The TEAC CD-3000 SACD Player

by Audiophilia on November 13, 2013 · 17 comments

in Digital

My first encounter with the TEAC CD-3000 was at an audio meeting hosted by a TEAC dealer. The player was connected directly to a pair of Nelson Pass amplifiers, driving a hybrid ribbon speaker. The sound of the stereo system was vivid and resolving. It did not exhibit any annoying sonic character. From my brief exposure, I did not observe any egregious flaws.

I was exposed to the same player on another occasion, at an audio meeting hosted by a representative from KEF. The Teac player was part of a simple system—integrated solid state amp and KEF mini-monitors. Again, the sound was detailed, without any objectionable sonic attributes. It was a brief audition and thus difficult to detect any flaws.

As I have noted in past reviews, I believe a stereo system is “as strong as is its weakest link”. At both auditions, I did not notice a “weak link”. Given its price and multi-faceted design, I was eager to review this player.

There is another reason that motivates me to review this player, namely that it has no tubes. My stereo system includes a CD player with a tube analogue stage, preamp and amplifier(s). Introducing a solid state component should be an interesting endeavor, challenging my obvious preference for tubes, and observing the effect of replacing a tubed CD source with a solid state CD player.

The CD 3000 is most versatile. It plays Redbook and SACD formats, upsamples at 192 Khz, discretely, that is, your choice is the Redbook rate of 44.1 Khz or 192 Khz, and accepts hi-rez input via coax and USB interfaces.

Since this will be a long review, a consequence of examining all of the functions of this CD player, I will dispense with the mention of technical information, and instead, refer the reader to the company’s website.

The company’s design goal is to provide maximum resolution and features at an attractive price point of $2000. It should also be noted that the selection of the DAC chip, the CS 4398 is consistent with their objective to produce as much resolution and transparency as possible. The CS 4398 is more resolving than the Burr Brown 1796.

Break-In

I was advised by a technician at TEAC to provide a signal for 500 hours, before reviewing the unit. Thus, I played several CDs for a total of 500 hours, before critical listening. I also fed a signal from a coax cable directly to the DAC for 500 hours, but this procedure may have been redundant. After 500 hours of feeding a signal, I noticed the sound of the player continue to change. I ended up having fed a signal for about 600 hours to the Redbook circuit and about 150 hours to the SACD circuit.

Potential purchasers should be advised to follow the instructions I was given before passing any judgment on the merits of this player. In addition, listen to the player until its sound is stable for about three days, before critical evaluation. The break-in suggestions should be followed scrupulously to avoid an inaccurate perception of the sound of this player.

TEAC CD-3000 SACD Player rear panel.

TEAC CD-3000 SACD Player rear panel.

Listening Sessions

Since the player has several aspects to analyze, I will try to be as laconic as possible to create an efficient review. I will first review the player’s Redbook capability, and comment upon listening at 44.1 Khz and 192 Khz. Next, I will assess the SACD function by comparing a hybrid layer and an SACD layer of the same CD. Finally, I will feed a Reference Recording HRx DVD-R sampler, 24/176.4, via coax from a PS Audio PWT to the DAC of the Teac, comparing the hi-rez to the Redbook format, where possible. I will use the PS Audio as a transport to play Redbook and hi-rez formats, to avoid introducing a second variable, i.e, the transport.

Listening Session—Redbook

I always begin a review with a test of a component’s frequency response. I usually use two or three discs for this purpose. Thereafter I select recordings to evaluate other salient parameters of performance, including dimensionality (soundstage and spatial relationships), dynamics and timbre.

My first selection, a test of the treble, is Holly Cole, DON’T SMOKE IN BED, track 1, Alert Z2 81020, track 1. I first noticed an increase in sibilance, compared to CD players I auditioned recently. I did not consider the intensity excessive, as the sound of Holly Cole’s voice is consistent with close-miking, and I have heard both more and less sibilance auditioning this disc in a variety of settings. There was also an increase in the emphasis of all words beginning with the letter the “s”. I also noticed changes in the sound of the acoustic bass. I observed greater density of the strings, greater impact, greater fullness and greater extension in the bass region. The instrument also sounded larger in size. The piano sounded fuller and had more weight. I thought I heard the pianist exerting greater pressure the keys.

