Marantz Model 30 & SACD 30n: high-end power and musicality

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This week we reviewed the Marantz Model 30 stereo amplifier and the Marantz SACD 30n CD/SACD player, two premium devices that embody the revival of the Japanese brand’s most high-end products.

Ultra sturdy aluminum chassis, high-end components, colossal power supply, HDAM technology, Hypex Ncore NC500 OEM class D amplification sections, isolation of sensitive circuits… All of the brand’s expertise has been mobilized to offer listeners top-level performance. The design element has not been forgotten with the introduction of a new visual identity; which was inspired by models from the 50s to the 70s yet remains very contemporary.

The Marantz Model 30 and Marantz SACD 30n have a very modern neo-retro look that is decidedly high-end.

Sold for €2,999, the Marantz Model 30 delivers 2 x 100 watts into 8 ohms ans 2 x 200 watts into 4 ohms. The Marantz SACD 30n CD player is available at the same price and offers, in addition to CD and SACD playback, support for Hi-Res audio files (including FLAC and DSD). Music streaming platforms and multi-room features are also available via  the Heos software shared by Marantz and Denon electronics.

Available for under €6000, the Marantz Model 30 and Marantz SACD 30n duo seems to be ideal for those who want to enjoy premium high-fidelity sound for a “reasonable” price.

Marantz Model 30 & SACD 30n: the brand

In the late 1940s, Saul Bernard Marantz created his first amplifier to listen to his record collection before developing the Audio-Consolette, a revolutionary phono preamp for the 1950s. It featured the equalization curves of different record labels and was such a huge success with his audiophile friends.

The Model 1 phono preamplifier was directly derived from the Audio-Consolette developed by Saul Marantz.

The Marantz company was officially founded in 1953. In his factory in Woodside, Queens (New York), the brand produced the Model 1 phono preamplifier, the Model 2 power amplifier (1956) and the Model 7 stereo preamplifier (1958), which remained a reference high-end audiophile preamplifier for many years.

The Marantz Model 2 power amplifier was introduced in 1956 and was a tube model capable of operating in pentode mode (40W power) and triode mode (25W power).

Despite the success of the Model 9 mono amp and the Model 10 tuner, Marantz encountered financial difficulties in the early 1960s. The company was acquired by Superscope and began to focus on producing more affordable products. Marantz also began manufacturing products in Japan with the creation of Marantz Japan (1975).

Released in 1970, the Marantz Model Thirty stereo amplifier delivered 60 watts per channel into 8 ohms with a lot of energy. Its somewhat plain metallic front panel and small dials were the inspiration behind the 2020 Marantz Model 30’s design.

The arrival of engineer Ken Ishiwata at Marantz Europe in 1978 marked the beginning of the merger with Japanese development and production teams. A true icon in the audiophile world, this music and technology enthusiast produced some of Marantz’s most prestigious electronics from the mid-1980s, then labeled SE and KI from the 2000s.

Since its creation, Marantz has been an important player in the development of hi-fi and home theater equipment. Its catalog includes both products for the general public and prestigious electronics lauded by audiophiles, such as the Marantz Model 30 hi-fi amplifier and Marantz SACD 30n player from this review. These high-end electronics are accompanied by more affordable yet very musical hi-fi and home theater devices, such as the Marantz PM-6007 hi-fi amplifier and the Marantz CD-6007 CD player that we previously reviewed.

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The Marantz M-CR612 WiFi/Bluetooth compact amplifier is a versatile model that features a CD player, a USB port (24/192 and DSD128), AirPlay and DLNA network compatibility, an FM and DAB+ tuner, and webradio and online music service compatibility.

Marantz also offers powerful WiFi/Bluetooth amplifiers like the very compact Marantz M-CR612 and the Marantz PM7000N which has a more standard size. Both have been reviewed on our blog.

Espace passion Marantz

Marantz Model 30 & SACD 30n: packaging & accessories

The Marantz Model 30 amplifier and the Marantz SACD 30n player both come in their own box inside of which they’re held in place with polystyrene blocks. With both devices, the manufacturer supplies a premium infrared remote control pre-programmed to control both a Marantz amplifier and CD/SACD player. It’s a pity that the buttons are not backlit to make it easier to use when listening to music late in the evening in a dimly lit room.

