Disc Players

Sort By:  Post Date TitlePublish Date
Keith Howard & Paul Miller  |  Feb 16, 2010
Odd timing, you may think. As SACD and DVD-A celebrate – if that’s the word – a decade of underachievement as CD’s putative successor(s), with DVD-A now moribund and SACD reduced to the status of a niche music carrier, Mark Levinson releases its first CD/SACD player. Not a universal player, note – the No512 has no truck with music on DVD-V or DVD-A, let alone BD – nor even one able to unlock the full potential of multichannel SACDs, since it is stereo only. Ironically, Mark Levinson the man, as opposed to Mark Levinson the company (with which he has had no association for many years), has long been a vocal advocate of SACD, but only now does a product bearing his name support the format that, in the interim, has become a cul-de-sac in audio’s tree of life.
Paul Miller  |  Dec 16, 2009
It’s not a coincidence that the second ‘universal’ CD/SACD/DVD-A/BD disc player on the market is from Marantz, the first hailing from Denon in the form of its revolutionary DVD-A1UD [HFN, Oct ’09]. Industry watchers will already know that Denon and Marantz both come under the umbrella of D&M Holdings [see boxout, p37] and that certain core technologies are shared – but only to a point. So let’s be clear at the outset: the £5000 UD9004 is not simply one of Denon’s £4500 DVD-A1UD players housed in black Marantz livery. And what finery, Marantz relocating the litany of logos that underlines Denon’s fascia to its top surface for a more sober facade clearly modelled on its exclusive KI Pearl series [HFN, Sept ’09].
John Bamford & Paul Miller  |  Nov 05, 2009
Audiophile jewellery for the home’ is how Chord Electronics’ founder and CEO John Franks describes the company’s ‘Brilliant’ finish option available for its less costly – but still reassuringly expensive – Choral Series components. It’s an apt description sure enough, pretty much all of the brand’s products exhibiting a quality of fit and finish that is nothing short of immaculate. Nevertheless to describe them as somewhat ‘macho’ would be a considerable understatement. As our own Ken Kessler said in his description of Chord’s original RED Reference player [HFN Jan ’08], ‘… it oozes Chord-ness – that over-engineered, Terminator-meets-Rolex look’.
Steve Harris & Paul Miller  |  Nov 05, 2009
But that would take millions of tubes!’ said a puzzled high-end distributor back in 1986, on first hearing that an American company had launched a valve CD player. He’d have been right, if anyone had really envisaged replacing all the player’s integrated circuits with glowing bottles. It turned out, of course, that California Audio Labs had just added a tube analogue output stage, with gentle passive filtering, to an otherwise conventional player. The CAL Tempest was the first of more than few.
John Bamford & Paul Miller  |  Oct 05, 2009
It’s a fact that McIntosh gear has never been hugely popular this side of the Atlantic as its bold, retro styling appeals only to a minority of European consumers today. If you’re trying to integrate a high quality music system discreetly into a family-friendly living room it’s unlikely you’ll be shopping for a McIntosh. Which is something of a preamble to make the point that McIntosh’s latest MCD301 CD player is every bit a ‘big Mac’, sporting the marque’s traditional livery and looking as ‘macho’ as ever. It’s as American as a Hummer or a Harley alright.
Paul Miller  |  Oct 05, 2009
Convergence between national markets is fueling the development of new, one-size-fits-all AV products at an unprecedented pace, often reducing shelf life to a few short months. New BD players are a case in point. Such is the pace of technology, and the scramble to patch both HDMI and Profile standards, that no sooner had we completed our review of Panasonic’s DMP-BD30 Blu-ray player than its replacement, the DMP-BD50, was announced. So one review was shelved and another immediately instigated.
John Bamford & Paul Miller  |  Sep 05, 2009
One of my less endearing traits, of which I have several according to my long-suffering wife, is that I’m inclined to show off now and again. So when chatting to an acquaintance on the telephone recently I simply couldn’t resist dropping into the conversation that my living room was currently ‘cluttered’ by two outrageously expensive CD players: the £8000 Wadia 381i [see HFN July ’09] and the new £10,000 Oracle CD2500 MkII. Moreover I was going to have to spend several days listening to music on them, using the familiar Wadia as a point of reference, and subsequently write a critique on Oracle’s new baby. Such is a reviewer’s lot.
Keith Howard & Paul Miller  |  Aug 05, 2009