I next selected Bela Fleck, FLIGHT OF THE COSMIC HIPPO, track 4, Warner Brothers 9 26562, as a test of bass response. The quality of the bass changed. The vibrating wood body of the electric base was more controlled. I could hear the movement of fingers on the strings, as the bassist descended the scale. When the frequency which excited the vibration of the wood body was reached, I noticed an unusual phenomenon. When the wood body was vibrating, it in turn induced vibration of the strings. I had never heard that effect before. Obviously, there was a balance between the sound of strings and the sound of wood, more overall clarity than usual and the strings could be heard distinctly as a separate entity from the wood body. The sibilance I heard on the Holly Cole disc, led me to consider the possibility that there might be a peak in the upper midrange/treble region.

I decided to listen to the sound of violins on a CD engineered by Keith Johnson. I own a number of Reference Recording CDs, and my recollection of violins, is that they always sound smooth and balanced in frequency response. Therefore I decided to listen to the disc, MEPHISTO & CO, track 1, RR 82 CD. At this juncture in the review, I felt more like an audio detective, than a reviewer.

Listening to the violin section, I heard the sound of full-bodied and smooth sounding instruments. The lateral soundstage covered the entire rear wall. The orchestra location was mid to rear hall. The transition from soft to loud passages, was accomplished with such ease, it reminded me of the action of a live orchestra. During louder passages, I thought I heard a harp. It was barely audible. I wasn’t sure I heard it, until later in the performance, I heard a harp solo. The concertmaster had several short solos. The sound was very full, extraordinarily smooth, but not euphonically colored. Evidently the difference in treble response, between the Holly Cole recording and the Reference recording, was a consequence of the differences in the recording process.

I next introduced a test of dimensionality and dynamics, namely, TEST RECORD 1—DEPTH OF IMAGE, track 5, OPUS 3 CD 7900. Initially, I set my Radio Shack meter at 70 DB, and later increased the setting to 80 DB. The loudest passages registered 90 DB. Solo instruments included the bassoon, piccolo and trombone—members of a symphonic band, performing Shostakovich’s “Polka” from The Bolt”.

The bassoon was located all the way to the left, on the rear wall. The piccolo was positioned at the rear wall, right of center, and the trombone emanated from the rear wall, behind the right speaker. The piccolo lacked thinness and shrillness, the bassoon and the trombone were full-bodied, and all three instruments sounded natural in timbre. At the loudest passage (about 90DB), the symphonic band never sounded raucous, congested or annoying.

The last selection is a very good test of timbre because the perspective of the solo instruments and string section is close enough to the listener to facilitate an accurate evaluation. The CD in question is Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf”, narrated by Sir John Gielgud, with the Royal Philharmonic, conducted by Andrea Licata, on an obscure label, ACUM, number 204446-206.

Instruments from each section of the orchestra are represented individually, except for the string section and French horns. The flute sounded rounded and full, but sacrificed some articulation [try playing it! - Ed]. The clarinet emphasized the sound of ebony, but the sound of the reed was not audible. It too was full bodied. The bassoon was very articulate. The sound of the reed was audible, and was not as full sounding as the other wind instruments. The oboe also was not articulate in its presentation. It too was full and rounded, like the clarinet and flute. The French horns, sounded full and clear, while the string section was balanced in its presentation, between the sound of the wood and the strings.

Finally, the tympani sounded more dynamic and had more impact than I observed listening to other CD players. There was decay following the last strike of the mallet on the instrument. I listened carefully, because I noticed a difference in the pitch of the decaying metal. It was slightly lower than I heard on CD players that I had auditioned in the last two months.

Note, on several occasions I pressed the upsampling button on the faceplate of the SACD player, and found it had an imperceptible affect on the sound.

Listening to SACDs

The first selection, “Hopak”, from Tchaikovsky’s “Mazeppa”, was already in my collection in the HRx format. Reference Recordings sent me an SACD copy, taken from the CD, EXOTIC DANCES FROM THE OPERA, track3, RR 71SACD. Listening to the Redbook layer, strings were smooth and extended. One could hear the bow on the strings and assess the material content of the strings.

A piccolo could be heard, a bit louder than some other instruments. Its sound did not assault the ears, i.e., there was no peak in the treble. There was a strong presence in the bass region, mainly a result of the dynamic presence of percussion instruments. The orchestra was arrayed over the full range of the back wall.

