History appears to be repeating itself. The sound of vinyl never really came good until the format looked distinctly over the hill, and now we see the same thing happening with Compact Disc. As DAC technology gets ever better, suddenly we’re finding that the little silver disc is actually capable of really rather fine sound. Digital-to-analogue converters are at last able to properly do the job they were designed for, and CD is finally beginning to sound right.
Now that the CD format appears to be in the twilight of its life Rega has produced one of the most entertaining and enjoyable players I have ever encountered. It’s ironic really that when vinyl was being written off in the eighties folk in the audio business carried on improving and refining turntables and now they are significantly better than they were in the format’s heyday.
It looks like something similar is starting to take place with CD. Disc sales are being trampled under the weight of downloads, yet in the last year I encountered the best CD transport ever created in the MSB Data CD IV and now Rega has delivered all the best bits of its phenomenal Isis player in a machine that’ll set you back £1,600.
And so it goes. The humble Compact Disc player, once a vestigial box with no inputs and a single pairof analogue outputs is increasingly becoming a preamp with a DAC and optical disc transport built in. Gone are the days when it was seen as an end in itself, now it is to all intents and purposes a digital music centre. Creek’s new Evolution 50CD silver disc spinner is precisely this, and costing under £1,000, is being positioned to take on the market leader, Audiolab’s 8200CD.
Flashy products come and go, sensations soar up the sales charts and then fizzle away and a procession of award winners fill dealers’ shelves. But amidst all this drama and chaos, there’s one thing about which you can always be sure – Marantz budget separates will always offer quality. Marantz’s entry-level CD playerand amplifier are never going to be stinkers! Nor, to be frank, are they going to be dramatically different from their predecessors, save a tweak here and a feature change there.
Residing on the very first rung of the Marantz silver disc-spinning range ladder, the CD6005 doesn’t offer SACD playback functionality.
Richard Black tests the preamp-equipped 8200CDQ player/DAC from Audiolab, and finds himself falling in love all over again. . .
Audiolab’s ‘basic’ CD player, the 8200CD, already does a lot more than just play CDs, equipped as it is with a set of digital inputs including electrical, optical and USB.