An all too real fissure is developing within the specialist audio industry between those who embrace the emerging paradigm of hi-res music downloads and those who view the whole development, and the role of computer audio in general, with suspicion. Well, here’s a product that bridges the divide. The PS Audio PerfectWave Transport and DAC can – or rather, soon will – meld optical disc replay with the streaming of audio files in a way that will quickly seem natural to anyone familiar with conventional audio components. Actually, each is a stand-alone unit that can be used without the other, but only when they are combined are all their features exploitable.
John Bamford & Paul Miller  |  Aug 05, 2009
There’s something about the look of Wadia components that says, ‘This is mighty serious’. It goes without saying that at £6500 – which is a pretty penny for an integrated player – the 381 is indeed a serious piece of work. But then Wadia CD transports and DACs (and players) have always cost top dollar, much like the products from those cutting-edge British digital specialists dCS. So this is actually Wadia’s ‘budget’ offering, a cost-down version of the £9800 581se CD/SACD player.
Ken Kessler & Paul Miller  |  Aug 05, 2009
However hard they may try, proponents of multichannel music are not going to convince certain audiophiles that anything more than just two channels are needed for sonic bliss. Canadian company Classé, a manufacturer that also produces multichannel players, has taken the decision to produce a top-end two-channel-only CD player – despite its internals employing multichannel components. What it has done, in a breathtaking display of lateral thinking, is force-feed all this capacity into optimised stereo playback. As a result, the CDP-202 has odd capabilities, such as DVD-Audio playback mixed down to stereo, and you can – if you’re the sort who doesn’t object to watching a feature film on a mobile phone – view a video DVD on its front-panel LCD control panel.
Ken Kessler & Paul Miller  |  Jul 05, 2009
Our tendency to attribute the revival in separate transports and DACs to the rise of MP3 players, DAB et al, didn’t anticipate Accustic Arts’ flagship models. Its Reference Series’ TUBE DAC II and DRIVE II offer neither USB nor mini-jacks to suggest the welcoming of lesser/newer digital sources. This pair is almost retro, recalling the earliest, most over-engineered high-end transports and DACs, with valves thrown in for good measure. That they’re handsomely-styled, ergonomically intelligent exemplars of Teutonic build quality goes some way toward accounting for painfully high prices of £6150 for the DAC and £6750 for the transport.
Richard Stevenson & Paul Miller  |  Jun 05, 2009
Sony’s flagship Blu-ray player is a technically advanced and feature-rich beast with a widget for almost every occasion. I say ‘almost’ because Sony has gone to extraordinary lengths to make the BDP-S5000ES a defining statement in silver disc playback, yet has not enabled it to play SACDs. To paraphrase the words of Homer Simpson, d’oh! You see, underneath that rather lush and eminently well put together exterior is a full Profile 2. 0 BD player with a long list of proprietary Sony technologies to enhance your home entertainment pleasure.
Dave Berriman & Paul Miller  |  Jun 05, 2009
Although CD has improved in leaps and bounds since its introduction, the sound initially disappointed many audiophiles and music lovers. One of the first companies to realise that CD replay could be improved was Meridian, giving rise, in 1984, to the Meridian MCD and MCD Pro. Based on a robust Philips mechanism, but with Meridian’s own analogue circuits and oscillator, the MCD Pro really lifted CD sound and a succession of Meridian CD players have continued to set high standards ever since. The CD-only 808 was launched in 2004, but Meridian has developed its replay technology so far since then that it has significantly re-designed and re-launched it as the 808.
Richard Stevenson & Paul Miller  |  May 05, 2009
The battle for supremacy at the top end of the Blu-ray player market is becoming ferocious. Players above £1000 seem to emerge weekly as big name manufacturers attempt to create a definitive statement product from which they will hang, in marketing speak, their more affordable mass-market offerings. You need to be at the cutting edge of the Blu-ray game just to keep up with the Joneses these days. FANCY AUDIO Unless you are Marantz of course.
Andrew Harrison & Paul Miller  |  May 05, 2009
It’s no exaggeration to say that dCS spearheaded – if somewhat reluctantly – the current vogue for upsampling to step-up the sound quality of the humble compact disc. Reluctantly because, as a company founded by earnest IC design engineers, the maths alone couldn’t readily predict any advantage in repackaging the disc’s audio data before conversion into analogue. But improvements were there to be heard, and now many high-end CD players feature upsampling. This may be as much to take advantage of modern DAC silicon which is optimised to work with ‘DVD era’ PCM digital, centred on a 48kHz baseline sample frequency.

Pages

X