Accuphase DP-75V CD player Page 4

Looking for colorful orchestral sound, I turned to Mahler's Symphony 3 with the ebullient Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic, bless their hearts (DG 427 328-2). I got that standard multi-mike DG bite, enough to drive me to the XLR outputs---then I sat back in the Ribbon Chair and soaked it up. Notes: "The horns now beautifully illuminated, bursting with explosive energy. The timpani at the rear of Avery Fisher Hall set out a stunning foundation utterly defining the original recording venue."

We're still talking $11k worth of upsampled CD playback here. Can the sound be that much better than 16/44.1 machines? Pascal Rogé's disc of solo piano music by Poulenc (London 417 438-2) demonstrated---to my satisfaction, at least---that the benefits of upsampling one's present, and possibly huge, collection of CDs are well worth the money. This recording was made in 1987---not what I'd call the golden age of digital. Although upsampling has been shown to not add any information, the DP-75V somehow reconstituted the analog waveform in such a way as to belie the mechanical nature of the process. Ease, grace, dynamics---style, baby! Suddenly, rather than suffering from brittle early-digital sound---and even as I heard the clanking in the upper registers that brands it as such---I totally enjoyed the music; Poulenc's sophisticated phrasing and attitude were there for the taking. It was less objectionable through the Accuphase than through the somewhat more analytical dCS front-end. If you can afford it, that's a compelling reason to drop 11 large ones on such a player.

But it's not a cure-all, and besides, you don't want an $11k machine sugaring things up too much. Fear not. Take Poulenc's Sonata for Violin and Piano...please! This recording (Ophélia OP 67103) was also made in the late '80s---the music is sublime, but the dreadful, hashy, constipated digital sound was simply too much to bear at high volume for more than a few seconds.

Easing back into a comfortable swing, I spun an old, creamily recorded favorite: "Since I Fell for You," from Ray Bryant's Blue Moods (Japanese EmArcy EJD-5). The rich, complex luminosity in the piano's upper registers was a touch more colorful via XLR for a change, though it sounded a bit more vital via the RCA outputs. Like a good nose on a fine wine, it was a heady experience. A lovely soundstage developed; not hugely deep, but very layered, with a top end that was just gorgeous---it gave me a feeling I usually associate with vinyl. Perhaps that's the salient point of the DP-75V experience: It sounds analog, but not like a turntable; more like some paragon of the virtue that we know to be music.

Stacked up against the dCS 972/Elgar
The major differences between these two 24/192 upsamplers is that the dCS sounds more transparent, more image-defined and focused, with a slightly dryer presentation, more extended and faster highs, and tighter bass. The English gear is more analytical; in some weird way, I find it appeals to the head rather than the heart. The Accuphase goes right for your sex and sticks its tongue in your ear. It's altogether more round, voluptuous, and seductive than the English gear. It's also slightly less precise. A taste thing. But because its slots for option cards make the '75 as future-proof as they come, I'd have to say that, to this point, it's become my preferred way to listen to digital.

Stacked up
We listen to music to be transported out of everyday life. The same desire is no doubt what has fueled the rapid growth of the more family-oriented home-theater business, and the popularity of those huge-screened "active" theaters offering surround and motion to take you somewhere other than where you are. Perhaps that accounts for the recent trend back toward music listening. Build a home theater for the family; then, as Bruce Willis saves the planet from hurtling hemorrhoids from outer space, tiptoe to the library, kick back, and listen to some real music. Where do you wanna go today?

A well-set-up, contemporary two-channel system can, indeed, lift you out of your seat. The DP-75V lifted me outta the Ribbon Chair almost every time I played it.

In the frightening fracas of the current Format Wars, the DP-75V fits very easy in the saddle, thank you, and in a very high-tech Japanese way indeed. "Future-proof" can mean a lot of things, some of it utter irrelevance. The Accuphase is, however, a true one-box digital solution. And from its own 24/192 analog outputs, its sound is fine and sexy. It's the best one-box digital solution I've heard to date. My highest recommendation.

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