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DP-57 CD player
as reviewed by Ed Morawski
This is the third in a series of reviews of late-model CD players in the $3000 - $4000 range. I have already covered the Musical Fidelity A308CR and the Meridian 588-24 , and will now cover the brand-new Accuphase DP-57 ($4900). I will then compare the players, and the winner will serve as my reference digital source. In the final article, I will also review a top-secret current turntable and compare it to the digital contenders.
No comparison of CD players would be complete without the inclusion of an Accuphase unit. This Japanese company has been at the top of the audiophile world for a long time. I was lucky enough to own a DP-65 at one time, and now comes their newest "entry-level" CD player, the DP-57. Accuphase is always trying new DAC configurations, and the DP-57 continues this tradition. To quote from the spec sheet:
MDS (Multiple Delta Sigma) is a revolutionary design which employs several delta sigma type converters in a parallel configuration. In the combined output of these multiple converters, conversion errors cancel each other out, resulting in a drastic improvement in all relevant aspects of converter performance including accuracy, S/N ratio, dynamic range, linearity, and THD. In the DP-57, two delta sigma type PCM1796 converters (made by Texas Instruments) are driven in parallel. Compared to a single converter, this results in an overall performance improvement by a factor of 1.4 (= √2). The MDS++ used in the DP-57 features an enhanced current-to-voltage (I/V) converter for processing the D/A converter output current. In combination with voltage summing, this design results in even better stability and top-notch performance.
The DP-57 weighs a substantial 26 pounds, and as usual for Accuphase, has a multitude of inputs and outputs. Like all Accuphase CD players, you can use the DP-57 as either a transport or as a DAC. It has balanced and unbalanced outputs, coaxial and optical inputs, and coaxial and optical outputs from the transport. Pretty cool, and very flexible.
I've been reading comments on the web about poor sound from the DP-57, and I suspect that the reason is that it takes forever to break in. My DP-57 was brand new. After powering up the player, I let it play overnight, then had a listen. I was underwhelmed. It sounded lightweight, laid back, and not very detailed. It was a distant third in the three-way comparison. I let it play for another 150 hours and listened again. The bass was there, but the sound was still somewhat light. I could detect no other improvements, and was pretty disheartened. I went back to the Meridian and Musical Fidelity players. I tried the Accuphase again from time to time, to no avail, and was pretty sure I would have to sell it while I chose between the 566-24 and the A308.
After three weeks, I flipped to...