Disc Players

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Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Dec 13, 2019
The big beast of the budget audiophile jungle is back with two new models to beef-up its 14-series lineup. Does this affordable CD/amp combination have real teeth?

Something is afoot in the land of hi-fi separates. First we had Musical Fidelity with its M2scd/M2si [HFN Jul '19], then Cambridge Audio's AXC35/AXA35 [HFN Sep '19] and now Rotel has launched its own affordable amplifier and CD player pairing, in the form of the £429 CD11 and £599 A11.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Dec 05, 2019
hfnoutstandingAre the days of the disc almost over? Evidence to the contrary comes in the form of this flagship SACD/CD transport and network DAC/preamp from T+A's 'High Voltage' series

I think I can be pretty confident in saying there aren't too many new British hi-fi components out there whose development has been government-funded. Clearly they do things differently in Germany, where the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy underwrote the design and development of the network-capable DAC/preamp forming half of the subject of this test, T+A's £23,400 SDV 3100 HV. The project has borne fruit in the behemoth of a digital converter you see here, all 26kg of it, described as a 'Super High Definition Audio DAC with bit-perfect data transmission and resolutions of DSD1024 and PCM768'.

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'.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 21, 2019
hfnvintageThis slimline design was fashioned with Yuppies in mind yet packed tried-and-tested tech from premium Sony products. How does it shape up today? It's time to find out

When it comes to CD players, Ferguson has a claim to fame, for its CD 01 [HFN Jan '19] of 1984 was the first machine to appear from a British household name. The player's Sony origins also meant it stood out from the crowd. At the time, manufacturers wishing to gain a foothold in the rapidly growing market for CD players, but who lacked the R&D resources to build machines of their own, usually went to Philips for the hardware. Sony's players were considered to be top of the market, the Japanese company's carefully cultivated image only helping to justify their premium prices.

Review: Andrew Everard, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Nov 18, 2019
hfnoutstandingFar from being just cute and compact, Pro-Ject's Box Design range is now all grown up – as this high quality CD/DAC/preamp combination so vividly demonstrates

Considering where Pro-Ject's Box Design range started, it's come a very long way. It all began with a compact and very affordable phono stage, the original Phono Box, launched as an interface between the company's wildly successful lineup of turntables – which arguably spearheaded the entire 'vinyl revival' – and the amplifiers of the time, many of which had long since dispensed with inbuilt phono equalisation.

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.

Review: Ken Kessler, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 09, 2019
hfnoutstandingLess of a 'Special Edition' than a cosmetic refresh, six years of continuous production has still brought changes to bear in ARC's flagship digital offering. We investigate...

At this stage in the decline of Compact Disc's popularity, is there still a demand for CD players like the Audio Research REF CD9 SE at a heady £14,500? Apparently so, as the original REF CD9 [HFN May '13] remains popular enough to warrant an update. The addition of the esteemed 'SE' suffix on this occasion, however, does not signal as radical a change as seen, for example, in the move from the REF 75 power amp to the REF 75SE. But what Audio Research has done makes it just different enough to warrant the new badge.

Review: David Price, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 01, 2019
hfncommendedThis French company's 'ecosystem' is founded on an extensive range of power and audio cables, but the brand's design philosophies also extend to an amp and CD player       

The world of high-end audio just wouldn't be the same without products like the Origine S2 from Neodio. It resides in that rarefied section of the hi-fi market where designers get to see their dreams fulfilled in large and beautifully appointed products. Head honcho Stéphane Even has energetically embraced the chance to make leading-edge, premium hi-fi products. As well as purveying expensive cables and isolating feet, his company makes the £15,000 CD player/DAC you see before you, alongside its companion A2 integrated amplifier.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Sep 23, 2019
hfnvintageWhile first to market with a portable player, Sony soon found itself overtaken by rivals. Its answer was a now-iconic machine, driven by a belt. But how does it sound today?

Sony's original D-50 'Compact Disc Compact Player', released in late 1984, was the first practical portable to reach consumers. Named to commemorate the company's 50th anniversary, the player's ¥50,000 price tag ensured that it dominated the market. However, the fact that it cost ¥100,000 to manufacture meant that this came at some expense to Sony.

Review: Adam Smith, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Sep 11, 2019
hfncommendedThe iconic visuals belie Musical Fidelity's recent change in ownership – so will this familiar M2 series CD/amp combination still tempt the budget-conscious enthusiast?

In these evolving days of digital music, cloud storage and online streaming, it might seem counter-intuitive for Musical Fidelity to release a line-only amplifier and 'plain vanilla' CD player. The £799 M2si integrated has no inbuilt DAC, no Bluetooth, no Wi-Fi and not even a phono stage, or indeed the option of one. And, peer round the rear of the matching £799 M2scd compact disc player, and the only connections you will find are outputs. Once again, it has no digital inputs, no antennae sticking out and no wireless wizardry up its sleeve. What's going on?

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.

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