Tjeob Rolling - Ode To the Simple CD

Since around 2009, my migration to computer based audio was complete and the beloved Ah! Tjeob 4000 moved to the closet. For those who don’t know, the Ah! Tjeob is essentially the PrimaLuna CD player that was released (2 versions) between 1999 & 2001. They took a basic Marantz transport and chassis, and hotrod-ed the insides with a tube stage, and quality power supplies/ parts. For the past 12 years, the Ah! only came out to break in new equipment. Repeated non scientific A/B test over the years consistently showed my various computer based rigs sounded better, especially in these days of Roon, HQPlayer, and streamers. The debate had been settled. Until now.

I recently acquired the newly released Marantz Model 30 integrated. It’s companion component is a matching SACD player/ digital media hub. Marantz designed the RCA CD input on the integrated with special parts, clearly differentiating it from all the other RCA inputs. They did so in order to make the companion SACD player sound as good as possible.

I had a pair of Duelund interconnects sitting in a drawer, awaiting the “well into the distant future” arrival of the Decware ZRock2. On a whim, I decided to give the Ah! Tjeob one more chance. While fumbling through the Ah! box, I noticed a pair of Siemens tubes that had come from Upscale with the original purchase. They have been unused for 20 years. Installed those as well.

After one hour of warmup, the listening began. This was the first time the Marantz/ LRS/ Ah! Tjeob trio had been together.

I was blown away. It sounded so so good. Better than the Ah! Tjeob 4000 had ever sounded before. Easily on par with my computer based rig, and at times better. And it was so refreshing to not have to look at an iPad or computer screen to simply listen to music. My life is so inundated with screens, it was nice to take a break.

Duly inspired, I’ve ordered a spindle of 100 high quality CDR’s to burn audio CD’s of my favorite digital downloads.

Yesterday was like an unscheduled Christmas, stumbling backwards into an unseen tree.


Out of curiosity, how do you rank the quality of audio playback between CD, SACD, hard drive, and streaming service?

Which digital version sounds best to you? Does physical media make a difference?

I’m becoming more and more convinced that these new Marantz 30 models are going to be thought of as classics in their own rights. I got the SACD-30n a few weeks ago and I am thoroughly impressed with it.

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@Craig_Burgess thanks for the feedback on the SACD player. I have it squarely in my sights. Underwood has them for 20% off, if one asks…

The Model 30 integrate amp has been marvelous so far. To my tastes, besting the Hegel in replaced…

I had one of those. It ended up get power surged into retirement.

It was fun rolling 6DJ8s in it. Sounded great.

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@netspecht-2 oh my. Ah! aka Primaluna was more subversive back in those days. Their current tube CD player is $3K. I have to say, the rediscovery of the Ah! Tjeob has me rethinking my entire approach to music listening. No doubt, the computer rig with Roon is heaps more convenient, but my goodness do CDs sound good. And I have a Decware tube buffer in the computer rig, but the Tjeob is doing something different.

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I use a tube buffer as well. Adds a very pleasant flavor. 6DJ8 based from Audio Horizons.

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Is the tube buffer placed in front of the preamp or a specific source such as a DAC or CD player?

My budget was never going to expand to the point that I could afford the new PSA transport, so when my old dealer in Milwaukee, who I’ve done business with since 1978 and whose ears I trust implicitly, put up a webpage that raved about the 30n in comparison to the Ruby, the SA-10 (and even compared it favorably to other higher end SACD players), I thought I should get my hands on one and see for myself. It’s now put my SA8005 on the sell pile.


The tube buffer can be placed in a variety of places. Mine is between the DAC and preamp. You could place it between the DAC and headphone amp or between CD player and headphone amp. No volume control or gain on mine, except choosing between XLR or RCA connections.


Thanks, I’ve heard about them for years but never got to use one.

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I have a never-used Musical Fidelity X-10 V3 tube buffer that I should either use or get rid of. It’s just that I like the sound of my system so much now, that I don’t really want to mess with it. Plus all my surplus RCA analog cables are garden-variety freebies I’ve collected over the years as components have come and gone. I don’t think I have an extra pair decent enough to be worthy of the experiment.

