Proceed CD Library Page 5

Well, if the balanced AES/EBU output is better than the unbalanced digital output, the CD Library is definitely a Class A transport; the sound through the Basic II was right up there with the Data. The tremendous increase in ambient detail I heard when I first hooked up the Data to my system is essentially matched by the CD Library. About the only significant differences I heard were a slightly less forward midrange and a bit less rhythmic drive; groove-heavy recordings like The Commitments soundtrack rocked a little less harder when driven by the Proceed's transport. To be fair, just as I may have been handicapping the CD Library by using its unbalanced digital output instead of the balanced AES/EBU interface, so was I with the Data: its AT&T optical interface edges out the RCA, too. But taken transporto a transporto using their RCA digital outputs, the CD Library is a worthy rival to the Data, making it by far the most expensive Class A digital transport in Stereophile's "Recommended Components," but easily the most fun.

JA Measures...
...finds nothing new, notes lack of correlation between measured performance and CG's listening, goes back to eating Melba toast.

The Proceed CD Library is a one-of-a-kind product; no other combination of playback gear, digital or analog, offers as great a selection of program material or ease of control. Being able to play any combination of your 100 favorite CDs all from the comfort of your listening chair is almost embarrassingly regal, and I must admit I got pretty used to it during the course of the review.

That the Proceed doesn't compete with the best digital processors is, I suspect, a moot point to the probable buyer of such a unique piece of gear. Clearly, the engineering thrust behind the CD Library was concentrated on the transport and changer systems; the good but not great D/A section will satisfy both the less critical purchaser who mainly wants the convenience of remote-control multi-play, and the audiophile couch 'tater who hooks the Proceed's excellent transport up to a more ambitious processor (footnote 8).

Digital Lad has a three-pronged set of questions that allow a reviewer to ultimately decide on the worthiness of an audio component:

Would I buy this product with my own money? Buddy, if I had 13 grand to blow on a new toy, it would have "Harley Davidson" stenciled on the sides, not "CD Library." Still, if I were a rich forty- or fiftysomething audiophile in the suburbs with a 911 in the garage and a trophy wife in the Junior League, both wearing big black bras, I have to say my answer would be, "YOU BETCHA!" It's a toy, after all; a $13,000 precision piece of high-end audio equipment, but a toy nonetheless. If you can afford this kind of fun, I say GO FOR IT! Believe me, there's plenty worse ways to blow $13,000 buying high-end audio; I've heard most of 'em at CES.

Would I suggest that my best friend buy it? If my best friend was the kind of guy who could afford to take $13,000 and spend it on a CD player, that would mean that I was that kind of guy, too. And if I ever reach the point where I drop this kind of wad on a piece of audio gear, I've authorized Debbie Fisher, Stereophile's den mother extraordinaire, to put a bullet in my head.

Will I feel a sense of loss when the product is returned to the manufacturer? The truth? I'm gonna miss this big grey lunk. The CD Library arrived at my new house not long after I moved in, so I feel like it's part of the family. I slept on the living room futon-couch for several weeks while the master bedroom was being rearranged, and many's the morning I'd wake up, reach for the Communicator, and fire up The Sun Sessions while still under the comforter. So yeah, I'm going to miss the CD Library when that giggling trucker comes back to load it up again. It was a lot of fun.

Footnote 8: Just before we went to press, Madrigal's Mike Wesley informed me that the CD Library is to be updated with the digital processor board of Proceed's new PDP 3 processor, which replaces the PDP 2's Burr-Brown 18-bit PCM-58 DACs with 20-bit PCM-63s. I don't think this is cause for concern for current Library owners, who undoubtedly have their units hooked up to high-quality separate processors anyway.
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