUDIO Unless you are Marantz of course.
Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 16, 2019
hfnvintageGlitsy looks and a lack of niceties such as time display, but this version of the Philips CD300 CD player was first to market where it became king of the 14-bit machines

The CD-73 is surely one of the best loved and best remembered of the first generation of CD players. With its eye-catching looks, it stood out among a sea of bland black boxes. Usually it would have been difficult for a company of Marantz's standing to come up with a fully engineered model so quickly, but having recently secured the backing of Philips, it was able to release not one but two class-leading CD players for the opening 1983 season.

Ed Selley  |  Nov 19, 2011
Another Ishiwata special edition at a new, lower price point Designer Ken Ishiwata celebrated his 30th anniversary at Marantz by producing the sumptuous KI Pearl SACD/CD player and integrated amplifier priced at £2500 each. A year later came the less elaborately-built Lite versions at £1000 a piece. We thought the SA-KI Pearl Lite fabulous value when we first tested it in Dec ’10 as part of a group test, and since then its suggested retail price has been reduced. Shop around and you’ll find it for even less than £900.
Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Dec 04, 2020
hfncommendedThis SE version of Marantz's former 'Japan only' SA-12/PM-12 player/amp combo borrows very heavily indeed from the costlier KI Ruby series, but saves £1000 into the bargain

So what do we have here? The new SA-12SE SACD/CD player and PM-12SE integrated amplifier, selling for £2999 apiece, are the latest in a long line of 'special edition' products from Marantz. Its family tree includes 'Original Special Edition' models, when other brands got in on the 'SE' thing, and the 'KI Signature' versions tuned by the company's late Brand Ambassador, Ken Ishiwata.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 08, 2019
hfncommendedMarking brand ambassador Ken Ishiwata's 40 years with Marantz, this 'Ruby edition' SACD player and integrated amplifier aim high. How precious are they?

We've been here before: ten years ago Marantz celebrated Brand Ambassador Ken Ishiwata's 30-year tenure at the company with a KI-Pearl pairing of player and amplifier [HFN Aug '09]. So its only fitting that, now he's clocked up another decade, we should have these latest KI Ruby models, limited to 1000 units apiece (500 of each in gold, 500 in black), and selling at £3500 for each unit.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Feb 08, 2021
hfnoutstandingTrickledown engineering wins hands down as the core technology behind Marantz's 12 series is buffed to a new polish, gaining network compatibility at an even lower price

The expression 'hot on the heels' is one thing, but to launch two sets of products seemingly offering similar features at much the same price might be seen as inviting customer confusion. Yes, that's just what Marantz has done, with the SA-12SE/PM-12SE SACD player and amplifier [HFN Nov '20] followed within weeks by the arrival of the 30 Series models – yes, an SACD player and amplifier. Add in the fact that both ranges draw heavily on previous models – to put it charitably – and one might well wonder what exactly is going on.

Paul Miller  |  Dec 16, 2009
It’s not a coincidence that the second ‘universal’ CD/SACD/DVD-A/BD disc player on the market is from Marantz, the first hailing from Denon in the form of its revolutionary DVD-A1UD [HFN, Oct ’09]. Industry watchers will already know that Denon and Marantz both come under the umbrella of D&M Holdings [see boxout, p37] and that certain core technologies are shared – but only to a point. So let’s be clear at the outset: the £5000 UD9004 is not simply one of Denon’s £4500 DVD-A1UD players housed in black Marantz livery. And what finery, Marantz relocating the litany of logos that underlines Denon’s fascia to its top surface for a more sober facade clearly modelled on its exclusive KI Pearl series [HFN, Sept ’09].
Keith Howard & Paul Miller  |  Feb 16, 2010
Odd timing, you may think. As SACD and DVD-A celebrate – if that’s the word – a decade of underachievement as CD’s putative successor(s), with DVD-A now moribund and SACD reduced to the status of a niche music carrier, Mark Levinson releases its first CD/SACD player. Not a universal player, note – the No512 has no truck with music on DVD-V or DVD-A, let alone BD – nor even one able to unlock the full potential of multichannel SACDs, since it is stereo only. Ironically, Mark Levinson the man, as opposed to Mark Levinson the company (with which he has had no association for many years), has long been a vocal advocate of SACD, but only now does a product bearing his name support the format that, in the interim, has become a cul-de-sac in audio’s tree of life.
Paul Miller  |  Nov 19, 2011
SACD capability and a clever variable output make the McIntosh a strong performer The SACD won’t go away because enough of us realise that it sounds fabulous. It still has an important market in Japan, and supporters in unlikely places which keep the software flowing. McIntosh is one: as traditional a manufacturer as you can name, and not tempted towards controversy. Mac’s approach to SACD is almost matter-of-fact: it eschews 5.

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