Musical Fidelity A1008 CD Player - MUSICAL FIDELITY A1008

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Musical Fidelity A1008 CD Player - MUSICAL FIDELITY A1008 Powered By Docstoc
					                                   CD PLAYERS
                                   MUSICAL FIDELITY A1008

Golden harvest
     wasn't particularly pleased when I          practical access to the loading mechanism.               The top plate is occupied by a simple but

I    unpacked Musical Fidelity's latest
     A1008 CD player, and found that the
     transport employs a top-loading
   Top-loaders are hardly the norm in an audio
world that has almost universally adopted
drawer-based transport mechanisms.
                                                    However, once this new deck had settled
                                                 in, any gripes I had about the top-loading
                                                 configuration were instantly forgotten. Instead,
                                                 I was mesmerised by its richly embroidered,
                                                 three-dimensional, dynamic delivery.
                                                    But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's
                                                 start off with the A1008 itself, which is
                                                                                                       effective top-loading disc transport. In this
                                                                                                       application, the Philips CD Pro mechanism
                                                                                                       accepts discs by simply lifting a hinged clamp,
                                                                                                       placing the CD on the transport tray, and
                                                                                                       closing the clamp, which then secures the disc.
                                                                                                       Simple, but effective.
                                                                                                          Also useful is the fact that the top plate
And while they're said to offer some             chunky and chiselled enough to warrant                duplicates the display and primary transport
advantages – unequivocal loading, better         its R50K price tag. It certainly looks the            controls of the front panel – which makes
laser pick-up alignment – they have one big      high-end part.                                        sense, given that you will spend more time
disadvantage: they can't be rack-mounted.           The bright aluminium faceplate is framed           looking down at this player than from the
   It meant that the A1008 had to supplant       by matt, black-anodised aluminium handles,            front when actually operating it.
my beloved Linn Sondek while on test.            and there's a large, clear display in Musical            The rear panel has the usual plethora of
The Linn's Mana Table-inspired support was       Fidelity's characteristic blue, right in the centre   facilities, although I'm disappointed that a player
the only bit of furniture I had that was big     of the fascia. Black heatsinking is tucked away       at this price point offers only single-ended
enough to accommodate the A1008, and allow       along the sides.                                      analogue outputs.The noise floor benefits of

      54                                                                                               A U D I O              V I D E O
                                                         VITAL STATS
                                                   Digital conversion
                                                    ............24-bit delta-sigma, dual differential,
                                                                                              8x oversampling
                                                   Frequency response ..............................
balanced connections alone should make their       ..............................10 Hz to 20 kHz, -0,2 dB              For the purposes of this review, I ran the
presence in this application worthwhile.           Signal-to-noise ratio                                            A1008 CD player in conjunction with its
   For Musical Fidelity fans who opt for the        ......................................>117 dB, A-weighted       matching integrated amplifier, as well as a
matching A1008 integrated amplifier (reviewed      Outputs ......................2x stereo analogue                 stand-alone source in conjunction with my
in the December '07/January '08 issue) you                                         (1x solid state, 1x tube),       (recently upgraded) Electrocompaniet EC 4.7
can make use of the amp's separate power                                                     1x coaxial digital,    pre-amp/AW120 power amp combination.
supply, with significant sonic gains.                                               1x Toslink optical digital      Also on hand were a Viola Labs Cadenza/
   I had the amp and its power supply at hand      Dimensions (WxHxD)                                               Symphony pre/power combo.
for this review, and having listened to the        ......................................440 x 170 x 385 mm            However, the inherent character of the
player both with and without the use of the        Weight ..............................................10,1 kg     player shone through in all these applications:
external power supply, there's no doubt that                                                                        a liquid, engaging and thoroughly convincing
the former mode offers benefits in terms of        PRICE..................................................R49 900   approach to the music that was as beguiling
outright dynamics and impetus, as well as                                                                           as it was entertaining.
improved treatment of finer detail.                VERDICT                                                             So often, high-end players can place so much
   Under the covers of the A1008, careful          Smooth and music-friendly without                                emphasis on extracting every last sliver of detail
circuit topology allows the primary digital,       resorting to artificial colouring or muted                       that they lose some of the coherence and
analogue and power supply sections to be           dynamics. Choice of tube or transistor                           emotional subtleties of the music in the process.
                                                   output stages an interesting feature.                               The A1008 CD player shows no shortcom-
                                                   No balanced outputs, though.                                     ings: it is an inherently musical machine that
                                                                                                                    does the true intent and interpretation of a
                                                   SUPPLIED BY                            Hi-Fi Specialists         musical piece the fullest justice. And it does so
                                                                                           016-455-1000             not only by harvesting the full spectrum of
                                                                                                                    information from the disc, but by convincingly
                                                   WEBSITE                         contextualising that data.
                                                                                                                       The result is a full, glorious delivery with
                                                                                                                    an extended tonal spectrum, and a sense of
                                                  individually isolated, thus preventing radiated                   tangibility expressed in the texture and sonority
                                                  noise and distortion.                                             of the sound.The sound is exciting and lively,
                                                      As one would expect, a lot of effort has                      with vital energy and attack, allowing a powerful,
                                                  gone into optimising the digital-to-analogue                      pervading sense of scale and realism.
                                                  conversion process.                                                  Bass notes have substance and bit, while
                                                      According to Musical Fidelity, the incoming                   the vital midrange finds that special balance
                                                  digital data stream is first upsampled to                         between richness and elegance.The treble is
                                                  192 kHz, in order to move noise, jitter and                       sweet and open, without any sign of glare or
                                                  distortion well beyond the audible spectrum.                      sharpness, but not sounding attenuated either
                                                  It's then passed through the newly designed                          While my personal preference leant
                                                  24-bit, dual-differential delta-sigma DAC, after                  towards the tube output stage, there were
                                                  which only simple, less intrusive filtering of                    times when the solid-state outputs sounded
                                                  the analogue signal is needed.                                    livelier, without resorting to aggression, and
                                                      The A1008 offers a choice of output stages –                  I would suggest that users explore both
                                                  an EC88-based tube stage, and a solid-state                       options. In both instances, lucidity and
                                                  transistor version.A separate set of RCA outputs                  panoramic staging remained further,
                                                  for each allows the user to choose between the                    expressive talents of this player.
                                                  two, depending on personal preference.                               The Musical Fidelity A1008 CD player is
                                                      Finally, the A1008 comes with a substantial                   a true high-ender, and in the absence of an
                                                  system remote control handset, which not                          integrated CD player in the range-topping kW
                                                  only controls the CD player's functions, but                      series, can be considered the marque's flagship
                                                  also those of the matching A1008 integrated                       player, and one that delivers a gloriously
                                                  amplifier, if you own both. It will also operate                  musical and thoroughly enjoyable package.
                                                  other Musical Fidelity components.                                                               Deon Schoeman

    F E B R U A R Y               •     2 0 0 8                                                                                                            55

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