Audio Research CD2, Reference CD Player
Audio Research is one of those companies that know their products are some of the best in the industry, but sort of "play it cool" with their designs. For decades, the slab-sided, plainly marked, and simply adorned AR stacks have graced the listening rooms of thousands of music lovers and audiophiles alike. From their tube amps and preamps to their phono stages and accessories, AR has long been a name deserving of hifi accolades.
The CD2 is cut from the same cloth... or, rather same aluminum billet. The unit is completely unassuming at first. The symmetrical and simple front panel design houses a small LED display, CD drawer, and seven small push-buttons which control every major function. In our unit, the original black anodized face was swapped out for silver, allowing the original black rack handles to protrude slightly obviously. But aside from that, this unassuming piece of equipment hides a host of hi-tech features which result in exquisite "reference-level" audio output.
The CD2's primary internal feature is the Crystal CS4329 20-bit "double DAC" in what's called a "Delta-Sigma" configuration. Now, we know a few things about circuits, but not everything. So besides recalling a few intense "pong" sessions in the Sigma Delta basement in college, the term Delta Sigma means very little. BUT, to the reviewers and audio nerds who examined the CD2 in 1998 when it was released, it meant a lot!
In addition to the best chips, AR utilized additional physical damping inside the unit, throughout the chassis and mounting positions, down to the individual boards. All of these details come together to create an extremely engaging and revealing CD playing experience and are a testament to AR's quality and craftsmanship. Music emanates smoothly and effortlessly and without any CD harshness that can sometimes plague early digital media.
Demos are available in Lawrence, MA.
$1,399 (plus applicable shipping and/or MA sales tax)
* Note, the original black faceplate is also included with the sale.