Audio Note CD Player 1.1x

About Audio Note CD Players

 

Like many listeners, Audio Note where unconvinced by conventional CD player. They found the sound chromium-plated, artificial and tiring. So they scratched theirs heads and concluded that conventional CD players were losing up to four-fifths of the data. Now they’re building machines that unearth those lost chords. The discovery is startling – it may mean we can all upgrade our music collection dramatically, without having to buy a single new disc.

“All normal CD players have error correction circuits which ‘sample’ sound backwards and forwards as the disc is played, and help paper over any cracks in the data. They slice and dice the input as they go, and then reconstitute the whole. The trouble is that this is like mincing a piece of beef: once you’ve done that, you can’t make a fillet steak out of it again. Basically sound is the same, it’s a continuum, and we discovered that these circuits cause the loss of weak signals – subtle things like echoes, harmonics, spatial information, which are vital to natural reproduction. So we came up with our own approach, leaving the data raw, and unadulterated. We found that other conventional components were contributing to data loss, too, and we replaced them with aerospace-grade materials applied in a new patented way”

The result has to be heard. Try your favourite CD – one you think you know in every tiny detail – and be prepared to be astonished.

Suddenly a plucked bass appears from nowhere. Hey, who brought that snare drum in here? The sax has somehow acquired a far richer timbre, and the backing singers are no longer a flat wall of sound, but three distinct, mouth-sized humans. The whole thing sounds so alive, so tactile, so real.

 

Audio Note CD Player 1.1x

 

 

A one-box CD player, using the Non-oversampling and filter-free, which Audio Note are renowned for. Both front controls and remote. Housed in a new full-width chassis, which is not as high or deep as the standard DAC chassis. This highly musical player is available with a face plate in either brushed aluminium or polished black acrylic to match other products in the Audio Note UK range.

Audio Note CD Player 1.1x Reviews

 

“Discussing the sound of this player has been a challenge because to be blunt, if you have not heard Audio Note CD replay then you have not, in my view, heard what CD replay can achieve. There are players that have loads of detail, spatial cues, and bass lines that are deeper perhaps, or players that have lower noise floors which give a better sense of “layering”. All of those things may be commendable achievements but what the AN designs do that I have heard from no one else is their ability to sound tactile in a sense that approaches the best analogue. I would make the case that if you are a vinylphile and generally hate digital, then Audio Note is probably the only CD player manufacturer out there that could convince you to invest in the shiny silver discs.

The best analogue has a certain threeimensional sensation and naturalness that digital, at least CD digital, often lacks. Some good tube CD players add a degree of “warmth” by basically serving as a buffer to soften the edge of digital but that is a very different thing than what the Audio Note CD players are doing and that goes back to the fundamental simplest-path-is-the-best-path approach. The tube CD players that use tubes as mere tone controls to soften the edges are just a form of noise shaping or filtering process. At some point those players will likely cause the owner to be bothered by the presentation because pleasing as it may be, they tend to create a homogenized presentation by stamping the same “buffered warmth” onto every single CD. So while they may help out bright recordings by making them enjoyable, they will also blur or add a level of veil to well recorded discs which over time can be just as bothersome.

I listen to a wide array of music from several genres and I was impressed at not hearing the CD player’s voice. Disc after disc sounded wildly different from each other and in some cases from track to track. Nikki Yanofsky’s first CD is a mix of jazz standards, and pop songs from Ron Sexsmith and compression was easily noted in the pop songs while the larger dynamic range of the Jazz tracks was dramatically more realized. While other players can get those difference to varying degrees, I found it rather more startling here.

As with all Audio Note gear there is nothing fatiguing about the sound, nothing that draws attention to itself as being too much of one thing over another. I find that many audio products are often revered for a certain audiophile trait such as imaging or treble extension but often times it is those very accepted strengths that over time is the reason they’re replaced. The 2.1X/II does the balancing act better than most. The sound is crystal clear and possessed tremendous bottom-end when the disc had such content. Whether I played Iso Mike’s High Altitude Drums SACD/CD or limited dynamic discs such as Lady Gaga’s Fame Monster the player continually presented a sense of truth to the source disc for good or ill.

I have heard better CD replay from Audio Note, so putting things into perspective this player isn’t as good as the upper models but nor does Audio Note put in an upgrade-itus sound. By this I mean that the CD 2.1X/II lies by omission. It is less resolving than higher-end models but at the same time the 2.1X/II does not really seem to be missing anything until you audition the next model up. As a teacher I can’t recommend staying ignorant in our collective hobby but you would be tempted to wonder if CD replay could get any better if you did not hear the upper models. It simply never puts a foot wrong on any and all music that I tried. It possesses the speed and impact required for hard rock and metal of AC/DC and Nightwish to the ballad pop/country singers like Faith Hill or Johnny Cash.

The player negotiated high impact large scale music while retaining the lighter touch of single performer single instrument live acoustic music such as Jackson Browne’s two solo albums. The player does rhythm and decay and transients as well as anything I’ve heard. You can hear the decay from one instrument and the transient of another and never get the washed-out blur that many other players, including my Cambridge Audio, offers. In fact, my Cambridge Audio sounds so poor in comparison that I can’t believe there was a time that this was considered entry level high-end, or that I considered it entry level high-end.”- Richard Austen

To read a review of the Audio Note CD Player 1.1x by Richard Austen in Dagogo click here