Sunday, March 25, 2007

Current state-of-the-art digital gear

It is paradoxical that at the same time as music servers and computer audio are gaining popularity and turning the CD-players into "legacy" sources, CD/SACD-players are reaching the new pinnacle. Witness Naim's CD 555 or Accuphase's DP-78. It seems that current pecking order of state-of-the-art digital re-production is decided between two combos: Accuphase's SACD transport DP-800 / DC-801 digital processor and Esoteric P-03 universal transport / D-03 DAC. Accuphase 25.000 euros combo received from German Audio hifi-magazine all-time-highest 140 points for both CD and SACD re-production, Esoteric combo in the same magazine got "just" 135 for CD sound. Soundstage has a positive review of Esoteric on-line as well. In the Absolute Sound April/May 2007 issue Robert Harley evaluated the same Esoteric combo in TAS cover story, and named it as one of the best sounding digital source he has heard. However, there appears be two hot new rivals.

Spectral Audio has been developing some 5 years SDR-4000 Reference Processor, and rumour is that this 17.500 USD player sounds fabulous. BTW, it has an Esoteric drive modified exclusively for the SDR-4000.

The other rival dCS uses equally Esoteric drive in its new Scarlatti flagship combo which replaces Elgar/Verdi Encore/Verona pack. Scarlatti is a three component affair (transport, DAC, clock), where DAC is the latest version of renowed dCs' Ring DAC.

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