By David Aspinall
The Roksan Kandy CD player comes as part of an integrated HiFi system which also includes amplifier and tuner. Here we will deal only with the Kandy compact disc player (our test sessions matched it with the integrated amp). The player is very solid in construction and retains much of the attractive appearance (and quality workmanship) of its illustrious, more expensive Roksan sibling.
The test CDs covered both vintage analog (the Liszt Faust symphony, Bernstein DG; Szell’s Mahler 4, CBS; Ray Charles’ Rhino Anthology) and representative recent digital performances (Hilary Hahn’s Brahms and Stravinsky violin concerti; Bruno Weil/Tafelmusik Mozart Requiem, both Sony).
Roksan Kandy KC1 CD player
First Ray Charles. The fine ABC Paramount original recording showed off an obvious asset of the Kandy - image specificity. On Hit the road Jack the Raelettes are close by on the right, the band well spread across the spectrum, Ray himself front middle, solid and true. Whereas on I can’t stop loving you Ray’s in a somewhat reverberant middle distance, the strings spread across the back right, the chorus behind the right speaker, with Ray’s rolling piano rolling figures just to their left. Busted reveals the pleasant burr of the brass at middle depth on the right. Excellent image placement — yet not, I noted, completely undiluted pleasure despite the overall timbral fidelity of the brass sound (a touch of shrillness was evident).
Szell’s Mahler is a great performance forever embalmed in Columbia’s medium-to-good ’60’s sonics. The Kandy revealed (in the serenely beautiful 3rd movement, Ruhevoll, poco adagio) fine depth and orchestral spread but manifested, by contrast with fine wind detail, a steely glare in both brass and strings. Not the effect one wants in this most restful of Mahler slow movements.
A later specimen of analog from another Mahler specialist, Leonard Bernstein. His superb performance of the Liszt Faust symphony was in many ways a revelation on the Kandy. I heard greater wealth of inner detail than I ever remember hearing on the Galleria reissue. Likewise, more spatial information than ever before. However, the aural character of the player is becoming as clear as the orchestral picture — there is a marked glare to the attacks, though the overall gains here definitely outweigh that disadvantage.
The pattern emerging in the 3 analog recordings was, as one might expect, thrown into even greater relief by the modern digital recordings. The excellent Weil Mozart showed fine inner detail on winds, realistic body in voices and good ambience and general spatial perspective. The Tölzer Boys Choir and Tafelmusik are definitely there. But definitely there as well is an extra edge to the period strings, which, to these ears, need no aural augmentation to irritate the more sensitive areas of the cerebrum.
The Hillary Hahn Brahms concerto starts well, the orchestral prelude finely balanced, but the soloist’s entry betrays an unpleasant emaciated tone above midrange. This may be partly attributable to the natural placement of the violin against the orchestra.
I must say, in review, that the Roksan Kandy gave me many new pleasures from a few old friends. If you’re looking for a reasonably priced upgrade from your entry level player, that will do well my most modern CDs, you will find much to please, including the ‘finely etched detail’ promised by Roksan’s press release. If, on the other hand, you are a demanding listener requiring the highest standard of natural reproduction, especially of the upper range (price, we assume, being a minor consideration!), you will look elsewhere.
Frequency response 20Hz – 20kHz ( 0,- 0.75 dB), Distortion < 0.003%, 1 kHz; < 0.003%, 5kHz, Signal to Noise 105dB ( 1HF A- wtd.), Channel separation 90dB. 1kHz, Sampling frequency 44.1 kHz, DAC PCM1716, multi level Delta Sigma conversion, Wow & Flutter Quartz Precision, Output 2.2 volts, Power consumption 10 Watts, Dimensions 434×360x95mm ( WxDxH)
Front CD loading, Full functional remote handset, Scan facility, 32 track memory, Repeat function, Function for time display, total elapsed, track total, and remaining on track, Random track play function, 10 seconds introduction of each track function, Gold plated RCA analogue output sockets, Gold plated RCA digital socket, Optical digital output socket, 96 kHz, 24 bit Multilevel Delta-Sigma digital to analogue convertor, 6 fully regulated power rails, Ultra low toroidal transformer, 1.6mm solid steel chassis construction, 6mm solid aluminium front panel
Roksan Kandy KC 1 CD player
Manufactured by Roksan Audio Limited
Unit 6 Northfield Industrial Estate, Beresford Avenue Alperton Middlesex, UK, HA0 1NW
Phone: 00 44 (0)181 900 6801/6802 Fax: 00 44 (0)181 900 0734
web: http://www.roksan.co.uk e-mail: email@example.com
Source of review sample: Canadian distributor loan