Thursday, October 06, 2005

Two interesting high-end CD-players

Source: Hi-Fi News November 2005

Musical Fidelity only just recently announced the kW SACD player (see previous post), and yet they keep up the restless pace of new products. According to Hi-Fi News MF has announced (yet MF's Web-site has no information about this) the kW25 CD-player. This is two chassis design, comprising of kW25DM transport and kW25DM DAC. The transport mechanism features enhanced rigidity and vibration-resistant design, adjustable levelling and sophisticated multiple power supplies. Transport upsamples to 96 kHz and outputs via dual cable S/PDIF to kw25DM DAC, which in its turn upsamples audio stream up to 24bit/192kHz.

Such like the kW SACD, kw25 offers two output stages. MF says in their Web-site concerning kw SACD as follows: "The output stage(s) is really interesting. There are two output stages in the kW SACD, operating at the same time. One is a super-quality tube stage, using our amazing mu-Vista tube, and the other is a Class A transistor circuit. Each is an incredible performer and both have truly excellent sound, but they are slightly, ever so subtly, different. Who is to say which one is correct? The idea is that you can connect both output stages to your amplifier and switch between them to select the perfect balance to suit your tastes and recording. Price £1.999 each.

In the same issue another Grand Design was reviewed, Ancient Audio's Grand Lektor CD-player from Poland. I've never noticed this company on my hi-fi radar screen, but I'll in future. Evidently founder Jaromir Waszczyszyn (hope I got that right!) has been hand-crafting HE-components since 1995. The Grand Lector is a gothic, almost insane three-box (!) design, transport + two mono DACs. En plus, each has its own power supply with required power cord, so do the euro/dollar math to apply Nordost Valhalla power cords throughout your system. Data transfer between transport and DACs is by I2S connections (see my post about Revelation Audio I2S cable). However, in this case there are five (5) I2S cables between each DAC and transport, i.e. ten (10) all together, all serving a different purpose, e.g. a master clock, a sample clock etc.

The transport itself is renowed Philips CD-Pro 2M, built in granite chassis. As with other top-loading designs, a magnetic puck is used to secure the disk while playing, but in Lector's case there is no lid (I'm running out of exclamation marks). The DACs use Ancient Audio's own converter, all connections are made in silver and output buffering utilizes 6H30 valve (another my favourite). You have to buy this issue of Hi-Fi News just to be able to admire crafmanship of this beauty.

Reviewer Andrew Harrison's reference system consist of full dCS stack, i.e. state-of-the-art digital playback system par excellence. Yet he remarks that "Where the dCS would give a neutral, nearly dispassionate rendering, the Ancient Audio player had a more engaging personality ... thanks to its sweet, liquid and organic presentation there are few machines that will take you closer to the heart of the music".

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