Pioneer PD-D9 Mk2 - £750

Pioneer PD-D9 Mk2 £750 Pioneer's keenly priced CD/SACD player has a lot to offer in terms of electronic wizardry and audio performance

his model was one of a handful that marked Pioneer’s return to serious hi-fi separates a few years ago. Now in Mk2 guise, it remains largely as it was then, a simple stereo-only CD/SACD player with little in the way of fancy features. Indeed, so devoid is it of frills that it doesn’t even offer track skip from the front panel; the only controls are tray open/close and play/pause.

Beneath the lid it’s filled with components, including a screened switch-mode power supply, with considerably more smoothing capacitance than is usually found. The audio circuit board is populated with a mix of surface-mount and through-hole components, the latter including most of the resistors in the signal path. Surface-mount resistors are physically very small and some tweakers have questioned whether their small thermal inertia makes them more prone to modulation effects than leaded parts.

One feature Pioneer does offer in the D9 is ‘Legato Link Pro’, the latest version of its slow rolloff digital filter which, in pre-Pro days, was one of the first optional filters widely available. Again, we’re not hugely enthusiastic about this, but the alternative is a perfectly standard sharp (-ish) filter and having the choice can only be a good thing. Digital-to-analogue conversion is done by a pair of Wolfson chips.

Sound quality

The D9 does a good line in deep bass, with plenty of weight to it, but also good control and precision. All our listeners spotted this quickly and also commented that it can border on being too much of a good thing. The ATC speakers we were using are not prone to overstatement in the lower registers, so we’d have to sound a warning note if your system has any bass-heavy tendencies as this could perhaps be a bit much.

But there’s lots else to enjoy quite unequivocally. Once again, a combination of good detail and solid, stable and precise imaging makes for easy visualisation of the performers and the space in which they were recorded. Dynamics are good and there’s plenty of impetus to percussion and instruments with a sharp attack like piano and guitar. Voices are slightly less secure, it seems, with some feeling of constraint. It’s as if the singer is not quite in the best of health and is struggling to get the perfect resonance – but one can hear the words well thanks to the clear and open treble and, in general, the emotional tone is also clear.

Our listeners felt that overall; this was one of the best of the day for rhythmic involvement. Evidently the strong bass does no harm there, but the good detail and dynamics are surely equally important in making rhythms vibrant. One of our listener’s paid it the nicest of compliments: “I don’t want it to end.” ’Nuff said!

LIKE: Very good rhythmically with solid images
DISLIKE: Can seem a little bass-heavy – partner with care
WE SAY: Despite disappointing ergonomics, an enjoyable player to listen to

TYPE: CD/SACD/universal player
WEIGHT: 11kg
DIMENSIONS: (WxHxD) 420x115x340mm
• Analogue output: single unbalanced;
• Digital output: electrical and
optical S/PDIF
TELEPHONE: 01753 789789