CD Player, DAC & Pre-Amp - Audiolab 8300CD
Our Opinion - For those of you that thought the CD had become old school we have one word for you 'Vinyl'. In todays modern age of digital streaming it would appear that CD has been forgotten but the truth is that's it very much alive. To make this a CD Player for the modern age Audiolab have not only made this an Exceptional player, the 8300CD is also a powerful DAC & Pre Amplifier. You can find more details on that below. When it comes to sound we found the 8300 to be a truly stellar performer, the user adjustable filters allow you to tailor the sound to your tastes, we prefer the 'Optimal Phase' setting due to its slightly warmer sound. The slot loading CD drive makes the 8300 CD feel more modern whilst also adding to its svelte looks. The chipset in the DAC is the same as the one used in the M-DAC Plus which meant that when playing Hi-Res tracks from our Innuos Zen music server we were treated to a soundstage that was very precise and detailed, in fact we were able to hear things that we hadn't heard before. We experienced this same detailed performance whichever genre of music we played on CD too. All in all we believe that you would be hard pressed to find anything better at this price. On Demo In-Store.
Audiolab have worked long and hard to ensure that the 8300CD improves upon its illustrious predecessor in key areas, delivering even better performance as both a CD player and a DAC/preamp for external digital sources. Built around the peerless ESS Sabre DAC, the 8300CD now extends resolution to 32-bit/384kHz and adds DSD compatibility via USB. The 8300CD adds full digital preamp functionality, with volume and source selection accessible via the player’s front panel and remote handset. This means the 8300CD can be connected directly to a stereo power amp, or a pair of monoblocks like the new Audiolab 8300MB, as well as to a traditional integrated amp like the equally new Audiolab 8300A. The 8300CD also allows control of music playing from a PC/Mac/media device via USB. When connected to a computer, the 8300CD not only identifies itself as an asynchronous DAC, but also as a HID-compatible device (Human Interface Device). This allows driverless control of the PC/Mac/media player (Play, Pause, Stop, Track Select etc). Extensive research and development found that previous tray-style mechanisms sometimes produced a rare weak spot. The 8300CD sports a new mechanism that includes slot loading – much quicker and neater than the old tray. The new mechanism also reduces the occurrence of disc rejection, able to play CDs that other CD players may reject for being imperfect from dirt or damage. Its digital buffer circuit is a perfect mate to the asynchronous input of the DAC, improving even this area of performance. A final benefit is increased disc stability and reduced susceptibility to resonance, which additionally contributes to the overall improved sound quality.
The 32-bit ESS Sabre DAC used inside the 8300CD continues to have a reputation as the best-sounding DAC chip available, and most CD players that use it are much more costly designs. In terms of the way it measures, its distortion figures are extraordinarily low. Around the DAC there are extensive measures to reduce jitter to vanishingly low levels, of a nature you’d expect to see only in much more expensive players. The conversion process within the 8300CD results in the 512 DAC elements (256 DACs per channel) each operating at 84.672MHz – all digital audio sources, whatever the sample rate, are upsampled or oversampled to this frequency. This results in a conversion process that is switching 3840 times higher than the typical audio upper bandwidth of 22kHz. Without this Digital upsampling technology, the analogue filters would likely affect frequencies at or near the audible range, resulting in unwanted level and phase variation within the audio band. The inclusions of the Hyperstream modulator means optimal transient response is achieved, thus eliminating dynamic response deficiencies and noise floor modulation artifacts typical of traditionally designed Delta-Sigma DACs.
Hi-Res Audio - Supercharged
The new 8300CD can accept and process data up to 32-bit/384kHz; this is a far higher specification than that required even by current hi-res music formats, ensuring the 8300CD is fully equipped for future advances in ultra-high-definition digital sound. The USB input now also accepts DSD data, as well as PCM. This is a significant addition, as DSD has an important role to play in the developing high-res digital download scene. Accordingly, the filter section now includes four extra filters for DSD playback, allowing the user to optimise the noise floor to suit the performance of the source file and the bandwidth of associated equipment such as amplifiers and loudspeakers. The uprated digital processing associated with the increased resolution at the USB input delivers additional sonic benefits, for both CD replay and other connected digital sources, whatever the resolution of the file. In advancing the capability of the USB input to include files of up to 32-bit/384kHz, the processing of data preceding and within the Sabre DAC has increased the subjective resolution of musical detail and dynamics, resulting in a more energetic and transparent performance that sets a new standard for CD players at this price level.
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|Type||CD Player & DAC|