Accessories included with the Marantz Model 30 amplifier

  • Infrared remote control + batteries
  • Power cable
  • User manual

Accessories included with the Marantz SACD 30n CD player

  • Infrared remote control + batteries
  • Power cable
  • RCA stereo cable
  • Coaxial digital audio cable
  • 2 x WiFi/Bluetooth antennas
  • User manual
  • Heos & Spotify Connect information leaflets

Marantz Model 30: presentation

The Marantz Model 30 amplifier is equipped with Hypex Ncore amplification modules that deliver 2 x 100 watts into 8 ohms. It incorporates carefully selected high-end components, a solid power supply with a large toroidal transformer, and an architecture designed to eliminate any disturbance to the audio signal. The whole system is housed in a non-magnetic aluminum chassis reinforced to eliminate vibrations.

On its front panel, the Marantz Model 30 features a circular OLED display that is very discreet and is characterized by a very low noise level so as not to affect the audio signals.

The front panel has been entirely redesigned. A convex metal plate with indentations similar to those of a golf ball features a thick aluminum sheet inspired by the electronics of the 60s and 70s. It features the potentiometers and the circular display.

Separate power amplifier and preamplifier sections

The Marantz Model 30 amplifier has a specific architecture with a preamplification section that is separate from the amplification section to reduce interference.

The preamplification section of the Marantz Model 30 amplifier is physically separate from the other circuits. It uses components that have been carefully selected for their audio qualities and low noise.

The power supply for the preamplifier uses a large toroidal transformer, while the power section of the Marantz Model 30 amplifier is powered by an SMPS transformer. Combined with numerous capacitors, this allows the Marantz Model 30 to benefit from a large power reserve at all times in order to fully exploit the Hypex Ncore NC500 amplifier modules.

Hypex Ncore technology

The amplification section of the Marantz Model 30 uses Hypex Ncore NC500 OEM modules designed to operate over a very wide frequency range with the greatest possible dynamic range. Particularly suited to today’s ultra-high resolution audio formats, they provide the fastest possible response to significant current requirements. The Marantz Model 30 amp is capable of instantly delivering up to 2 x 100 watts RMS into 8 ohms and 2 x 200 watts into 4 ohms.

The two Hypex Ncore NC500 OEM amplification modules (to the right of the toroidal transformer in the photo) are positioned close to the speaker outputs and are separated using a copper plate to avoid any interference between the left and right channels.

This colossal power coupled with a very substantial current capacity allows the amplifier to power the vast majority of compact speakers and floorstanding speakers on the market.

MM/MC phono preamp with gain setting

The Marantz Model 30 amplifier is equipped with a high-end, two-stage phono preamplifier optimized to efficiently reduce interference. It uses Marantz HDAM modules combined with JFET transistors in the input stage, which increases impedance. This design eliminates the need for coupling capacitors, which further reduces disturbance and optimizes the transfer quality of the signal received by the cartridge. This preamplifier is compatible with both moving magnet (MM) and moving coil (MC) cartridges. For the latter, the gain can be adjusted to three positions (Low, Mid or High) via a dedicated potentiometer on the front panel of the Marantz Model 30.

Analog design

The Marantz Model 30’s entirely analog design contributes significantly to noise reduction. Because digital circuits are inherently noisy, they can interfere with the analog signals that pass through the amplifier, which are very susceptible to interference. That’s why Marantz engineers designed the Marantz Model 30 amplifier without any digital-to-analog conversion, to preserve the integrity and purity of the signals.

Connectors

The Marantz Model 30 amplifier features 6 RCA inputs, including a phono input compatible with MM and MC cartridges. It is also possible to use an external stereo preamplifier by using the Power Amp In input that directly attacks the amplification stage. The Marantz Model 30 then works like a power amplifier. Conversely, the Model 30 can also be used as a hi-fi preamplifier with a power amplifier by connecting the latter to the Pre Out output.

The Marantz Model 30 amplifier isn’t equipped with a DAC and therefore has no digital inputs. However, it features a phono input.

Finally, the Marantz Model 30 amplifier has two pairs of high-end speaker terminals designed by the manufacturer. They are compatible with thick gauge cables as well as spade connectors and banana plugs.

