CD Player/Transport Reviews

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Michael Fremer  |  Sep 10, 2020  |  First Published: Aug 01, 1998  |  19 comments
"Something's coming, I don't know what it is, but it is gonna be great!"—Tony, West Side Story

While the Sharks and the Jets rumble in the consumer electronics playground, knife-fighting for supremacy in the next software go-round, in 1998 we're still living in the 16-bit/44.1kHz audio world, and will be doing so for the foreseeable future. Maybe your idea of audio bliss is listening to the equivalent of computing with a Commodore 64, but it's not mine.

Larry Greenhill  |  Feb 12, 2009  |  0 comments
Bryston's first CD player, the $2695 BCD-1, is a drawer-loading player with a front panel of polished aluminum. The slim disc drawer, engraved with the Bryston logo, sits in the panel's center. To the drawer's left are an infrared sensor and Open/Close button, then a two-line, 16-character alphanumeric display. To the drawer's right are the usual transport controls and a power On/Off button. All of these functions are also accessible via the BCD-1's remote control, as well as two more: Back and Forward. Hold down either and the player moves through the selected track at several times normal speed until the button is released.
Art Dudley  |  Jul 20, 2017  |  13 comments
The English saying "putting the cat among the pigeons" has an obvious meaning in a general sense, but when applied to commerce it conveys something more specific: bringing to market a product that will make mincemeat of the competition, presumed complacent by comparison.

The phrase winked at me from the margins of an e-mail I received last year from Gary Dayton, Bryston Audio's VP of sales and marketing, whom I know from my visits to the Montreal Audio Fest. Referring to my ongoing series of reviews of ca-$10,000 CD players—the best of which one might consider for the title The Last CD Player You'll Ever Buy—Dayton suggested I have a listen to his company's new BCD-3, which retails for the comparatively low price of $3495. I accepted almost at once, and set about adjusting an English saying for a Canadian product: With the BCD-3, has Bryston succeeded in putting the wolverine among the loons?

