Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Review: Sony CDP-470

You´re about to read the sixth out of nine reviews. You don´t need to read them all, just pick the unit that seems to be the most interesting to you. In the weeks to follow I´ll review the following units: Kenwood DP-5090, Pioneer DV-610, Sony CDP-470, Pioneer BDP-140, iRiver IMP-550, Sony MZ-R 55, Sony MZ-R 37, Sony NW-A 1000 and the Sansa Clip+. Stay tuned and enjoy the new review: the Sony CDP-470! I also implore you to read the article describing my rigorous testing methodology before you actually start reading this one.

Sony CDP-470
This player is even older than the Kenwood, the Sony CDP-470 was released to the market in 1989. Now 23 years old it still works as a charm even though it was only a budget player. Its price range seems evidenced by its manufacturing quality at first: the front, the sides, the bottom and the rear are made out of plastic and don´t feel very nice although they are encased by the metal cover. But it´s surprisingly heavy and once you open it you are in for some surprises: the power supply is rather big, the huge CD drive is mounted on a thick metal frame, the same goes for its PCB which also shows an impressive number of parts. Just like the Kenwood DP-5090 this player uses several ICs for digital conversion: a CXD1125Q as a DSP, a CXD2550P as its filter and then the CXD1161P for D/A conversion. The higher model from the 1989-line, the CDP-670, uses two D/A converters from Burr Brown instead and also has an optical output - apart from that there are no differences. The laser for the CD drive is still available for cheap money... but not necessary because this player reads everything you throw at it with impeccable perfection, including CD-Rs ignored by other players or badly scratched CDs. Changing tracks needs an extremely short amount of time and the drive mechanism doesn´t even sound tired when the drawer opens or closes. Well, I mentionend in another review Sony once was renowned for building high quality devices - this reputation obviously was well deserved. That´s probably the reason why people try to buy old Sony CD players at eBay; they want to own well engineered players with good sound. Let´s see if they have reason to believe in the latter, shall we?

Sony CDP-470 measurments

Sony CDP-470 jitter
Measurments finally reveal its age: while jitter is remarkably absent (I expected the CDP-470 to jitter much, much more) the RMAA chart shows some severe distortions (confirmed by the plots), especially prominent are Intermodulation distortions. The sound quality reflects the measurments because this player does everything wrong a player can do wrong. Timing is horrible, the stage is constricted, instruments constantly change their colours, singers tend to be obscured by surrounding parts... well, at least the stage is consistent and extremely stable. Dynamics are explosive but seem extremely forced and not very natural. Air is almost absent which is curious considering the amount of aggressiveness in the treble. Resolution and definition are not very good either, the player also seems to distort soft parts of the music while smearing details when the music gets louder. All in all I´d say it is the most "digital" and abrasive sounding player I´ve ever heard. If only my boyfriend could have spend a bit more money all those years ago... he could have purchased the CDP-670 instead; its digital output would have enabled us to use it as a very reliable digital transport. If you still have a soft spot for a Sony player from this era and intend to use it analogue I recommend the Sony D-20 because it sounds much better. Nice mechanics, bad sound... therefore I´d recommend the CDP-670 should you plan to acquire a reliable digital transport.

Sonic Balance:
Stage / Ambiance:

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