Marantz Model 30: key specifications

Design

  • Number of channels: 2
  • Separated preamplification and power amplification sections
  • Negative feedback design
  • Hypex Ncore NC500 OEM amplification modules (x 2)
  • HDAM SA3 and SA2
  • Heat sink in extruded aluminum
  • Large toroidal transformer
  • Double layer bottom plate
  • MM/MC phono preamplifier with gain setting

Measurements

  • Output power:
    – 2 x 100W into 8 ohms
    – 2 x 200W into 4 ohms
  • Frequency response: 5Hz to 50kHz
  • Total harmonic distortion (THD): 0.005%
  • Damping factor: 500
  • MM/MC signal-to-noise ratio: 88dB/75dB
  • Signal-to-noise ratio: 107dB (2V input/output)
  • MM input sensitivity: 2.3mV / 39 kohms
  • MC input sensitivity: 250µV / 33-100-390 ohms

Connectors

  • 5 x RCA stereo inputs
  • 1 x MM/MC phono input
  • 1 x RCA recorder audio output
  • 1 x RCA power amp input
  • Marantz SPKT-100+ speaker terminals
  • Headphone output on the front panel (6.35mm jack)

Power supply

  • On / standby power consumption: 130W / 0.2W
  • Automatic standby
  • Removable power cable

Included accessories

  • Infrared remote control
  • Power cable
  • User manual

General

  • Dimensions (W x H x D): 433 x 130 x 431mm
  • Weight: 17.6kg

Marantz SACD 30n: presentation

The Marantz SACD 30n is both a CD/SACD player and a network audio player with Heos technology. This technology provides access to many online music services such as Deezer, Spotify, Amazon Music and Pandora and also allows the playback of music shared over the local network. The Marantz SACD 30n player’s DAC supports PCM streams up to 24-bit/192kHz and DSD files up to 11.2MHz.

Visually, the Marantz SACD 30n CD/SACD and network audio player perfectly matches the Marantz Model 30 amplifier.

Design

Like the Marantz Model 30 amplifier, the Marantz SACD 30n CD/SACD network audio player has a robust steel chassis reinforced with aluminum side panels to eliminate mechanical and electrical interference. Its design is also inspired by Marantz electronics from the 50s to 70s and is a perfect match for the Marantz Model 30 amp. These two Marantz electronics form an ideal system, both aesthetically and musically.

Visually, the Marantz SACD 30n CD/SACD and network audio player perfectly matches the Marantz Model 30 amplifier.

CD/SACD player

The Marantz SACD 30n’s optical drive is designed to extract the information recorded on CDs and SACDs as accurately as possible. Its SACD-M3 transport mechanism was developed internally by Marantz engineers to provide the best possible performance when playing conventional CDs and SACDs, but also with CDs burned using a computer or an external CD burner.

The Marantz SACD 30n’s tray is particularly smooth, both when opening and closing.

Audiophile components

The musical qualities of the Marantz SACD 30N player are the result of carefully selected components and a generous power supply, including a large toroidal transformer to supply power to the components and the amplifier modules. Marantz used its iconic, latest-generation hyper-dynamic amplifier modules that are designed to offer the widest possible frequency range and dynamics. This makes them particularly suitable for today’s ultra-high resolution audio formats.

High performance DAC

The Marantz SACD 30n is well equipped with several digital audio inputs.

The Marantz SACD 30n player is equipped with a Marantz Musical Mastering digital/analog converter that supports files up to 192kHz/24-bit on both optical and coaxial digital inputs. It also has an asynchronous USB-B input for direct connection to a computer. The latter is compatible with PCM and DXD music files up to 384kHz/32-bit as well as DSD 2.8 MHz, DSD 5.6 MHz and DSD 11.2 MHz.

The Marantz SACD 30n’s generous range of connectors allows it to be used as a USB DAC with a PC, as an external DAC for a digital audio player with an optical or coaxial output or a TV (by setting the audio output to PCM).
The variable RCA stereo output of the Marantz SACD 30n player means you can use it as a stereo preamplifier with a power amplifier or a pair of active speakers, for example.

Integrated Heos

The Marantz SACD 30n incorporates Heos technology, which gives it access to music shared over the local network from a computer or NAS server. The Heos app, available free of charge for iOS and Android, lets you browse through your music library and easily choose which songs to play. The app also provides access to thousands of web radios as well as several music services, including Spotify, Deezer, Tidal, Pandora and Amazon Music.

The Heos app allows you to control CD, network, USB and phone file playback as well various streaming services and web radios on the Marantz SACD 30n player.

