Sony CDP-101 Compact Disc Player Page 4

As a footnote, I should add that, audiophile or otherwise, every serious music listener who heard this system fell instantly in love with the sound of it, even with the dubious program material supplied. Our Margaret Graham has declared her intention to buy one as soon as they become available, and will thus probably be one of the first reviewers in the country to be covering new CD releases from a perfectionist's viewpoint. (And I'll bet an impacted wisdom tooth that Bert Whyte will be another.) I will probably get one too, partly because I feel it can serve as a frame of reference for many (most?) aspects of analog-disc reproduction, and partly because I have an acute weakness for this kind of supersophisticated electronic technology.

But should you buy one when they become available? If I were to say yes, I would have to qualify that quite a bit, because I don't really know what the system and this particular player sound like. My gut feeling, based partly on what Sony did with their PCM-F1, is that this device should sound a lot better than it did from any of the discs I heard, but considering its probable cost, I have no intention of recommending it on the strength of a gut feeling.

And there's another consideration here. Every time there is a breakthrough in audio technology (which is what I feel this to be), there is always something potentially better lurking in a dark corner and waiting for you to commit your dollars to today's state of the art before leaping out at you and shouting "Nyahh!! Now you're obsolete!'

Hitachi already has a CD player of their own—the DA-l000—which we haven't yet tested. Denon is distributing literature about a DCD 2000, and in collaboration with Philips has demonstrated a prototype of a new (but compatible) kind of CD player with a higher-frequency, phase-corrected anti-aliasing system that some listeners claim sounds better than the Sony. And Soundstream's parent company, Digital Recording Corp., claims to have a workable prototype of a completely new digital record/play system using a stationary 3"-by-5" card scanned by a "rotating laser."

All of these are in the future, though, with no timetable or even any certainty that they will ever become consumer products. And no one knows how much better than the Sony they will be, if at all. But in any field that is advancing as rapidly as digital audio, there must come a time when a buyer elects to take the plunge, opting for the ability to relish the fruits of the technology now rather than waiting until (or if) things get even better. It is my opinion that the time is now.

I could not hold onto our borrowed CD unit for more than 21 days (there are few of them around and a lot more reviewers), so I could not tell whether there was anything else about the sound that would begin to irritate me after prolonged exposure to it. I don't think there will be. But even if CDs don't get any better, there is no doubt in my mind that this development will ultimately be seen as the best news serious music listeners have had since the advent of the LP.—J.Gordon Holt

In line with JGH's observations, I'd like to mention that it was absolutely thrilling to to hear ordinary recordings, that is, the material that Philips, DG, etc., routinely provide, reproduced with a clarity, force, and beauty that one almost never hears from their discs. Driving home that night I thought, Gee, what if one could listen to great conductors and orchestras at really extraordinary levels of fidelity? It would revolutionize my feelings about high fidelity. At the same time, I too have heard CDs whose muddiness and obfuscation rivaled some of the worst analog efforts. Nirvana may not be here but I think it's closer.—Larry Archibald

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