Price: £750 More info: Roksan Size: 432 x 105 x 380mm Weight: 9kg Formats: CD, CD-R, CD-RW Line out: Stereo phono and XLR Digital out: Coaxial, RCA 110 Ohm Balanced AES/EBU, XLR, Toslink DAC: PCM1730E Advance Segment 24 bit, 192 kHz
Roksan Kandy K2
British company Roksan based in Middlesex started out in the hi-fi manufacturing bizz back in the eighties making record decks and since then has introduced a diverse range of successful products including the launch of the Kandy series nine years ago. Their first CD player was launched nearly 18 years back.
It has a high quality front panel made from an impressively-thick chunk of aluminium with an overtly styled shiny section offering a design key with stacked members of the K2 family. Sitting beside other brands, the size of the Kandy makes it the one most likely to fit in with the average system.
It has display chaplets which light up in a fluorescent green. It seems a bit old school with its little track number boxes lighting up and blinking to show which one is playing. It's all a bit squeezed for space, but not offensively so. Visual highlights also include a nice little red 'K2' logo lit up on the front.
The best part of the Kandy deal, apart from the audio performance, is the remote control. It has a neat monochrome LCD display which will light up green along with the buttons. It looks more like an after-market device with a bunch of system icons on the screen and usefully gives a small bleep when a finger touches an icon. It's a learning remote with 'come alive' motion sensor and is usefully already assigned with Roksan tuner and amplifier control settings. Assigning codes from other remotes is an easy sequence of button events along with pointing the remote at the Roksan's learning eye.
Sound quality scores heavily across the all-important staging and focus parameters. Tiny nuances are well-delivered and front stage attack is almost holographic with best dynamics of the bunch.
Good open sound, natural and capable of bringing front line instruments and vocals to the fore with an accurate sound stage. Good impact without over-emphasis and ability to impressively characterise without addition or subtraction. Added value remote control.
Display looks a bit like a far-eastern throwback.
Price: £700 More info: Yamaha Size: whd 435 x 137 x 440 mm Weight: 15kg Formats: SA-CD, CD, CD-R/RW (MP3, WMA) Line out: Stereo phono (balanced XLR on 2000 model) Digital out: Coaxial, Toslink SPDIF DAC: Yamaha high-grade differential converters
Nobody could possibly feel short-changed when unpacking this monster from its cardboard box. In its price band, it has to be one of the heaviest in the marketplace.
Its repertoire goes beyond any of the players mentioned here, being the only one capable of playing Super Audio CD with its dynamic range of around 105dB and a signal-to-noise ratio of about 113dB. SACD has a comparatively low profile compared to CD but there are well over 5,000 titles generally available and new material still being produced regularly.
It's available in silver or black with pale birch side trims and is part of a range which also lists its S1000 series amplifier (2x140 watts into four ohms) with the same styling. The CD player is actually a lightweight compared to the amp which weighs seven kilos more.
Yamaha has an excellent reputation for performance from innovative circuit design and the S1000 is bulging with it. Technical highlights include the use of independent power supplies with separate transformers to isolate the audio circuitry from the digital circuitry. It is switchable to Pure Direct circuitry which turns off the display and the digital output stages leaving only the analogue phono outputs active.
Other attention to detail includes heavy vibration-absorbing feet which unusually, are adjustable for height.
The heavyweight construction of the player gives way to an unexpectedly slim and jewel-like remote control with an aluminium-clad front panel. It has all the right buttons but manages to preserve an uncluttered look. Very nice.
The Yamaha puts in a very good sonic performance with smoothness and delicacy. The sound stage is well defined with good pin-pointing of voices and instruments plus good width and depth. Immediacy and attack is there but also a suggestion of it being tamed.
Battleship build quality and a smooth operator. CDs yielded finely detailed staging and audio performance. Even the most raucous music is well-harnessed and nicely rendered. SACD performance was smooth and detailed, almost creamy. Minus points
Styling is a bit seventies - which may not be a minus point for some. Slight suggestion of over-zealous processing.
All these players are well removed from the budget end of the market and they're all a bit special in their ability to extract information from CDs (or SACDs). All of them did well in resolution and timing, and all delivered a pleasingly-focussed sound stage.
The Yamaha has excellent lower register resolving power and a fineness of detail to keep listeners happy, yet it couldn't quite keep up with the pack. This was due in part to a performance which was perhaps just a little too smooth. It probably needs to be mated to a system with plenty of attack to strike the right balance.
Then we have the extremely versatile Quad with its choice of fixed or variable gain line outputs and its ability to process the digital outputs of other devices. However, we felt it was straying a little outside the optimum with a slightly larger than life presentation.
The Cyrus puts in a stunning sonic performance with all the right attributes including reassuring accuracy.
The Roksan and Cyrus are awfully close in performance and they both gain the higher sonic ground over the other two. There's a cigarette paper between them, but for our money, we would buy some Kandy.
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Posted: 16/04/09 20:42:57 57
I was intrigued by your mention of a laser aimer with the speakers. Can you give me some more detail on this please? I thought I was the only one who likes to sit in the sweet spot with both speakers lined up by eye in my direction. If you have a better technique I would like to know what you use and how you use it.