Sony CDP-101 Compact Disc Player Follow-Up Review
The five classical CDs I received [with a second sample of the Sony CDP-1O1 CD player] included a Decca, a Sony/CBS, and three Deutsche-Grammophons. The DGs sounded consistently rough and slightly veiled, rather like what I heard from the sampler disc supplied with our first player unit. The CBS, despite different mixing balances and perspectives, was remarkably similar to the DGs, suggesting that all four may have been mastered with the same digital system (probably the Sony PCM-1600). Sonically, the Decca was worth all the others put together, and—multimiked recording and tipped-up top notwithstanding—delivered the most realistic reproduction of an orchestra I have heard in my home in 20-odd years of audio listening!
A number of professional recording engineers have reported that Sony's "amateur" PCM-F1 digital recording system sounds better than their $30,000 PCM-1600 pro system. It would also seem that Decca's own digital system is no slouch either. In fact, on the basis of that Decca disc alone, I am now fairly confident about giving the Sony player a clean bill of health, and declaring it the best thing that has happened to music in the home since The Coming of Stereo.
I am almost drooling with anticipation at what we can expect to hear when some of the perfectionist audiophile record companies start issuing on CD. Incidentally, at least one change has been made in the player in the 8 weeks since we got our first test unit. That first one had a switch on the rear that turned on a faint beeper by which the unit audibly acknowledged receipt of a signal from the remote-control unit. On our second sample of the player, the beeper is now a permanent fixture, and that rear-panel switch now has another, rather more interesting function.
It is labeled "AntiShock," which would seem to imply that with the switch off, you risk getting zapped by the player. But the "shock" here is not electrical but physical. Turning this On increases the power fed to the servomechanism which guides the laser "reader" along the path of the signal pits on the disc. This boosts the devices's immunity to external jarring from merely excellent to phenomenal, and (presumably) permits it to be used in a bouncing automobile. (It can also, however, make a badly scratched disc skip "grooves," by overcoming inertia's tendency to hold the laser scanner in line with the groove when the scratch feeds the servo a sudden lateral-motion cue.)
Another feature of the new player (which may have been on the first one, although I don't recall noticing it) is a 26-conductor receptacle on the rear panel marked "Accessory Connector." This prompts all kinds of fascinating speculation as to what may be in store, including the possibility of a DC adaptor for connection to a cigarette lighter. (The player only draws 30 watts.)—J. Gordon Holt