Ah, 1983, I remember it well... The Police's
Synchronicity album, the launch of the BBC Microcomputer, a long hot summer and looking on in amazement at the radically curvaceous new Ford Sierra!
Another major moment of course was the launch of Compact Disc. As per time honoured tradition, Japan and the United States got it before the UK, but by autumn the format was here in earnest. It's funny to say so now, but for most people it was a case of 'shock and awe'. We marvelled at its futuristic looks, laser light beams, flashing LEDs and digital displays. By contrast, LP was just so old hat.
I too was seduced, and became an early adopter with a first generation Yamaha CD-X1 machine. My friends were jealous, but the more I listened, the less I liked it. I soon decided it wasn't like listening to real music and sold it, and couldn't bring myself to buy another silver disc spinner for another decade...
Ever since then, I've championed the cause of vinyl, boring people off their barstools time and again with tales of its superior sound and collectible status. My friends run in the other direction if someone "gets him started on CD". So I'm hardly digital's fiercest fan....
All the more remarkable then, that I found myself mesmerised by what came off my silver discs, when played through dCS's new Paganini four-box transport/clock/upsampler/DAC system. It was something of a life-changing moment for me, as all those long held prejudices of mine about the sheer awfulness of digital audio were snuffed out like a candle. At last I was hearing something that came close to analogue master tape. Yes really!
Costing a little over £30,000, I shall not be buying one, but it's still good to know it's there. My review on p10 was therefore more of an academic exercise to know what's possible. It's a seminal piece of kit. My only sadness was hearing SACD via the dCS, which was breathtaking. Now though, Super Audio Compact Disc is an anachronism; few companies press them anymore, just when we realise how special they are. Still, the Paganini is one of the most future-proof digital players yet devised, so who knows - we could be streaming DSD to it via the internet in a few years' time. Digital's now coming of age, and don't you love the unpredictability of it all?
David Price, editor
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