Sony CDP-X779ES CD player Gordon's Gear

Sidebar 1: Gordon's Gear

Other equipment used for this review included a Revox A-77 15ips 2-track tape recorder, a Sony PCM-F1, a Threshold FET-10 line controller, Boulder 500AE amplifiers, a Heath Company pink-noise generator, and part of the Snell/Lexicon/Rane home THX system reviewed last December. If this sounds like an odd lineup, here's my rationale: The Revox and the F-1 were used to play some of my original tapes which had ended up on Stereophile's first Test CD, and a tape of JA's that was transferred to Test CD 2. The FET-10 and 500AE are my current reference line controller and power amp. The Snell stereo speakers—small deficiencies aside—appear to be among the most neutral (accurate) I know of, and the Lexicon CP-3 was needed to drive their subwoofers.

To break the player in, I put a CD on it, programmed it to repeat indefinitely, and let it cook for two days. I used the Snell/Lexicon/Rane system with all ambience processing switched out and the center and rear-channel surround speakers disconnected. The stereo signals were routed straight through the FET-10, bypassing the Lexicon except for its subwoofer outputs. This complicated things a bit by placing the front channels and the subwoofers under separate control, which meant that each time I changed the FET-10's gain, I had to also readjust the subwoofer level at the Lexicon. For that reason, I set the CD player's volume (at Zero recorded level) at a nominal average peak SPL of 95dB, matched the subwoofer level by measurement and by ear (they agreed), and from then on changed only the level control on the pink-noise generator or tape player as necessary to match their levels to the CD source. (The front channels operate full-range in this setup, adding a certain amount of extra energy in the 70Hz range, but since this midbass coloration affected all signal sources equally, it did not detract from the similarity between them, which was what I was initially interested in.)—J. Gordon Holt

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hollowman's picture

With all the excitement about vinyl these days, it's important to realize how far digital (CD) had progressed in its first decade: from criticism in its first gen. models, to gradual (but universal) praise starting with modded first gen. (Meridian, Mission, etc.)... and so on.
This Sony player still sounds good today.
I'm not sure 16/44.1 playback with the best modern gear (Chord, dCs) is substantially better. If anyone (esp. professional audio reviewers) with Chord/dCS/etc. gear concurrently have access to Sony ES series from early 90s, please spill forth a review.