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The vault-type construction of the CD-M10 is no hyperbole. The CNC milled 1"-thick contoured top cover has the side walls bolted invisibly to it from below. These side panels are extrusions with longitudinal channels and additional channels are bolted to the top from below. These guides route six 38cm long bolts to tie the face and back panel together from the rear like a clam shell. A plethora of additional short bolts connect the bottom assembly to the cover.

The end result is a very inert, super-solid case without the cosmetic mars of fasteners anywhere on the top, front or sides.

As understatedly elegant as the general lines is the front panel with just six square and engraved controls, one the power mains, the other five the basic open/stop/play/pause/next/back functions. The blue display is surprisingly small, dimly lit and not that easy to read from the distance. In fact, the remote alu wand is similarly minimal by omitting time modes and display dim but curiously adds A/B repeat to the customary track/all repeat. No custom track sequencing options are available and certain prospective buyers will find fault with these missing functions.
Unlike other Chinese contestants in the still affordable but otherwise way upscale CD players sweepstakes -- Opera, Raysonic and Shanling come to mind -- the CD-M10 is a drawer type, reserving the spot where one would otherwise expect the top-loading transport for the glass-covered tube bay instead. Of all the valved Sino players I've come across, the Melody is the only one to employ tube rectification and potted transformers of this size.
The real action is under the hood then. There's a surprising amount of regulation on the power supply board and besides two M-Caps, more bona fides by way of two rather sizable, ultra premium Jensen paper-in-oils barely wedged between transport section and rear panel.

A little slim on the functionality front -- I'm keen on time remain and display dim/mute as well as display read -- the Melody player seems rather loaded where it matters - on the sound-producing stuff.

The supplied valves are Motorola and Philco-branded issue and of course preinstalled though removal involves nothing more than lifting out the glass cover, then the circular insert. This is far more convenient than the kidney-shaped Opera Audio Droplet whose tubes require a rather more involved ritual to get to.

The SP9 too comes with all tubes preinstalled. Like the CD-M10, it powers up without so much as a whisper. Its big transformers seem entirely inactive except for the telltale valve glow (the integrated lacks a power LED like the player). Since there's no display as with the CD-M10, the only giveaway during the day that the amp is ready for tunes when the cover is in place is to also put your hand in place and on it. The cover will be toasty.

Internal point-to-point routing would make the Germans proud in its precision execution and the resistor-ladder attenuator in particular is a thing of beauty - a very uncommon sight in components in a price class where wiper pots are the rule.

The silver lacquer is flawlessly and thickly applied and the frontal controls are super chunky for a fat bit of tactile luxury.

The removable tube cage is a finely bent, discretely welded affair of clean modern lines that actually adds visual appeal to the total package rather than begs for immediate removal and dismissal.

Classy, beautifully built, electrically superbly quiet, attractively priced - everything about the Melody CD-M10/SP9 combo makes a powerful first impression all around.

Assignment readjust: With the launch of the CD-M20 at the Munich HiFi show in May, Melody asked me to scuttle the CD-M10 review and focus on the new player which does away with some of the overkill for the chassis manufacture, the XLR outputs and some sticker cost.

How much doing away on retail are we talking? 50%. The end price is €1200. For that, say bye-bye to the tubes as well. An apparently high-ranking golden ear was employed during the voicing process and Melody-Europe was told that the new machine is as good as the CD-M10. Seeing how I have one of the latter in my digs, stay tuned for verification. Or not.