Disc Players

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Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 15, 2021
hfnvintageIt was the Dutch company's first ever portable CD player and one of the first players from Philips to use a 16-bit chip. But how does this milestone machine sound today?

While Philips' dominance of the market for full-sized CD players in the early days of the format has been well documented in these pages, little mention has been made of its activities in the field of CD portables. Despite an obvious flair for innovation and creativity, the company is not especially known for producing miniatures – that crown belongs to the Japanese, and Sony in particular.

Ed Selley  |  Nov 17, 2011
How does the original CD player stand up nearly thirty years after its introduction? It was in March 1983 that the compact disc system officially arrived in Europe. With it came the first European-made CD player, the top-loading Philips CD100. Four years before, in March 1979, Philips had given a first press demonstration of a Compact Disc player prototype, using 14-bit digital encoding. Philips was already marketing 30cm video discs but believed that there should be a separate, smaller disc format for audio.
Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Aug 25, 2020
hfnvintageWhile its looks belie its flagship status, this '80s CD player was designed with just one aim in mind: bring credibility to Philips' cutting-edge tech. How does it sound today?

The Philips CD960 of 1987 was part of a range that included the FA860 amplifier [HFN Feb '20]. As one of the company's occasional flirtations with the top end of hi-fi, this series was intended to demonstrate that the Dutch brand could offer components capable of state-of-the-art performance, as well as provide a boost in status to the more affordable models in the range.

Paul Miller  |  Apr 05, 2009
So you want to enjoy the best that Blu-ray has to offer but you’re loathe to part with that ‘legacy’ AV receiver, a fine-sounding and perfectly serviceable multichannel amplifier but one that pre-dates HDMI connectivity? Thanks to Pioneer’s flagship BDP-LX91, your options just got broader. You see this is one of the very first BD players with sufficient on-board processing power to decode both Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. It’s also one of the first to offer a full 7. 1 channel analogue output – perfect for direct and unencumbered connection to the multichannel analogue inputs of that treasured AV amplifier.
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.

Steve Harris & Paul Miller  |  Nov 05, 2009
But that would take millions of tubes!’ said a puzzled high-end distributor back in 1986, on first hearing that an American company had launched a valve CD player. He’d have been right, if anyone had really envisaged replacing all the player’s integrated circuits with glowing bottles. It turned out, of course, that California Audio Labs had just added a tube analogue output stage, with gentle passive filtering, to an otherwise conventional player. The CAL Tempest was the first of more than few.
Ed Selley  |  Jul 08, 2011
A svelte Swede with performance to back up the looks Replacing the CD31, this new CD32 has been designed alongside the I32 integrated Class D amplifier [HFN Jun ’11]. Sweden’s Primare company has always had an eye for handsome design and while the appearance of these latest 32 models is broadly the same as the products they supersede, each component has been enhanced by the inclusion of a white-coloured, variable-brightness organic electroluminescent display (OLED) panel that adds real finesse. The CD32 is housed in an alloy/steel chassis and is beautifully finished; balanced outputs match the balanced inputs of its partnering amplifier. Separate PCB modules featuring SMDs are used to isolate signal paths while keeping them as short as possible, a regulated power supply employing an R-core transformer with separate windings for mechanical, analogue and digital audio circuits, while a separate switch mode supply powers the player’s microprocessor.
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: 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  |  May 01, 2018
hfnoutstanding.pngClaiming to be 'the last digital front-end you will ever need', can this combination of wide-ranging compatibility and ongoing upgrades match up to that ambition?

The ever-evolving digital audio landscape has made buyers wary and manufacturers jumpy. It seems that each time a company launches a 'definitive', future-proofed product, some new format or twist pops up for its moment in the sun as the 'must-have' way to store and play music. However, some manufacturers handle this problem better than others, thanks to designs able to deal with every known format of the moment, and having either modular construction or firmware upgradability to keep up with changes.

Keith Howard & Paul Miller  |  Aug 05, 2009
An all too real fissure is developing within the specialist audio industry between those who embrace the emerging paradigm of hi-res music downloads and those who view the whole development, and the role of computer audio in general, with suspicion. Well, here’s a product that bridges the divide. The PS Audio PerfectWave Transport and DAC can – or rather, soon will – meld optical disc replay with the streaming of audio files in a way that will quickly seem natural to anyone familiar with conventional audio components. Actually, each is a stand-alone unit that can be used without the other, but only when they are combined are all their features exploitable.
Review: David Vivian, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 01, 2018
hfncommended.pngThe company ups the ante by adding a 'just-add-speakers' solution to its Artera series, managing to squeeze streaming alongside CD replay into casework of pert proportions

So far, Quad's Artera family has comprised the Play (a combined CD transport, DAC and preamp) and the Stereo [HFN Nov '15], which is a power amp using the company's Current Dumping topology. Both solid-state components, not only are they compact and dapper but high functioning and lifestyle literate too – a feat that's trickier than it might seem. But not as tricky as folding all of the above (plus streaming) into a chassis with the same proportions as the other components in the Artera range.

Paul Miller  |  Nov 19, 2011
Impressive sound and considerable flexibility thanks to six digital inputs With the 99 CDP-2, Quad took a full-function CD player, fitted its DAC with a selection of digital coaxial and Toslink optical inputs, and provided both fixed and variable outputs to enable the device to serve as a preamp. Aside from not featuring digital inputs such as balanced XLR, USB and others current and forgotten, the 99 CDP-2 and now the Elite CDP enable their owners to accommodate six extra digital sources. The new player is essentially an update, with circuitry improvements and aesthetic changes like the better front panel illumination. It has the exact same dimensions, right down to the same indents in the top for stacking.
Hi-Fi News Staff  |  Nov 11, 2014
Rated at 180W/8ohm, Quad’s Platinum Mono power amp is for those who crave more power than offered by the Elite QSP. Concurrent with its release is the Digital Media Player: a logical progression for those enthusiasts who have long enjoyed the earlier 99 Series CDP-2. While there are no analogue inputs, the DMP does adds a USB input and digital outputs include one each of Toslink, coaxial, BNC and AES/EBU via XLR. Both the Monos and the DMP provide balanced connection via XLRs for the main line-level output from the preamp and input to the power amps.
Christopher Breunig & Paul Miller  |  Jan 05, 2009
Named after the ‘Bringer of Old Age’, the Saturn builds on the strengths of the outwardly identical Apollo reviewed in February 2007. Both come in black or silver sculpted aluminium casework. Here, improvements have been made to transport, master clock, analogue conversion and power supplies. With a 435 x 270mm footprint (wd), the player needs a minimum height clearance of 180mm to allow the damped lid to lift – it angles back as it is raised.

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