Truly natural, non-artificial audio products are rare indeed. For digital -- arguably the most musically unnatural of all components -- to be natural, relaxed and completely unobtrusive frankly represents a Devil-honest miracle.

Taken together, these features render the Reimyo CD player the least intrusive digital playback system available. And I mean musical playback. The CDP-777 does not play back bits or details. It simply plays back whatever has been recorded. I suspect that I will always prefer the best analogue playback to the very best digital has to offer. Still, I could not unequivocally claim that my favorite turntable/arm/cartridge combinations are less intrusive than the Reimyo. I could not, in other words, confidently assert that my preferred analogue front ends add less to the recordings than the Reimyo does. In fact, just the opposite might be the case.

Why not just say it then? The Reimyo CD player may be the least intrusive front end, period - digital or analogue. There, I've said it. With that statement, I just may have lost my analogue street cred lost for all time. Sometimes, the price of telling the truth is costly indeed.

But the truth remains that whenever I listen through the Reimyo, I am never aware that I am listening to digital. This is not to say that the Reimyo is analogue-like nor do I find myself confused about whether I am listening to LPs or CDs. Unless something on a particular CD makes it abundantly clear that the music is recorded on a compact disc, the fact is that I'm simply not aware of the medium of playback. It's not worse, it's not better. It's simply different in much the same way that master tapes differ from LPs.

I have used the Reimyo CD player extensively in two very different systems - the full Reimyo system currently in for review and my reference system around the Shindo Monbrison preamplifier and the Shindo Sinhonia monoblocks. Speakers have included the Duevel Bella Luna, the Wilson Sophia, the Audiopax Ref 100, the little Bravos and the Hørning Agathon Ultimates recently introduced in my sneak peek. In putting my reference system together, one of my objectives has been to eliminate as many barriers to the music as possible. I search for components with little or no sound of their own. The Reimyo player, almost uniquely among compact disc machines, mates a strong and definable character with no discernible sound. Ironically perhaps, the Reimyo has more in common with my Shindo electronics -- especially the Sinhonia amplifier -- than it has with many of the other members of the Reimyo family. More on that soon.

The Reimyo CDP-777 presents the darkest, blackest backgrounds and the lowest noise floor I have yet experienced. As a result, it is transparent, immediate and naturally dynamic. It is also extremely light on its feet. Don't be misled by its effortless agility and quick-footed reflexes. This is a player that portrays full, dense images and allows the harmonic richness of the music to be naturally unraveled. If you want to learn even more about what it is like to have the Reimyo CD player in your system, read my review of the Shindo Sinhonia amplifier. The Reimyo player is (now how's this for a catchy phrase?) the digital analogue of the Sinhonia.

The Reimyo is not a universal player but a product of universal value. It works with everything and in every imaginable system. To possess the Reimyo is to want to listen to music through it. And I have - to every conceivable kind from the most subtle and nuanced to the most rambunctious; from Pop to Classical; from straight-ahead Jazz to early Folk; from bass-heavy HipHop to lovely string quartets; from Soprano to soprano sax. Hell, you could even enjoy the soundtrack from Drumline. No, I take that back. The Reimyo will allow you to hear why some people -- and you should never own up to being among them -- enjoy listening to this soundtrack. There simply is no tripping this machine up. It favors nothing because it virtually adds nothing.

Yeah, but what's wrong with it?
Honestly, nothing. The Reimyo works like a charm; starts and stops on a dime and is built like a tank. I checked into its reliability. There are no reports of failures in the field. It looks great. It makes more music than you are entitled to expect from a CD player. It plays all music with equal aplomb. It is at home in any kind of system, tube or solid-state. And it will allow you to forget about your front-end until you are too bored by your good fortune – which, as an audiophile, is as likely to happen to you at some point as the sun is to rise tomorrow.

I have one complaint though. Amazingly enough, this player is sold without a power cord of any sort. What's worse, it is designed to work with the quite wonderful Harmonix Studio Master power cord. I tried a number of other very good cords including models from Ensemble, Stealth and van den Hul. The player sounds its best with a Studio Master. That's how it was voiced and in the end, that's how I listened to it. However, a Studio Master will set you back an additional 1K for a meter and about 1.3K for 1.5 meters.

The Reimyo CDP-777 retails for $14,000. Musically and economically, it makes more sense to include a Studio Master cord and charge the consumer a touch under $15,000. I also think that would be more honest. The Reimyo is one of those precious few statement products whose exceptional performance renders discussions over cost almost mute.

It is not uncommon for audiophiles to spend 25K on speakers that cannot possibly do as much good for their systems as this CD player would. What's more, you can never add more information or music to your system than your front-end provides. If you don't retrieve this information at the source, you cannot add it later - and certainly not at the speaker.

I'm not alone
Well-known writers whom I greatly admire -- including Dan Davis at UltraAudio (my former home) and Alan Sircom of HiFi+ -- have already reviewed the CDP-777. I find myself in nearly complete agreement with my colleagues whose rave reviews of this product are entirely justified by my lights. Rarely is there such agreement among reviewers – especially given how different our musical tastes tend to be.

Coda 1
In the early 1980s, digital began to replace analogue. By the mid 90s, the replacement was nearly complete. Ironically perhaps, while the compact disc was ready to assume its crown as the new king of sources, turntable design found itself in the midst of a renaissance that has been nothing short of breathtaking. While there may never
be another Garrard 301 or EMT, there are at least a dozen outstanding turntables and three times that many truly wonderful ones, all of which demonstrate just how much information LPs contain and how natural (and quiet) they can be.

Sadly, history may be repeating itself - but this time in the digital domain. No sooner had Redbook replaced LP playback than did the prevailing new standard come under attack from within. The hi-rez challenge along with accompanying hype (even more perfect sound forever) is by now in full bloom. How ironic that at just this time, a player like the Reimyo CDP-777 should come along, a one-box player that, along with other digital wonders like the Zanden DAC, signals a veritable renaissance or first true blossoming of Redbook playback.

How predictable it would be if we were to turn away from the Redbook standard in favor of an uncertain future when only now all the wonderful music on the silver disc can be commensurately extracted. In this sense, the Reimyo not only thrills us with music but also educates us about the inherent possibilities of a format whose treasures we may only now have begun to exploit but which many seem prepared to abandon like a sinking ship.

And this is not just reviewer hyperbole. This analogue guy's dirty little secret is that since he's had the Reimyo player in his system, not only does he listen to many more CDs than every before, he listens to CDs more often than vinyl - and not by a slim margin either. There, I've been outed. Someone get me a turntable to review - quickly!

Coda 2
And someone did get me a turntable to review: A whole series of them in fact. I just completed time with the Well-Tempered Reference, now replaced by the Redpoint Testa Rossa [in red above] with a Wheaton Triplanar arm sporting an SPU Royal Cartridge. Just today, I spent a good six hours with a host of analogue heads: Peter Clark of Redpoint; our mutual friend Wes Bender, national sales manager of Innersound, Inc; Jonathan Halpern, importer of Shindo Laboratory products; Dr. Steve Rouse, a local extreme high-end dealer, and Dr. Laurence Borden who writes for Constantine Soo's website DaGoGo.

It was a great day - great music, good people and wonderful sound. Before breaking up, I wanted to play one lone compact disc just to see how we felt about the format after a blissful analogue Sunday. I put on a selection from Pavarotti's latest, off a sampler Srajan had put together. The group sat en-
raptured. When the song ended, Steve Rouse expressed his view for the whole group: "That's the only CD player I could
listen to after a full day of analogue like today." 'Nuff said.
Manufacturer's website
US/Canadian distributor's website