by Roy Harris
The A5 was introduced as a limited edition product. The company will manufacture only 1500 units. The player uses a 24 bit delta-sigma DAC, 8X oversampling and 192KHz upsampling. The transport is Phillips-based. The output stage features a pair of 6112 mu-Vista tubes. The player received a continuous signal comprising musical and non-musical sources (PAD disc), for a period of one week prior to serious listening.
This is the third up-sampling CD player I have auditioned in my stereo system. The other two were the Eastern Electric Mini Max and the Sim Moon Equinox. In addition, I have heard up- sampling players at the HE and CES shows. As a consequence of my exposure to these players, I have observed certain sonic attributes: high resolution, grainlessness, very high signal to noise ratios, with some spectral imbalances and a degree of forwardness which varies from player to player.
While this player had the aforementioned “traits”, deviations from neutrality were slight and to a lesser degree than what I experienced from other players. I noticed flaws in recordings that had previously been undetected, such as audible tape hiss and distortion in the sound of instruments, especially, organ and electric guitar. On orchestral recordings, in the context of large halls, an instrument solo was perceived somewhat forward, relative to my reference player, resulting in a slight loss of ambience. Female voice was clearly articulated without the usual sibilance I often hear from other players.
Acoustic bass, while realistically articulate, lost a bit of upper bass energy. Violins, part of an original string ensemble, did not sound steely. The sound of cymbals was often timbrally accurate and the resulting decay was very natural.
In sum, music was presented without exaggeration, the CD player illuminated without being illuminated. It revealed the character of the music yet had very little character itself. Flaws that were encountered were minor and unobtrusive. The qualitative nature of the coloration, while typical of up-sampling, was expressed to such a small degree that a condition of virtual neutrality was created.
This player is the least colored of any I have experienced.
Holly Cole, DON’T SMOKE IN BED, track 1, Alert Z2 81020
Miles Davis, KIND OF BLUE, track 1, Columbia CK 64935
Maurice Ravel, “Alborado del Gracioso”, track 2, London 416046
Frank Sinatra, SINGS FOR ONLY THE LONELY, track 12, Capitol 94756
Von Wessanaer, “Concerti Armonici”, track 5, Naxos 8.55538
Andy McKee Quintet, SOUND ROOTS, track 1, Maple Shade 04432
Speakers: Quad 63
Amplifier: VTL Deluxe 120 Monoblocks
Preamplifier: Mapletree Ultra 4A SE Special Edition
CD Player: Audio Note CD2
Interconnects: Sound String and Legenburg
Speaker Cable: Legenburg
AC Cords: Synergistic Research, Clarity Audio and Legenburg
Accessories: PS Audio 300, PS Audio Ultimate Outlets, PS Audio Juice Bar Enacom Filters, Sound Boosters and Blue Circle Audio Sound Pillows Mk III
Accessories: PS Audio 300, PS Audio Ultimate Outlets, PS Audio Juice Bar Room Tunes and Tice Enhancer
The Musical Fidelity A5 CD Player
Manufactured by Musical Fidelity
15/17 Olympic Trading Estate - Fulton Road - Wembley - Middlesex HA9 0TF
Tel: +44 (0) 20 8900 2866 | Fax: +44 (0) 20 8900 2983