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The $ensible Choice List: CD Players/DACs.

Although there are technical differences aplenty amongst the various units available on the market, contemporary CD players and DACs sound largely the same. The most significant differences among them are in matters of cosmetics, control features, and in build quality--not in sound quality, which is for all intents and purposes a commodity these days.

At any rate, listed below are several CD player and DAC models in ascending order of price. Price is given in parentheses, then there is an indication of when the model was reviewed, and by whom, followed by a brief discussion of the unit's performance and features.

Although some of these models have appeared in the staff choice lists printed in previous issues, final choices were made by the editor, and I am the one who will shoulder the blame for any glaring sins of omission. Please note that the listing of CD players and DACs presented below are representative of units that we have actually reviewed and is not intended to be an exhaustive list of recommendations. There are many other fine units on the market that are not on this brief list. Please note also that although we have included a few DACs in our listing, our general advice is to avoid separate DACs and to purchase a one-box CD player instead. (David Rich has some interesting insights into this issue in his technical commentary elsewhere in this issue.)

AMC DAC8 ($199) Reviewed by JTF in Issue 58. For those who really think they need a DAC, the cheapest way to go that we know of, and seems to offer some advantages over the internal DACs used in some of the early-generation CD players.

Marantz CD6000OSE ($500) Reviewed by JTF in Issue 81. The latest version of the venerable Marantz CD player whose ancestors have been reviewed and recommended by several reviewers over the years. A safe choice, although some have said that Marantaz units tend to be a bit bright-sounding.

Rotel RCD-971 ($699) Reviewed by GK in Issue 81. An excellent player that brings HDCD capability inot a more affordable realm.

Yamaha DVD-S795 DVD Player ($699) Reviewed by HF in Issue 80. A DVD player makes a good alternative to a CD player, and can serve double duty for audio and video.

Assemblage DAC-2.6 ($699 kit, $799 assembled) Reviewed by DM in Issue 81. The basic kit is relatively easy to assemble, and the design is upgradable.

Mach 1 D/A Converter ($900) Reviewed by JTF in Issue 81. Essentially an Assemblage DAC2.6 with some tweaks and upgrades.

Arcam Alpha 7 ($749) Reviewed by TL in Issue 66. A different-looking CD-player that performs well.

Rega Planet ($795) Reviewed by TL and KE in Issue 71. A stylish unit with some British ergonomic quirks.

Arcam Alpha 8 ($949) Reviewed by WCH in Issue 71. An upgraded version of the Alpha 7.

Assemblage DAC-3 (Kit, $1,499; assembled, $1,599) Reviewed by DM in Issue 81. Expensive, but an excellent design overall. For those who want the ultimate DAC and are willing to pay for it--at a price that is actually much less than many of the glamorous high-end DACs that are no better in design or parts quality.

Arcam Alpha 9 ($1,599) Reviewed by KWN in Issue 75. Although the finish and feel of this unit are somehwat underwhelming given the high price, the unit features an excellent DAC, HDCD capability, and excellent error corection/ concealment. You could spend more for less.
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Publication:Sensible Sound
Date:Jun 1, 2000
Previous Article:Rotel RCD-971 CD Player.
Next Article:Coincident Speaker Technology Super Eclipse.

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