Disc Players

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Paul Miller  |  Jun 16, 2010
So far there’s been no answer from Yamaha, Pioneer or Sony to the universal Blu-ray behemoths launched by Denon and Marantz. Since they were exclusively reviewed inHi-Fi News [Oct ’09 and Dec ’09], the £4500 DVD-A1UD and £5000 UD9004 have only been joined by slightly cheaper variants from the same stable. Although Marantz’s £2450 UD8004 could hardly be described as ‘cheap’. Instead, the first truly entry-level universal disc player has been launched from leftfield, from where no-one was looking – courtesy of the restless but hugely talented engineering team at Cambridge Audio.
Ed Selley  |  Jul 08, 2011
Well thought out and far more than simply a 'budget' product Designed by The Audio Partnership in central London and manufactured in large volumes in the Far East for distribution worldwide (including an exclusive deal with Richer Sounds in the UK), Cambridge Audio products have become synonymous with good performance at a competitive price. The Azur component range was revamped substantially a couple of years ago. Soon after its introduction we featured this Azur 650C player alongside its partnering 650A integrated amplifier in our Nov ’09 Group Test. To recap, while a bit more expensive than the 640 models they replaced, they featured a fresh-up and wholly improved design with wrap-around casework and substantial alloy fascias that belied their (still modest) price tags.
Ed Selley  |  Nov 19, 2011
Universal playback, 3D and a huge feature set for £800? Cambridge Audio are at it again. The story here begins with Cambridge’s first universal player, the £400 Azur 650BD [HFN Jun ’10], which set the benchmark for sub- £1000 players. So while the 650BD lives on, albeit temporarily, the new £800 751BD is very definitely its high-end big brother. Like its sibling, the 751BD handles CD (HDCD), DVD-V, DVD-A, SACD and BD media, now including 3D movie discs.
Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Dec 02, 2019
hfncommendedIs the no-frills CD player/amplifier combo making a comeback? Cambridge Audio is not alone in thinking so, but its latest AX series also looks to offer uncommonly good value

Whether a car, hi-fi component or a general electronic gadget, the promise of 'trickle-down' technology from a flagship model is always an alluring prospect. Cambridge Audio is the latest to claim such an advantage, with the assertion that its new AX models 'take design and innovation cues from the CX and Edge [HFN Nov '18] hi-fi ranges'.

Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Nov 07, 2014
The 752BD is an evolution of Cambridge’s successful 751BD [HFN Aug ’11]. There’s now an HDMI input on the front and the legends have gone from bright white to subtle grey, but they are otherwise identical twins. The 752BD is based on the popular MediaTek platform whose current incarnation includes the latest Marvell Qdeo video processor, giving the 752BD 4K upscaling, 2D to 3D conversionand 24fps conversion for DVDs andBlu-ray movies. Sonically too, much of the new machine is a direct port over from its predecessor.
Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Jan 30, 2015
Back in the 1980s, Compact Disc’s tantalising promise of ‘perfect sound forever’ was taken as gospel in many quarters. However, one man was dissatisfied with its performance and set about improving matters with typical fervour. The engineer in question was Stan Curtis of Cambridge Audio and the result of his labours was the CD1 player. Introduced in 1984, it effectively changed the face of CD reproduction – and not just due to its multi-box construction.
Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 10, 2021
hfncommendedWhat is the connection between this Slovakian-built CD player/DAC and global turntable giant Pro-Ject, and does its triode tube output stage give it an edge?

In the music business, an eight-year wait between albums might give fans cause for concern and raise fears of 'issues' behind the scenes. But we have no such worries about the similar gap betwewen Canor's latest CD player and its predecessor – it's all par for the course for this Slovakian marque. Since arriving in 1995 with the TP101 amplifier (under the brand name Edgar), this self-proclaimed tube specialist has developed a modest catalogue, always at its own pace and with little apparent attention paid to current hi-fi 'trends'. So the promise of the CD 2.10 is firmly rooted in physical CD playback, and a sound informed by Canor's love of tubes, a well-regarded DAC and its detailed attention to build and finish.

John Bamford and Paul Miller  |  Jun 08, 2011
Rugged construction, distinctive cosmetic design and the inclusion of a valve output stage combine to make this luxurious CD player stand out from the crowd Ever since the introduction of the compact disc format – the early 1980s, if you can remember so far back – audio perfectionists have argued there’s something ‘not quite right’ about the fidelity of sound it produces. The fact is, despite CD’s finite resolution capability, we’ve all got at least a few discs in our collections that blow our socks off. Wouldn’t you agree? Nevertheless, to tweak its sound, to ensure that CDs sounded more organic and less matter-of-fact, specialist manufacturers far and wide have long experimented with various digital filter implementations and designed proprietary analogue output stages for their players in an attempt to sweeten the sound of what analogue lovers disparagingly refer to as ‘digititus’. The first to make a CD spinner with high-end pretentions that employed valves in its output stage was California Audio Labs.
Paul Miller  |  Oct 14, 2010
It is no longer sufficient to offer a mere CD player, or even a CD/SACD player when time comes to tempt the well-heeled and digitally-inclined audiophile. Instead, the modern disc spinner must also service a wide range of alternative and necessarily higher resolution digital sources. Machines like the Chapter Audio Sonnet-S featured here are better described as flexible outboard DACs equipped with a mechanism to support the 16-bit granddaddy of all 5in discs. The CD player is dead, long live the CD player.
Ken Kessler & Paul Miller  |  Jan 05, 2009
It amuses me immeasurably that there’s a flood of new high-end CD players when the format is under serious threat. Even that über-geek bible, Wired, recently ran a blog titled ‘Vinyl May Be Final Nail in CD’s Coffin’ – rich stuff coming from the most digitised read on earth. So, are audiophiles now being implored to buy our ‘final’ CD players? In the face of MP3, high-def discs and other threats, there are still billions of CDs out there. And I can tell you right now that many of us will not be replacing our collections again.
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’.
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.
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.
Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 07, 2019
hfnoutstandingThe high-tech Cambridgeshire company has added a dedicated CD/SACD transport to its Rossini range – and it, and the updated DAC, are remarkably flexible devices

AdCS Rossini CD player? Doesn't the company already have one of those, usable as either a standalone device or as a transport for its range of digital-to-analogue converters? Well yes, and the Rossini Player continues in the range as a pure Red Book device because, at the time it was developed, dCS was unable to source a suitable SACD/CD combination transport.

Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Nov 11, 2014
Flagship front-ends don’t come bigger than the multi-box dCS Vivaldi, comprising an upsampling CD/SACD digital Transport, an outboard DAC, outboard Upsampler and dual-mode Clock. Its new industrial design is realised in spectacular, sweeping curves and matching, full-colour TFT displays (albeit run in greyscale). Each box has a limited range of soft-touch buttons to navigate through the various configuration menus. There’s a heavy alloy IR remote but most users will gravitate towards the dCS app available on the iPod/iPhone/iPad, Android, Mac OS X and Windows PC platforms.

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