By Lam Seng Fatt
Are there still audiophiles looking around for a CD player in today’s world of streaming audio? I think so.
Many people still have hundreds of CDs in their collections and they have not ripped all of them and stored into hard disks or thumb drives. Many people still prefer listening to CDs and the fact is that many CD players bought years ago are beginning to break down – the tray is stuck or the CD cannot be read because the laser does not work anymore. You can then either try to repair the CD player…if spare parts are still available. Or you can shop around for a new CD player.
Chances are you would not want to spend a small fortune on a new CD player. Seen in this light, the SouI Note entry-level CD player SC300B CD/CAS player which costs RM4,229.40 is a good buy. When you buy a Soul Note, you are actually buying the expertise of engineers who had honed their skills at Marantz and Denon.
The Soul Note SC300B CD player also has a USB input for CAS. You need to download a proprietary music player and just plug your laptop to the USB input and press the CAS button on the front panel to listen to your hi-res music files. However, the USB input accepts up to 24/96 only. However, the versatility provides this CD player with added value.
At the rear is a switch for ‘Transport’ if you want to use it solely as a transport to be connected to an outboard DAC.
Soul Note uses a Burr-Brown PMC1796 DAC chip which can actually handle up to 24/192, but – as stated above – the USB input accepts only up to 24/96.
The tray is a bit flimsy, but the loading is smooth. You get the feeling that this CD player will provide you with many years of reliable service.
I played various CDs and the Soul Note SC300B did not reject any of them. Given Soul Note’s links with Denon and Marantz, I felt it sounded more like a Denon than a Marantz. I used to own a Marantz CD63 KI and the Soul Note lacks the flaboyance and liveliness of the Marantz but has much of the poise and class of higher-end Denon CD players. However, I felt the sonic signature of the Soul Note was a bit on the cool side.
It has lots of bass oomph and the usual parameters of stage size in terms of width and depth are commendable given the price of the CD player. Images are clean and not larger than life and the sound quality is very clean overall but, as mentioned above, a bit cool.
Using it to stream signals to an outboard DAC with the mode switch at the rear panel turned to ‘Transport’ gave a cleaner sound. Using a laptop to stream hi-res files via a USB cable to the CD player showed that the sonic signature remained the same albeit with more details and greater density given the higher resolution of the files.
The Soul Note SC300B is the entry-level CD player and the only one made in China and not Japan. However, to ensure that the manufacturing is of the highest standard, Soul Note sends its engineers to the factory in China to keep tabs on the quality control.
If you are in the market for an affordable CD player of reasonably good quality, the SC300B should fit the bill.
The Soul Note SC300B CD player costs RM4,229.40 from Audio Art in Ipoh.