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Questions for Marantz SA8260 owners (a/k/a “Never thought I’d be a member of the SACD camp”; Long):

Hello fellow Inmates:

Well, I did it! I received a Marantz SA8260 this afternoon...reading your posts contributed to my decision to take a proverbial “leap of faith” (have been considering it for several weeks now). Not only as a new digital source component for Redbook CD*, but also in the bigger picture as taking the risk on one of the *new* hi-rez formats as well.

(* Note: an upgrade-finally, some of you might say-from a NAD 515 that I love and will NEVER sell; certainly far from the ultimate CD player of course, but just one of those personally magical pieces of gear that never failed me and consistently provided at least tolerable-very good-excellent performance [sound that my ears *liked* within the redbook playback context] with 9/10 discs I ever threw at/in it. Please: refrain from any/all renditions of “Taps” :) I’m a NY Knicks/Mets fan for crissakes…)

First, some background. I'm an analog/tube/vinyl guy at heart: Rega P25 with Dyna 10x4 cart, into BC21 Pre/Rogue Magnum 88 Power Amps, respectively. My regular phono pre-amp is a Sonic Frontiers SFP-1 Signature, but am having some iusses with that and so am temporarily using my "back-up" Rotel RQ-970BX, which is very suprisingly holding up [to my ears] about 70-80% performance of the SFP-1 and more than tolerable SS "sound". (Could be the *best* "budget" phono stage out there [maybe next to Parasound] even though sadly discontinued?.

Anyway, I digress...Sorry, just wanted provide some background perspective on my aural nature, and how and why this is an *audiophile* watershed for me (a/k/a why I “Never thought I’d be a member of the SACD camp”). I have been not too certain about either format, and up to now merely-and safely from a distance-observing the goings-on of the digital format(s) *(r)evolution*, content with my vinyl rig and, when necessary for digital, NAD source.

But as we all know in this hobby/interest/passion/addiction: Never Say Never, and just when you think you’ve had enough, the upgrade/experiment bug is never too far off from biting.

I guess I was “roped-in” by the Analogue Sounds promo that the Philips SACD-1000 was “as close to analog…” blah, blah, blah. So, first considering the Philips SACD-1000, as it’s being “pushed” with its’ recent price drop from 2k to under $1,000, I then learned it was basically built by Marantz. Which lead me to the SA8260, and initially reading about the SA8260 on Ric Schultz’s tweakaudio page (at one time I had a Millennium DAC). He stated the SA8260 was of a very decent build quality, and had the best DACS in it-the Crystal CS 4397’s. But of course, it most likely will also make an excellent machine for him to “tweak”…(you gotta love Ric’s own personal obsession).

Then, as with all things audio for me, I came to the Asylum, and that’s how I got to those of you who already own the SA8260. So here I am a proud new father of a 5 hour old SA8260…(a demo/review piece that I scored for a very nice price, but will still have to sell that extra audio gear to help defray the $$$ outlay).

Of course, I began by using a non-stock power cord (a DIY with 14g x3 conductors with Schurter IEC and Marinco plug-the only "extra" power cord on hand at this time), and also using a set of Aurio ISO bearings (original version) underneath. Then, for good measure, ran the demagnetizing sweep and burn-in tracks for the XLO & RR Burn-in & Test disc.

At this point I have no interest in multi-channel sound (even though it’s optioned on the 8260) for audio or even a 5/6 channel Home Theater set-up, for that matter. (Though I do have a very modest DVD/TV/2-channel stereo amp for movie watching.) . There are some artists I respect who have sided with DVD-Audio, such as Neil Young (he hated CD digital, but thinks DVD-A is viable, and regards SACD as being “not thought out”) and of course I’m a big Grateful Dead head and so what happens, they go and release two DVD-A’s. I would like to check out DVD-A at some point, but again don’t want to mix systems or have to have a TV or go out and buy a matching 6-channel speaker system to realise the benefits of DVD-A (I heard mixed-opinions about the 2-channel mixdowns -and 6-channel mixes for that matter-). And SACD certainly has it’s own share of critics/bashers…

And even though the SACD catalogue is growing, with about what, 400+ discs overall? I probably would only consider buying about 40 of the currently available titles-so approximately 10% for now. Which at $20-25 a pop, is a substantial amount of cash for what I consider still a neophyte format.