Marantz SACD 30n: key specifications

  • Mechanic: SACD-M3 (METAL)
  • Hyper-dynamic amplification modules (HDAM and HDAM SA2)
  • Toroidal transformer
  • High-end audio components
  • Reinforced steel and aluminum chassis
  • Headphone: Buffer (HDAM-SA2 + HDAM) / negative feedback design
  • Buffer output: HDAM SA3
  • Low-pass filter / HDAM stage

Features

  • CD/SACD player and network player
  • Heos compatible (web radios, Spotify, Deezer, Tidal)
  • 24-bit/192kHz and DSD 11.2 MHz DAC
  • asynchronous USB mode (32-bit.384kHz, DXD)
  • MP3, WMA, AAC, FLAC, ALAC, WAV, AIFF and  DSD (.DSF) audio file playback
  • DLNA compatible
  • Bluetooth receiver
  • AirPlay 2
  • Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa compatible

Measurements

  • Frequency response: 2Hz to 20kHz
  • Dynamic range:
    – SACD: 109dB
    – CD: 98dB
  • Signal-to-noise ratio:
    – SACD: 112dB
    – CD: 104dB
  • Channel separation:
    – SACD: 105dB
    – CD: 100dB
  • Total harmonic distortion:
    – SACD: 0.0008% (1kHz)
    – CD: 0.0015% (1kHz)

Connectors

  • 1 x USB type A port (power supply)
  • 1 x 6.35mm jack headphone output
  • 1 x coaxial input
  • 1 x coaxial output
  • 2 x optical input
  • 1 x optical output
  • 1 x asynchronous USB type B port (USB DAC mode)
  • 1 x RCA stereo line output
  • 1 x variable RCA stereo analog output
  • 1 x mini-jack IR connector
  • 1 x RCA remote input and 1 x output
  • 2 x WiFi and Bluetooth antenna connectors (antennas included)
  • 1 x RJ-45 Ethernet port

General

  • Power consumption: 48W (0.4W in standby)
  • Dimensions (W x H x D): 433 x 130 x 424mm
  • Weight: 13.5kg

Marantz Model 30 & Marantz SACD 30n: listening conditions

We tested the Marantz Model 30 amplifier and the Marantz SACD 30n player with the B&W 705 S2 Signature and Supravox Mina bookshelf speakers. They were placed on NorStone Stylum 2 speaker stands and decoupled using NorStone Damp 50 anti-vibration pads. We connected the speakers to the amp using QED XT40i speaker cables mounted with banana plugs. The two Marantz electronics were connected to each other in analog with a NorStone Jura RCA cable and in coaxial with the cable provided by the manufacturer.

For our review of the Marantz Model 30 and Marantz SACD 30n, we used the excellent B&W 705 S2 Signature speakers and the just as impressive Supravox Mina speakers.

Marantz Model 30 & SACD 30n: listening impressions

Birdman OST – Antonio Sánchez (Audio CD – 16/44.1)

We began our listening session with a CD of the soundtrack to the movie Birdman, composed and performed by Mexican percussionist Antonio Sánchez. With this high-quality recording, the listener enjoys an unprecedented physical closeness with the artist, who seems to be right in front of them.

Paired with the B&W or Supravox speakers, the Marantz Model 30 and Marantz SACD 30n duo managed to extract an incredible amount of information from the disc. The amplifier perfectly reproduced the nuances and different levels of intensity of the percussionist’s performance, ranging from very soft to more powerful.

We could hear and feel the vibrations of the bass and tom drums both during and after the impact with remarkable acuity. The drum brushes on the cymbals sounded smooth and incredibly rich. The moments of silence were exceptionally pure. What a treat!

Trench – Twenty One Pilots (FLAC 24/44.1)

From the very first notes of the opening track “Jumpsuit”, we were able to gauge the potential of the Marantz Model 30 amp, which displayed exceptional energy and intensity. The drums were powerful, the guitars resonated with great magnitude before the singer’s voice, clear and well articulated, settled. The bass and percussion were perfectly controlled, the music unfolded without restraint. We turned the volume up, and everything remained in place. So we turned it up higher, and the sound was still rigorously controlled.

On the track “Smithereens”, we appreciated the clarity and articulation of the singer’s high-pitched and well rendered voice. The impact of the drums in the background was tremendous without disturbing the clarity of the vocals. Once again, the spatialization was remarkable, both in width and in depth. This song, which can quickly become a nightmare on a bad audio system, revealed all its richness and energy without tiring the listener.

