Audio Research CD9 SE CD Player / DAC
Audio Research introduced its first Reference series CD player in 2005 with the Reference CD7, then evolving into the Reference CD8. Both players received critical acclaim for their accuracy and naturalness. People still want to play their CDs, but they also want to add other digital sources such as computer audio and streaming to their music systems, so we created the Reference CD9SE CD Player/DAC. It combines the best of both, a super high-resolution compact disc player with a super high-resolution digital-to-analog converter that is stunning in its musicality.
Now entering its fourth decade, the Compact Disc player seems to have reached a stage of maturity where the best models within a given price range will sound pretty much alike. The technology of the Compact Disc itself is set, its possibilities and limitations are well understood; and the designers of CD players who figure out how to stretch the former and finesse the latter wind up at about the same sonic place (again, for the same price), even if they've taken different routes to get there. What distinguishes these players in the marketplace tends to be not so much their sound quality as their features, and the world of digital audio has expanded in ways that make features very important—some of them, anyway.
The Reference CD9 is a top-loading player that uses Philips's CD Pro2 transport. The drive rests on a ½"-thick metal I-beam that extends the player's full depth. Four 6H30 dual-triode tubes drive the analog section; a fifth 6H30 and a 6550C regulate the power supply. ARC claims that its use of four digital-to-analog converters (two per channel, each in dual-mono mode) reduces the digital noise floor by 3dB (ie, doubling the number of DACs doubles the signal's amplitude while keeping the noise the same). Power is handled by a custom transformer that, according to design engineer Dennis Petrich, has no gaps or breaks in the material of its R-core and thus more efficiently contains the flux field, with much less leakage, resulting in less distortion and a higher signal/noise ratio. Jitter reduction (to < 10 picoseconds, according to the spec sheet) is handled by a crystal-controlled reclocking mechanism.
In its most up-to-date feature, the CD9's rear panel has not only digital outputs but also five digital inputs—S/PDIF on RCA, BNC, and TosLink, AES/EBU on XLR, and USB—for outboard digital devices or digital streaming. (The player comes with a CD-R carrying the necessary driver programs for Macs and Windows PCs.) Once you've pushed a button (on the CD9's front panel or its remote control) that activates one of these digital inputs, you can set the bit rate to 24 and the sampling rate to 44.1, 88.2, 96, or 192kHz, depending on the source signal. (You can also set it to play at the source's native resolution, whatever that may be.) The DACs are also equipped with dual oscillators, so that music at 44.1kHz (or doubled to 88.2kHz or, from there, to 176.4kHz) uses one of the oscillators, while music played at 96 or 192kHz uses the other.
Finally, when you're spinning discs, the CD9 allows you, with a push of a button, to upconvert the sampling rate from 44.1 to 88.2kHz. Another button lets you select the digital filter: Fast (a brick-wall filter at the highest frequency) or Slow (a filter with a more gradual rolloff).
For those familiar with Audio Research CD players, the Reference CD9 is the same as the CD8 except for its digital inputs, the selectable filters and upsampling options, and the circuitry that facilitates them: the four DACs (vs the CD8's two), the two master oscillators (vs the CD8's one), the greater bandwidth of the analog circuitry, and the sample-rate display on the front panel.
Description: Top-loading, remote-control, tubed CD player with optional upsampling, two digital reconstruction filters, and digital inputs/outputs.
Tube complement: four 6H30 dual triodes (analog stage), one 6H30 and one 6550C (power regulation).
Digital inputs: S/PDIF (TosLink, BNC, RCA), AES/EBU (XLR), and USB.
Bit depths handled: 16 and 24 bits.
Sample rates handled: 44.1, 88.2, 96, 176.4, and 192kHz.
Digital outputs: BNC, AES/EBU.
Analog outputs: single-ended (RCA), balanced (XLR).
Frequency responses: 3Hz–96kHz, +0/–3dB; 20Hz–20kHz, ±0.15dB.
Signal / noise: 110dB.
THD: < 0.003% at 2V RMS, balanced output.
Output impedance: 660 ohms balanced, 330 ohms single-ended.
Recommended minimum load: 20k ohms with 2000pF maximum capacitance.
Channel separation: 107dB at 1kHz.
Power consumption: 120W maximum, 1W in sleep mode.
Dimensions: 19" (480mm) W by 5.25" (134mm) H by 15.375" (390mm) D. Front handles add 1.5" (38mm) to depth. Weight: 33 lbs (15kg) net, 43 lbs (19.5kg) shipping.
|Free warranty||3 years|
|Delivery Time||1 - 5 Working Days|