December 25, 2009

Lite Et Bonbon. Metronome Technologie CD One T Signature CD Player.

Presenting the Metronome CD One T Signature CD player.

Lite et bonbon, is a direct translation from French to English, meaning "lite & sweet". Some how this CD player's sound just reminded me of that pop cornology description term. This is a truly special CD player, from the very first pressing of the "play" button.

The sound is cohesive and presents music with a wide screen like sound stage presentation, along with excellent depth perception and stage layering quality. I will not say this player is bright, but rather un like it's competitors, it just doesn't try to paint the darkest sound stage back grounds possible. The highs is at once extended, airy and sweet, with a generous degree of sheen to the presentation of high hats, cymbals and just about any other metals based musical instruments. The player imparts a certain "rightness" of metal ring to the overall high frequency presentation. The mids have excellent density and presents vocal images solidly. There's also a tendency to make female voices sound a little more seductive compared to other players. Male voices are not short changed either, as they are presented with more heft and chest than female voices. The thing I admire most about this CD player is the way it twist the nuances out of the throat, tongue, lips and teeth of a vocalist! My friend KM, calls this vocal porn!, if there's such a thing. For me, that imparts a certain humanness to the music which adds to the Metronome's appeal. Bass is naturally rendered, though not as tight nor extends as low as some other high end players. Despite that, kick drums can still "kick" and bass lines are clean and clear, making from one note to another easy to follow.
In the flesh, build quality is excellent.

This Metronome CD One T digs out almost as much information from the CD format as the Esoteric X-03, which is my reference this far. That makes the Metronome one of the most transparent CD players around. Low level piano details like the track 6, And so it goes, from Jennifer Warnes, The Well CD is re-played fully with as much information as I could remember. Micro dynamics of an acoustic guitar is realistically reproduced and when the music calls, such as an orchestra on full crescendo, the transient and macro dynamic is played out flawlessly. I was playing track 1 & 2 from the Diabolus In Musica, Accardo Interpreta Paganini, a Deutsche Grammophon recording of violin led orchestra works by Paganini. My visitor jumped up and declared after listening, "makes your Marantz CD7 sounding slow & dull by comparison!". He obviously liked what he heard. I liked what I heard too, especially the way this CD player handles rhythm and pace. It's very hard to describe, it does not sound un necessarily faster than other players, but it just sounds right. You may call it musicality, but some in the high end circles would not include musicality as a performance perimeter of high fidelity. Might I dare ask, what's high fidelity without musicality? What good is the most tonally balanced, most transparent, best specified hifi equipment, if it does not musically involves the listener on a higher emotional level?
One of my latest favourite classical CD. Salvatore Accardo plays violin concerto pieces by Paganini, back by London Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Charles Dutoit. The 1978 CD recording is dynamic and "grand" sounding. The Metronome CD One T has the ability to reproduce the lighting fast transient violin playing techniques by Accardo as represented by track 12, Sonata Moto Perpetuo, where most of the lighter moments will only to be glossed over by lesser CD players.

You see, the Metronome Technologie CD One T is French made, by a group of ex-Jadis engineers. The French combines artistic industrial design flair with strong engineering fundamentals. You can see it in their Peugeot/Citroen automobiles, their Airbus aeroplanes and their TGV trains. They value the finest quality of life, above all. This CD player represents that musical philosophy of the French.
The Philips sourced CD Pro2 transport, with magnetic puck and blue glow LED. The top sliding cover glides very smoothly when handled manually. It's a joy.

Build quality is excellent, with thick aluminium fascia and box construction. The top loading transport is a Philips CD Pro2 unit, mounted on a suspended sub chassis for vibration control. The top loader's sliding cover action is super smooth and well built. As usual for a top loader, a magnetic puck is required to keep the disc clamped down. The DAC type is not mentioned, but the spec indicates of the up sampling variety, however, curiously, no sampling option choices are allowed. All I can say is, why bother? When the default chosen setting is so spot on! There's only co-ax digital output option. Analog output can be chosen between RCA and XLR. I used the XLR outputs exclusively. The simple blue fluorescent display is non dim able, non switch able either.
The Metronome Technologie CD One T's back end.

The Philips Standard RC5 up market remote, with metal top plate.

For a player costing a little more than RM$46K, I'd expected the remote to be more than a Philips standard RC5 issue, with a metal top cosmetic, no back light and many non-functioning buttons, however, in actual use, the remote proved to be very ergonomically intuitive and felt chunky in the hands. Yep! folks, that's the only thing I managed to nit pick on this Metronome Technologie CD One T. By the way, the "T" is to indicate an pair of 6922 output tubes employed in the player's output stage. By the way, I heard little or no tube colouration at all in the player's sonic quality. The cheaper Metronome Technologie CD One Signature makes do without the "T" out put stage.
The internals of the cheaper Metronome Technologie CD One, sans the out put 6922 tubes. Note the transport mounted on the triangular suspended sub plinth for dampening transport vibrations.

In summary, this is one of the best and most "humane" sounding digital players to have come my way so far. It's sound is special only because of that "humane" quality it adds to the music it's asked to reproduced. So far, in this respect, no other player comes even close!

Metronome Technologie is sold by CMY Audio & Visual, contact John, tel: 03-21439206

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