CD Player/Transport Reviews

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Herb Reichert Posted: Apr 25, 2017 1 comments
Someone on Audio Asylum wrote, "When it comes to hi-res audio, Herb is a babe in the woods." This is true, though probably not in the way this person imagined. High-resolution master David Chesky has been my friend forever, and I used to write for his website HDtracks.com. Todd Garfinkle, founder of and producer for M•A Recordings, and Kavichandran Alexander, of Water Lily Acoustics, are not only valued friends, but I own most of their stunning recordings. In short, I'm no stranger to SACD or 24-bit/192kHz playback. But compared to most audiophiles, I've been a bit slow in appreciating the intricacies and virtues of hi-rez computer audio.
J. Gordon Holt Posted: Feb 28, 2017 Published: Dec 01, 1988 7 comments
Two of the most cherished terms in the lexicon of high end are "no holds barred" and "cost no object." These are usually applied, together, to the most expensive version of something currently on the market. But is either term really appropriate for an audio product? The answer is a flat, unequivocal No. No consumer product has ever conformed to the real meaning of those terms, and it is unlikely that one ever will.
Corey Greenberg Posted: Feb 09, 2017 Published: Feb 01, 1992 4 comments
One of my favorite parts of writing for Stereophile is reading all the heartfelt letters our readers take the time to write me. There's nothing I like better than to kick off my boots, stretch out on the futon-couch, and let the groovy love vibes just shine off the pages. Time doesn't always permit a reply, but for now...AS in MD: thanks! RP in CA: sure, why not? And SH in IN: I've tried that, but it chafed.
Thomas J. Norton Posted: Feb 07, 2017 Published: Jan 01, 1991 3 comments
The $499 NAD 5000 looks nothing like most inexpensive CD players. Its plastic trim doesn't look cheap. It doesn't look expensive either, but it certainly won't be embarrassed to show its face in polite company. The front panel is neatly arranged and easy to interpret and use. It's the smallest and lightest of the present company of players—the only obvious physical reflections of its low-budget heritage. Inside, however, NAD has done a lot to put your money where it counts.
Art Dudley Posted: Feb 02, 2017 13 comments
In Stereophile's January 2016 issue, I began a series of reviews of $10,000 CD players and transport-DAC combinations: an informal and serial survey, the goal of which was to gather, over time, the likeliest candidates for one's Last CD Player Ever. My choice of $10,000 as the target price was more or less arbitrary, although, in retrospect, that's about what I've invested in my go-to combination of turntable, tonearm, and pickup head—so, who knows? Maybe my subconscious was acting out.
J. Gordon Holt Posted: Jan 02, 2017 Published: Dec 01, 1986 3 comments
The Danish Bang & Olufsen firm is the undisputed leader in audio when it comes to dramatic product styling and ease and versatility of use. Their designs have won more design awards than those of any other audio firm, and each new lineup of B&O models seems to offer even more control convenience than the last batch. Sonically, none of their components to date has been any better than "very good," and some have done significantly less well than that. In reviewing them, we have had to compare them with their pricewise competition among the brands we normally think of as "high-end," and B&O's components have not stood that comparison very well.
John Atkinson Posted: Nov 18, 2016 3 comments
It has been 20 years since I first became aware of the British company Data Conversion Systems, which manufactures audio products under the dCS brand. Rather than use off-the-shelf conversion chips, the groundbreaking dCS Elgar D/A converter, which I reviewed in our July 1997 issue, featured a then-unique D/A design that they called a Ring DAC. This featured a five-bit, unitary-weighted, discrete DAC running at 64 times the incoming data's sample rate—2.822MHz for 44.1kHz-based data, 3.07MHz for 48kHz-sampled data and its multiples—with upsampling and digital filtering and processing implemented in Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs). Oversampling to a very high sample rate allows the word length to be reduced without losing resolution, and use of a low-bit multi-bit DAC makes for very high accuracy in the analog voltage levels that describe the signal. (If this seems like voodoo, for a given signal bandwidth, bit depth and sample rate are related. To oversimplify, double the rate, and you can reduce the bit depth by one bit while preserving the overall resolution.)
Thomas J. Norton Posted: Nov 10, 2016 Published: Jan 01, 1991 2 comments
Like its Prism I predecessor, which I reviewed in May 1988, the Mod Squad Prism II is based on a Philips player: the same 16-bit, 4x-oversampling converter, the same general control layout. But The Mod Squad does their own extensive remanufacture, both on the internal circuitry and on the cosmetics—the latter involving a handsomely sculptured case and metal front trim-panel surrounding Philips's command center.
Thomas J. Norton Posted: Oct 20, 2016 Published: Jan 01, 1991 3 comments
With Sony's latest flagship single-box player ($1700), we find yet another variant on 1-bit D/A technology—High Density Linear Converter, or HDLC. At the heart of this Pulse Length Modulation (footnote 1) D/A technique is Sony's CXD-2552 Pulse D/A converter (two per channel in complementary mode in the CDP-X77ES). This complex LSI chip incorporates a third-order noise shaper, the PLM converter, and a digital sync circuit receiving its input from the system clock.
Bill Sommerwerck Sam Tellig Posted: Jul 05, 2016 Published: Aug 01, 1986 2 comments
There's a race on between Sony and Matsushita, to determine who can build the smallest battery-operated CD player with the most features. Sony currently holds the lead with its second-generation D-7 ($300), about 30% smaller than the first "pocket" CD, the D-5. Most of the reduction is in height; both players have a horizontal cross-section only slightly larger than the CD itself. The illusion of smallness is further enhanced by an angled front panel with beveled edges.
J. Gordon Holt Posted: Jun 09, 2016 Published: Oct 01, 1984 1 comments
CD player prices continue to go down and, surprisingly, sound quality goes up; the Yamaha CD-X1 is an example of both. It's a front-drawer loader with some interesting innovations. Pushing the Open/Close button opens the drawer; it can be closed either by pushing the same button again or by pressing lightly against the end of the open drawer. (We understand this was done because many such players have been damaged by users trying to force the drawer shut by hand.)

