How much can I improve on my old SACD player?


Hi everyone,

Some quick background:  I got back into the audiophile hobby a few years back.  I compared an Oppo 105 and a Marantz SA8004 and preferred the smoother sound of the Marantz.  Shortly thereafter I tried my first turntable and was hooked in vinyl. The Marantz has been in a storage closet every since.  Over the last 2-3 years I've been exploring vinyl, upgrading my components, and improving things like room treatments, vibration control, and power conditioning.  I have things pretty well sorted.  In order to burn in some new cables recently, I called my Marantz into service for the first time in years.  

I was pleasantly surprised that it was quite listenable, and well recorded redbook and SACDs sounded pretty engaging.  There is still a somewhat dry treble and many sibilants sound artificial.  However, I started thinking about how much better it might sound with a better DAC (tube, perhaps).  I've never explored external DACs.  I don't want to spend too much as vinyl will still be my main focus.  I don't know anything about music servers, streaming, or computer audio.  Was just thinking of running my CD player through a better DAC (I realize SACD can't be run through an outboard DAC).  I was thinking of something lie the TEAC UD-503 - users describe it as smooth and laid back, it plays all formats through 11.2Mhz DSD and has a nice headphone amp.  Musical Paradise has a very nice looking tube DAC as well.  

Any thoughts on how to upgrade the digital sound without breaking the bank would be greatly appreciated.  

Thanks so much,Scott
smrex13
Hey Scott, I'm kind of in the same boat right now, looking into PS Audio and wondering the same thing. My current player is a Marants SA-11s1.  I guess the difference between us is that my player is my main source and it's going to stay. Hopefully someone will have experience to help us out. Jeff
try the Teac - it is well regarded

others include Gustard, Oppo
Jeff, yes, I think the Marantz sound is pretty good, but there's a very obvious digital signature to it that draws my attention away from the music.  I don't want to spend another $1,000 just to find out that DACs in that price range are relatively similar in their inability to stamp out the digital artifacts that so bother me.  I guess I'll try to buy it from a place with a return policy so I can demo it.  Good luck with yours -  I hear the SA-11s1 is a nice step up from what I have.  Best, Scott
Since you don't need USB for your player why not look for a used older DAC (~5years). Many are for sale, possessing excellent power supplies and analog output stages, and offered at a fraction of original price.