Marantz Sa 8003 Review, Modified version of this SACD player

 When a system is running with all its components in synchrony and the sum total of the parts working well together, the music it produces is truly music to the beholder.

I have long suspected that even with a top of the line Marantz AV amp and the B/W 805s, the two of them will run on the warmer side of things, with some bloom in the bass.

I still feel that the 805s is one of the best bookshelf speakers this side of 5k, and it present a close to neutral picture with the abilty to present a sonic landscape and let you divorce yourself from the confines of the boxes and sit down to enjoy the music.

However it needs a tight rein on the bass, and enjoys being driven with power. In order to achieve a neutral balance, I was reluctant to commit to a straight out of the box Marantz Cd player and add more warmth to the whole sonic picture.

I had been talking to a professional on the possibility of either an Mod Oppo or SA 8003, when the opportunity presented itself to get a SA 8003 with mods (Burson audio clock, additional wound transformer, filtering capacitors). I grabbed this with alacrity and with the Oyaide Acrolinks this might be system I was looking at.


Marantz SA 8003 (Mods Burson audio clock, additional wound transformer, filtering capacitors)

Marantz SR 12 AVR

Oyaide 750 I/C


B/W 805s

Atacama stands.

Furatech Power cables.

The inital presentation was not promising. In fact it was downright bad, so much so that I worried that the combination had gone awry. Thankfully after a day of running in, things were much better.

The slight bloom in the bass was replaced by control and depth and this was most evident on some of my house / dance tracks with a constant beat. Yo Yo Ma's Cello and jazz pieces with double bass tunes from Earl Klugh were keeping up just fine too.

But the biggest change was in the mids now. The presentation was just right, with the right mix of treble and mids to blend together to create the which allows the music to impale you to your send rendering you quite unable to do anything else.

The 8003 with the mods is now a proper CD player and gives a soundscape where the singer is placed slightly behind the speakers (placed 3m apart 3m from the seating position). SACDs are also done right that you simply concentrate on the music and forget the equipment, the room and relax.

Even when I play a jarring violin piece, things sound fine.

The 805s weakness with a single mid cone is still large scale orchestra pieces, with complex pieces where it will lose out to its brothers with more speaker cones. But it is able still to plunge the depths and give you up to 35Hz usable and keep most but the fussiest happy.

A Harbeth or Spendor 6e might just give a tad more mid, but the 805 has little competitors below 5k.

To improve this, a Roksan Caspian CD player will give better mids, but I might be looking at a SA 11 S2 to improve on the 8003.

The amp remains now the weakest link, and a Krell FBI or even a 300i may be the answer to provide the muscle and control, althought a Classe or AVI might be the solution too.

Anyway for now, all is well again in the sonic universe.

Using the Marantz SA 8003

The Marantz SA 8003 has its quirks, and using the USB port takes time. Note that the DAC for the USB port is from NEC and it does not make use of the HDAM and DACs which serve the main CD section.

It is moderate in its response time, my older Pioneer DVD player is faster and my older Aiwa/Sony CD player is also faster in response time. You don’t see the tracks as in other SACD players.

The player itself is well built and hefty, with gold plated connectors. Without trying the Marantz SA 8003 without the mods, it is hard to comment on this, but with the mods in place, the highs are clearer without emphasis, and the mids, soundstage and pace seem better than my older SA 7001 KIs.

 This afternoon, we tried a combination of the Oyaide 750 acrolink vs a AudioQuest cable with about a $3-400 difference in price.

Then 2 Marantz players - Marantz SA 8260 vs 8003.

There is almost a 10 year gap in age between the 2 players, and the older player is better built and still responsive.

So in order of ranking of performance

1 - AQ IC + Marantz 8260
2 - a VERY Close 2nd AC IC + SA 8003

3 - IMO Oyaide + 8003
4- Oyaide + 8260

The AQ IC added a certain rightness.

The bass was tight but not over-emphasised.
The mids were smooth and clear and the soundstage forward, precise and definitely better with the AQ. The 805s and SR 12 combination allowed for many upgrades without reaching its limits.

But buyers of the 805s should know that using a warm source plus a warm amp will not suit it.
Instead a neutral amp and CD will be much better. But each step of upgrade will bring results and you can definitely hear the differences. Yet in this case, the cost of the two IC are quite different, so you will need to assess for yourself if this difference in sound will be worth that much.

This current system can allow for a better power conditioner, IC and speaker cable upgrade and still sound better.

Thats the scary part...

I have no financial interest or other interests in any of the items / events I write about.


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