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...
Born in France, well travelled, relocated to Sydney in 1997.