The Mission System Mission PCM 7000 CD player
Mission PCM 7000 CD player: $999
This latest Mission CD player has already been reviewed in Stereophile, by George Graves in Vol.10 No.2 and Martin Colloms in Vol.10 No.4, so I will only give it a brief description. Although based on Philips' second-generation digital filter and 4x oversampled, 16-bit DAC circuitry, it is not a modified Philips player. Rather, the slim chassis contains the Philips transport and digital board, with Mission's proprietary analog circuitry on a separate board. Based on high-quality op-amps, this has two unusual features: CMOS switching ICs are used to give a high-precision switched stereo attenuator, operating in 1dB steps and capable of being operated by remote control; a comb-type filter removes ultrasonic spuriae at multiples of the 44.1kHz sampling frequency. With the exception of volume, all the remote control functions are duplicated on the front panel; the latter has one of the more attractive fluorescent displays I have seen, with a large, attractively proportioned numeric display easily visible from across the room, and the Mission logo picked out in red.
The sound: I liked the PCM 7000. Low frequencies were well-defined, the treble was lightish in balance, though a little reticent in the top octave, and stereo imaging was spacious and well-defined. Perhaps more importantly, as far as I am concerned, was the fact that there was a lack of "digital edge," the sound being easy to live with. It was not quite as overwhelmingly detailed or as consistently musical as the Stax Quattro reviewed in Vol.10 No.5, but provided a considerable degree of pleasure.
My final listening was with the low-level fade on CBS's CD1 test disc. This 500Hz tone was dithered so that it should sound like a pure tone mixed with noise, even at levels below the "theoretical" resolving point of a 16-bit digital system. If you hear distortion on this fade, then you can be sure that it comes from the player. The 7000 fared quite well on this test, the tone being reasonably pure at the -60dB starting point of the fade. As the level dropped, high-order harmonics could be heard to swell and fade at different levels, showing that the DAC's linearity is a little uneven. The Mission PCM 7000 didn't produce as pure a tone as the Stax Quattro in this respect, but was actually better than the $8000 Accuphase machine.
The remote volume control was a boon! Not only did it enable the PCM 7000 to be used straight into the power amplifier, it made possible fine-tuning of playback level without my having to get up from my listening chair! This is the CD player for couch potatoes. It perhaps is a little expensive now, in view of the performance offered by the Sony 4x oversampled machines appearing in the stores this Fall, but can be nevertheless recommended.