The Apex AD-7701 universal DVD-Audio/SACD player is shipping, almost twelve months after SMR Home Theatre’s CES 2001 Show Report first broke news of the machine.
Potential owners have suffered a long wait, and outlets such as J&R Music World took well over 1,000 pre-orders for the $299.99 machine, but now players have been sent to a limited number of recipients making the Apex the first commercially available piece of universal DVD-Audio/SACD playback hardware.
Using a DVD-ROM drive, the AD-7701 is able to replay DVD-Video, DVD-Audio, Video CD, Super Video CD, SACD, CD-DA, CD-R and CD-RW discs. It is also HDCD compatible, can replay MP3 files burnt to either CD-R or CD-RW and display Kodak Picture CD images.
Standard features include composite, S-Video and component video outputs with progressive scan, Dolby Digital and DTS support plus NTSC and PAL video output capabilities.
The AD-7701 even includes integral Karaoke functions, with 2 microphone inputs, echo and pitch controls, a microphone volume control and a digital equaliser, which Apex claim can improve sonic accuracy.
Unfortunately, early reports indicate that the machine does not have bass management of any kind, although one can specify the number of channels (loudspeakers) present. This contravenes the SACD license, which states bass management must be an option for multi-channel SACD players.
High Fidelity Review has learnt that the ESS Technologies-based AD-7701 uses a Sony chipset for SACD and Apex are licensing the DVD-Audio technologies used from 4-C Group. The disc loading mechanism is also Sony.
European versions of the machine are being sold under the Hiteker brand name, model number HI-7701. All Hiteker players are shipped region-free, unlike the Apex AD-7701, which requires an as-yet undisclosed hack to disable region coding. For more information see: http://www.hiteker.nl/. Hiteker machines are also available in New Zealand, see: http://www.hiteker.co.nz/.
Rumours have already begun about a successor, the AD-7702 that will also offer an IEEE-1394 digital output.