Listening to the SACD layer, I noticed that the sound of the strings was a bit smoother. The piccolo was not as loud, and there was a greater presence of upright basses. As a result, the orchestra sounded more balanced. Instruments were spaced slightly further apart. Percussion instruments had greater impact and dynamic range increased. Lateral soundstage width was unchanged. French horns were more evident and cymbal crashes sounded smoother. Overall, the orchestra sounded more realistic. On this CD, the SACD layer was sourced from analog master tapes.

The next selection was a very recent release from Reference Recordings, of a live Pittsburg Symphony Orchestra Concert [Audiophilia review, here - Ed]. This recording was mastered by Sound/Mirror, rather than Keith Johnson. Quoting from the accompanying booklet, “The recording was made and post produced in 64fs DSD on a Pyramid work station”. The CD contained three of Richard Strauss’s tone poems. I chose “Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks”, track 3, RR 707SACD.

Listening to the hybrid layer, at one point, I reduced the volume level, as the music had such dynamic range and was so loud (in excess of 90 DB), and reached that level so suddenly, that it exceeded my comfort level. Even without precise measurement, this CD is the most dynamic I own. Even as a Redbook recording, this orchestra sounded more life-like than any in my collection. All instruments were so clear, yet retained a very accurate timbre. The soundstage sounded as if it could extend beyond the borders of my rear wall. This CD is one of a few that produced a natural sounding cymbal crash. All instruments of the orchestra were clear and easy to identify. Finally, spacing between foreground and background instruments was much greater than what I have heard on most commercial CDs.

Listening to the SACD layer, the spacing between instruments increased and instruments were more fleshed out. There was also a bit more bass extension. Dynamics were unchanged. Instruments which sounded natural on the hybrid layer sounded even more realistic on the SACD layer. A cymbal crash revealed more of the sound of brass. Percussion instruments had greater impact, and sound stage width was unchanged.

The last selection was JAZZ AT THE PAWNSHOP, FIM SACD MO34, Disc 2, track 1. Immediately one could hear ambient noise produced by patrons and a bartender at a jazz club. One first hears a piano and drummer. The piano sounds live and the cymbals sounded very natural. The acoustic bass provided a strong foundation. One can hear the sound of dishes, while musicians were playing. Although the piano was close miked, one could observe the position of the drummer, behind the piano. Thereafter, Arne Domnerus (alto) and Lars Erstrand (vibes) were heard. The saxophone was in the foreground, while the vibraphone was slightly behind the alto. The saxophone’s natural timbre was especially revealed when playing in its upper range. Later in the solo, one could detect a saliva-saturated reed. One could also notice that the altoist was moving around. When the saxophone solo ended, the vibist soloed. At that point, the vibraphone was close-miked. It was easy to observe a wooden stick striking the metal keys, and the timbre was natural, with the exception that the shimmer of the instrument was slightly deemphasized. The SACD layer provided greater detail. The cymbal revealed a more brass-like quality and sounded like a thicker instrument. Instruments sounded louder, obscuring the ambient noise from the jazz club, and there was greater presence from the acoustic bass. One could observe the pianist’s fingers striking the keys.

The sound of the alto sax changed. On the hybrid layer, the sound of the reed was more evident, while on the SACD layer, the alto had more body and the sound of the reed was less present. Dynamic contrasts increased. I measured a maximum of 95 DB—much louder than my normal listening level. The acoustic bass had more presence and its sound was more fleshed out. Again, one could hear the position of the altoist, relative to the microphone, change. The sound of the vibraphone was more articulate. The shimmer of the instrument was more audible, and one could detect the wood mallet and the vibraphone as separate entities.

Listening to HRx Discs

All recordings were fed to the DAC of the TEAC from a PS Audio Perfect Wave Transport. My first selection was the “Hopak” from Tchaikovsky’s Mazeppa”, taken from the Reference Records CD EXOTIC DANCES FROM THE OPERA, RR 71SACD, track 3.

Before I listened to the hybrid layer, I set my Radio Shack meter to 80DB. I observed a range from 70DB to 90DB.

