August 1, 2009

First Encounter of the Chinese Kind

This is an old post of ours in the blog we previously contribute to.

Maggielurva has gone berserk with Chinese hifi products. After the Droplet 5.0 CD player, he dug up another Chinese disc player for review in AVXpress, this time it is the Shanling CD-300.

Honestly, I have no exposure to Chinese hifi, although I have read much about it in the hifi press, both eastern and western. Well, some said that the Chinese stuff gave better value than their more established western counterparts, but some users also cautioned about product reliability and inconsistent quality. And we all can see this diverse opinion in the comments posted under maggielurva’s blog entry for the Consonance Droplet (“hifi haute couture”)

While what I read and heard serve as good background information, I personally like to experience things firsthand. So it is interesting to get the Shanling from maggielurva, now is my turn to see (and listen for myself) whether this made-in-china stuff is a gem or a turkey.

This Shanling goes for RM6k (yes, six, the first time maggielurva passes me something that is below 5 figures! Refrsehing). In terms of features, it is an overachiever compared to anything under RM10k. It is a top loader with Philips' CD7II servo system. It has 24bit/192kHz upsampling, selectable from the fascia and the remote. It is tubed (two 6922 in the output stage). It has both single ended and balanced (XLR) outputs. Heck, you even get an XLR connection for the digital out in addition to the RCA one. Its fit and finish is excellent, reminds me of the various top range Marantz that I came across (well, they probably took a page from Marantz’s design, with the rounded edges and all that). The only thing I can split hair about its build is probably the sliding cover for the CD compartment, which does not slide as smoothly as the one on the Audionet ART G2 (brouhaha! I can see some of you falling off your chairs, comparing the Shanling to a RM28k cdp? Hifikaki must be high on something). :-)

But how is the sound quality, you ask. This is not something that can be concluded in a few hours of listening, so let’s leave it to the full review. But so far so good, I can listen to it for a few hours at a time - that is a good sign – it is not fatiguing, it is not boring, it can convey musical tension. Still, more work needs to be done on my part.

Do take the above as first impression, this is just the beginning.

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