Denon revises its separates range, while Marantz delays its upmarket network player
Apart from the AV products launched at this week's D+M group European conference, both Denon and Marantz had news on the pure audio front.
And for all the suggestions in some quarters that affordable stereo components are going the way of the dodo, Denon had two new CD player/amplifier pairings to show us, including the entry-level DCD-520AE and PMA-520AE, yours for £180 each when they go on sale next month.
Denons old (left) and new
The new models have cleaner, less fussy styling, tidied up to match the company's DNP-720AE network streaming player, which we're told is now selling for just £250. And under the skin there's been some housekeeping, too: the new products have custom-made and specially-selected parts in the audio circuits, and greater separation between the power supplies for their various sections.
The DCD-520AE CD player (above) gains a new high-precision 32-bit/192kHz digital to analogue converter, improvements to its master clock and signal paths, and a Pure Direct mode, while the £350 DCD-720AE has the same improvements plus a 32-bit version of Denon's AL Processing sound enhancement. Its front-panel USB is now compatible with iPhones as well as iPods, as well as being usable with USB memory.
The PMA-520AE amp, delivering 70Wpc into 4ohms, gains an Advanced High Current Single Push-pull circuit design, better mechanical grounding of its transformer for vibration-suppression, and separate power supply windings for the audio and control sections.
Signal paths are kept short by the use of Denon's Signal Level Divided Construction, keeping delicate low-level signals away from potential interference from the power amp signals. New speaker terminals are also fitted.
Step up to the £350 PMA-720AE, and the same upgrades are carried through, with the main difference between this and the '520 being more power: 85W per channel is on offer.
The Denon 720AE system: network player, CD spinner and amp
Due later in the year are the upmarket DCD-2020AE SACD/CD player, which has improvements to the transport, DAC and master clock design, USB-A and USB-B digital inputs and twin transformers.
It's partnered by the PMA-2020AE amplifier, with totally independent preamp and power amp sections, twin transformers and a newly-designed UHC-MOS single push-pull power amp circuit. Delivering 160Wpc it will arrive with the player in October, and each unit will sell for £1700.
The current Marantz mainstream amps and players will continue, but will be joined next month by the SA11-S3 and PM-11S3 SACD player and amp, which we first spotted at last months' High End 2012 show in Munich.
They'll sell for £3600 each, but the bad news is that the company's high-end network music player, the £2700 NA-11S1 seen atop the stack below, has now been delayed until early next year.
The reason? The company wants to take a look at the market and make sure that when the product appears, it's fully up-to-date with current streaming trends.
The SA-11S3 player uses new 384kHz/24-bit digital-to-analogue conversion, a new dedicated SACD/CD mechanism, the SACDM-2, and Marantz HDAM-SA2 and HDAM amplifier modules in the analogue circuits. There's even a dedicated headphone amp, again driven using the HDAM-SA2 technology.
There's a USB-A port on the front panel for iOS devices or USB memory, and three digital ins – coaxial, optical and USB-B – on the rear.
The matching amp, delivering 200W per channel, uses current feedback technology for wide range audio with fast, accurate signal-handling, a fully discrete power amplifier using servo technology, and a dedicated mm/mc phono equaliser section.
And when the NA-11S1 finally does arrive, it'll be possible to drive a complete '11' system using the Marantz Control app on iPod/iPad/iPhone and the standard RC-5 remote control protocol.
We heard the SA-11S3 and PM-11S3 running into Boston Acoustics m350 speakers at a demonstration during the D+M Group's European event this week – for more on that, see my main report from the event.