The string section sounded smooth, i.e., extended without peaks in the treble. A piccolo could be heard without sounding strident. Upright bases were extended. The wind section had the most natural sounding timbre in the orchestra, which was positioned at the rear wall, behind the speakers. All instruments exhibited clarity, and a cymbal crash sounded well-behaved, not harmonically bleached or washed out.

Listening to the HRx disc, HRx SAMPLER 2011, track 3, I first noticed greater depth. Strings sounded smoother, and exhibited more natural timbre. All instruments in the orchestra sounded somewhat clearer and more full-bodied. There was no change in sound stage width, spacing between instruments, or dynamic range.

The next selection was “Yerba Buena Bounce”, taken from THE HOT CLUB OF SANFRANCISCO, track 11. The sound of the recording was very clear. The violin was extended in the treble, without harshness, while the wood body remained audible. The acoustic bass provided a firm foundation to the jazz quintet—violin, 3 guitars and acoustic bass. The strings of the acoustic guitar were readily identifiable. They provided the timbral cues of nylon, without obscuring the sound of the wood body. The wood body was more prominent when the guitarist was playing in its lower register. The sound stage was wide, and the two rhythm guitars were behind the right speakers very near the end of the wall.

The HRx version was taken from SAMPLER 2011, track 13. The higher resolution sounded more like a live performance than a recording. The violin sounded smoother, and was positioned further to the left, than its location on the Redbook version. The violin had a more realistic balance between the strings and wood body. The solo guitar while more articulate in its execution, had greater emphasis upon its wood body and revealed thicker sounding strings. The sound of the acoustic bass was more extended, full bodied, yet it also sounded clearer. Finally, the sound stage widened.

The last selection was the last movement from Rachmaninoff’s “Symphonic Dances”, track 3, from a Reference Recording, RR 96CD. Listening to the Redbook layer, the sound stage spanned the entire wall. I had the impression that the instruments could have extended beyond the rear wall behind the speakers. Wind instruments sounded very smooth and very spacious. The cymbal crash sounded a bit sharp-edged.
Percussion instruments sounded very powerful and dynamic. As I listened, I noticed that all instruments were widely spaced. A bell, recorded at a very low level, was barely audible, even as other instruments were playing, indicative of a high signal to noise ratio. One could also hear a xylophone and brass instruments in the background. All instruments were very clear and articulate, having natural timbre.

The high resolution version was taken from the Reference Recording HIGH DEFINITION DISC 2008, track 8. I noticed no change in sound stage width, but. instruments sounded physically larger. The sound of the cymbal crash no longer was sharp-edged. Wind instruments sounded more full-bodied, and percussion instruments had more impact and sounded more defined. Dynamics were unchanged. The bell recorded at a very low level became more audible. The xylophone sounded more full bodied, and the upright basses sounded fuller and a bit deeper into the orchestra.

Note, there was some loss of separation between instruments. Since the instruments inhabited the same space, when instruments are larger, the space between them is reduced. This is in contrast to the Redbook layer, where instruments sounded smaller in scale, but more widely spaced.

Conclusion

I had stated earlier in the introduction to the review that my first encounter with the TEAC CD-3000 was at the home of a TEAC dealer, during a meeting of a local audio group. I asked him how he would describe the TEAC. He replied, “neutral, but warmer as an SACD player”.

Whenever I review a component, I select recordings to elicit its performance with respect to a series of sonic parameters, such as frequency response, dimensionality, dynamics and timbre. The examination of the performance of a component with regard to the aforementioned facets of sound, are designed to assess the character of the component. I can usually ascertain if a component has a sonic signature or coloration(s), by focusing on such factors.

The results of my evaluation lead me to conclude that no sonic signature or coloration was revealed. Further, I observed a significant difference in the sound of each recording.

Thus, I found the TEAC CD-3000 to be “virtually” neutral in the Redbook mode, and slightly warmer in the SACD mode, and have essentially, corroborated the audio dealers opinion. I use the term “virtually”, as the sample size of recordings is small, and the conclusion follows from inductive reasoning from empirical data.

It is impossible to prove a component is neutral, as it would require listening to an infinite number of recordings. If the conclusion were based upon deduction from a postulate or assumption, than one could prove that a component is or is not neutral with (100 percent) certainty.

When playing SACDs, improvements in sound included the following:

Greater presence of bass instruments, greater extension in the bass region, more robust sounding instruments, increased dynamic range, smoother sounding string instruments, enhanced spatial relationships, greater sound stage width and more natural timbre.

