Stereophile's Products of 1992 Digital Source

Digital Source of 1992:

Mark Levinson No.30 D/A processor ($13,950; reviewed by Robert Harley, Vol.15 No.2, February 1992; Jack English, Vol.15 No.7, July 1992 Review)

It's ironic that, ten years after the launch of the CD medium, we are still witnessing a furious and passionate improvement in the standard of digital replay. Yet, when I first heard the Mark Levinson No.30 processor, I thought that at last there would be a bit of a breathing space. For, coupled with a resolution of detail that seemed to belie the limited CD encoding standard, the No.30 offers a freedom from listening fatigue that I hitherto had only heard from excellent LP playback systems. On the few occasions that I've had this beast at home, its subsequent departure has been a cause for public displays of grief. The No.30 is digital audio engineering taken to the limit of what is currently possible. (At an outrageous price, notes Jack English.)

It might be thought that, with the improved definition for the CD medium offered by Sony's Super Bit Mapping and Pacific Microsonics' High Definition Compatible Digital (HDCD) techniques (see "Industry Update," August and November 1992), purchase of a high-quality DAC would be moot. But what these new techniques have in common is that their sonic benefits will only be realized when these discs are played back through a D/A processor with correspondingly good resolution of low-level information. Use a cheap CD player with a high-resolution CD and you get low-resolution CD sound. We're on the brink, I feel, of the first major improvement in domestic digital sound quality since the medium's launch. "Perfect Sound Forever?" The No.30 is there waiting to make it more perfect.

Finalists (in alphabetical order

JVC XL-Z1050TN CD player ($800; reviewed by Corey Greenberg & Thomas J. Norton, Vol.15 No.2, February 1992)
Linn Karik/Numerik CD player ($5790; reviewed by Robert Harley, Vol.15 No.1, January 1992 Review)
Theta DS Pro Generation 3 D/A processor ($5400; reviewed by Robert Harley & Lewis Lipnick, Vol.15 No.10, October 1992)
Theta Data CD transport ($2400; reviewed by Robert Harley, Vol.14 No.11, November 1991; Lewis Lipnick, Vol.15 No.10, October 1992 Review)

dalethorn's picture

Sonus Faber speaker: I bought their first headphone, the Pryma ($550) in 2015, yet it's still essentially unknown months later in headphone circles. So do I assume their speakers have fallen out of audiophile favor?

Spica SC-30 budget speakers: I think Stereophile's earlier reviews of the Advent and the FMI-80 fell into this category, or maybe even moreso.

michael green's picture

Thank you Stereophile for the mention and Guy for the fun listening! "92" was an exciting time!

michael green