Thanks for the link, very informative essay. I hadn’t previously understood that the Marantz doesn’t even use a DAC chip. I’m getting one for sure! To my understanding, the article incorrectly states Quboz compatibility. And the SACD 30n is only Roon Tested, not Roon Ready. Meaning it works with Roon only over USB, and Airplay - not the preferable Ethernet network route. HEOS is supposed to suck. Not a big deal for me as I have a MicroRendu 1.4 and lifetime Roon.

I made the switch to Mac based music full time in 2008. It has never sounded quite right. I’ve devoted copious hours of research, and have tried every reasonably priced tweak imaginable to make things “right”. Have $1000 in Mac audio software (Roon + HQP). Have had the $4000 DirectStream Junior, with the Matrix, and with I2S. Went in the opposite direction with the Border Patrol, which I prefer to the DSJ. I’m beginning to think that Mac based simply isn’t going to satisfy my ear. Have been contemplating moving up the server food chain to Auralic, Aurender or Lumin. But those are still computers, albeit fancy expensive ones.

The chance Ah! Tjeob audition has turned all of that on its ear. For the first time in over a decade, everything sounded “right”. It’s like I had been on a Indiana Jones type journey for so many years, and when I finally got deep into the temple and reached the altar, there was a CD, ironically where I started :joy:.

It sort of makes sense. So much money and effort is put into isolating and purifying the digital chain, and the humble CD player sort of does all of that through, well, actual simplicity.

I have lots of high res files (PCM and DSD) to burn to disc. Unfortunately, the Ah! Tjeob can only play up to 700 MB sized discs. I have some recordings in which 2 songs would take up 700MB. What I really love about the Marantz is that it can play DVD data discs (PCM or DSD), and do so within its cutting edge architecture.

Seems to me that Sound United, who recently bought Marantz, are essentially reissuing the Ruby at a viciously competitive price. Sound United is going to ease Marantz out of the budget market, leaving that to Denon, and instead make Marantz exclusively high end. The Model 30 duo is their shot across the bow. And I’m a sucker for the “voiced by the Marantz Sound Master” marketing. A Japanese “Sound Master”, I’m all in.

PS Audio ought to anoint @tedsmith as their “Sound Master”, he can wear a Sound Master cap during videos :joy:

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Yes, he did misstate the Qobuz compatibility (it does Tidal, but I don’t know if that extends to MQA). I can’t speak to the Roon statements, as I’m not a user myself. I never had high hopes for HEOS because my only exposure to it is bluetoothing from my phone to my extremely modest Marantz NR-1508 HT receiver, and nothing about that setup is worth writing home about. In the listening room, with the good stuff, I just don’t need to use it.

Frankly, I didn’t get the 30n for its “n” features anyway. If I find it does something convenient, I’m sure I’ll appreciate it, but it’s not something I’m actively looking for.

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@Craig_Burgess while I would prefer “Roon Ready”, I’m content with “Roon tested”. For me, both the transport and the “N” part tick a whole lot of boxes. More than just about any product on the market, at any price.

Interesting review. He puts the Marantz duo on par with his Accuphase/ AMR 777 combo, assuming proper speaker matching.

Does the 30n have I2S? If so, I wonder if it can be connected to the Direcstream Dac that way.

It does not have I2S… just optical, coax and USB. And Ethernet…

@dancingsea is correct. It does not. And, like most other players that I’d ever have a prayer of affording, I believe it won’t read the DSD layers if its digital outs are used. I’ve learned to coexist peacefully with that limitation, since I’m happy with the sound of the unit. If I decide I want to do more, I have a $35 Sony universal player in the wings, waiting on the day I decide to explore hacking options. Or buy a Geerfab D.BOB.

Out of curiosity, I checked the manual. While not written in a clear fashion, it seems to say that with the digital audio outputs it stops playing DSD via “USB and networks”. I guessing that it will pass on DSD if you’re using a DVD data disc in the transport, but won’t pass it on the DSD in any other scenario. But that’s just a guess.