CD Player

Virtue Audio Sensation M451 Integrated Amplifier and Piano M1 CD Player

Virtue Audio Sensation M451 Integrated Amplifier and Piano M1 CD Player

Curiosity is an interesting thing. As an engineer I find myself drawn to new ways of building a standard design. Virtue Audio products may not be
completely “out-of-the-box” but at the very least the Sensation M451 and Piano M1 offer a fresh perspective. This past July I was visiting with the founder of Affordable$$Audio Mark Marcantonio. and as we were each savoring a bottle of Fat Tire beer and listening (myself transfixed) to a pair of modified Magnepan 1.6’s with Skiing Ninja crossovers I spied a half-sized black piece of gear in his rack. After an offer to pay for the pizza that would soon arrive I was able to secure the Virtue Audio Sensation M451 integrated amplifier for a weekend audition. Those two days have turned into four fascinating months.

Staff writer Stew Nelless (in italics) had already written up his impressions of the M451 as well as the Piano M1 compact disc player. After securing a Piano M1 myself the review morphed into a twofer, with the perspectives of both Stew and myself. read more…

Emotiva ERC-1 Compact Disc Player

Emotiva ERC-1 Compact Disc Player

Specifications:

  • Output voltage: 1V rms (7V peak)
  • Channel separation: ≥95dB – ref. 1kHz
  • Frequency response: 0-20Khz (+/- 0.1 db)
  • S/N: ≥100dB (A weighted)
  • THD: ≤0.01% 0dB 1KHz)
  • Playback formats: Red book CD, HDCD, MP3
  • Digital Output Filter: 24-Bit, 384 times oversampling (Analog Devices 1955)
  • Sampling Frequency: 44.1 kHz
  • Analog output filter frequency: 80 kHz (-3dB)
  • Amplitude output linearity: 0.2dB
  • Phase linearity: 30°
  • Power consumption: ≤ 25W
  • Output connection types: digital coaxial, digital optical toslink, unbalanced RCA, balanced XLR
  • Weight: 17.5 lbs. (unboxed)
  • Width: 17 inches
  • Depth: 14 inches (including RCA jack extension)
  • Height: 3.75 inches (faceplate only) – 4.25 inches including feet
  • Feet are recessed 2.25 inches from face of unit, and .5 inches from back of unit
  • Price: $399

Every audio fan over 35 remembers their first compact disc player. It was a right of passage from old technology of analogue, into that new and obscure world of digital. In my case, it was a second-hand Sony unit. The specific model number has long drifted away, but the excited memory of that first play has stayed with me. To hear music without the clicks and pops was a wonder. Only many years later did I discover the harsh realities that digital music was the end all of sonic reproduction. In the past five years I believe the audio industry has really begun to take a hard look at compact disc players and recognize that much work still needed to be done.

One of new wave of affordable gear manufacturers is Emotiva. Best known for their big power amplifiers sold for reasonable prices, they have become one of the favorite brands of cost conscious audio forum members. Those individuals with difficult to power speakers found themselves smitten with the various amplifier offerings courtesy of this Tennessee company. read more…

Assembling A Simple $1000 System

Assembling A Simple $1000 System

So, what is Flat Earth? Contrary to what some would have you believe, Flat Earth is not restricted to either Naim or Linn. This isn’t a concept defined by brand. Rather, it is a reflection of how people listen to music from their systems more a value judgement of what’s important in music reproduction. That is, dispense with the aspects of reproduction that you can not be sure of (e.g. soundstage, imaging & reproduction of the recording environment) and instead concentrate on the construction of the music. Is the bass in time with the percussion? Does the piece hang together as a whole? This, of course, is not to decry the ’rounder’ aspects of reproduction. Aspects such as soundstage etc. can enhance the experience. The Flat Earth approach simply gives primacy to the tune …

‒ From the Pink Fish Media web forum FAQ

Novelists must usually decide what degree of slavish accuracy would make their stories more alive, and what degree would make them less.” – Michael Cunningham

