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Classé CDP-202 CD Player Print E-mail
Thursday, 01 March 2007
Article Index
Classé CDP-202 CD Player
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Music Listening
When I first got the CDP-202 up and running in my system, I had an easy time running though all the options and menus. This player can be set up in a few different ways in order to match your needs and tastes. When playing Michael Penn’s album March, I paid particularly close attention to the track “This and That.” In this track, Penn’s vocals are accompanied by an acoustic guitar, both cleanly recorded. Listening to this track through the Classé, I found that the soundstage was appropriately sized, placing the listener close to but not on top of the action. Imaging was sharp and solid without any float. The guitar was reproduced with a great amount of finesse and detail. There was a relaxed sense of ease while listening to this track, but not at the cost of any detail. The Classé maintained a good sense of rhythm, well-timed but more relaxed than analytical.

I then listened to U2’s War album (Island – Mobile Fidelity). “Sunday Bloody Sunday” is a pretty forward recording and can be abrasive on lesser systems. While listening to this track through either system sourced by the Classé, there was never any harshness. I noted that the highs were extended and open, with a clear and smooth decay. The soundstage on this track was notably and appropriately larger than on “This and That.” The vocals were extremely clean and it was fairly easy to pick out the many details and layers in this recording.

I then listened to a female vocalist whose disc I had used on my recent review of the Martin Logan Summits. Playing the very well-recorded “Dat Dere” from Rickie Lee Jones’ album Pop Pop (Geffen), I was thankful for the extremely revealing Summits. I played this track back through the CDP-202 and also used the Perpetual Technologies P-1/P- 3, DSP/DAC combination. I found that the CDP-202 seemed to have more air in the highs and a bit more detail providing greater texture. The Classé seemed to be a bit warmer overall, yet maintained a proper balance. The soundstages were similar in size, but the position of the listener was different. There was no question that the Classé’ sounded more musical on its own.

Dynamic contrasts, on both large and small scales, were very well-rendered. On the reissue of Nat "King" Cole’s The Greatest Hits (DCC), "Orange Colored Sky" begins with soft piano, bass and voice orchestration. These relatively delicate and low-level pieces were well-detailed against a quiet background. Within the first minute, the background singers and brass open up with a large jump in dynamic range.

I moved on to a DVD-Audio disc, Missy Elliot’s “Miss E. So Addictive” (WEA/Elektra). While listening to one of my reference tracks, “Get Ur Freak On,” the soundstage remained very wide, despite the down-mixing to two channels, due to my system configuration. The vocals of Miss E. and her background singers were clean and well-defined, yet also warm and full. I ended up listening to this track several times, as I found myself noticing various details that I had not previously noted, even though I have heard this album through quite a few DVD players. The Classé was detailed enough to portray the sharpness of the synthesizers, but captured the warmth of the vocals at the same time. Like much of this album, this track has a strong bass track. While paying attention to the bass, I found that the lower registers had a bit of bloom and, in comparison, perhaps just a touch less of an edge than the Perpetual Technologies combination.

I also listened to one of Classic Records’ high-definition DAD discs, John Lee Hooker’s “Boom Boom.” The title track did a phenomenal job with Hooker’s voice. The soundstage was intimately sized and the images solidly anchored. I was able to hear more detail through the Classé than I had ever heard on this album through any of the DVD players previously used.

Overall, the CDP-202 was consistently musical. The sound was detailed, but not overly so. Where some audio components control the sound reproduction with rigid total command authority, the Classé seems to gain control over the sound with seduction. The sound does not feel forced, but rather relaxed without sacrifice of detail, providing a musically revealing picture. The midrange was relaxed and slightly recessed in position, with the highs well extended and smooth. The CDP-202 was completely devoid of the glare and grain that plague lesser players.


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