I tend to agree, Wes, that sacrificing a small amount of detail in favor of tonality is a good trade. That's approximately what I (and, I think, a bunch of others) did when I added the MF X10v3 between the X-Ray and the preamp. Give it a try. You might like it too. I hear Stereophile considers it a Class A component, and at today's prices, you can buy the X-Ray and the X-10 for what the Quad 99 CDP-2 costs. Of course, you don't get that variable output feature.
Might have to start posting spoiler warnings for those of us who haven't received/obtained the January issue.
Query: Wouldn't a more apples to apples comparison have been the CDP vs. the A3.5CD?
I auditioned the 99CD-P (older version) at home for a weekend and found it to be quite good. The flexibility offered by the host of digital coax/toslink inputs and variable output/preamp ability is also noteworthy.
However, my modest NAD C542 upgraded incrementally with X-DACV3, X-10V3 and X-PSUV3 seemed to offer equivalent if not greater performance to my ears. Granted this setup ends up costing more than the CD-P but I must emphasize the upgrade was made in increments that fit my budget.
Not to change the subject, but imo, for those with a CD-player than can function as a decent transport, I think $1299 for the X-DAC, X-10 and X-PSU combo is quite reasonable (and is the price a certain mail order retailer is charging) for a Red Book source that is competitive with players of double the price or perhaps more.
I look forward to getting the January issue so I can read more on this.
Just picked up the January issue this afternoon.
I may be confused as to Quad's model nomenclature. The CD-P I demo'ed was a 192kHz upsampling unit with all the features mentioned in Wes' article. According to the brochure I have, the "original" 99 CD player seems to be called the CD-S? This model must be used with their 99 Preamp and its proprietary Quadlink. It also only upsamples to 96kHz.