Haven't heard the Denon, but there was a recent comparison done here by someone of the two players. Plug "Marantz DV8400" into Discussion Forums and it will come up. As to the Marantz itself, there is a very favorable short blurb on it under Recommended Components in the new Absolute Sound, and it exactly matches my listening: extremely clear and detailed in all formats, with a wide dynamic range, but a bit bright. Needs a warm cable like Cardas Golden Reference. Despite that, plays DVD-A beautifully, is very good on SACD and very respectable on CD. This weekend I heard the Teac Esoteric DV-50 universal player at a dealer, and it was superb, definitely better than the Marantz--which it should be, given that it lists at more than 3 times as much. I can't justify the difference because I already have a lot sunk into CD and SACD playbck, but for anyone who doesn't, the Esoteric is the way to go. Otherwise, the Marantz is a perfect choice.
I haven't heard the Marantz, but I can give the Denon a rave. I'm a new convert to SACD. I tried the Sony DVD 999ES and I own the Sony 775 carousel. I can't recommed either one. In both cases, the CD layer sounds better going through my DAC2 than the SACD layer through the unit's internal DAC. I was conviced SACD was totally worthless. However the Denon 5900 changes all that. SACD sounds wonderful, amazing, better than my Bel Canto DAC2. And picture is superb. What a unit!!!! I haven't tried DVD-A yet, becasue I don't have any discs, but I am confident that I will be pleased
Ozzy you might take a look at the (endless) 5900 thread over at avsforum. Lots of video talk of course, but there are some serious audiophiles contributing also. One says the Denon nearly matches his Consonance, close enough that he's put the latter up for sale here.
People are also considering having Underwoodwally mod the analog stage of a 5900 for them. He's just waiting for schematics from Denon.
Have not heard the Denon, but I have acquired the DV 8400 just recently and can say its awesome. Superb video, and all audio formats are excellent as well. I disagre with the above comment about the Marantz being bright, its anything but in my system, which is very revealing and transparent sounding. You just cannot go wrong with this unit. Highly recommended.
Regarding Underwoodwally, he sends them to Chris Johnson (of Sonic Frontier's fame). Parts Connecxion has already modded well over a dozen of the 5900s.
Incidently for those interested, they honor the Denon warranty after it is modded....unlike other modders. This is a BIG, BIG plus in my book. This is what he told me:
"...we will honour the warranty...PCX will either repair it, or get it repaired (by Denon), at our cost, over the same warranty period DENON offers..."
The only thing I'm NOT SURE of is whether one has to buy the player from them for this offer. That said, they do have a very good price on the stock 5900....at least here in Canada.
Lenarrd, interesting info about Underwood using Chris Johnson. I always assumed Wall did the mods himself. No matter I suppose, he has a great reputation.
Wally will mod a unit you send to him or sell you a pre-modded one. I got an email from him last week saying his 5900 mods were ready to go. He didn't mention pricing yet.
Anyone interested in the Marantz should take a hard look at the video side before committing, if that's important to them. The deinterlacer and video decoder in the Denon are virtually world class, the ones in the Marantz...
I had 8400 for some time, and got rid of it as soon as it was possible, its redbook was just unacceptable for me. Very dark, closed, caramel coated and quite artificial sound. I realize that this is a matter of taste, I just like open and neutral. After further searches I ended up with Sim Nova, which is currently an ultimate CD player for me.
At first I thought the same thing but, if you read on Wally's site, he mentions:
"In exclusive partnership with top-tier modification houses Parts ConneXion and ModWright, Underwood HiFi is proud to offer carefully tested, factory-authorized performance enhancement packages for select brands and models that honor the manufacturer's warranties."
Parts ConneXion is owned by Chris Johnson. Like you said, both modders are well respected so you can't go wrong doing business with Wally.
I don't know if you care, but the most recent Secrets shootout just came out. The 8400 did not fare well with picture quality. For me, that would be a big issue, but am about 50/50 music/video. The audio section is well regarded.
Just for info, and with a grain of salt, there is a review of the new Sony SACD-XA3000ES in one of the current English magazines. I don't remember whether it is Hi-Fi Choice, News, or what. I was in a hurry when I read it.
The author compares the Sony to the Denon 2900 and the Marantz 8400. He found the Sony significantly outperformed the other two, crossing the threshold of what sound truly "real". The Denon was proclaimed to be close but, just unable to cross this same threshold. The Marantz was also close but a touch warmer or lusher sounding and lacking a bit of transparency on the top end. All models passed muster in the SACD mode but, only the Sony crossed that threshold in legacy CD mode.
However, none of these units outperformed his Sim Moon Equinox. Its performance in CD was virtually indentical to the SACD performance of the other machines.
Anyway, don't take these comments as absolute. I read the article quick and am going by memory (which, at my age ain't the best by any means). It may be a moot issue anyway as the 3000 is not availabe in America, though I believe this is a sibling of the new 9000ES.
It was the last TAS...
Being Simaudio fan now, I enjoyed the comment about Equinox, which is the smallest one in their range
I own the Marantz 8400. Its Sacd playback is pretty good and maybe even better with DVD-A playback. The CD playback is not the best. Used to own a Arcam FMJ DV 27 and the Marantz is nowhere close to its performance on CD playback. I have compared the Marantz with the Sim audio Equinox, Naim CD5, Primaire and all of them were significantly better for CD playback. The CD playback on the Marantz to me sounded murky, less open and the bass definition was lacking.
Re The Marantz , try playing back redbook through the multi channel outputs not the 2nd CD out. I cant prove this, because The Marantz engineer will not return my phone calls , however I believe The Marantz has 6 HDAM outputs, meaning the dedicated cd output is just a regular op amp.
Someone also said the Original Phillips $2000.00 SACD player , which contains Marantz HDAM 's is the same way.