Disc Players

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Ed Selley  |  Aug 27, 2011  |  0 comments
Audio Analogue Maestro Elegant Italian has the technical ability and the sonic skills to charm our blind-listening panel Audio Analogue’s Maestro range represents the pinnacle of its achievements: the Special Edition power amplifiers that carry the same badge cost in the region of £20,000. The Maestro CD player is the penultimate Audio Analogue disc-spinner, second only to the SE version which comes in at twice the price. Our test model is the second revision of the design, or CD192/24 REV2. 0 as they call it in the technical dept.
Ed Selley  |  Aug 27, 2011  |  0 comments
Densen B-420XS Naim-esque Dane with a sublime design and stunning remote is high on pace and energy In many respects Densen is Denmark’s answer to Naim; it eschews feature counting, but provides upgradeable power supplies on its amplifiers and emphasises that audio components should be all about enjoying the music. We couldn’t agree more with that sentiment, so the question is; does this latest version of the company’s midrange player provide enough entertainment to warrant its asking price? One factor that you have to consider when it comes to price is he remote handset. The Gizmo, as its dubbed, adds £150 to the cost of the player so is not a minor consideration. It is beautiful, but a plastic ‘freebie’ could be just as practical in this day and age.
Ed Selley  |  Aug 27, 2011  |  0 comments
Hanss Acoustics CD-20 Digital player from the analogue expert is well priced and impressive for its upsampling capacity Hanss Acoustics made its debut in these pages with the T-30 turntable (HFC 331), one of three high-mass, multi-motor designs that it produces. Despite the presence of phono stages and even a record-cleaner in the range, it’s not just an analogue company, as the CD player proves. Like the turntables, the CD-20 is a substantial beast with high build and finish quality for the asking price. In fact, the all-metal remote, which is styled to match the player, is the most attractive in the test.
Ed Selley  |  Jul 07, 2011  |  0 comments
Universally yours Oppo’s new universal supports CD/SACD, DVD-A, networked AV and 3D Blu-ray. But it’s the sound quality that makes it so special, says Martin Pipe Universal disc players have always been a distraction from CD-only machines. They offer incredible value and with CD now in decline, the case for buying is growing. Relative newcomer Oppo has launched a rather special unit with audiophiles firmly in mind.
Ed Selley  |  Jun 16, 2011  |  0 comments
Split the difference DACs are all the rage (again), so we ask if two boxes can be better than one? Ed Selley seeks answers from Musical Fidelity’s two-box M1 Musical Fidelity has returned from its latest period of reinvention on something of a roll and the rapid release of new products shows no signs of abating. Following on from the headphone and integrated amps, this is our first experience of the new range of digital products from the company. The M1 DAC has been on sale for a few months now, but has recently been joined by the partnering M1 CDT. This is a brand new product and is, perhaps, the more unusual one of the two.
Ed Selley  |  Mar 28, 2011  |  0 comments
Emotional rescue Italian stalwart Monrio has a refreshingly honest design philosophy when it comes to hi-fi. Jason Kennedy gets passionate about the stylish TL 2 Monrio is an Italian company with a refreshingly honest aim, “Our pretension is neither to bring a real listening experience to your house – it is not possible to do it – nor to imitate the reality but to represent it in the best possible way. ” Few companies have the strength of character to be this open about their approach. It does, of course, grant Monrio founder Giovanni Gadzola licence to make highly personal products, but the fact that he has been selling them for over three decades suggests that his tastes are not unique.
Ed Selley  |  Dec 12, 2010  |  0 comments
Arcam CD37 - £1,300 SACD playback has a low profile in the case of the CD37, but the presence of a Wolfson DAC is definitely a bonus As SACD players go, this one is remarkably low key. There is an SACD logo on the front, but it’s not immediately obvious and the legend at top right clearly says ‘Compact Disc Player’. But it does handle the hi-res discs, thanks to a DAC which handles DSD (the SACD ‘bitstream’ format) in native mode. That’s an interesting detail, as most DACs these days convert both high-bit PCM (CD, DVD-A etc.
Ed Selley  |  Dec 12, 2010  |  0 comments
Cambridge Audio Azur 650BD - £400 The budget-priced player of the bunch, the 650BD is remarkably good value and holds its own admirably Is it hi-fi, is it home cinema, or is it a bit of home computer equipment? In the days of Blu-ray, USB and internet with everything, the Azur 650BD is all three – with bells on. The 10 front-panel logos denoting specific technologies suggest at once that this is a pretty well-featured unit, while closer investigation doesn’t disappoint. It handles almost every variation of silver disc – CD, SACD, DVD and Blu-ray. Despite that, the insides are not really any busier than most CD- only players.
