A Philips by any other name is still a Philips. and this is their top of the line. Under their new North American marketing setup the expensive stuff is labeled Marantz (see, it has come full circle, Saul!), and the distributor is B&O. The Marantz CD-11 Mk II (Limited Edition) is so far the most deluxe implementation in a complete CD player of the Philips SAA7350 cum Philips TDA1547 chip set discussed by David Rich in Issue No. 16.

The Philips TDA1547 is also known as DAC7. This combination has been touted as a state-of-the-art contender. And not without reason, but as we shall see the Japanese haven't taken that lying down. Externally the player looks identical to the Philips LHH5OO (see Issue No. 16), continuing the cosmetic tradition —heavy machinery Enished in gold— established with the Philips LHH1000. Construction quality ofthe unit is as solid as of the latter two; when you heft it, its 37-pound weight tells the story. The chassis is die-cast, and so is the Philips CDM-4 Professional single-beam swing-arm mechanism. which is Philips's best industrial-strength CD transportfoptics and looks bulletproof to me. The data path is as follows: laser pickup to Philips SAA7310 decoder to NPC SM5803 digital filter (20-bit output word length, 8-times oversampling) to Philips SAA735O Bitstream PDM device (3rd-order noise shaping, additional 24-times oversampling, on-chip DACs not used) to data inverter/separator to two TDA1547 single-bit DAC's {each a differential-mode stereo DAC). The two DACs operate in dual differential mode. After D/A conversion, the analog output signal is available throug direct-coupled outputs (phono jacks) as well as balanced outputs {XLR) via transformers.

The performance achieved with this highly refined design is truly outstanding, better than what I have measured in any multibit CD player. Full-scale frequency response, de-emphasis error, and channel separation were so close to ideal as to require no discussion. Low-level linearity was also sheer perfection. and that includes the absence of harmonic blips above the 997 Hz tone on the -90 dB dithered track. Delta-sigma can do that. Full-scale THD + N versus frequency was very impressive, -93 to -94 dB across the entire audio spectrum, but that's still not quite 16-bit performance, even if we allow the analog output stage a tiny contribution to the total. Furthermore, such an excellent result was obtainable only through the unbalanced outputs; the transformer-coupled balanced outputs measured -81 to -82 dB, with some serious 60 Hz contribution evident. Thus the balanced outputs cannot be recommended. On the 1 kHz, -60 dB track, I measured a dynamic range of 96.8 dB, which is excellent but not the winner. With a full-scale 17 Hz tone exercising the DACs, pure quantization noise as measured through a 400 Hz highpass Elter was -93.6 dB, which jibes with the above.

One very basic design problem in a delta-sigma system is out-of-band noise, and the Marantz shows some weakness in that respect. At 90 kHz the noise rises to -65 dB and interferes with certain inband performance tests below -60 dB, necessitating modified techniques. I have no evidence that this affects the playback of music in any way. Another slight peculiarity of the unit is that it inverts the recorded signal. (Absolute phase fanatics please take note.) As for RF energy at the output, it is at worst only 6 to 8 mV peak to peak, and I could barely identify it on a 100 MHz scope as being roughly in the 100 MHz band. Not very dangerous. I was perfectly happy with the control functions and ergonomics of the Marantz, although generally I'm not in favor of having only the absolutely basic buttons on the front panel and everything else on the remote control unit. The latter, however. is very complete and very high-tech: it even has a jog dial and a shuttle ring so you can make like Mr. Spock and navigate the disc at warp speed. All in all, a very classy CD player, although at its high price I can't forgive its small shortcomings too easily.

(The Audio Critic, Spring/Summer 1992, Issue No. 18)

Marantz Compact Disc player CD11 LE
Marantz compact disc players set new standards of digital performance. From the professional Marantz CDR-1 compact disc recorder to the state-of-the-art CD-11 LE, our digital heritage is second to none.
All Marantz compact disc players employ a Bitstream Pulse Density Modulation 1-bit D/A conversion chipset, along with Marantz's unique Differential Mode conversion method and high quality oversampling digital filters. We use Radialinear laser mechanisms for our single-disc models awith superior data-reading characteristics and silent, fast access. Marantz CD players offer the best combination of sound quality and convenience available.

Features Marantz CD11 LE compact disc player

  • All-alloy transport and chassis
  • Philips CDM-4 Professional diecast magnesium alloy Radialinear laser mechanism
  • Single-beam laser
  • Philips SAA-7310 decorder / error-correction system
  • 20-bit 8-times oversampling digital filter with digital de-emphasis and mute
  • Philips SAA-7350 Bitstream pulse density modulation 1-bit D/A converters
  • Dual Philips TDA-1547 (DAC-7) dedicated 1-bit DAC devices operating in dual-differential mode
  • Toroidal power supply
  • Regular and balanced XLR outputs
  • Full-function shuttle-dial remote control
  • FTS Favorite Track Selection system
  • TOSLINK optical and coaxial digital outputs
  • RC-5 remote control compatible

Specifications Marantz CD11 LE compact disc player
Line output jack - 20 to 20.000 Hz, ± 0.1 dB
Balanced output jack - 20 to 20.000 Hz, ± 0.2 dB
Dynamic Range - >96 dB
S/N ratio - >108 dB
Channel separation - >100 db (1kHz)
THD - <0.00135% (1kHz)