If you love hi-fi headphones, then the new Marantz HD-DAC1 Headphone Amplifier (a first) is going to be very enticing. The new headphone amp features an integrated DAC and will retail for $799. The new high quality dedicated headphone amplifier uses technology from Marantz’s high-end Premium 11 Series. The design of the new HD-DAC1 headphone amplifier is decidedly retro, but with those familiar Marantz details (like the round VFD display and round volume and input controls.
Headphones have always been the preferred way to listen to high fidelity music when you can’t afford a truly pristine set of speakers. Headphones allow music to be more personal, and the bass and soundstage take on a much different feel than with traditional speakers. The difference is unmistakably intimate—and preferred by many. Plus you can listen as loud as you want. The problem is, computers and portable devices spent about $0.25 on a low-quality Digital-Analog-Converter (DAC)…and the sound is often thin as a result. If you have high quality headphones you really can’t get your money’s worth without a good quality preamplifier—it’s just not in there, and the analogue signal you receive is a shadow of its digital master. Marantz decided to create a separate amplifier stage for headphones (making me wonder if a line of phones is coming in the near future—we sure hope so!)
In designing the HD-DAC1 headphone amp, Marantz decided to use the same technology they used in their high-end Premium 11 Series separates. The HD-DAC1 can power any headphone—even high-impedance models that have impedance ratings up to 600 ohms. Marantz can do this thanks to a three-level gain control, HDAM-SA2 modules, a high current audiophile DAC (the CS4398), and the use of fixed and variable gold plated RCA outputs. In fact, the Marantz HD-DAC1 can drive more than headphones, Connect it to an integrated amplifier or a pair of active speakers and you’ve got a complete system.
Marantz HD-DAC1 Inputs and Connections
You get both optical (2) and coaxial (1) digital inputs as well as a USB-B port that lets you stream music directly from a PC or Mac. iOS devices can also be connected via the USB port on the front for streaming direct from a smart phone or digital music player. The USB-B is designed to work in asynchronous mode to support 192 kHz/24bit high-resolution audio and also DSD 2.8MHz and 5.6MHz. Marantz also built-in extended isolation around the USB-B input to eliminate high frequency noise generated by any computer connected to the HD-DAC1. A jitter remover and Dual Clock are also added for accuracy. And the headphone amp looks good, too. The front is made from solid aluminum and is supported by a double layer bottom plate. The side panels are made with a retro-style wooden look. The Marantz HD-DAC1 will be available in black starting October 2014.
Marantz HD-DAC1 Headphone Amplifier Features
- High quality Headphone amplifier with DAC Mode
- 2x optical, coaxial and USB type B digital inputs capable of 192kHz/24bit
- Native DSD2.8 and 5.6 support
- Asynchronous mode
- High quality D/A converter CS4398
- Jitter remover
- Dual Clock
- Noise isolation for all digital inputs (USB-A, Optical, Coaxial, USB-B)
- HDAM & HDAM-SA2
- Gain control to support wide range of headphones
- Fix and variable RCA output
- iDevice capable front USB input
- Gold plated fix level and variable level RCA output terminals
- Available in black