When playing higher resolution discs improvements in sound included the following:

Greater depth, wider sound stage, smoother string tone, more natural timbre, more full-bodied sound of instruments, greater resolution, smoother sound of cymbals, and greater bass extension.

The above mentioned changes were CD dependant.

Roy Harris

Associated Equipment

CD Player: Vincent CD-S7 DAC
Preamp: Blair Chapman
Amplifier(s): VTL Deluxe 120s and Quicksilver Mid Mono
Speakers: Quad ESL and Magnepan 1.6s
Interconnect cable: High Fidelity Cable CT-1
Digital Cable: High Fidelity Cable CT-1
Speaker Cable: High Fidelity Cable CT-1 and Ear to Ear
Power Cords: Emotiva, Ear to Ear, PS Audio and Distech
Passive Accessories: Sound Fusion Sound Busters, egg crate mattresses, Room Tunes, Echo Tunes, Corner Tunes, maple bases, Millenial CD mat and an Ophiopogon
Active Accessories: PS Audio Juice Bar, Balanced Power Technology Outlet Strip,Enacom filters, Z System sleeves, PS Audio Noise Harvesters, Alan Maher parallel line filters, Quantim Line filters, and PS io, PS Audio Power Bases

The TEAC CD-3000 SACD Player

Manufactured by TEAC
7733 Telegraph Road, Montebello, CA 90640
Tel:+1-323- 726-0303 Fax:+1-323-727-7656

website
email

Price: US$2,000
Source: Manufacturer loan.

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

MARTIN APPEL 11.14.13 at 6:58 am

Nice job Roy. That’s three cd players that you’ve reviewed that all have made listening to cd more acceptable in there price range. I guess ‘perfect sound forever’ is getting closer to reaching its goal. It looks like cd players are not quite ready to be relegated to obsolescence yet.

Tim Osborne 11.14.13 at 12:38 pm

Having owned the VTL ST-150 and now the Quicksilver Mid Mono monoblocks I’m curious how you think your VTL monos compare to your Quickies.

Thx

marvin fox 11.14.13 at 6:20 pm

I am shocked Roy listening to a solid-state piece of equipment and you like it. Wow!

r0y harris 11.14.13 at 9:40 pm

Hi Marvin:

When I review a component I am neutral as to my sentiment toward the component.

In no way can you tell my preference for any component I have reviewed. I never recommend a component. I do not offer an opinion about a component.

I must conclude that you are totally misinterpreting my review.

Can you find one sentence that has the word “like” in it?

I try to be scrupulously honest and unbiased in my reviews and take offense when any one says I like a component that I have reviewed.

There is no way you can deduce my attitude about a component from a review.

If you have been following my recent reviews, I have reviewed three cd players
and have reported strictly what I heard–no more no less.

Regarding the VTL vs the Quicksilver, considering the effects of tube rolling and the fact that the quicksilver amps are more tube sensitive, I would say that the vtls have a slight tube flavor, while the quicksilver amps are more tube-like, in the classic sense.

Zigis 11.15.13 at 10:17 am

In your associated equipment list we can now see Vincent CD-S7 DAC. Does it mean that you have made your choice from the three reviewed players? Please say what is your favorite player?

Tim Osborne 11.15.13 at 12:38 pm

Where is the harm in expressing a preference for one product over another? You can state the facts as you hear them, that is fine. But sometimes your reviews read as though a robot was conducting them. No harm in letting a little emotion through sometimes.

admin 11.15.13 at 12:47 pm

And, yet, in person, the complete opposite :)

Cheers, a

r0y harris 11.15.13 at 2:40 pm

I will not state my preference. this goes to my philosophy of reviewing:

do not influence the reader, educate the reader.

if I were a reader all I would want to know is: what does the component sound like ? I have no interest in a reviewer’s opinion.

a reviewer’s opinion is based upon his preferences and his stereo system. a reader has different preferences and different stereo system.

I deliberately avoid stating my attitude or sentiment about a component.
I believe in information, not persuasion.

I am perhaps, one of a few reviewers who try to be totally impartial.

I will continue to adhere to that approach, even at the cost of a review which reads as didactic prose.

