Stereophile's Products of 2006 Digital Source Component
dCS P8i SACD player ($13,995; reviewed by John Atkinson, Vol.29 No.4, April 2006 review)
Runners-up (in alphabetical order)
Ayre CX-7e CD player ($2950; reviewed by Art Dudley, Vol.29 No.2, February 2006 review)
Classé cdp-202 CD/DVD player ($6500; reviewed by John Atkinson, Vol.29 No.8, August 2006 review)
HeadRoom Desktop D/A headphone amplifier ($2095; reviewed by Wes Phillips, Vol.29 No.4, April 2006 review)
Musical Fidelity kW DM25 two-box CD player ($6500; reviewed by Art Dudley, Vol.29 No.7, July 2006 review)
Naim CD5X CD player with Naim FlatCap power supply ($4000; reviewed by Art Dudley, Vol.28 No.11, November 2005 review)
Rega Apollo CD player ($995; reviewed by Art Dudley, Vol.29 Nos.6 & 9, June & September 2006 review)
Slim Devices Squeezebox WiFi D/A processor ($299; reviewed by John Atkinson, March & April eNewsletters, Vol.29 No.9, September 2006 review)
Sonos ZP80 & ZP100 WiFi music systems ($748–$1297/system; reviewed by John Atkinson, Vol.29 No.10, October 2006 review)
Sound Devices Model 722 portable digital recorder ($2650; reviewed by John Marks, Vol.29 No.10, October 2006 review)
Receiving five first-place votes and an overwhelming 18 votes overall, the dCS P8i SACD player simply ran away from the digital competition. Like Sonus Faber, dCS is getting pretty familiar around these parts; the company's Verdi La Scala SACD transport and Delius D/A processor shared last year's Digital Source Component of the Year prize with the Ayre C-5xe universal disc player.
The two-channel P8i adorned the cover of our April issue under the headline "As GOOD as SACD can SOUND." Though still expensive at just under $14,000, the single-box P8i is the first in a series of less-extremely-priced products from dCS, each housed in an attractive aluminum-faced chassis. It uses dCS's Ring DAC, a discrete, 5-bit converter running at a 64x oversampling rate: 2.822MHz for both DSD and CD data.
Due to the P8i's analytical character, caution is recommended in selecting ancillary gear; matching it with similarly methodical products might get you searching for a warm sweater and woolly socks—we're talking Brrr. However, the richness of the dCS's tonal presentation with classical music proved addictive. JA: "For a classical music lover, the dCS P8i used straight into the power amps is almost as good as it gets."
The Ayre CX-7e, a fave of JA, AD, and WP, came in a distant second, while the temptingly affordable Rega Apollo CD player and the supremely enjoyable Sonos WiFi music system each received two first-place votes, landing them in a three-way tie for third place with Classé's stylish cdp-202 CD/DVD player.