As you can see from Larry Greenhill's photo, Chord's RED Reference CD player ($28,500) is one sexy piece of kit. The gleaming metalwork, the sturdy clamshell clamp, its swooping lines—it's just gizmoidally drool-worthy.
But that's just the outside—the innards are what's really attractive. Based on Chord's BLU/DAC64, which I will be reviewing in the August Stereophile, the single-box RED employs a Philips CD Pro 2 transport mech, reclocked to a "highly accurate crystal oscillator" and the data are then filtered by a 4096-tap length WTA filter to minimize timing errors and upsampled (or not) to 44.1kHz, 88.2kHz, or 176.4kHz. That signal is then converted to analog using 1024-tap filtering and a 64-bit processing core, seventh-order noise shaping, 2048x oversampling, and improved PWM elements. Chord's John Franks, after downloading all of that data, then leaned closer and said, "And that's all done with Field Programmable Gate Arrays that can be reprogrammed with simple EEPROM chip change."
"Hmmm," I said, unsuccessfully attempting to sound intelligent. I looked at the back of the RED. "Are these digital outputs?" I asked, wondering why anyone would use a CD player with this much processing power for a transport.
"Well, we believe in flexibility, but more importantly, look over here," Frank smiled. "Those are inputs."