Marantz NA8005 Network Audio Player & DAC Preview
- DLNA 1.5 Network Audio Player with Network streaming, AirPlay, Internet Radio and Spotify Connect integration
- Network streaming: up to DSD, FLAC 192/24, WAV 192/24, ALAC and Gapless support
- DAC Mode with 3 Digital Inputs (USB-B, Coaxial, Optical) and USB-A on front
- USB-B port works in asynchronous mode and is capable of handling PCM up to 192kHz/24bits and DSD2.8 & 5.6Mhz direct streaming
- Analogue audio circuits featuring Marantz HDAM®-SA2 for high quality audio
- High Current Audiophile DAC and accurate dual system clock
- High quality customized components
- Full Discrete Headphone Amplifier
- System remote to control Amplifier, CD-Player and Network Player
Let’s face facts: the future doesn’t bode terribly well for CDs, SACDs, or vinyl. While we certainly won’t declare these formats dead, it’s clear that digital music files are the format of the future. A media server can hold tens of thousands of songs, neatly cataloged, and ready to play at a moment’s notice. Meanwhile, in terms of sound quality, the sky is the limit thanks to lossless formats like FLAC. This year at AXPONA, we found that manufacturers were starting to capitalize on this potential, with several high end network media players available, including Marantz’s NA-11S1 at $3,500. But what about people who don’t have that kind of cash to spend? Marantz is looking to address that market with their new NA8005 Network Audio Player / DAC.
Priced at $1,199, the NA8005 aims to be a music player for the 21st century. As you might gather from looking at the photo, there’s no option on board for playing optical discs here. Instead, the NA8005’s primary means of music playback lies in its Ethernet jack. Once connected to your home network, the Marantz can stream from a variety of sources, with support for Apple’s Airplay, DLNA 1.5, Spotify Connect, and access to thousands of internet radio stations. Supported file formats include WAV, WMA, MP3, MGEG-4 AAC, FLAC, and ALAC at rates up to 192kHz / 24bit, as well as DSD files at both 2.8MHz and 5.6MHz resolutions. In addition to playback, the NA8005’s network capabilities also include the use of Marantz’s Remote App (for Apple & Android), which is a nice touch.
Rear panel of the Marantz NA8005.
Of course as you’ll notice in the title, the NA8005 also functions as an outboard DAC. We’re always happy to see this option on higher end players, as it allows users to make the most of their investment. Inputs include a single optical and digital coaxial port, as well as USB type A port on the front panel and asynchronous USB type B port on the rear. The rear panel USB port is particularly useful in that it allows users to connect a PC directly, bypassing their sound card to stream files up to 192kHz / 24bit resolution as well as DSD. Meanwhile, on the output side of the equation, you’ll find a pair of unbalanced RCA jacks, as well as digital coaxial and optical outputs.
Suffice it to say, the NA8005 can do a lot. However, there are a couple things we wouldn’t mind seeing. For example, no mention was made of wireless. In 2014, that’s a serious omission, given that even relatively low cost Blu-ray players from Sony and Samsung boast built in WiFi. We’d also note that the NA8005’s outputs appear to be a stereo only affair. While that’s not a huge deal (multi-channel music didn’t go far with SACD/DVD-A), it is something to keep in mind if you happen to have multi-channel FLAC files and the like. Of course, a set of balanced analog outputs wouldn’t hurt either.
The Marantz NA8005 sits in an interesting position. At $1,199, it’s priced identically to its disc playing brother, the SA8005, which also happens to offer DAC functions. Is swapping a CD/SACD transport for an Ethernet jack an even trade? Obviously that depends on the buyer. If you don’t care for the hassle of managing physical discs, and would just like to play music from network attached storage with minimal fuss, the NA8005 could be the player for you. Conversely, if you’ve got a fair amount of physical media you still use, and/or you can connect your computer via USB, the SA8005 might be the better choice. Is the trade worth it to you? Let us know on our forums!
Unless otherwise indicated, this is a preview article for the featured product. A formal review may or may not follow in the future.