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Pioneer PD-F07 CD Player Print E-mail
Saturday, 01 May 1999
ImageLong ago, a myth was sold to the audiophile community that CD changers were not at all good for real music lovers. After listening to a first-generation CD carousel, you could understand this myth: the early changers sounded brittle on the high frequencies, limp in the bass and lacked any sense of depth. To compound the damage, most of the early units didn’t even come equipped with a digital output to resurrect their sound via an outboard digital to analog converter. Today, CD changers are loaded with technology and features that make a strong argument for why even a hardened audiophile should consider owning one for his or her music and film playback system.

The Pioneer Elite PD-F07 at $500 is one of the best values in today’s AV market, in that it is a very well-built 101 CD changer loaded with many of the slickest features and packed with advanced laser and transport technology. The PD-F07 uses a unique circular tray to allow you to house 100 of your favorite CDs in a relatively small physical chassis. Pioneer’s instant access feature directs you to a slot where you can drop in a single CD and quickly get it spinning, the same as you’d do with a single CD player. The laser mechanism features a low noise optical pick-up. The internal DAC features a technology known as Legato Link Conversion, which adds harmonics to the overall signal that extend way above the normal range of a CD to as high as 30,000 kHz and beyond. The Custom File feature allows you three different banks of 36 tracks that can be pre-programmed for your favorite cuts. This is a very cool feature for a theme party, avoiding the need for you to play party DJ. The Pioneer Elite PD-F07 thoughtfully is equipped with headphone outputs, as well as an excellent CD deck synchro which interfaces with your Pioneer cassette deck or CRD machine, so that you never overwrite or cut off a song you are recording.
The Music
Inexpensive CD players are known for sounding thin, brittle and flimsy when compared to the mega-dollar, over-engineered audiophile single CD tanks. The sonic performance of the Pioneer Elite PD-F07 is much better than the average mass market Japanese 100 to 300 combo players out there. With its Legato Link Conversion, the Pioneer Elite PD-F07 sounds consistently smooth on every CD, whereas other similar products come off very forward and lacking a lot of musicality.

On David Byrne’s Rei Momo (Sire) "Independence Day," the overall presentation of a very complex and spicy aural painting was pleasing to the ear coming through very a revealing Krell, Wilson and Transparent-powered playback system. The accordion had a tangy sound and the various shakers, blocks and other percussion instruments presented themselves believably in the soundstage, especially considering the PD-F07’s $500 price tag. Yet, when I inserted a Camelot Technology Arthur 3.0 DAC ($700) into the signal path, every element of the sound improved. The bass was noticeably tighter and every little detail became much more pronounced.

From "One World" on Remmy Ongala & Orchestre Super Matimila’s Mambo album, I was able to test the Pioneer Elite PD-F07 ‘s ability to reproduce very unique stringed instruments accompanied by rich and present vocals. The PDF 107 did quite well. The raspy Rasta singer’s voice resonated with an accuracy which brought a level of musical credibility you wouldn’t expect from a $500 100 CD changer.

When tested on a very well-recorded and extremely hard-rockin’ cut like "Super Charger Heaven" from White Zombie’s Astro Creep: 2000 (Geffen), you could definitely hear the partial collapse of the soundstage without the external DAC. The song is laden with samples, overdubs, screeching guitars and pounding drums. As a transport, the PD-F07 made the grade. As a CD player, featured in a very revealing music system, the PD-F07 left you wanting a little more.

The Downside
While the Pioneer Elite PD-F07 is the best-sounding, most cost-effective 100+ CD player I have heard, especially as a transport, the fact that it only holds 100 CDs when Sony and Denon have 200 CD players in similarly priced players is a problem. You obviously can link up as many as three PD-F07’s to have 300 CD storage and playback. However, this requires an external interface component and a much higher cost.

The Pioneer Elite PD-F07 will not interface with my new favorite CD management system, the Escient Tunebase 2000. According to Escient, it will likely take until the next generation of Pioneer Elite CD changers to be able to hook up to their extremely powerful and convenient onscreen or touch-screen remote interface.

For $500, the Pioneer Elite PD-F07 is a bargain. It packs a high performance 101 CD Transport and countless features into an easy to own and use CD player. The internal DAC isn’t the greatest, but what do you want for $500? The addition of an external DAC gives the Pioneer Elite PDF 107 a value way beyond its price. While the PD-F07 won’t out-perform the world’s best high-performance single CD players, it is an excellent transport and you can’t argue with the fact that it plays 101 CDs when audiophile players don’t.

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