Many Music Lovers Still Want A Decent CD Player
Buses come along in threes, they say – and CD players come along in pairs these days it seems. We have two for you in this issue. People still want to buy a decent CD player – like the now unavailable OPPO BDP-205D we use as a reference, with ESS ES9038 Pro DAC chip inside. Top analogue-to-digital convertor chips like this give superb results with CD but for them steam-punk digital delivered by lasers on sleds is a side issue.
That was yesterday; such chips are capable of so much more today – but that means they must be connected to outside sources, not an old silver disc, in order to play high resolution 24-bit digital. All the same, I suspect many buyers will be more than happy to hear CD from a modern player with a top chip, rather than an old cooker – and in this issue we review two interesting ones. On p32 you will find Rega's Saturn MK3 player that also acts as a hi-res DAC. And on p66 is the Synthesis Roma 14DC+ with a similar list of abilities, supplemented by a valve output stage.
The need to save energy very much influences product design in audio, if not for reasons that are altruistic like saving the planet. But low power consumption equates to the same thing I guess. The primary motive is to improve portability and battery life since portable audio is, these days, a far bigger market than domestic high fidelity. All the major DAC manufacturers have low power/small size versions of their top chips and that very much includes market leader ESS of California. Helm use just such a chip, recently introduced, within their Bolt portable convertor for headphones, which you read about on p38. The spec of the chip within this tiny device clearly shows just how far and fast development has come in modern digital.
Not everyone wants to be furiously modern though, some hark back to sounds of the past, especially when that means loudspeakers with big cabinets and the promise of room moving bass. In the USA horns were popular in the past and Klipsch keep their sound very much alive in the Heresy IV loudspeaker reviewed on p10. I hope you enjoy reading about the old and new in this issue.