Our take on the Marantz HD-DAC1 by Crutchfield's Dave Bar
Easy to listen to, tough to describe
When we first saw the drop-dead gorgeous Marantz HD-DAC1, we weren't sure exactly what to call it. A reference-quality headphone amp? A versatile digital-to-analog converter? A capable stereo preamp? Turns out it simply crushes all three categories.
As a high-end DAC, this Marantz converts your digital music into warm, detailed analog sound. As a high-performance headphone amplifier it combines power and finesse to help any headphone sound its best. Finally, as a stereo preamp with volume control and a wireless remote, the HD-DAC1 can bring your music sources and your favorite power amp or active speakers together to create a killer sound system. In the end, we're going to leave it up to you to decide what to call this impressive, all-around performer.
A bona fide high-res all-star...
If you're into downloading high-resolution audio from websites like HDtracks, 2L, or Blue Coast Records, you'll love the HD-DAC1. Not only can it make your MP3 and CD-quality music sound fantastic, it also decodes high-res audio files up to 24-bit/192kHz resolution, so you can enjoy better-than-CD audio quality (free USB driver download required for Windows® PC playback). And this DAC supports both 2.8MHz and 5.6MHz DSD digital audio signals for bit-transparent playback of those high-res digital music files.
...that can make your headphones sing
The HD-DAC1's ultra-high quality dedicated headphone amplifier borrows powerful current feedback amplification technologies from Marantz's high-end Reference Series components for stunning headphone sound. And thanks to a selectable three-level gain control, it can drive virtually any headphones with ease — even high-impedance audiophile models up to 600 ohms.
The HD-DAC1 provides the connections you need to make it the heart of your high-end music system. First, you get two USB ports: an asynchronous USB connection in back for plugging in your PC, plus a front-panel port for your iPod®/iPhone® or a USB thumb drive. Three digital audio inputs (1 coax, 2 optical) let you add a CD/DVD player, game console, or other devices with digital audio outputs. There's a minijack analog audio input for a smartphone or portable music player with analog output. You also get fixed RCA audio outputs for connecting to a receiver, integrated amp, or powered speakers, plus variable RCA outs when going straight into a power amp.
- plays PCM digital audio sources up to 24-bit/192kHz
- back-panel USB port allows decoding of Direct Stream Digital (DSD) files at 2.8MHz or 5.6MHz resolution
- front-panel USB input plays USB memory devices (MP3/WMA/AAC/WAV) and iPod®/iPhone®
- high-performance 24-bit/192kHz Cirrus Logic CS4398 digital-to-analog converter for precise playback of digital music files
- built-in high-performance headphone amplifier with front-panel volume control
- three-position gain switch optimizes performance with low-, medium-, and high-impedance headphones
- preamp mode with fixed and variable RCA outputs for connection to an outboard power amp or self-amplified speakers
- asynchronous USB technology for reduced timing jitter and better sound on USB input
- jitter remover and dual master clocks used to minimize jitter
- Marantz HDAM® (Hyper Dynamic Amplifier Module) and HDAM-SA2 modules used in analog circuitry for faster signal transfer and better transient response
- ground isolator for USB DAC mode operation eliminates noise from computer connection
- vibration-resistant solid aluminum front panel and double-layer bottom plate
- simulated wood-grain side panels for a cool retro look
- wireless remote
- rear-panel USB (Type B) port for connection to a computer
- front-panel USB (Type A) port for connecting USB memory devices and iPod/iPhone
- optical digital audio (2)
- coaxial digital audio
- minijack (3.5mm) analog audio
- fixed line-level stereo RCA audio
- variable line-level stereo RCA audio
- full-size 1/4" headphone jack (compatible with headphones up to 600 ohms impedance)
- RCA remote control input/output (for use with Marantz components with a compatible remote control in/out jack)
Other Info & Specs:
- supported sample rates for rear-panel USB input: up to 24-bit/192kHz PCM; 2.8MHz (DSD64) and 5.6MHz (DSD128)
- supported files and bit rates for front-panel USB input: MP3 (up to 48kHz; 32-320kbps), WMA (up to 48kHz; 48-320kbps), AAC (up to 48kHz; 64-192kbps), WAV (up to 48kHz/16-bit)
- supported sample rates for coaxial and optical inputs: up 24-bit/192kHz PCM
- recommended operating systems: Windows® Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1 and Mac® OS X® 10.6.3 or later
- USB Audio 2.0 driver required for high-resolution audio playback on Windows computers (free USB driver download available from Marantz's website)
- headphone amplifier power output: 800mW into 32 ohms
- frequency response: 2-50,000 Hz (-3 dB)
- THD: 0.0012% (at 1kHz)
- signal-to-noise ratio: 106 dB
- channel separation: 100 dB
- detachable AC power cable
- 9-7/8"W x 3-9/16"H x 12-3/8"D
- weight: 11 lbs.