The term “flat earth” may be new to many readers. It is a somewhat obscure segment of audio whose philosophies contrast those of the “round earth” mainstream, whose foci is frequency balance, soundstaging, resolution and tonality. Not to denigrate the importance of those ideals. Flat earth’s ascension paralleled those of Linn and Naim. I consider myself a flat earther to the extent that I place more emphasis on the “big picture” derived through the timing, architecture and message, rather than the individual elements. read more…

Rega Apollo CD Player

Rega Apollo CD Player

Specifications:

  • Laser : Semiconductor Laser
  • Wavelength: 780nm
  • Line Output Maximum Level: 2V-(load impedance minimum10k-ohm)
  • Digital Output Maximum Level: 0.5V (load impedance 75-ohm)
  • Digital Sampling Frequency: 44.1kHz
  • Mains Voltages: 230V (minimum190V maximum 250V) @50/60Hz
  • 115V (minimum 95V maximum 125V) @50/60Hz
  • Power Consumption: 2W
  • Dimensions: 435(mm)Wx100(mm)Hx270(mm)D
  • Required Space for Operation: 435W(mm)x180(mm)Hx315(mm)D Weight: Eight pounds
  • Mains Fuses: 230V @250mA
  • 115V @500mA
  • CDP Remote Batteries: AAA (1.5) x 2
  • Price: $995

Rega Research Ltd was founded in 1973 by Tony Relph and Roy Gandy. Take the first two letters of each of their last names, put them together and you have Re & ga or Rega, the company name. Rega is based in the United Kingdom where it makes high-end audio equipment and was initially recognized for its production of quality turntables. Starting in the 1990’s Rega expanded its line to become a full range audio company. Looking at their website you can see they now make turntables, loudspeakers, amplifiers, tuners, cartridges, tonearms, a phono stage, plus a host of other accessories as well as two cd players. Their first cd player called the Planet went into production in 1996 for $995 and received rave reviews from the audio press. The Apollo, the subject for todays review, is the company’s new entry level player. Their top of the line cd player,the Saturn, retails for $2595. When first introduced Rega initially priced the Apollo at $995. Later the price inched up to $1195 as costs rose, but now has recently been reduced back to the original $995 mark. This price reduction was made by their US Distributor, The Sound Organization, in an effort to make it extremely competitive in today’s high-end audio Cd player market and to reflect the current exchange rate. read more…

JVC XL-Z1050TN CD Player

JVC XL-Z1050TN CD Player

Specifications:

  • P-E-M, D-D (Converter Pulse Edge Modulation Differential Linearity error lens converter) Phone jack with level and output level,
  • Display off & mode,
  • Random, repeat, editing mode, side A/B, Program, manual search,
  • Fixed & variable outputs,
  • Digital and Coaxial out with on/off switch, Index, fade, volume.
  • Size: 17-3/4″W x 13-1/2D x 4-1/2H, Weight 18 lbs.

Few people would argue with the premise that the sound quality of compact disc players has steadily improved over the years. The audio community is a diverse crowd, and there is a niche of hobbyists who appreciate the attributes of vintage electronics. Actually, any enthusiast who has been around this hobby for a while, or knows of the history of audio can appreciate certain historical components. In spite of technical advances or the passage of time, the audio community has consistently held certain pieces of equipment in high regard. Very few individuals would disagree with the “classic” tag given to the Quad ESL-57 loudspeaker, or the Mark Levinson ML-2 amplifier. The Linn LP-12 is still considered by many to be a benchmark for analog playback, and Koetsu cartridges built by the elder Sugano are highly prized by the discriminating analog aficionado. read more…

Grant Fidelity CD-327A

Grant Fidelity CD-327A

The Grant Fidelity CD-327A is a high quality CD player that is manufactured in China for Grant Fidelity which is based in Canada. Grant Fidelity is headed by Ian Grant a Senior Systems Designer and Engineer with an extensive multifaceted background in construction, audio, mechanical design and project management. Although Grant Fidelity is only one of his many endeavors, this company is an outgrowth of his love of music as recording engineer and musician. Grant was also a member of the AES and NAMM and has worked extensively to develop new music technologies with Seer Systems using advanced Midi Technology. The list of Ian’s accomplishments goes on and on, suffice it to say that Ian Grant is entering into the high end audio field in the same way that he does everything else with an all out effort.

