The Emotiva ERC-3 Reference CD Player is designed from the ground up to be the reference in which all the rest of your music playing should be compared. Superbly designed chassis, Analog Devices AD1955 joined with fully balanced analog circuitry deliver world-class audio performance.
The Halo CD 1 is a flagship CD Player from the well regarded, San Francisco based, Parasound. CD Player? Surely I mean 'DAC with Transport'. Nope. CD player, put your CD in, music comes out. No, you mean it's part of a server system, the data is stored for later retrieval by a computer system. Well, only if you count the internal buffering and Intel ITX computer running Linux inside the CD 1. In implementation then the CD 1 is quite modern, it's a computer, dedicated to CD playback only. In practice, it's an old fashioned (and in this case, that's good) CD player.
Marantz has a long history in Audio, dating back to the 1950's with Saul Marantz in New York, then with Phillips in the 80's and 90's and now under D&M Holdings along with Denon and McIntosh.
Emotiva continues to occupy an interesting space in the audiophile realm. It is now possible to get an entire two channel or five channel system consisting almost entirely of Emotiva products, CD player or DAC, a preamp, a variety of amplifiers from one to five channels, a pre-pro on the way and interconnects. The Emotiva ERC-2 is a two-channel CD player with balanced outputs for low noise transfer between the CD player and your preamplifier. At $449, this is a player to reckon with.
Early adopters live in a world of potential. We latch on to a new paradigm shift significantly ahead of the adoption curve. As such, we're often saddled with legacy methodology or products. Solutions are never simple or straight forward. We push ahead and often have to improvise. Eventually the mass marketplace catches up and products appear addressing our needs. Audiolab markets a CD player called the 8200CD. The 8200CDQ, reviewed here, also contains a built-in preamplifier that can deliver 4 volts RMS through its fully balanced outputs. This eliminates signal loss in cables that would normally connect a CD player's outputs to the preamplifier.
Every so often I get to review a product that sets itself apart from the "other guy" stuff. You know, the mass produced stuff that we often see in the brick-and-mortar stores. The special products are ones that are intelligently designed and built to exacting standards. It's sort of like comparing a Mercedes to a Chevy. Nothing wrong with a Chevy, but just slamming the door on the Mercedes can make you go, "Whoa! Now that's quality"! In this review, we cover the Cary Audio Design CD-500 CD Player.
The first thing you'll notice about the Emotiva ERC-1 CD player is that it looks great. The faceplate of the player and the remote are brushed aluminum painted black accented with unfinished brushed aluminum at the edges. Nice. When it's turned on the buttons on the face of the player light up with blue halos. This player would look right at home next to Macintosh gear.
My wife, who I affectionately refer to as "the music Anti-Christ" often calls me "He without Brains" when it comes to purchasing audio gear. Our latest interchange of pleasantries began when I announced that I needed a new CD player in the $1500 to $2000 range. She found one at Costco for considerably less than a hundred bucks and thought I would be very pleased. "You just don't get it" I said, to which she replied "Neither will you". I think she meant it in so many ways.
I well remember the day I got my first NAD product back in the 70's. I have long since forgotten the model number, but it was a stereo receiver. I remember listening to it and thinking how great it sounded compare to the old Marantz it was replacing. I knew back then that moving up to the NAD meant that I was no longer just listening to tunes. I had moved up into the realm of being a lover of music, an audiophile.