Off The Wall – Michael Jackson (FLAC 24/96)

Even though we’ve listened to it many times before, we were instantly hooked by the first few notes of “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” played by the Marantz duo. Despite the fast rhythm that starts with the drums, the coherence of the different registers was maintained throughout the track, with a perfectly balanced distribution of energy from the lows to the highs. The lively attacks helped accentuate the extremely energetic character of this iconic track. The precise distribution of the different elements of the mix did justice to the perfectionist King of Pop and to Quincy Jones’ work on the production…

The same can be said for “Workin’ Day and Night”: the Marantz pairing perfectly controlled the rhythm and preserved the coherence and intelligibility of the track right until the end. The sound was well structured and spacious.

Sunset In The Blue – Melody Gardot (Qobuz 24/96 – USB DAC mode)

“C’est Magnifique” (“It’s wonderful”, Ed.) perfectly describes this album when listened to via the Marantz SACD 30n in USB DAC mode. With the Marantz Model 30 amplifier at the helm, the Supravox Mina speakers reproduced the texture and the velvety quality of the singer’s voice in all its nuances, with a beautiful smoothness. The same goes for Dadi Carvalho’s suave and warm voice who accompanies Melody Gardot on this track. The guitars and string instruments were transparent, the drums soft, the supporting bass subtle and discreet, and the wind instruments aerial… We quickly forgot that we were testing a piece of hi-fi equipment and got swept away by this enchanting album.

Used as a USB DAC with a laptop to access Qobuz in Hi-Res, the Marantz SACD 30n allowed us to enjoy the excellent new Melody Gardot album on Supravox Mina speakers powered by the Marantz Model 30.

Marantz Model 30 & SACD 30n: compared to…

NAD M33

The NAD M33 is in the same price range (€5,499) but has a different philosophy, as it is fully integrated in a single chassis. 2 x 200W digital amplification, 32-bit/384kHz ESS Sabre DAC, network audio player, digital inputs including HDMI eARC, a large touch screen and a BluOS interface for streaming and multi-room. 

In practice, the HybridDigital Purifi Eigentakt amplification reveals a neutral character that is very respectful of the music, with a colossal power reserve. The Marantz Model 30 is a little warmer while also stepping back to allow the music to shine with extraordinary energy and realism. It shares the same command of rhythm, amazing ability to give vocals and instruments texture, excellent frequency range structuring and keen sense of nuance as the NAD model. However, it seemed to give the music more dimension to immerse the listener even more easily.

The Marantz SACD 30n player’s connected section is similar to the NAD in terms of functionality. However, the latter has the advantage in terms of user-friendliness with its touch screen, but also regarding music services, which are much more numerous on BluOS than on Heos.

Marantz Model 30 & SACD 30n: conclusion

It’s hard not to succumb to the charm of these Marantz electronics. First of all for their beautiful design: the vintage simplicity with a touch of modernity, the backlighting around the sides of the aluminum front panel and the indentations won us over. A successful aesthetic renewal of the Japanese manufacturer’s premium range.

It is also impossible to not be impressed when it comes to music. The power reserve is abundant and well managed, the amp shows dynamic qualities, constant neutrality and smoothness. The Marantz could be called a gentle giant, but still has a lot under its belt. It distributes this power across the entire audible spectrum in a very balanced way. Coherence and realism are also part of the package: the amp’s technological arsenal is entirely at the service of the music, which unfolds without restriction, with a naturalness and an exciting vitality.

The Marantz Model 30 and the Marantz SAD 30n know how to give substance to music and allow it to be expressed with remarkable smoothness and realism. They can be associated with many compact and floorstanding speakers.

The Marantz SACD 30n player is the perfect companion to this amplifier. It’s a network player, USB DAC, CD/SACD player and even a digital preamplifier (it has three S/PDIF inputs and a variable RCA output), so you can enjoy all current digital music sources, and it can even be connected to the optical output of a TV. The playback of audio discs is extremely precise, as is the USB DAC mode, which allows you to enjoy the sound of your computer with great clarity and realism. The integration of Heos technology makes the Marantz SACD 30n player very user-friendly to operate from the dedicated app, on a smartphone or tablet. Too bad the Qobuz streaming service is still not natively supported by the Heos app!

What we liked:

  • The exceptional transparency
  • The smooth and natural reproduction
  • The multitude of details 
  • The magnitude of the soundstage
  • The SACD 30n’s very comprehensive range of connectors

What we would have liked:

  • For Qobuz to have been integrated in the Hoes app
  • A backlit remote control

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