Specifications

  • Frequency Response: 20Hz~20KHz (+-0.5dB) Harmonic Distortion : <0.005%
  • Dynamic range : 100dB Input Voltage : 110V Dimensions: 430 x 330 x 95 (mm)
  • Weight: 28 lbs. Price: $849

read more…

The Swiss Army Knife Shanling PCD300A CD player

The Swiss Army Knife Shanling PCD300A CD player

At the Montreal Festival Son & Image show back in March, I was very impressed with all the new gear that Charisma Audio had on display at prices most people could buy. Their new stylish Shanling MC-30 (CD player, iPod dock and 3 watt stereo amp all remote controlled) was the star but supply was short. I’ve seen this little device called the PCD300A for the first time and was curious about it because at 599$ (Canadian currency), half size, good looking component that trickled down technology from the vast array of successful CD players Shanling offers it could be a great component. Was it even more interesting is the fact that it has a built-in remote volume control which means you can add this feature to a system or drive directly a power amplifier without the need of a preamplifier if your system has only this source. If this wasn’t enough, it has a coaxial digital output if you wish to upgrade it later. By the way did I mention the headphone amplifier on the front panel? read more…

Cheap Tweaks Part 2: Isolation Devices

Cheap Tweaks Part 2: Isolation Devices

  • 6$ Vibrapod (Model 1 to 5: 2.5 to 25 lbs/per pod)
  • 8$ Vibracone (Max 25lbs per cone)

As I’ve written in part 1, one of the first things to get dropped from a component conception stage by a designer to reach a price point (especially when it’s supposed to be affordable) is the isolation. They are 3 general form of isolation available: mechanical (vibrapods are a good example), mass damping (like putting sand in loudspeakers stands) and shielding (think about speakers for home theater). We will concentrate on the first one here. read more…

Underwood Modified XCD-5 from Onix CD-5

Underwood Modified XCD-5 from Onix CD-5

  • Level 1 Upgrade from new Onix unit $750, currently owned unit (CD-88, CD-99 or CD-5) is $400
  • Level 1+ Upgrade is $870 new.
  • 3 Year Warranty honored by Onix (AV123)
  • 770-667-5633 1-10pm Eastern Time

Last month I review the Onix CD-5 and came away very impressed, especially for $399. During the review process, I was surfing Audiogon when I saw an ad for an Underwood modified CD-5. Being the inquisitive soul that I am, I contacted Walter Liederman owner of Underwood HiFi, and about 3 weeks later the modified XCD-5 arrived. read more…

Onix CD-5 Compact Disc Player

Onix CD-5 Compact Disc Player

Specifications:

  • Burr-Brown PCM 1738 24-bit/192kHz DAC Philips VAM1202/19 transport
  • Frequency Response: 20hz-20khz(+/-0.5db) Harmonic Distortion: 0.003(1khz)
  • Signal to Noise: 120db
  • Channel Separation: 110db
  • High-Gloss Black front plate and solid chassis Two digital outputs; 1 x coaxial and 1 x optical Standard analog output
  • Detachable power cord Dimensions: W17 x D14.5 x H3 in. Weight: 15 lbs. pkg.
  • Manufactured in China
  • Price: $399, $349 if “family” av123 purchased

Recently, I was chatting with a coworker about cd players. Now, this is a very tech-savvy guy, with all sorts of electronic toys and a background in audio. So it floored me when he couldn’t see the value in a cdp over $200. I spent the better part of an hour discussing high-quality components versus bottom line items. He still couldn’t see the value. Finally, I decided that the only way to get him to see the light was to change the comparing to something he was in tune with… computer equipment. Well, it worked, he finally could appreciate the value that quality gear represented. read more…