- If connecting to a TV, please make sure you can select "PCM" output in your TV's audio menu. This DAC cannot decode multi-channel Dolby® Digital signals.
- warranty: 3 years
- Our 60-day money-back guarantee
What's in the Box:
- Headphone Amp/DAC
- 6' AC power cord
- Remote control (RC001HD)
- 2 "AAA" batteries
- 46" USB-B to USB-A cable
- 58" Stereo RCA cable
- 29" Mono-RCA remote cable
- Owner's Manual on CD-ROM
- Quick Start Guide
- Safety Instructions
- Warranty Information (US)
- Warranty Information (CA)
I purchased this to use with my iPhone, B&O BeoPlay H8 headphones or powered speakers. As expected, this unit provides outstanding music reproduction and amplification to the MP3 format of my phone. Marantz never misses the mark!
West County Audiophile, West County, MO
Marantz HD-DAC1 Reviews
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Premium Quality Headphone Amp: The Marantz HD-DAC1 employs a high-quality dedicated headphone amplifier, which features its own output stage that's also equipped with HDAM-SA2 devices along with a precision variable analog volume control. This ultra-high quality dedicated headphone amplifier creates simply amazing sound because it uses Current Feedback amplification technologies from Marantz's high-end Premium 11 Series. The HD-DAC1's headphone amp features a front-panel 1/4" jack and adjustable gain (Low/Mid/High), so it can handle headphones with impedances of up to 600-ohm.
Audiophile DAC (CS4398): For optimum audio fidelity, the Marantz HD-DaC1 features a high-current, high-resolution audiophile DaC(CS4398) which can handle numerous sampling frequencies and bit depths, up to 192kHz/24-bits. A number of audio file types are supported, including WAV, WMA, MP3, AAC, FLAC, and ALAC; as well as DSD (2.8/5.8MHz).
Dual Clocks + Jitter Reduction: The HD-DAC1 is equipped with dual master audio clock generators with jitter reduction for high-resolution audio playback as the artist intended.
Noise Isolation: To safeguard quality when connected to a computer, Marantz built extended isolation around the unit's USB (type-B) input to eliminate the chance of high frequency noise generated by the computer entering the HD-DAC1.
HDAM & HDAM-SA2 Technology: The critical post-D/A current-to-voltage conversion is handled by the latest Marantz HDAM-SA2 devices, which feature precision discrete components in lieu of standard op amp chips. The final analog output stage features additional HDAM devices.
Gold-Plated Analog Outputs: The HD-DAC1 not only drives headphones, you can also directly connect it to your HiFi integrated amplifier or a pair of active speakers or power amp. It features a pair of fixed unbalanced RCA outputs and a pair of variable unbalanced RCA outputs. The RCA outputs are gold-plated for excellent signal transfer. The variable RCA outputs allow you to connect the Marantz HD-DAC1 directly to an external power amplifier and control the volume from the HD-DAC1
Rugged Chassis: The solid aluminum front-panel is supported by a double-layer bottom plate to prevent any unwanted resonance that could lead to distortion. Retro-style side panels add to its classic look and sound.