I have not bought any of the players, and that I do not prefer one over the other.

my view is that components are different not better than each other.

to suggest that an apple is better than an orange is the best analogy I can think of for not making a judgment about a component.

I am interested in reporting my perceptions, so that a reader may be informed.
I am not concerned about style.

the question I would ask of a reader is:

what have you learned about the component being reviewed ?

I trust the reader can use the information and then act on it .

admin 11.15.13 at 2:49 pm

‘I am perhaps, one of a few reviewers who try to be totally impartial.’

That is one heck of a statement. Please expand on this. I’m unclear of your meaning, especially in relation to reviewers you feel are not impartial.

Thx, a

r0y harris 11.15.13 at 3:40 pm

there are plenty of reviewers who write for stereophile who state that a component is the best “speaker in the 2000″ range, or who state their preferences for one component over another.

Impartiality implies that there is no attempt to influence the reader, and that one’s preferences do not influence a review. In my own case, I try not to let my personal preferences affect a review . I think the discussion that is occurring is evidence that my reviews do not show partiality.

I make no statements about other reviewers.

I cannot read a reviewers mind. I can only read a reviewer’s statements, and I have read many reviews in the print media which I feel are not unbiased, in that some of their statements may be motivated by an attempt to influence the reader.

my statement only implies to me and my attempt to report what I hear, and I try not to be influenced by anything other than my ears.

r0y harris 11.15.13 at 3:46 pm

perhaps I have not made myself totally clear.

I offer no preferences and my reviews do not give an indication as to my sentiments toward a component. I have been accused of being robotic and factual , without giving a preference. that is what I mean by impartial.

I do not want my comments to be construed as accusing another reviewer of partiality. my statements regarding some stereophile reviews are hypothetical examples of what I consider reviews which may not be impartial.

admin 11.15.13 at 3:47 pm

Roy, proclaiming yourself as ‘one of the few impartial reviewers’ is just asking for trouble. And, your term ‘educate’, arrogant. ‘Inform’ would be better, I think.

What would you consider the opposite of ‘impartial’ is?

Thx, a

r0y harris 11.15.13 at 5:47 pm

it looks like I stepped in a quagmire. I am guilty of using a poor choice of words.
apologies to all for using words, without careful thought behind their implications. as you know Anthony, I have been known to “shoot from the hip”, without thinking things through.

all I meant to say was “communicate my perceptions”.

let’s get back to impartiality. I meant to state that my motivation when reviewing is to impart perceptions, without sentiment, with the goal of remaining neutral as to influencing the reader.

the opposite of impartiality is either attempting to influence the reader or being influenced in one’s assessment of a component by factors other than the perceived sound of the component.

I hope this explains the context in which i used the word impartiality, as well as explaining why i refrain from providing a preference for a component.

r0y harris 11.15.13 at 6:18 pm

i have thought further about the issue of reviews, impartiality and avoiding mentioning preferences.

what I am about to say should clear up all misunderstandings.

my philosophy of reviewing component is very simple. I attempt to answer the question:

“what do I hear ?”

I avoid indicating a preference so as not to offend a manufacturer and to allow the reader to decide for himself whether or not to audition the component.

the use of impartiality was irrelevant and presumptuous. again, I apologize for the indiscretion.

as an aside, I am curious as to the reader’s concern for a reviewer’s opinion.

admin 11.15.13 at 6:24 pm

Thanks for the clarifications, my friend.

Cheers, a

Tim Osborne 11.19.13 at 8:18 am

Although you stated that you bought none of the cd players reviewed, and you had no preference for any one of them, at some point you DO have to make a choice regarding your system. So that in itself reflects a “preference”.

Of course it is important that you give us the facts about how a component sounds, it is also important that we know other things as well. Noting exists in a vacuum and everything is meaningless without a point of reference.

I woudn’t prefer that you be as “colorful” as a certain reviewer ala Sixmoons, but a little human emotion about how the component under review communicates the musical message would be nice.

Tim

roy harris 11.20.13 at 11:51 am

hi tim:

in my next review i will consider your suggestion, to relate the changes in sound and the emotional content of the music.

regarding my preference for one of the cd players recently reviewed. I may continue to use, my reference digital set up, once my ps audio perfect eave dac comes back from repair. i already own the pd audio perfect wave transport.

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