Hi-Fi Choice

Buying Guide

Recommends ESSENTIAL HI-FI YOU’LL WANT TO OWN

CD PLAYERS

Audiolab

6000CDT

PRICE: £380 REVIEWED: HFC 447

The 6000CDT is exceptional at revealing what’s on your discs to deliver a great big soundstage with plenty of detail inside. It can dig down deep into the mix to eke out the different musical strands while dynamically and rhythmically it’s hard to beat at the price. In short, it’s a super, highly affordable audiophile CD transport.

Métronome Technologie

Le Player 2S

PRICE: £5,100 REVIEWED: HFC 449

As good as the sweet treble and rich bass are, what really impresses here is how when fed weaker CDs and impoverished MP3s the delivery remains unflappable and composed as layers of detail are locked into sharp focus.

Cambridge Audio

AXC35

PRICE: £300 REVIEWED: HFC 454

Something of a budget marvel, you’ll have to work extra hard to get the AXC35 to put a foot wrong. Bass is firm, detailed and blessed with excellent timing; the tonal palette is pleasingly broad and clean; and though the soundstage doesn’t extend much beyond the speakers, there’s great depth perspective.

Musical Fidelity

M3scd

PRICE: £1,150 REVIEWED: HFC 450

Able to string together elements of the mix dextrously for a natural and believable sound, the M3scd’s combination of detail and rhythmic alacrity are highly impressive while its excellent timing and tonal balance leave you wanting more. With its lovely, lyrical sonics oozing detail and subtlety, this is an extremely capable player.

Exposure

XM CD

PRICE: £1,200 REVIEWED: HFC 455

A highly likeable half-width compact disc player that presents music in an enjoyable yet technically accurate manner, the XM CD might lack the operational slickness and versatility of some rivals, but it more than makes up for it with its energetic, lively sound, dynamic light and shade and charming character.

Rega

Apollo

PRICE: £630 REVIEWED: HFC 450

Displaying a rich, mellifluous, dreamy and wonderfully lyrical talent for vocals, the Apollo is an exuberantly musical performer. It’s excellent at conveying microdynamics, is tonally warm and handles rhythms impeccably, making for a hugely charismatic performer considering its relatively low price.

ALSO CONSIDER

Audiolab

8300CDQ

£1,100 HFC 448

Taking the winning recipe of the 8200CDQ and adding an upgraded DAC with DSD playback, the accurate and uncoloured sound of the Audiolab is unmistakable. Vast amounts of detail are extracted from the mix, soundstaging is incredible and music flows naturally.

Leema Acoustics

Stream IV

£2,300 HFC 456

The latest update to this long-established player feels a considerable step forward. CD playback is highly refined, assured and transparent, bass is rock solid with visceral depth that positively grips your solar plexus and streaming shares all these qualities for the best of both worlds.

NEW ENTRY

Marantz

SACD 30n

£2,700 HFC 468

While its styling might be a touch divisive, the SACD 30n’s involving, detailed and highly refined sound is beyond dispute whether it be with SACD or CD. Meanwhile, its neat supreme streaming integration ensures a great performance without discs too.

Roksan

K3 CD Di

£1,300 HFC 403

Offering the relatively rare combination of smooth tonality with a lively and animated way of presenting the music, the K3 CD Di displays a sweet and even tonal balance with a panoramic soundstage. In short, it’s closer to good analogue sound than digital.

AMPLIFIERS

Audiolab

6000A

PRICE: £600 REVIEWED: HFC 444

A cracking budget integrated

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