Front-Panel USB Port: A USB memory device can be connected to the USB (type-A) port located on the front-panel, allowing you to play various music files through the Headphone Amp & DAC. The USB memory device must be mass storage class (msc) compliant, and be formatted in FAT16 or FAT32. The unit can recognize up to 700 folders and 65,535 files. The Headphone Amp & DAC also supports basic playback control, song/artist information display, and charging of your connected USB mass storage class device.
|Audio Formats||Sampling Frequencies||Bit rate|
|MP3||32/44.1/48 kHz||32-320 kbps|
|WMA||32/44.1/48 kHz||48-320 kbps|
|AAC||32/44.1/48 kHz||64-192 kbps|
Note: USB memory devices will not work via a USB hub. It is not possible to connect and use a computer via the unit's front-panel USB port.
Asynchronous USB Computer Connection: You can connect a computer to the unit's rear-panel USB (type-B) port to playback music stored on your Windows PC or Mac computer. The USB (type-B) port supports asynchronous transmission to ensure that audio signals from your PC are jitter-less. The rear-panel USB (type-B) port supports playback of high resolution stereo PCM (up to 24-bit/192kHz) & DSD (2.8/5.6MHz) music files stored on your desktop computer or laptop. You can control music playback from the included remote control. Song title, artist name, and album name can be displayed on the unit's front-panel LCD. Your computer will need to meet the following system requirements when connected to the HD-DAC1's rear-panel USB (type-B) port input.
- Windows 7, 8, or 8.1; If you are using a Windows computer then you must download a dedicated USB driver from the Marantz website.
- Mac OSX 10.6.3 or later; Mac computers work without any additional driver needed.
iPod/iPhone Direct Connect: The unit's front-panel USB (type-A) port can also be used to directly connect your Lightning or 30-pin connector Apple iPod/iPhone/iPad. The USB connection features digital audio signal handling, which routes the digital signal to the HD-DAC1's 24 bit/192 kHz audiophile quality D/A converters for optimum fidelity. The Marantz HD-DAC1 supports audio playback, music navigation, information display, and charging of select Apple devices. The Marantz HD-DAC1 offers the following iPod/iPhone/iPad functions.
- Audio Playback: You can listen to stored music and music apps from your USB connected iPod, iPhone, or iPad through the Marantz Headphone Amplifier & DAC.
- Music Navigation: You can choose to operate your connected iPod/iPhone from the included remote control, or from your iPod/iPhone's clickwheel or touchscreen. The Marantz HD-DAC1 lets you browse by Playlist, Artist, Album, Song, Podcast, Genre, Composer, or Audiobook. It also offers Play/Pause, Stop, Skip/Back, Repeat, and Random functions.
- Music Information Display: The Marantz Headphone Amp & DAC will display Track #, Elapsed playing time; as well as Song, Artist, and Album name. You can also choose to view the music information on your iPod, iPhone, or iPad.
- Charging: The HD-DAC1 will charge (5V/1A) your USB-connected iPod or iPhone when the Headphone Amp & DAC is powered up or in standby mode. This unit does not charge the iPad.
Apple Device Compatibility Chart: The Marantz HD-DAC1 is "Made for iPod/iPhone compatible" and supports the following specific iPod/iPhone models (as of 3/2/2016):
|Apple Device||Generation||Tested Version||Media Type||Control Type||Display Type||Charge|
|Audio||Video||Remote||iPod/iPhone||Artist/Song Text||Track Info|
Note: Apple iPod/iPhone software updates may change functionality results. If you download a newer software version, you may need to reset the head unit and your iPod/iPhone to regain functionality. If this doesn't work, you may need to wait until a newer software update is available.
Digital Audio Inputs: There are also three digital inputs; 2 optical (toslink) and one coax (RCA) for connection of a CD, SACD, DVD, or Blu-ray player. The digital connections support Linear PCM signals (stereo) with sampling frequencies of 32, 44.1, 48, 65, 88.2, 96, 176.4, & 192 kHz.
Aux Input: In addition, the Marantz HD-DAC1 is fitted with a stereo minijack (3.5mm) input for connection of an analog audio device.