Monarchy AC Regenerator

Monarchy AC Regenerator

Specifications

  • M150 Dual Isolation AC Supply Monarchy Audio AC-Regenerator Power Handling: 100 Watt
  • Output Frequency: 50Hz, 60Hz, 120Hz, 400Hz. Output Voltage: (a)110 to 120 Volt Adjustable in 1-Volt steps
  • (b)200 to 240 Volt Adjustable in 2-volt steps
  • 17″Wx12”Dx4”H Net Weight: 24 lbs Shipping weight: 30 lbs.
  • Price: $750

Several months ago, the UPS driver dropped off several boxes from Monarchy Audio. The first piece to go into my system was the M24 digital to analog converter, which was reviewed in the January issue. There were a few other products in that delivery that have proven to be quite interesting. One package contained the Monarchy AC Regenerator. Mr. Poon sent this piece to be used in conjunction with a pair of Dignity Audio mono-blocks that his company imports. The Dignity pieces have been in and out of my system a few times, and HighFidelityReview readers can expect to see a write up on them in the next couple of months. However, my curiosity got the best of me in regards to the Monarchy AC Regenerator. I decided to install it in my current system because I wanted to see what improvements have been made in the arena of reasonably priced power conditioners.

read more…

Music Hall cd25.2 CD Player

Music Hall cd25.2 CD Player

Twenty-two years ago I bought my first cd player, it was a Fisher, its claim to fame, a Yamaha chip. Eager to get in on the new technology, I fell for the sales job and bought one. It performed well for 13 months, and then died. After a futile search for a repair shop with a manual, I moved on and bought a Harman Kardon, which served me well for many years.

Specifications:

  • Burr-Brown PCM 1738 24-bit/192kHz DAC Philips VAM1202/19 transport
  • Frequency Response: 20hz-20khz(+/-0.5db) Harmonic Distortion: 0.003(1khz)
  • Signal to Noise: 120db
  • Channel Separation: 110db
  • Thick brushed-aluminum front plate and solid chassis Two digital outputs; 1 x coaxial and 1 x optical Standard analog output
  • Detachable power cord
  • Dimensions: W17 x D14.5 x H3 in.
  • Weight: 15 lbs. pkg.
  • Manufactured in China Price: $599

read more…

The Inside Game: A Look at VMPS Audio

The Inside Game: A Look at VMPS Audio

I recently acquired a used pair of VMPS Tower II SE speakers to use as my home theater fronts. The moment I heard these speakers, I realized this was the best sounding system I had ever assembled by a very wide margin (more on that later). There’s absolutely no reason to upgrade my speaker for a long time because, in my price range, this is perhaps as good as it gets.

Because of this speaker purchase, I decided to learn more about VMPS Audio and speak briefly with its founder – Brian Cheney. read more…

BADA HD-22 CD Player

BADA HD-22 CD Player

Specifications:

  • Philips Laserhead and Transport BurrBrown PCM1732 HDCD D/A Chipset Uses a single 6N3 tube
  • 96KHz/24Bit digital output
  • HDCD Filter optimized for 44.1KHz To 96KHz
  • Tube and solid state output
  • Two transformers for digital and analog
  • High Quality Op Amplifier – BB OPA260
  • Output Power: <=2.2V
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz~20kHz(±0.5dB) S/N Ratio: >=110dB
  • THD: <=0.005% Dynamic Range: 110dB Power Input: AC 120v
  • Power Consumption: <=70W
  • Dimension (LxHxD): 43.0 x 11.0 x 37.0 cm
  • Net Weight: 8.0kg (approx. 18 lbs.)

No, this article isn’t about Tony Soprano’s strip club, nor will you get whacked if you read this. And it’s definitely not an Italian-American euphemism designed to attract your attention (OK, well maybe it is). read more…

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