To wit: I only have 3 SACDs at this point:

-Omnibus Wind Ensemble: Music by Frank Zappa (Opus 3), which I bought several months ago since I'm a Zappa fan to begin with and it could be played on my CD player since it was a hybrid disc; the recording sounds great, BTW)

-Stevie Ray Vaughn, Couldn't Stand the Weather (Sony);

-Vladimir Horowitz, Chopin-Rachmaninoff-Schumann-Liszt "Compilation" (Sony)

These last two I just picked-up last night at local Best Buy in anticipation of getting the SA8260 and only having 1 SACD! Maybe these aren't the best SACD's (I honestly don't know yet!), but I figured better to risk buying on music that I knew I liked versus something I never heard before...

Ok, here’s where I would appreciate your feedback:

As I said before, at ~$20-25+ /ea., I want to be prudent with buying SACD’s: can you “recommend” some of the *better* ones to drop the $$$ on (that will demonstrate the merits of the medium and perhaps the player alike)? I personally would like to get the new Music Direct/Mobile Fidelity Patricia Barber SACD’s, the Cowboy Junkies “Open” SACD, and- please don’t yell-Billy Joel “52nd Street” (it was MY VERY OWN first LP [hey, I was 10 and loved it] that I bought back in 78, so to keep tradition, why not make it one of the first of the new medium selections). Oh yeah, the First Impression Music “Jazz at the Pawnshop” release I’d be willing to risk the $45 for the 2-disc set. And do I really need (yet) another copy of “Kind of Blue”? My $4 mint LP pressing (standard) blows away the Sony/Columbia Remastered CD, at least sonically, even if it’s not the “correct” speed.

What I can expect as far as required burn-in hours? It definitely sounded closed-in at first and most certainly not as *good* as it will ultimately-but what can anyone expect especially with (any) digital and all audio equipment. (This being a demo/review piece, it's had some hours run-in on it, but certainly "as new" otherwise...) Also what I’m wondering about are any sound milestones/landmarks that my ears can be on the lookout for? And any other tweaks? How about interconnect suggestions? I realize that “my mileage may vary”…

And here’s where it gets really meaty:

I am also curious as to what prompted you (all) to *invest* in both the SA8260 itself as well as SACD vs. DVD-A?

SACD is really trashed at the following link:

http://www.iar-80.com/page17.html.

It nearly scared me off and still makes me question the validity of SACD as a true format revolution. They seem to raise very valid points with very technical explanations regarding SACD inferiority with frequencies above 8000Hz, and with the “lowly” 2.8 MHz sampling rate, averaging algorythims, etc. Can anybody address these issues? I can believe the conspiracy theories, and that Sony/Philps would machinate to generate new millions in $$$ since their CD patent expired. But have they fooled people like Bob Ludwig, Bob Irwin and other regarded industry leaders? I generally don’t trust the hi-end audio press for obvious reasons, but why would they even own SACD gear-even if it were a gift from the manufacturers, to play devil's advocate-if it was as deficient and technologically "wrong" as some say it is?

But here in the Asylum, you guys would be the first to abjectly reject SACD if it had no redeeming value in our hobby/pursuit/passion, etc. I know it has detractors here too, but there are those of you who are supporting SACD for the fundamental reason that you ARE hearing sonic improvements, and truly believe in the technology. Right? Can 500,000 Elvis fans be wrong? Have I been duped and mislead as well? Does Sony/Philps SACD/DSD Technology = Audio’s Fourth Reich?

I guess what it comes down to is that… I’VE TAKEN THE PLUNGE! And since you’re in the same waters, and have chosen to enter these waters with the same boat, Now what?! And why these waters and not DVD-A? Not only am I feeling vulnerable with the new format, but with this entirely new production unit-which not many of us own at this point-hence the reason for posting for your feedback.

I sincerely apologize for the length of this posting, and if you’re still with me, I thank you in advance for your time and effort in providing me any feedback.

Yours in trust,
Chuckster

PS- As Agent Mulder would say, "I Want To Believe". And the SA8260 is really starting to "open up" with both SACD and redbooks.

BTW, here's the link for the above referenced SACD denouncement site (I didn't know how to make it work otherwise):



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Topic - Questions for Marantz SA8260 owners (a/k/a “Never thought I’d be a member of the SACD camp”; Long): - Chuckster 18:31:07 07/11/02 (11)


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