Ed Selley  |  Dec 12, 2010  |  0 comments
Marantz SA8003 - £829 Marantz's reputation for its own 'house sound' is on show here with a player that fares well against the competition Marantz used to append the great man’s initials to models ‘breathed on’ by Ken Ishiwata, but there’s nothing in the nomenclature to give that away here. In fact, this is basically a souped-up SA7003, sharing a basic spec, but adding touches like the copper-plated chassis, toroidal mains transformer and a sprinkling of audiophile passive components. Speaking of components, this player is decidedly old-fashioned-looking inside, with the majority of electronic parts being through-hole types. There are quite a lot of discrete transistors around, made up into Marantz’s trademark HDAM circuit, which performs the same function as the more common op-amp chips, but (we’re assured) to a higher standard.
Ed Selley  |  Dec 12, 2010  |  0 comments
Oppo BDP83SE (NuForce Special Edition. ) - £1,295 With a long tradition in audio excellence, the Oppo is reborn with impressive credentials and new software Oppo is not a name that we’ve had a lot of exposure to, but there’s been a buzz in cyberspace about this particular model. It’s rumoured to be one of the most capable multi-format players around. The story goes that Oppo used to make a standard BD83, then upgraded it to Special Edition status, then discontinued the non-SE due to problems sourcing parts.
Ed Selley  |  Dec 12, 2010  |  0 comments
Yamaha CD-S1000 - £899 An impressive audio performance makes this Yamaha a worthy contender with its more illustrious peers As big, heavy and imposing CD players go, this is one of the biggest, heaviest and most imposing, at least among affordable machines. The front panel’s only slightly bigger than most, but the depth of the unit is remarkable and its use of extensive reinforcement in the base makes it quite something to lift. We particularly like the ultra-slim CD tray (which opens and shuts almost noiselessly) and the oh-so-retro mains switch. The insides are surprisingly well filled, too.
Ed Selley  |  Dec 07, 2010  |  0 comments
A reason to love CD As Richard Black discovers, Audiolab's new CD player ups the ante with a host of technological innovations Well, it’s a funny old world. Here we are with CD allegedly dead in the water and one of the most keenly-awaited products in a while is a – wait for it – CD player! The experienced audiophile won’t be too surprised at that, given the history of LP replay since the 1980s. And, as for the brand that’s making the splash, Audiolab has been on and off the radar a bit over the years, including the spell as TAG McLaren Audio and is now very keen to ensure a lively future by launching eye-catching products. So just what’s so eye-catching about a CD player? Basically two things: funky new design and internal technology.
Ed Selley  |  Oct 22, 2010  |  0 comments
Hi-fi’s own HD box Theta's Compli Blu is a state-of-the-art universal (Blu-ray) disc player that, says Alvin Gold, brings HDMI into an audiophile context What is your view of the ideal disc player? There are a number of possible answers to this, but definitely high on the list would be those models that bridge the apparently irreconcilable gap that distinguishes the various flavours of both the audio and video disc with the minimum loss of fidelity. Using versatility and performance as yardsticks, this new model from Theta potentially, at least, comes near the top of the list and, perhaps, at the absolute pinnacle. How so? Well this is a high-end transport which can be used as a full standalone player. It’s happy dealing with almost any 12cm disc that is round and silver, be it audio or video.
Ed Selley  |  Oct 08, 2010  |  0 comments
Bigger on the inside Pro-Ject expands its super-affordable Box Series with a new £300 CD player and Richard Black reckons small is beautiful How small can a CD player be? If it’s a portable with a flip lid and just one mini-jack output, the answer is little more than ten millimetres thick and a fraction bigger than the diameter of a CD. But we don’t reckon front-loading players will ever come much smaller than this Pro-Ject, which has a top surface just 50 per cent bigger than one CD jewel case and height (including feet) equivalent to four of them. It’s magic What’s the trick? The transport is of course a slot-loader, which saves a lot of the space that a tray would take up and the electronics portion is a single board, about 15mm by 150mm – with a grand total of six integrated circuits on it, including power regulators. The slight cheat is the external power supply; Pro-Ject’s usual wall-wart which outputs 16v AC.
Ed Selley  |  Sep 26, 2010  |  0 comments
Point of reference The CD player we have used as reference for nine years is being replaced by this CD/streamer 'music centre' and Jason Kennedy is gripped Resolution Audio’s Opus 21 has been a reference CD player for us since it’s introduction at the turn of the century. This diminutive two-box unit gives more detail, dynamics and sheer musicality than most and we will be very sad to see it go. Or, at least, we will be, if we can’t get our hands on its replacement the Cantata Music Centre. Because not only does this new player look incredible, it also manages to up the sonic ante to an unprecedented degree.

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