CD Player/Transport Reviews

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John Atkinson  |  Apr 11, 2022  |  0 comments
Michael Fremer wrote about the Paradox phono preamplifier in the March 2022 Analog Corner, Jim Austin reviewed the CH Precision D1.5 CD/SACD player/transport in March 2022, and Herb Reichert included the EJ Jordan Marlow standmount speaker in his April 2022 Gramophone Dreams column. All three products get further coverage in Stereophile's May 2022 issue.
Ken Micallef  |  Apr 08, 2022  |  15 comments
In the 1990s, I was a globetrotter, interviewing musicians in diverse locales for several publications. My habit when arriving in London was to hit the duty-free shops for Cuban Montecristo cigars, move on to the newsagent for the latest issues of Hi-Fi News and Hi-Fi Choice, then take a leisurely romp through Oranges & Lemons, Richer Sounds, and Sevenoaks Sound & Vision—three major London audio stores.
Jim Austin  |  Feb 16, 2022  |  26 comments
There's a school of thought that maintains that among all hi-fi components, the D/A converter is easiest to perfect or come close to perfecting. Just make sure that every sample is converted accurately, that there's little rolloff in the audioband, that aliased images are suppressed almost completely, and that background noise is extremely low, and you have a top-quality D/A processor. Use of a high-quality DAC chip is assumed.
John Atkinson  |  Nov 16, 2020  |  First Published: Dec 01, 2020  |  3 comments
Three products are the subjects of lengthy followup reviews in the December issue of Stereophile: MBL's Noble Line N31 CD player-D/A processor, the GoldenEar BRX loudspeaker, and Alta Audio's Alyssa loudspeaker.
Herb Reichert  |  Mar 06, 2020  |  19 comments
The Quad Electroacoustics Ltd. Artera Solus is a multifunction audio component that was designed to look smart on top of a bureau in a living room or office. It comes with a thick, removable smoked-glass top that complements its compact dimensions. It weighs 25lb, and, in addition to being attractive, feels genuinely solid and well-made. Like its Artera-series stablemates, the Artera Solus strikes an intriguing engineering and aesthetic balance between decorator-friendly lifestyle product and serious audiophile product worthy of the Quad name.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Feb 21, 2020  |  9 comments
In an era when polar opposites compete as absolutes, it can be a challenge to acknowledge the different and equally valid ways in which audiophiles approach musical truth. But the reality is that our perceptions of how reproduced music should sound are determined, to a large extent, by how we approach the live experience.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Dec 19, 2019  |  45 comments
What kind of creature is this? Gryphon Audio Designs' new Ethos ($39,000)—pronounced EE-toss by its Danish manufacturers—is marketed as a CD player and digital-to-analog converter. It's decidedly au courant in that it includes two 32-bit/768kHz ES9038PRO Sabre DAC chips—one for each channel—with each holding eight individual DAC chips; offers optional upsampling to either 24/384 PCM or DSD128; and decodes up to 32/384 PCM and quadruple DSD (DSD512) via its USB input, or up to 24/192 (and no DSD) via AES/EBU or S/PDIF.
John Atkinson  |  Apr 23, 2019  |  23 comments
The good-sounding products that pass through a reviewer's system fall into three categories: those he liked but felt little sense of loss about when they were sent back to the manufacturer or distributor; those he loved and could afford to purchase; and those he loved but that were financially out of reach. The Rossini Player from British company dCS, which I reviewed along with the Rossini Clock in our December 2016 issue, was an example of this last category: the Player costs $28,499, the Clock $7499.
Ken Micallef  |  Dec 06, 2018  |  6 comments
In the early 1990s, the Compact Disc was all the rage, and vinyl records were being executed en masse. Thirty years later, and oh, how our tables have turned. Mint first pressings of tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley's 1957 album Hank Mobley (Blue Note BLP 1568), which once could be had for $40, now bring upward of $8000. Each. Vinyl continues to enjoy a global resurgence of popularity, while CD sales have plummeted to all-time lows.

What happened? Apparently, yesterday's pops and ticks are today's "warmth," Record Store Day exclusives, and skyrocketing vinyl values. All things old . . .

Art Dudley  |  Aug 16, 2018  |  80 comments
Some of my reviewer colleagues would have you believe that negative reviews are the most difficult of all to write, and that positive reviews fairly write themselves. What nonsense!

As I write this, my copy deadline is three days away, yet I've succeeded at crafting little more than my heading (easy enough: it's just the product's name, followed by my name) and my Associated Equipment sidebar (also easy), leaving a great expanse of nothing in between. That's mostly because the Kalista DreamPlay One, a two-box CD player whose $43,000 price might once have kept me from even considering it as a real-world product, has stunned me into a sort of paralysis: I feel that anything I write will be inadequate to the task.

Art Dudley  |  May 17, 2018  |  3 comments
I've been looking at this all wrong.

My recent informal survey of ca $10,000 CD players has been based on two assumptions: that the people reading those reviews would be looking for their last-ever CD player, and that such a purchase would require Serious Money.

In addition to such things as the best available design and parts, the most luxurious enclosure, and the utmost in reliability, Serious Money is presumed to buy durability of value: Any appliance that costs $10,000 today had damn well better be worth more than nothing in five or ten years.

Art Dudley  |  Jan 23, 2018  |  1 comments
For all its faults—complex grammar, inconsistent rules of pronunciation, burdensomely endless vocabulary—English has proven itself a commendably plastic language. This is good for audio enthusiasts, in the US and elsewhere, whose choices in playback gear continue to evolve not only in substance and function but in name: Unlike many of the people who speak it, English can keep pace with the changes.
John Atkinson  |  Jan 18, 2018  |  5 comments
MBL's Corona C15 monoblock has been one of my amplification references since I reviewed it in 2014, and as I've been reviewing DACs the past year or so, it was high time I spent time with one of the German company's digital products.

"Black shiny products are tough to photograph at shows, so trust me when I say the new N31 is dripping with gorgeousness not reflected in this photo," wrote Jon Iverson in his report from the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show. And when I unpacked my review sample of the Noble Line N31 ($15,400), I was indeed taken with its looks.

John Atkinson  |  Nov 28, 2017  |  1 comments
Back in May 2014, I reviewed NAD's Masters Series M50 Digital Music Player ($2499) and M52 Digital Music Vault ($1999 with 2TB storage). At the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show, NAD announced the M50.2, which is almost identical to the original M50 but now incorporates two 2TB hard disks, arranged as a 2TB RAID array, to ensure data integrity, and adds TosLink and coaxial digital inputs, Bluetooth with aptX for streaming music from a smartphone or tablet, and two single-ended analog inputs—all for $3999, or $499 less than the combined cost of the two earlier products. Like the M50, the M50.2 offers WiFi and Ethernet connectivity, and has a CD drive, accessible via a slot on the front panel under the color TFT touchscreen, that can be used to play CDs, or rip them as FLAC, WAV, or high-bit-rate MP3 files.
Art Dudley  |  Nov 02, 2017  |  10 comments
By no means could I undertake a survey of candidates for Your Last Perfectionist-Quality CD player—so far, my ongoing series of reviews has focused on models from Audio Note, Bryston, EAR, Luxman, and Metronome—without including Naim Audio. After all, it was Naim that brought to market the first really good-sounding CD player of my experience: the two-box CDS, introduced in 1991 at a then-staggering price of $6999. In doing so, they convinced me that a digital future might not be so bad after all.

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