With two new high-rez audio formats on deck, is a CD-only player still relevant? John Atkinson listens to, and then measures, the Classé CDP-10 CD player to discover why it sometimes takes 20 years to perfect a format.
The major record labels and the RIAA have invested much time and effort in sabotaging the MP3 file-trading revolution and its supporters. But the appeal of the compressed music format for a large segment of music fans is undeniable, and many critics of the RIAA have suggested that the petite and portable audio files should be embraced, not resisted.
It doesn't take much to read between the lines of Sony's discontinuation of the TA-P9000ES analog preamplifier and their introduction of the SCD-XA9000ES SACD player with IEEE1394 digital output at Home Entertainment 2003. (A similar feature from the DVD-Audio camp has been promised.) Surely, we will at long last be able to have external digital processing and DACs in our preamp or control units. In addition to the freedom to mix and match components, this opens the door to having a single digital component manage bass and channel balance for all sources, and room/speaker correction without redundant redigitization.
In the town where I grew up there were two places to buy records: a family-owned department store and the local Woolworth's, both long gone. The first record I ever bought, the 45rpm single of Roger Miller's "King of the Road," came from the former in 1965. I was 11 years old.
Trickle-down technology is a grand thing. It's comparatively easy to build an exceptional audio component when there are no constraints on technology, cost, user-friendliness, or lack thereof, but top designers are now packing more and more of the excellence of damn-the-torpedoes components into more affordable and accessible packages. Which brings us to the Aesthetix Rhea, a tubed phono preamplifier of exceptionally distinguished lineage.
With Super Audio CD and DVD-Audio four years old as established media this fall, the two-decades-old Compact Disc medium is still well-established as the primary carrier for recorded music. (Yes, it is experiencing a significant threat from downloadable music files, but that is outside my bailiwick as a hardware reviewer.) Stereophile has therefore been paying attention to the high-performance one-box CD players that are available. In May, I wrote about my positive experiences with the $2950 Ayre CX-7 and Brian Damkroger favorably reviewed the $2999 GamuT CD1, after having followed up his April 2001 review of the $5495 Simaudio Moon Eclipse player in April 2003.
Audio companies create products that are based on a variety of technologies, provoking lawsuits every once in a while when patents are involved. One such lawsuit erupted earlier this year as Robert W. Carver, designer for and founder of Sunfire Corporation, filed a US patent lawsuit against Audio Products International (API).
Johnny Cash, the 71-year-old American icon, died September 12 of respiratory failure caused by complications from diabetes. The singer/songwriter had been released from the hospital the preceding day after a two-week struggle with an unspecified stomach ailment.