Proceed CD Library

I think I've finally figured out the secret of Stereophile's success. You, cherished reader, don't read this mag because it's chock full o' reviews of tantalizing audio gear (even though it is). And you don't read this mag because JA and RL strive so hard to keep the literary quotient as hi as the fi (even though they do). And I know you don't read this mag cuz trusting yer own sensory input is a mighty scary proposition indeed so you look to Stereophile as to a Holy Bible that eases your Earthly burden by telling you, Ah say Ah say TAILING YEW what to buy (do you?).

No. You read it for the same reason I do:

Stereophile is THE comic book for people who are too old to read comic books!

Think about it. Sure, there's "adult comix" like Raw and Eightball (footnote 1), but the kind of comic books I'm talking about are SUPERHERO COMICS! BANG! POW! OOF! ULP! Oh man, I used to do nothing BUT read comic books, getting my pre-pubescent rocks off on the full-color adventures of my favorite superheroes. Batman! The Green Lantern! Luke Cage: Powerman! I couldn't wait for the new issues to hit the drugstore racks each month.

Trouble is, we get older. And I don't know about you, but I wouldn't be caught DEAD at the Bookstop checkout line with a pile of comic books under my arm. I can just see the clerk going, "Already read Hawking, have we? Sid! I need price checks on Crusherman, Dwarf Patrol, and Kid Mucous!"

So what do we grownups do to feed that superhero jones? We read—TA DA!—Stereophile! THRILL to the adventures of DIGITAL LAD (mild-mannered Robert Harley by day) as he fights jitter wherever it rears its ugly head! SEE Manhattan socialite Beth Jacques don her slinky Gortex jumpsuit to become THE BLACK PEN, striking fear into the hearts of artistically bankrupt rock groups! WATCH Canadian mountie Bob Deutsch turn into CAPTAIN CANUCK, blasting away bad guys with his mighty slab of back-bacon!

Well, if we're all comic book characters here at Stereophile, I know who I want to be: Richie Rich, Boy Millionaire! I'd 86 that wimp-boy "Little Lord Fauntleroy" getup, of course, but I'd put together the most HIDEOUSLY expensive audio system this world has ever seen! Jadis—HA! I'd have those french fries custom-build me some 10,000W monoblocks—no, a million watts, with gold-engraved $ signs all over the chassis! Dedicated AC lines for every single piece of gear, all wired with Kimber silver! Apogee Grands in the bathroom flanking the bidet!

And digital? I could buy the $23,000 Levinson No.30 processor/No.31 transport combo, but I'd still have to get up to change CDs, not to mention adjust the volume, return CDs to their cases, find new ones, etc. That's DOG WORK, my man; Boy Millionaires don't spend their time fiddling with jewelboxes! Naw, there's only one CD player that not only does away with all the tedious chores of digital playback, but is also expensive enough for Richie Rich: the $13,000 Proceed CD Library.

Madrigal mystery tour
Madrigal's Proceed CD Library is a giant light-grey metal cube perched atop a dark-grey metal base. It's large, and it's heavy. So heavy, in fact, that UPS wimps out. You want a CD Library? Madrigal trucks it to you, good buddy! The guy who trucked mine asked me what the HAIL was in that durned crate anyhow; when I told him it was a CD player, he nearly bust a gut laughing in my face. Richie Rich would've had his bodyguards beat the crap out of him, but I joined in the yuks; whoever heard of a CD player that came in a crate big enough for a washing machine?!

The CD Library is really three products in one: a CD transport, a digital processor, and a multi-disc changer. For the transport, Madrigal chose the Philips CDM-3, a high-quality drive also used by Krell, among others. The digital processor section is identical to that in Proceed's $1595 PDP 2, reviewed by Digital Lad in Vol.14 No.5. It features two Burr-Brown PCM-58P 18-bit 8x-oversampling DACs, one for each channel, with I/V conversion handled by a PMI/Analog Devices OP-42 op-amp. Interestingly, the CD Library's analog section includes an Analog Devices AD845 high-speed JFET op-amp buffered by a Linear Technology LT1010CT unity-gain buffer; the same chips I chose after extensive listening tests when I modified a stock Philips player several years ago. Interesting also was the small-value inductor in series with each channel's output, ostensibly there to filter ultra-high-frequency garbage from the audio signal; while the non-inverting outputs have series inductors (the unbalanced output is paralleled with pin 2 of the XLR jack), the inverting outputs (XLR pin 3) do not. As you can guess, the CD Library has both single-ended RCA and balanced XLR outputs.

Most CD players with remote control also feature variable-level outputs, allowing direct connection to the system's amplifier. Problem is, most of these variable outputs SUUUUCK; they tell you that the direct hookup eliminates the colorations of that infernal preamp and additional set of interconnects you own, but the miserable dogs THEY LIE!! What you really wind up doing is swapping a good external preamp for a cheap'n'dirty preamp circuit inside the CD player that adds a bunch of low-grade op-amps, crappy caps, and cheesy resistors to the signal path.

Footnote 1: Fantagraphics Books, 7563 Lake City Way, Seattle, WA 98115. I'm not really into "adult comix," but Dan Clowes's Eightball is as cool as it gets; $5 gets you three issues of twisted brilliance that makes The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers look like The Family Circus.
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