Front-Panel "Port-Hole" Display: The Marantz HD-DAC1 Headphone Amp & DAC features a front-panel "Port-Hole" style display to view volume and input selection, as well as song/artist information. The display brightness can be adjusted between four levels.
IR Remote Control: The Marantz HD-DAC1 includes an IR remote control for wireless operation of the headphone amplifier & DAC, stored music files on your computer, and a connected USB device or iPod/iPhone.
Remote In/Out: These RCA input/output connectors allow you to connect the HD-DAC1 to a Marantz component equipped with remote control (RC-5) terminals.
Auto Standby: This unit will automatically switch to "Standby" mode when there is no input signal and no operation for approximately 30 minutes.
Our Product Research Team
At Crutchfield, you'll get detailed, accurate information that's hard to find elsewhere. That's because we have our own in-house Product Research team. They verify what’s in the box, check the owner's manual, and record dimensions, features and specs. We stay on top of new products and technologies to help people make informed choices.
Why did you buy this?
Getting ready to buy the Grado PS1000e headphones. Hope this dac is a good match for them. [ J Jan 28, 2018 ]
Being able to plug your iPhone directly to the dac. [ KEITH Oct 15, 2016 ]
Price, quality. [ Richard Jun 28, 2016 ]
Compatibility with Marantz integrated amp and great functionality. [ LAURA Jan 09, 2016 ]
6 questions already asked
You can select the output you want. It only sends a signal one direction at a time... [ Tom Nov 16, 2017 ]
The HD-DAC 1 is a Pre-amp, headphone amplifier component with no amplification capability for speakers - even small computer speakers. Marantz makes the HD-AMP 1 that does and it has both speaker and headphone outputs. It's traditional that when a headphone is plugged into the amp, the speakers are silenced. Both will not operate at the same time for obvious reasons. I own the HD-DAC 1 and use it with my AUDEZE LCD 3's. A great Combination for the money. Unfortunately, to realize the full potential of the LCD-3's, I will have to spend another $ 3,500.00. Hey, with some people it's golf clubs! [ Steve Nov 15, 2017 ]
Yes, you could potentially use the HD-DAC1 with a separate AV7703 preamp/processor. To discuss in more detail please feel free to contact an Advisor directly by phone (888.955.6000) or online chat. Thanks! [ Larry Sep 11, 2017 ] Staff
The USB port is where i plug the phone in. I am not sure about using Bluetooth to make the connection, yet that does sound reasonable. [ Deena Dec 21, 2016 ]
Pretty much so yes, although to be sure the SA8005 certainly does have headphone output capability. Does look like the DAC itself is the same [ mark Dec 27, 2015 ]
Harry J. as I understand it. the basic difference is that the sa 8005 plays sacd discs, which as you know is another hi rez option. The sa 8005 has its own headphone option. [ RICHARD T Dec 26, 2015 ]
It appears they do play most of the same formats, I use my exclusively to play back high-res files from my Mac. So it does appear that they share many similarities. [ JON Dec 26, 2015 ]
We have not received any answers from other customers on your question. I would recommend reaching out to an Advisor by phone (1-800-324-9695) or online chat. They should be able to help answer your question. [ Krissy Apr 29, 2015 ] Staff
2 answers Is Mac support better via USB or optical? I'm purchasing tracks from HDTracks.Com and would like to ensure all formats will work without fuss. I'm considering connection via optical only so drivers won't interfere. But I don't want to loose quality or ability to playback any format. I'm also worried about driver support 5 or 6 years down the road. [ Fred Mar 12, 2015 ]
I don't have a Mac - just a PC I built. I am using the USB 2.0 driver (easy to download and setup), running USB from PC to Dac1 then to receiver. Sound is fantastic and headphone amp is also great. I have many 96 and 192 Khz files from HDTracks and other sources and they play great without a hiccup. With the option for DSD, it should be good for many years to come. If course, if you are an audiophile, something better will come along anyway. [ John R. Mar 13, 2015 ]
Both work well, I have an iMac and have used both. No drivers are required for USB as long as you are running a reasonably current version of OS X. [ Peter Mar 13, 2015 ]