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Srajan Ebaen
Financial Interests: click here
Source: 1TB iMac (AIFF) running OSX 10.6.6 and PureMusic 1.74 in hybrid memory play with pre-allocated RAM, Burson Audio HA160D, Weiss DAC, 160GB iPod Classic, Onkyo NS-D1 dock, Pure i20 dock
Preamplifier: Bent Audio Tap-X (remote-controlled AVC passive), Esoteric C-03 (transistor), ModWright LS100 with Synergy Hifi valves
Amplifier: FirstWatt F5 and J2 and M2, Yamamoto A-09S, Trafomatic Audio Kaivalya, ModWright KWA-100 SE
Loudspeakers: ASI Tango R, Mark+Daniel Fantasia S
Cables: Complete Zu Event loom, ASI LiveLine, Crystal Cable Ultra
Stands: 2 x ASI HeartSong 3-tier, 2 x ASI HeartSong amp stand
Powerline conditioning: 1 x GigaWatt LF-2, 1 x Furutech RTP6
Sundry accessories:
Extensive use of Acoustic System Resonators, noise filters and phase inverters
Room size:5m x 11.5m W x D, 2.6m ceiling with exposed wooden cross beams every 60cm, plaster over brick walls, suspended wood floor with Tatami-type throw rugs. The listening space opens into the second storey via a staircase and the kitchen/dining room are behind the main listening chair. The latter is thus positioned in the middle of this open floor plan without the usual nearby back wall.
Review Component Retail: BDP-93NE $899, $499 for stock player, $400 for DIY-installable NuForce board; BDP-93NXE $1.399, plug-in board sells separately for $899

In this twilight era of CD
players as readers of the apparently last physical music carrier*, luxo CD decks attempt to disguise their obsolescence with last player you'll ever need assurances. Announced as early as September 2007 by industrial designer Artemy Lebedev for example [four lower left renderings with matching amplifier base] but not commercially released until late 2010 [two lower right photos], the €22.000 Loit Passeri CD player from Singapore doesn't even meet that mark. It lacks digital inputs of any kind. For that price it precluded a review. Battleships like Esoteric's K-01 and K-03 meanwhile offer three digital inputs including 24/192 async USB plus an external clock BNC. That makes them sensibly future proof and compadre with streaming audio. They likely deserve the last player epitaph.

* The Resonessence Invicta DAC with SD card reader suggests there could be a new physical carrier if not for commercial music distribution then as audiophile choice to stream regular and high-resolution files without involving a computer during playback.

Say you're flush then with green and sold on Redbook/SACD-type dedicated transport mechanisms. Such decks really might be that final serious investment you'll ever make into the format. But what if your Redbook budget redlined at $1.000 with your hifi bookie? What if you believed that faster-spinning cheap computer drives with memory buffers could compete with very dear read-once drives**? Then you'd not bother with overkill legacy sleds. What if you were modern enough to multi task? Wouldn't you except the same of your hifi kit? Wouldn't you insist that your last CD player read all physical digital formats of today including Blu-Ray?

** Esoteric's VRDS-Neo transport actually spins at 4 x speed and buffers the data in SDRAM.

Let's first rewind for an answer a few years back. Then folks in your shoes—with an admittedly still taller budget—would buy discontinued early generation Sony SACD tanks or Denon universal decks to have after-market firms trick them out for audio. What was Sony and Denon then is Oppo today. And just as it did a decade ago with Pioneer players, the year 2011 appropriations & cloning committee once again includes members from outside the usual after-market providers. Today's adoptees include mainstream brands like Lexicon, Theta and Ayre. Take the €10.800 Ayre DX-5 for example. It's openly based on Oppo's older BDP-83 universal player. Charles Hansen explains: "To make it an Ayre, we dismantle it completely and recycle everything except the main PCB—with the video decoder, ABT scaler chip and HDMI transmitter—the transport mechanism, the VFD display and the remote handset. Next we rebuild the main PCB. The big switching power supply only provides 5VDC, then there are little mini-switching DC/DC converters to turn the 5VDC into 1VDC, 1.1VDC, 1.8VDC and 3.3VDC. All of those are removed. There are also USB power switches that allow hot-plugging of USB devices. These are removed as they have another kind of DC-DC converter called a charge pump.

Stock Oppo BDP-83 | Ayre's DX-5 rebuild

"All of the supplies are replaced with pure linear supplies with analog regulators. The USB power switches are replaced with devices without the charge pumps. Now we have gotten rid of seven noise sources that create high-frequency square waves with harmonics well out into the MHz region. Getting rid of all of that noise creates a visibly cleaner picture. Next we replace the low-quality master video clock with a VCXO. This becomes more important later on. Now we start adding things back in... [here I removed detailed descriptions for brevity - Ed.] ... finally the whole thing is put into a custom chassis made entirely from anodized aluminum and stainless steel. There are other people making Oppo 'clones'. One of them only replaces the chassis. Another replaces the power supply also. Nobody is rebuilding the complete player and adding our extra features..."