Stereophile's 1999 Products of the Year Digital Source
Linn Sondek CD12 CD player (review)
($20,000; reviewed by Wes Phillips, Vol.22 No.2, February 1999)
Runners-UpArcam Alpha 9 CD player ($1599; reviewed by Kalman Rubinson & John Atkinson, Vol.22 Nos.1 & 2, January & February 1999)
California Audio Labs CL-20 DVD/CD player ($2495; reviewed by Kalman Rubinson, Vol.22 No.1, January 1999),
dCS 972 digital-to-digital converter ($6995; reviewed by Jonathan Scull, Vol.22 No.2, February 1999)
Entech 205.2 D/A processor ($449.95; reviewed by Brian Damkroger & John Atkinson, Vol.21 No.12 & Vol.22 No.2, December 1998 & February 1999)
Mark Levinson No.30.6 D/A processor (review) ($16,950; reviewed by John Atkinson, Vol.22 No.10, October 1999)
MSB LinkDAC D/A converter ($349; reviewed by Kalman Rubinson, Vol.22 No.1, January 1999)
Muse Model Eight & Muse Model 296 DVD/CD playback system ($6500; reviewed by Shannon Dickson, Vol.22 No.4, April 1999)
Naim CDX CD player with XPS power supply ($8250; reviewed by Michael Fremer, Vol.22 No.5, May 1999)
Rotel RCD-971 CD player ($695; reviewed by Sam Tellig, Vol.22 No.4, April 1999)
Wadia 27ix D/A processor ($8950; reviewed by John Atkinson, Vol.22 Nos.4 & 10, April & October 1999)
At a time when many designers are turning a jaundiced eye toward the ever-shifting digital future, Linn drops the other shoe with a gorgeous high-tech player, the Sondek CD12. Just what does this wunderkind device play for your 20 grand? DVD-Audio? Nope. DSD SACDs? Uh, no. Does it at least upsample digital inputs? That's a negative, Red Book Leader. The CD12 is Linn's stab at making the absolute best of what we have today: bog-standard 16-bit/44.1kHz CD media.
The CD12 is machined from two billets of solid aluminum alloy. The drawer is chrome-plated aluminum and serves, along with the remote, as the device's control interface. Four 20-bit Burr-Brown converters run in dual-differential mode, preceded by a Pacific Microsonics PMD-100 HDCD filter. Eight dither options and Linn's Brilliant Switch Mode Power Supply finish off the impressive spec list. But this would have been all for naught had the CD12 not turned out to be "the best CD player I've ever heard," as was indeed reported by Mr. Phillips. Enough members of Stereophile's team of scribes agreed to make the Sondek this year's outright winner.