It is certainly more expensive than my humble OPPO player, and you need to add the Nausicaa DAC and base to do the same things. It will set you back around 100k$, but promises you to be the best, albeit the most expensive, CD player on the Planet. It will certainly qualify as top vintage gear in thirty years time!
I have not had a chance to listen to this newest version, but did listen to the previous incarnation at the Paris Hifi Show and then more privately at Point Musiques. And it did sound fine to me...
Besides whether or not it sounds better than an OPPO or any other high-end player for that matter, you have to recognise Dominique Giner's resilience and perfectionism, as he has been at it since 1987, right at the onset of CDs becoming mainstream. What fascinates me is that he is using some of the same principles as high-end turntables manufacturers, like Clearaudio, or to stay French, Pierre Riffault. All are trying to prevent vibrations to corrupt the fragile signal that is engraved in metallised plastic or vinyl which we entrust to keep a record of our musical endeavours. all rely on mass and precision mechanical engineering to transform an analog signal into music. I hear you say to yourself "but CD is digital". Well, not really...
You see, once the laser picks up the "ones" and "zeros" from the disc, it then transmits an analog signal to the DAC, and the job of the DAC is to accurately transform this signal into a digital word of 16 bits at 44.1KHz sampling rate, or in this particular case, at an upsampled 96KHz. The quality of this original analog signal is linked to the stability of the disc in regard to the laser beam which reads it. The quality of the conversion relies on a very low level of noise in the electronics of the DAC AND a very stable, jitter-free clock. Hence why companies like Antelope use a rubidium clock to drive their DACs and ADCs.
I encourage you to read this article here that will demystify a few generally badly understood facts about CDs.
And we wrongly assume that this has been taken care of properly during the mastering process of the CD.
Nobody ever talks about that though...Hence the reaso why I mention Antelope, as their products are used as ADCs in all good recording and mastering studios around the World. I even know one here in Melbourne...
It is ONE reason why a copy of a CD might sound different from the original, by the way...
I will leave the last word toJohn Bamford and Paul Miller of Hifi News, who just reviewed the whole system:
"As much works of sculpture as high-end audio components, the Kalista transport and Nausicaa DAC sound as striking as they look. The combo delivers a richly textured and sumptuous sound, with fabulous three dimensionality when playing fine recordings". As Ivor Tiefenbrun would say "garbage in, garbage out"..., so you might have to throw away a few CDs if you can afford this beautiful machine...
Micromega: from the best of analogue to HD Audio digital
Micromega became famous in the 80s for being the umbrella for some of the most amazing products of the time, namely the LEEDH speakers by Gilles Milot, and the Epure turntable, designed by Pierre Riffaud and still in production.
Gilles Milot is now the brains behind Acoustical Beauty, with some very innovative new speakers - see further article.
Didier Hamdi, the new owner of Micromedia has stirred the ship towards more digital products (but still making amps and an FM Tuner, a rarity in today's market) and was beautifully demonstrating his new wifi streamer and D/A converter: the Aria AirStream. He was also using one of the most amazing speakers: The AvantGarde acoustic Duos
But the most important part of his demos was the fact that he was very convincingly proving that a native 16bit/44.1kHz file - whether streamed or out of a Red Book CD - was actually a better sounding proposition than an up sampled version of it (24/96 0r 24/192), as there is no way to extract more information from that format, whichever clever electronic trick you put out of your D/A converter hat!
I am planning to write an in depth article on this subject in the New Year, so stay tuned.
Micromegaa is promising to get you the best out of your iTunes library by carefully designing power supplies, sampling clock(s), and analog circuitry with a choice of XLR balanced outputs or Cinch unbalanced ones.
Metronome Technologie: the best CD player on the planet?
After working on CD players and their related electronics since 1987, Metronome Technologie believe they have the best machine on the market in the shape of their money is no object Kalista and Kalista Reference, both using a Philips Pro CD transport and external electronics. You could a weekly dinner for 18 months at Guy Savoy , or once a year for the rest of your natural life for the price of one of these futuristic acrylic and metal contraption. But if your are more of an HiFi freak than a gourmet, the Kalista will provide you with hours of unadulterated sonic pleasures. If you still want to afford Guy Savoy some time, then Metronome has released some more affordable versions of their player. This year, they were introducing the CD8, a one box solution based on the same transport and a simplified set of valve and solid state electronics and a more reasonable price ( 7700 euros/11000$).
It comes with an USB input into the 24/192 D/A converter.
Martin Logan - less expensive as the years go by...
You probably know that I have a sweet tooth for the brand and specially for the Ethos released 18 months ago. (photo)
Well, it seems they really want each and every one of us to own a pair of these fabulous electrostatic panels, as they just introduced the new Electromotion series at a fraction of the price of the Ethos (about 1000$ on Amazon...)
I have not have a chance to listen to them, but it is certainly something to investigate!
And yes, they still look stunning with their very high WAF index!
Magnepan - the electrodynamic cousin of the Martin Logans
Introducing a quasi ribbon technology speaker, Magnepan is competing directly with Martin Logan and in the same price range (2000$ a pair in the US of A). The breakthrough is that the ribbon is now backed by a mylar film giving a strength to the ribbon, improving power handling and probably reducing distortion.
It is to be noted that due to the large emissive surface of the speaker, it does not need an extra subwoofer and claims to go down to 40Hz on its own.
It was only on static display, so I cannot confirm if these claims are legitimate.
However, Magnepan has been in business for 41 years: it speaks volumes (sic!)
McIntosh: the Rolls Royce of the amplifiers world?
What an impressive display of power!
You need to be very confident of your position in the marketplace to dare having only a static display - albeit of epic proportions!
Born in France, well travelled, relocated to Sydney in 1997.