Brian Damkroger  |  Dec 15, 2003  |  First Published: Dec 01, 2003  |  0 comments
At what point does a high price become exorbitant? When do you start doing double takes, to make sure you haven't mentally moved a decimal point? When do you look at something and think, "No matter how good it may be, it's just not worth that much money"?
Kalman Rubinson  |  Apr 01, 2007  |  First Published: Dec 01, 1999  |  0 comments
My first exposure to Burmester electronics was some years back at a New York Hi-Fi Show, where they were powering a pair of B&W 801s and impressed the hell out of me. But Burmester's distribution seemed sporadic and the prices beyond my consideration, so I put them out of my mind.
Jonathan Scull  |  May 18, 1995  |  0 comments
Fantasy review time. I first heard about the C.E.C. TL 0 in the May '94 Stereophile (Vol.17 No.5), in Audio Mogul Richard Schram's Manufacturer's Comment to my review of the C.E.C. TL 1. I wasn't sure if he was kidding when he threatened the world with a cost-no-object $17,500 CD transport. Just what we all need!
Robert Harley  |  Jun 06, 2006  |  First Published: Jul 06, 1993  |  0 comments
I find it astonishing that two products built on completely opposing engineering principles can both have musical merit. Design goals exalted by one company are considered anathema by another, yet both components produce superb sonic results.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Dec 07, 2009  |  First Published: Jan 07, 1991  |  0 comments
The face was different, but the look was familiar. It should have been. The $2395 Aria Mk.III is a close cousin to the Aria II that I'd hung around with for about two years. Same sense of style, same heart of tubes. CAL Audio apparently made it what it is today, from the ground up. They even designed its transport and transport-drive circuitry in-house (footnote 1). In a high-end world which has gone increasingly to separate digital processors, CAL has been, up till now, a conspicuous holdout. They've only recently introduced their first outboard converter, and have in the past argued in favor of the all-in-one player. Something about reduced jitter from all the timing circuits being under one roof.
Brian Damkroger  |  Aug 05, 2007  |  First Published: Nov 05, 1998  |  0 comments
It was inevitable that I'd encounter the California Audio Labs CL-15 in my search for a CD player priced less than stratospherically. CAL was one of the first companies to hit the market with a high-end CD player, and they've been building great-sounding digital gear ever since. What's more, the CL-15's predecessor was the Icon PowerBoss Mk.II HDCD, a longtime personal favorite. I was particularly curious to see how the CAL would stack up against today's competition. I've been impressed with CAL products over the years—the original Sigma, the Delta, the DX-1 and 2, and, of course, the Icon. On the other hand, the competition—players like the Rega Planet, Arcam's Alpha 8 and Alpha 9, and Ultech's UCD 100—has improved dramatically since I last heard the Icon.
Robert J. Reina  |  Feb 27, 2005  |  First Published: Jun 27, 1996  |  0 comments
I have always been a dyed-in-the-wool vinyl fan, committed to the superiority of analog over current 44kHz/16-bit CD technology. Nevertheless, I have been surprised at how greatly the sound of CD has improved over the past 10 years. By 1994, digital had gotten much closer to analog than I had ever expected, which was a good thing, as 1994 also saw the disappearance of the LP as a medium for obtaining new releases of mainstream recordings. But over the last two years, I've noticed some interesting phenomena: More turntables, tonearms, and cartridges started to become available, at least in the high-end arena. Audiophiles and, to a lesser extent, segments of the general music-loving public, began clamoring for new vinyl releases. Specialty labels, such as Classic Records and Acoustic Sounds, started to reissue premium vinyl releases of classical, jazz, and pop classics at reasonable prices. And major labels again began to offer vinyl versions of major pop releases.
John Atkinson  |  Oct 01, 1995  |  First Published: Oct 01, 1986  |  0 comments
"A thing divine—for nothing natural I ever saw so noble."
Thomas J. Norton  |  Jul 26, 2010  |  First Published: Oct 26, 1988  |  0 comments
Snickering was heard from the major consumer electronics purveyors when California Audio Labs came out with the original Tempest, their first CD player using tube output stages. But not from the audiophile community. It was, all things considered, an inevitable product; I'm certainly not the only one who wondered—before the emergence of California Audio Labs—who would be the first to build such a unit. The obvious candidates were Audio Research or Conrad-Johnson. But those companies apparently read the audio tea-leaves and, perhaps perceiving the early high-end hostility toward the new format, apparently decided to bide their time. (With regards to tube players, they're still biding it, though C-J has had a prototype player up and running for some time.)
Guy Lemcoe  |  Oct 07, 2020  |  First Published: Feb 01, 1991  |  7 comments
At $1295, the Tercet Mk.III represents a step up from CAL's $750 Icon, which I enthusiastically recommended back in April 1990 (Vol.13 No 4, footnote 1). Externally, with the exception of a wider and slightly thicker front panel, it appears to be a carbon copy of that unit. Like the other products in California Audio Lab's stable, the Tercet Mk.III is designed from the ground up in-house.
Martin Colloms  |  Jun 18, 2014  |  First Published: Apr 01, 1987  |  0 comments
Four years after its launch, the CD medium would appear to have come of age, at least in production terms. Annual player manufacture is now big business, and there is hardly a major audio brand without a CD machine to its name—even such analog stalwarts as Audio-Technica and Shure have succumbed.
Brian Damkroger  |  May 16, 2004  |  First Published: May 01, 2004  |  0 comments
The CD-303/200 is a stout, handsome unit with a thick front panel of black-anodized aluminum (silver is also available) and a beefy, epoxy-coated aluminum chassis. Even the remote control—a heavy aluminum unit with multi-function, backlit buttons—screams "Quality!" Curiously, however, the remote is clad in chrome plate, rather than brushed aluminum or anodized black to match the player. The coup de grace is the CD-303/200's transport mechanism, a Philips CDM12, which is good enough as is; Cary addition of a thick, machined drawer warmed this metallurgist's heart.

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