Disc Players

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Review: Nick Tate, Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 23, 2019
hfncommendedThis sophisticated, premium-priced streaming CD player and integrated amplifier combo delivers fine sound with sleek Scandinavian style, and consummate ease of use

With its two Wi-Fi aerials protruding from behind, allied to the skinny front control knobs, swish brushed aluminium fascia and three 'podular' feet, there's something very Jetsons about the look of the Primare I35 Prisma network-ready amplifier. It has the appearance – perhaps unintentionally – of a cutting-edge piece of technology from the late 1950s, a time of dramatic change as the world entered the Space Age.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 16, 2019
hfnvintageGlitsy looks and a lack of niceties such as time display, but this version of the Philips CD300 CD player was first to market where it became king of the 14-bit machines

The CD-73 is surely one of the best loved and best remembered of the first generation of CD players. With its eye-catching looks, it stood out among a sea of bland black boxes. Usually it would have been difficult for a company of Marantz's standing to come up with a fully engineered model so quickly, but having recently secured the backing of Philips, it was able to release not one but two class-leading CD players for the opening 1983 season.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 15, 2019
hfncommendedBucking the trend that sees 'physical media' in decline, the latest model to emerge from the French company's disc player/DAC line-up is also its first SACD machine

Coincidence is an interesting thing: at the same time I collected the curiously-named Métronome AQWO for review, the mainstream news was buzzing with the decline of both physical music media and file downloads, and the seemingly unstoppable rise of streaming services. It was also echoed by editor PM in his Welcome page [HFN Feb '19].

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 10, 2019
hfncommendedDesigned for movies as well as music, the idea of a 'universal' disc player is an appealing one. Now that Oppo is out of the picture, how does this battleship Pioneer shape up?

Though maybe not for the hi-fi purists, who will look with disdain at any machine in which ultra-high-frequency video circuits are buzzing away, potentially affecting audio purity, for the pragmatist the concept of a 'universal' disc player is very appealing. In one machine you can have both a piece of hardware capable of playing both CDs and SACDs – and more – and a high-quality video source for a home cinema system.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 29, 2019
hfnvintageNow a forgotten hero, this CD player's claim to fame was that it was the first to be sold by a British household name. But does its sound make it more than just a curio?

Ferguson isn't a name often seen in the pages of HFN, but from the early 1950s to the late 1980s it was a dominant player in the UK consumer electronics marketplace. Part of the Thorn group, the brand was never positioned as a specialist hi-fi manufacturer but its audio division was prolific.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 08, 2019
hfncommendedMarking brand ambassador Ken Ishiwata's 40 years with Marantz, this 'Ruby edition' SACD player and integrated amplifier aim high. How precious are they?

We've been here before: ten years ago Marantz celebrated Brand Ambassador Ken Ishiwata's 30-year tenure at the company with a KI-Pearl pairing of player and amplifier [HFN Aug '09]. So its only fitting that, now he's clocked up another decade, we should have these latest KI Ruby models, limited to 1000 units apiece (500 of each in gold, 500 in black), and selling at £3500 for each unit.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 01, 2018
A dedicated stack that forms one of the most expensive digital playback systems on the market, Esoteric’s Grandioso P1/D1 is aimed squarely at fans of the SACD format

Let’s not beat about the bush: alongside the top-of-the-range, multi-chassis dCS Vivaldi pile [HFN Feb ’13] – I can think of no others in this category – the Esoteric P1/D1 combination SACD transport/mono DACs package will lighten your Amex by a worrying £49,500. That breaks down to £33,000 for the two-chassis player/power supply and £16,500 for the mono DACs. Oh, and if you really want to go the whole hog then the Grandioso G1 Master Clock, not supplied here, adds another £23,000.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 01, 2018
Streaming – schmeaming: for many audiophiles CD still rules the high-end digital roost and Métronome’s Kalista division has a champion in the new DreamPlay ONE

Despite being an SACD-phile, I am also a realist: in my library, CDs outnumber SACDs by greater than 100-to-1. In the real world, I suspect that CD players outnumber SACD players by a higher ratio still. So, when Métronome brings out a new integrated model – the Kalista DreamPlay ONE with a price of £32,000 – CD-only capability is par for the course.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Aug 01, 2018
'Bridge' digital sources, the link between conventional physical media and computer-based audio, are very much on-trend at the moment – what can T+A bring to the party?

So, are the twin threats of downloaded music and streaming services putting the final nail in CD's coffin? In the future will our music collections exist only as files on a home server, or indeed not as collections at all – figures seem to suggest downloads are flagging – but rather as infinite libraries accessed on demand from online services?

Review: David Vivian, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 01, 2018
hfncommended.pngThe company ups the ante by adding a 'just-add-speakers' solution to its Artera series, managing to squeeze streaming alongside CD replay into casework of pert proportions

So far, Quad's Artera family has comprised the Play (a combined CD transport, DAC and preamp) and the Stereo [HFN Nov '15], which is a power amp using the company's Current Dumping topology. Both solid-state components, not only are they compact and dapper but high functioning and lifestyle literate too – a feat that's trickier than it might seem. But not as tricky as folding all of the above (plus streaming) into a chassis with the same proportions as the other components in the Artera range.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  May 01, 2018
hfnoutstanding.pngClaiming to be 'the last digital front-end you will ever need', can this combination of wide-ranging compatibility and ongoing upgrades match up to that ambition?

The ever-evolving digital audio landscape has made buyers wary and manufacturers jumpy. It seems that each time a company launches a 'definitive', future-proofed product, some new format or twist pops up for its moment in the sun as the 'must-have' way to store and play music. However, some manufacturers handle this problem better than others, thanks to designs able to deal with every known format of the moment, and having either modular construction or firmware upgradability to keep up with changes.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 01, 2018
hfncommended.pngWith an upgraded specification including an asynchronous USB input with DSD capability, ATC’s CD player/DAC/preamp aims to be a complete system front-end

Is this a new twist on the CD player? Or yet another new variation on the DAC? Well, neither actually, for as that ‘Mk2’ suffix suggests, this is a revised version of ATC’s innovative CDA CD player/DAC/preamp combination, selling for £2950 and designed as the perfect partner for the company’s £3375 P2 power amplifier [HFN Mar ’17], or its range of active speakers.

Review: David Price, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Feb 01, 2018
hfnoutstanding.pngHugely flexible, hugely capable and, well, just plain ‘huge’, dCS’s flagship Vivaldi four-box digital stack has been condensed into a one-box solution. So why a limited edition?

There comes a time when you have to pop the champagne cork, relax and have fun. That’s what dCS (Data Conversion Systems Ltd) has done with its new £55k Vivaldi One single-box disc player/upsampling DAC/streamer. It’s a limited edition of just 250 pieces, designed to celebrate the company’s 30th anniversary. In that time, the company has gone from being an Official Secrets Act signatory supplying advanced radar systems for the RAF towards the end of the Cold War, to one of the most respected high-end digital audio specialists around.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 01, 2017
hfnvintage.pngWith components sourced from Dutch giant Philips, does this slick-looking CD player from 1986 still represent the 'last word' in 14-bit sound? We take it to the test bench

The step change in technology that came with the introduction of CD was too great for all but the largest hi-fi manufacturers to handle alone. As a result, those that lacked the resources to design and produce their own machines had instead to buy completed assemblies from either Philips or one of the larger Japanese brands.

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.

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