(NO NOT MAO’S RED BOOK)
I initially heard about Jay’s CDT-2 through a Steve Guttenberg YouTube video after considering getting a dedicated drive CD. I had been running the digital output from an Onkyo C-S5VL CD/SACD player into my DAC, thinking the DAC would do all the processing necessary, so an upgrade would not be sonically effective. Talking to one of my technical contacts, he explained this is true for the streamed/USB input which uses the DAC’s internal clock, but not inputs through SPDIF. Whether to get a drive capable of CD and SACD playing? Finally, I thought I’d take a punt on the CDT-2 but was still sceptical.
I contacted Alvin of Vinshine Audio and he explained the purchasing process was via the website and that all carriage was included in the price. So I placed my order and the box duly arrived. I downloaded the instructions and carefully read them, loaded up batteries into the substantial remote connected and fired up the CDT-2.
My first aural impressions of the CDT-2 was that the performers were more solid with greater ambient/low-level detail and ‘space’ between them. Whilst this is subtle it has a great impact on the presentation if you have ears to hear. I have rebuilt Quad ELS63 speakers on sorbothane damped Arici stands with Audio Note silver litz interconnect and speaker cables - so quite revealing. The speakers are being driven by a Conrad Johnson MV-55 with vintage Tesla EL34s, the preamp is a Conrad Johnson PV-12 (phono). Power for all the units, including for the electrostatics, are supplied from one of James Soh’s Plixir Balanced AC power supply, the BAC3000, which, I believe, supports all the audio components in the chain with the best AC supply money can buy with clear sonic benefits.
An audiophile pal came over the other night. I sat him in the ‘hot’ seat and spun a few discs featuring Bob Brookmeyer, the Jazz trombonist, Dave Brubeck Quartet, Paul Simon’s Graceland amongst others. His impression was how wide but yet pin-sharp the lateral soundstage was (something Quad ELS 63s in combination with the MV-55 works towards) and clear the depth/layering was. But the detail did not obscure the wholistic nature of the presentation. Also, it is a very relaxed sound, which, I appreciate, is a sum of the whole rather than the CD drive itself, but musical enjoyment is key for me as well as a clear presentation of the sound.
I do use audiophile setup discs, such as those from Chesky Records, to help achieve, or rather test, for system qualities and room interactions, but it’s music I want to listen to: the musical intelligence of the artist; the resonance/timbre of their instrument/voice; the skill of the recording/mixing/mastering personnel; the pleasure of a vibrant, lifelike, rhythmical performance. I was an early adopter of CD and, in fact, still have my 1984 Phillips CD player in storage, but until recently, was listening mostly to vinyl, FM radio, the odd cassette. Now my view has changed. I have a streaming service account and think it’s great for browsing, but my fairly large CD collection from the past four decades is having a renaissance and I am hearing the music anew. I am also buying quite a lot of CDs which are so competitively priced nowadays and some of which, like the Sony Music Columbia Jazz Series, brilliantly digitized from the master tapes.
I’d like to thank Alvin for his excellent and patient service and communication with me.
Credit: David M.