Proceed CD Library Page 2
As far as digital outputs go, the CD Library has both the usual S/PDIF coax RCA output and an AES/EBU balanced XLR digital output. Madrigal feels that the balanced AES/EBU interface offers better performance, an opinion shared by Digital Lad once he tried it with Levinson's No.30 processor (although DL actually prefers AT&T optical to either electrical interface).
Rowe vs. Wait
Clearly, the star of this show is the changer. Proceed fits the CD Library with an industrial-strength CD changer built by Rowe Int'l., the company that supplies these mechanisms to the CD jukeboxes that have relegated all those great 45-based Rock-Olas to the junk heap (footnote 2). The Rowe changer basically has two moving parts: a motorized carousel that holds 100 CDs, and a robot arm that pulls the chosen disc from the carousel and lays it in the transport. Because of the nature of the carousel, the CD Library won't work with 3" CD singles or all those audiophiliac tweaks like CD SoundRings, SIMS Navcom bands, and the various damping mats. You've all heard that terrifying campfire tale of the boy who tried to play a disc with a Sims band on it in the CD Library, and when it came out, the band was hanging half off and mangled? Well...[flashlight suddenly points directly into face]...I AM THAT BOY!!!
You can't watch the Rowe changer with the CD Library fully assembled, but I got an opportunity to see it in action when I had to take the Library apart because—get this—it ATE some of my CDs! After I loaded about 30 discs into this big grey beast, two of the selections were mysteriously missing from their slots: The Beastie Boys' Licensed To Ill and Luke & the Locomotives. What had happened was, at some point the discs had slipped out of the carousel and clattered to the bottom of the Library (footnote 3). Madrigal's Richard Krehmeyer told me over the phone how to dissassemble the Library, so I bribed a buddy of mine with a sixer of Shiner Bock to come over and help me. Look, the grey metal cover is HEAVY, and my truss was at the cleaners.
Madrigal: You boys are missing a serious bet by not offering the Library with an optional see-through cover; I had more fun watching this thing than listening to it! Punch up your selection, and the carousel starts turning 'round and 'round until—klik—the cool-man robot arm gently plucks the disc from its slot, rotates its hand 90 degrees with a dramatic flourish, and lovingly places the CD upon the Philips CDM-3 transport as the Philips's top clamp plops down to secure it! It's just too hip for words; we stood around for an hour making the robot arm go up and down and up and down while my girlfriend watched us from the couch, silently reassessing our relationship.
If you've seen the ads, you know that the CD Library is a stark grey cube with no buttons or switches of any kind, looking for all the world like a post-modern dorm fridge. So how do you get it to do its thang?
With the COMMUNICATOR!
The hand-held Communicator is a little bigger than this issue of Stereophile, only thicker, with nice grey rubber grips on each side so you can really grab hold. The central backlit LCD display is flanked on both sides by four blue rubber buttons positioned right under your thumbs; Madrigal obviously spent some time making the Communicator as user-friendly as possible. Also located on the Communicator's face are buttons for volume and mute, which only affect the variable outputs. As the wireless Communicator speaks in infrared, a small cubical IR receiver is supplied that plugs into the CD Library with a very long length of cable, so you can set the thing for the best line o' sight reception.
But that's not ALL! As the proud owner of the Proceed CD Library, you also get a separate, full-size, PC-style keyboard to program all the names of the titles, artists, and songs into the Library's memory! You can stow it under your LA-Z-BOY when playing discs, but every time you install a new CD into the Library you have to plug the keyboard into a jack just inside the hinged door and type in all the pertinent info.
For example, let's say I want to install Jimi Hendrix's Are You Experienced (Reprise 6261-2). First, I type in the title, ARE YOU EXPERIENCED; then I have to assign the CD to one of the 15 "types" of music I already typed in earlier (these can be anything from "JAZZ," "BLUES," "SOUL," etc., to "THRASH," "SPEEDMETAL," "WEAVERS," etc.). I assign it to "ROCK"; then I type in the name, JIMI HENDRIX; the Library reads the disc, tells me it has 11 tracks, and asks me if I want to name each one, which I do, so for track 1 I type "PURPLE HAZE," track 2 "MANIC DEPRESSION," track 3 "HEY JOE," ad infinightmare. If it sounds like a drag, try multiplying it by 100! I wouldn't worry about it, though; if you're laying 13,000 Jorges across your dealer's sweaty palm, you have every right to ask him to come over and do the all the disc-installing himself. Hell, snatch your roll back if he balks; money talks in this man's land (footnote 4).
Footnote 2: Except clean vintage "bubblers," which are in great demand with antique traders. If you've got an old Rock-Ola, HANG ON TO IT! They're ten times cooler than a Versa, plus you can bang on 'em with your fists in time to "Double Shot Of My Baby's Love."
Footnote 3: Madrigal went back and modified the changer mechanism for all future production after the review sample ate my CDs, but I think the problem was that I just pushed the discs into the opening slot too far when I installed them. In any case, I never had the problem again in the three months I had the thing.
Footnote 4: He'll most likely send over the low salesman on the totem pole, though, so be nice to the li'l guy; make sure he doesn't leave your house with an empty stomach or a low blood-alcohol level.