The unit has three operating modes: Auto, Manual and Single. In Auto, play begins as soon as the drawer is closed, or as soon as the AC is turned on if a disc is already loaded. In Manual, play begins only when you press the Play button. Single is the same as Manual except that the unit goes into Pause after playing a single selection. Pressing Pause then plays the next selection.

Art Dudley Posted: Mar 24, 2016 10 comments
Described by manufacturer April Music as an "all-in-one music center," the Aura Note Version 2 ($2500) is a 125Wpc integrated amplifier with a built-in CD player, USB DAC, and FM tuner. The Aura Note is further enhanced by a Bluetooth receiver, a pair of line-level output jacks, and a headphone jack.

The hackneyed but not inappropriate comparison to a Swiss Army knife comes to mind—but where that well-loved tool does a great many things with less than perfection, I've now heard the Aura Note V2 do at least two different things well enough that no excuses need be made on its behalf.

Art Dudley Posted: Feb 24, 2016 0 comments
I don't listen to music when I write, even when I write about listening to music: When there's music playing, it almost always gets my full attention—and I'm no good at multitasking. (And if I'm around music that's awful and I'm powerless to stop it, I have to leave the premises.) A rare exception is when I listen to CDs while proofreading, because proofreading is fairly brainless stuff—and as playback formats go, the Compact Disc isn't the most musically compelling.
Corey Greenberg Posted: Feb 16, 2016 Published: Feb 01, 1992 4 comments
The $800 JVC XL-Z1050TN 1050 is the Bitstream successor to JVC's popular 18-bit XL-Z1010, which got an enthusiastic thumbs-up from Robert Harley in April 1990 (Vol.13 No.4). Its styling is, in my opinion, much improved over the older player's, with the distinctive brushed-bronze finish of the rest of JVC's XL-Z line. The rear panel sports fixed and variable outputs (footnote 1), as well as Toslink optical and coaxial digital outputs. As with the 1010, the JVC features their proprietary K2 Interface, a circuit that reduces jitter by resampling the pulses with a short-duration gate just ahead of the single-bit JVC JCE-4501 DAC chip.
Art Dudley Posted: Dec 29, 2015 6 comments
I don't know much about horses, but I've been given to understand that dead ones don't respond to even the severest beating. In light of that, I'll make only this brief statement—Even with the best playback gear of my experience, I don't derive as much pleasure from CDs as I do from LPs.—and move on to a simpler truth: Regardless of what I think, CD players are still a necessity for most music-loving audiophiles.

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