Sunday, May 22, 2005

Plinius CD-101 and Audia Flight CD One

Source: Haute Fidelite May 2005 (in French)

New Zealander Plinius needs no introduction, audiophiles all over the world recognize its amplifiers. The company has now launched its first CD-player, CD-101. French Haute Fidelite liked the product, to say the least, and presented its "Reference" award to it. This is a fascinating product, nothing given in to reach optimal musicality: 24bit/352 kHz conversion (Burr Brown 1704), no screen (instead 20 LEDs showing track numbers), SE/balanced outputs, fully tweaked DVD-ROM 8x drive, build quality beyond reproach. The review cited fluid musicality, superior soundstaging (especially depth), dynamics, and at EURO 3.800 5/5 stars for value for money.

The magazine tested in the same issue an Italian cd-player, Audia Flight CD One, and also compared both players side-by-side. Audia's specs shortly: top-loading, 24/192, both SE & balanced out, Phillips' Pro cd-drive.

Audia was a typical "Italian job", i.e. smooth, harmonically rich and voiced to seduce instead of being overly analytical. It offered better lateral soundstaging than Plinius and had a slightly fuller low bass. Plinus was found to more analytical, presenting nuances in small doses in a way which ultimately captivates the listener. In short, two outstanding cd-players with complementing characteristics, reserved for melomanes.

Viewpoint: I've long drooled to hear a full Plinius system. This is one serious HE-company, for example in certain amps it uses internal silver wiring by Siltech. Somehow I have a feeling that CD-101 sounds pretty much like my Mark Levinson 390S (same upsampling to 352.8 kHz), although it uses different DACs (390S uses an Analog Devices AD1853 D/A converter chip, CD-101 Burr-Brown PCM-1704 chip - just like Levinson in its 360S external DAC).

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