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Thursday, 01 January 2004 ,  Written by Thomas Garcia
Shanling/Underwood HiFi SCD-T200 Level-1 CD/SACD Player
Introduction I’m not generally an early adopter of most new technologies. Usually, I prefer to wait for “the latest and greatest” to mature a generation or so. It's only been in the last couple of years that I've developed a strong interest in pursuing the current high-resolution digital audio formats. This hasn’t been due to a lack of inquisitiveness regarding the performance enhancements of these technologies, but rather to a scarcity of compelling source material. However, with the increasing availability of greater options in high-definition playback equipment, substantial increases in titles and a broader genre of music, I have begun eagerly pursuing these new formats and the improvements they offer. With a theoretical frequency response from DC to 100kHz and a potential dynamic range greater than 120dB, these new high-definition formats have the ability to reproduce the music with the highest degree of realism, resolution and detail. Needles to say, when I was offered an opportunity ...
Monday, 01 September 2003 ,  Written by Ben Shyman
Lexicon RT-10 Universal Disc Player
Introduction Consumer acceptance of DVD-Audio and SACD has been slow despite the undisputed and enormous improvement in sound quality. While there is no doubt that the bitter format war between these two high-resolution formats is to blame, making matters worse is the apparent inability of the record companies to agree on a non-proprietary digital connection standard. This not only puts an additional, unwanted layer of digital-to-analog and analog-to-digital conversion in the signal path, but it creates further problems as well. Audio enthusiasts looking to add both these competing high-resolution formats to their systems have been limited by their home theater processors, which at best contain only one set of analog 5.1 inputs (Lexicon’s MC-8 is an exception). Initially, this forced consumers to make a near-impossible choice. After all, many of my favorite bands have released their music on one format or the other, but not both. Recently, however, a handful of manufacturers have designed hybrid players ...
Thursday, 01 May 2003 ,  Written by Augie Bettencourt
Shanling CD-T100 with Level 1 Modification CD Player
Introduction When I first was made aware that I was going to be reviewing the Shanling CD T-100, my thought was “Who the heck is Shanling?” I’d never heard the brand name before but, with very little research, I was able to find many Webophiles were praising the Shanling CD-T100 as an affordable, good-sounding CD player. With a little more digging, I discovered the Shanling CD-T100 was a little-known Chinese import. Their importer is Music Hall, the long time US importer for Creek and Epos, as well as its own Music Hall branded products. As I so far had experience with few high-end products from this region, I had my reservations. My concerns about the Shanling CD-T100 subsided once I heard that Chris Johnson, founder and former president of Sonic Frontiers, had designed a modification for the CD-T100 at his new company, the Parts Connexion, exclusively for The Graham Co. Walter Liederman at The ...
Saturday, 01 March 2003 ,  Written by Bryan Southard
Mark Levinson No. 390S CD Processor
Introduction Many music enthusiasts have placed their digital playback purchase plans on hold indefinitely, awaiting the end of the seemingly never-ending digital format wars that have plagued this industry for far too long. Nobody wants to lay down large green for a digital playback system that becomes outdated before the new smell has worn off. While all this is being played out by the mainstream Asian electronics conglomerates, companies like Madrigal continue to produce CD players at the highest conceivable level. What will be the next digital format is anyone’s guess, yet one constant remains – the desire to milk absolutely everything you can from your existing compact disc collection. Let’s face it, regardless of what the future holds, you will be listening to the bulk of your existing disc collection for eternity. CD playback technology continues to advance, making the best of yesteryear sound lethargic and dull by comparison. An example of an advanced design ...
Wednesday, 01 January 2003 ,  Written by Richard Elen
NAD C521i CD Player
Introduction The NAD C521i is the latest version of NAD’s CD player. It attempts to offer very high audio performance at an affordable price – a goal in which it succeeds, largely via a combination of offshore manufacturing (the unit is made in the People’s Republic of China to NAD specs) and careful product design, focusing on “must-have” features and limiting the implementation of bells and whistles you tend to use only once or twice in the lifetime of a player. The C521i features Burr-Brown 20-bit delta-sigma converters for maximum audio quality. CDs are only 16-bit, but over-specifying the converters is a good decision. Even now, to get true 16-bit capability, you need to aim a little high. Also on the technical side, the unit features separate analog and digital power supply regulation. The actual converter chips inside a piece of digital equipment are one of the least important bits as far as sound is ...
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