D&M were here at AXPONA with offerings Denon, Marantz and Boston Acoustics. These guys are still on my go-to list for quality sound, great features, and reasonable prices — I have a Marantz receiver running my home theater, and I love it. Though I will say that I do miss the old champaign colored “Reference” line of components. In fact, I did say that — to just about anyone wearing a Denon or Marantz shirt. For whatever it’s worth, it’s a common complaint, but Black is the New Black, so blackity-black it is with all the new components in the Marantz high-end. Oh well.
The Marantz component that currently is the apple of my eye is the $3,500 NA-11S1, their “Reference Network Audio Player and DAC” unit. I think this is an interesting box — it “solves” the I-don’t-want-a-computer-in-my-rack issue (yes, that happens), and allows access to all the nifty online streaming sources like Spotify, Pandora and my NAS, and wraps all that up in a high quality analog output stage. No computer necessary (though, if you want use one, you have the option to use this as your DAC).
About the only thing I can’t figure out was this clear-plinth turntable. It says Marantz on it, but I can’t find it anywhere on their website. It’s a shame, because that was my favorite pic of the entire weekend! Ah, me. Hopefully one of you can fill me in?
The sound in this room was hard to judge as it really just seemed to be a series of functional displays with folks clustered about the individual bits. Personally, I’m a fan of Marantz and I cut my teeth on Denon, so these are familiar. The Boston Acoustics loudspeakers shown here, were I believe, the $2500/pair M350. Price aside, they were pretty unremarkable.
Aside from the turntable, the table stuffed with headphones caught my eye. Denon has been making audiophile-level headphones for decades, so it was interesting to catch up with some of them here. Their closed-back “Music Maniac” lineup, shown here, ranged in quality and price from $329 to $1199. They were paired with the new Denon headphone amplifier, the $500 DA-300USB. The easy to read display actually will auto-sense its orientation and switch the display accordingly — very clever. A USB DAC with analog outs and a ¼” headphone jack, the DA300USB supports up to DSD-level file formats. I spent only a couple of minutes with the top of the line AH-D7100 and found it presented a big sound, rich, with a generous helping of bass. My 60 second take was that this was a very credible offering. I’m gonna circle back around on those if I get the chance.