CD Player/Transport Reviews

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Robert Harley  |  Apr 10, 2005  |  First Published: Jun 10, 1996  |  1 comments
All the action in digital playback for the past seven years has taken place in separate transports and digital processors. Nearly all high-end manufacturers have focused their skills on perfecting the individual elements of the digital playback chain—transports and processors—rather than on designing integrated CD players.
Wes Phillips  |  Aug 07, 2005  |  First Published: Dec 07, 1995  |  0 comments
Walking through the circus that was WCES '95 was like undergoing total neural-synaptic overload. I felt hard-pressed to just keep my head above water separating good sound from bad. Trying to piece together a coherent picture of the show, I jotted down the components in the best systems that I'd heard, and a few items popped up with astonishing regularity. One of these was Audio Research's single-chassis CD player, the CD-1.
Dick Olsher  |  Dec 18, 2015  |  First Published: Jun 01, 1995  |  5 comments
In 1995, as the compact disc enters its second decade of commercial reality, it's fair to say that the associated hardware has come of age, exorcising at last the digital gremlins of time-base jitter and quantization noise. Digital-processor maturation is particularly evident in the design of the all-critical D/A processor. The simplistic digital circuitry of yesterday has given way to considerable design sophistication that deals directly with jitter and low-level nonlinearities.
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  |  Apr 03, 2009  |  First Published: Apr 03, 1995  |  0 comments
The Krell KPS-20i (KPS stands for "Krell Playback System") is essentially a CD transport and digital processor in one chassis. What make the KPS-20i different from a CD player are the unit's five digital inputs, which allow the KPS-20i to function as a digital/analog converter for external digital sources.
Steven Stone  |  Apr 05, 2018  |  First Published: Feb 01, 1995  |  9 comments
The Greek myth of Odysseus has always been a favorite of mine. For an audiophile looking for a CD transcription system under $2500, it seems to be an especially appropriate metaphor. Almost all the units I've heard since CD's inception fall into one of two camps: the Sirens or the Rocks.

For those of you not up on your Greek mythology, the Sirens were the archetypal seductresses whose sweet songs lured sailors to drive their ships upon the rocks. Siren CD players are those that soften and sweeten the sound. Their primary purpose is to seduce, to give a false sense of comfort to their victims; their fidelity to the truth is secondary to their desire to elicit a positive emotional reaction.

Sam Tellig, Various  |  Jun 30, 1995  |  First Published: Jun 30, 1994  |  0 comments
"You are not going to believe this."
Robert Harley  |  Dec 04, 2010  |  First Published: Mar 15, 1994  |  0 comments

It seems to me that it should be possible to make a perfectly jitter-free CD transport without resorting to elaborate, expensive mechanical structures. This idealized transport would ignore all mechanical considerations of disc playback—vibration damping and isolation, for example—and simply put a jitter-free electrical driver at the transport output. If such a circuit could be made, it wouldn't care about how bad the signal recovered from the disc was (provided the recovered data were error-free). The circuit would just output a perfect, jitter-free S/PDIF signal. The result would be the sound quality of the $8500 Mark Levinson No.31 Reference CD transport in $200 machines. Such a scheme would provide an electrical solution to what has been considered largely a mechanical problem.

But back in the real world there's no doubt that attention to mechanical aspects of transport design affects sound quality. Examples abound: listening to Nakamichi's 1000 CD transport with its Acoustic Isolation door open and closed; playing the Mark Levinson No.31 with the top open; and putting any transport on isolation platforms or feet are only a few of the dozens of experiences I have had that suggest that mechanical design is of utmost importance.

Robert Harley  |  Nov 29, 2010  |  First Published: Jan 15, 1994  |  0 comments
So many things in this world are designed for convenience, not for excellence. That's all right if you have a choice, but it becomes a problem when products designed for convenience become universal standards and are thus foisted on everyone—including enthusiasts, who must then live with a product aimed at the lowest common denominator.

The digital interface between CD transports and digital processors is a perfect example of this dilemma. The Sony/Philips Digital Interface Format (S/PDIF) standard was designed so that connecting two digital products required only one cable. This single cable carries left and right audio channels as well as the timing clock essential to making the system work.

Robert Harley  |  Dec 08, 2015  |  First Published: Oct 01, 1993  |  0 comments
It's easy for reviewers to become jaded by the high prices of some audio products. We get the products in our listening rooms—albeit temporarily—without having to part with our own money. Consequently, we get enthusiastic about products that offer real breakthroughs without, perhaps, fully considering their cost.
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.
Robert Harley  |  Apr 11, 2008  |  First Published: Jun 11, 1993  |  0 comments
At a "Meet the Designers" panel discussion at the 1992 Los Angeles Stereophile High-End Hi-Fi Show, I asked a group of successful digital designers (footnote 1) each to state how much of a digital front end's sound quality they believed was due to the transport, digital processor, and interface between the two. There was virtual unanimity: Nearly everyone agreed that a digital processor accounts for about 50% of a digital source's sound quality, the transport 30%, and interface 20%.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Mar 08, 2018  |  First Published: Jun 01, 1993  |  1 comments
Sony's first CD player, the much-maligned CDP-1 (reviewed in Vol.5 No.10), did all the things we'd been promised from CD except deliver perfect sound. It met CD's incredible claims for frequency range and linearity, harmonic and intermodulation distortion, and signal/noise ratio, yet—despite my own initial enthusiasm for it—it proved ultimately to be a disappointing-sounding player (footnote 1). Its sound was rather hard and grainy, and quite spectacularly uninvolving to listen to. But considering that it was the first of its kind, it was a good start despite its many sonic shortcomings (footnote 2).
Robert Harley  |  Apr 12, 2018  |  First Published: Jun 01, 1993  |  2 comments
Whoever invented the adage "Good things come in small packages" wasn't into high-end audio. Most high-end products are huge and heavy, with massive power supplies, thick front panels, and battleship build quality. This dreadnought approach is justified if it directly affects the unit's sonic performance (as in the Mark Levinson No.31 transport, for example). In some products, however, the massive build can reflect a shotgun, overkill approach by the designer, or a mere fashion statement.
Corey Greenberg  |  Aug 29, 1998  |  First Published: Aug 29, 1992  |  0 comments
I think I've finally figured out the secret of Stereophile's success. You, cherished reader, don't read this mag because it's chock full o' reviews of tantalizing audio gear (even though it is). And you don't read this mag because JA and RL strive so hard to keep the literary quotient as hi as the fi (even though they do). And I know you don't read this mag cuz trusting yer own sensory input is a mighty scary proposition indeed so you look to Stereophile as to a Holy Bible that eases your Earthly burden by telling you, Ah say Ah say TAILING YEW what to buy (do you?).

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