Revisiting the Audio Research REF CD9SE
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 Audio Research 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.
What Hi-Fi? recently reviewed the REF CD9SE, declaring, "This is a hugely accomplished performer that sets sky-high standards for one-box spinners."
And later in the review:
"There’s just so much detail here from the rich, harmonic texture of the instruments to the dynamic nuances that build into the irresistible ebb and flow of the piece. There are players that sound shrill with the strings on this recording, but through the CD9 SE we get all the natural bite without added harshness. This is a wonderfully fluid, refined and natural-sounding performer."
Indeed, it is a special testament that a more mature (though updated), digital product was chosen to be reviewed when the nature of the technology changes so quickly. What's more, the REF CD9SE not only holds its own against newer digital products - it actually surpasses most in performance and design engineering.
From Dave Gordon of Audio Research:
"What makes the REF CD9SE so special is its heart, its analog stage. Digital-to-analog converters are only as good as their analog stages: ours is from a Reference preamp, with four 6H30s in the analog section, with a 6H30 with 6550 used for power-supply regulation. We use Burr-Brown DAC chips in a quad balanced layout. And, we use the latest Philips Pro2 transport, the best sounding CD transport we have heard.
The REF CD9SE has tons of resolution, but it also plays with a sense of space, air, dynamics and purity that are compelling. Listening to music through it is not an intellectual exercise, it is involving. And that, to me, is what music is about."
We couldn't have said it better, Dave! Read the full What Hi-Fi? review HERE.
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