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Napa Acoustic NA-208C CD Player Reviewed

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HTR Product Rating

Performance
3.5 Stars
Value
4 Stars
Overall
4 Stars

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Napa-Acoustic-NA-208C-CD-Player-Review.jpgHigh Points
• Despite its obvious Chinese origins, the NA-208C is a well-built CD player with boutique style looks that are decidedly upscale, though it doesn't carry an upscale price tag. Seriously, the front panel controls remind me of what you'll find on Krell's costlier disc spinners.
• The NA-208C is easy to set up and even easier to use, and in a desktop-like environment, the remote adds to the player's day to day usability.
• The NA-208C's sound is one of smoothness instead of ruthless retrieval, which should bode well for those with vast musical tastes. I threw everything at it from female vocals to classic rock and came away from every session impressed and musically satisfied.
• While not the last word in any sonic category, the NA-208C is aimed more at the music enthusiast than the dedicated audiophile. That being said, I enjoyed listening to and interacting with the NA-208C more than I have many so-called audiophile players in the past, because the NA-208C's performance is all about the music, rather than showing you or your system the error of your ways.
• The NA-208C can be connected directly to an amplifier, thanks to its digital volume control, which for desktop listeners is a huge plus.
• The NA-208C's headphone output also makes the player an ideal choice for bedside late-night listening. Its small footprint should allow it to fit on even the smallest of nightstands.

Low Points
• The NA-208C's remote is cheap and frankly doesn't function all that well when asked to transmit commands from anything further away than a few feet.
• Because the NA-208C's digital volume control is only accessible via remote, its lack of range makes it non-ideal for traditional system setups.
• When turned off, the NA-208C's internal volume defaults to 20, with full volume coming at 40. For some amps and even preamps, this may be too low. You can always pump up the volume, so long as you remember that after every power-down, you have to readjust the volume accordingly.

Competition and Comparison
There are a few CD players at or near the NA-208C's price point that are worth mentioning, beginning with Emotiva's ERC-2 Differential Reference CD Player/Digital Transport at $449 direct. The ERC-2 offers up more connection options, as well as a more robust player overall, both inside and out, though it lacks a digital volume control and headphone output. The ERC-2 is also a full-sized component better suited for traditional rack-mounted systems.

Another CD player worth mentioning is NAD's C 515BEE CD player, which at $299.99 is cheaper than the NA-208C, though, like the Emotiva, it is larger and aimed more at the traditional user. Also, like the Emotiva, the NAD lacks the NA-208C's volume control and headphone jack.

For more on CD players please visit Home Theater Review's Audiophile Source Component page.

Conclusion
At the end of the day, the NA-208C compact CD player, from newcomer Napa Acoustic, is what I like to think of as the anti-audiophile disc spinner, as it conjures up audiophile-like levels of performance, but doesn't seem to do so by taking itself too seriously. It's a great little player, one that is ideally suited for desktop and/or small room use, and is nothing short of a delight to listen to and enjoy. Its build quality is excellent and its form factor makes it a no-brainer in the WAF category. If it wasn't let down by its shoddy remote and perhaps offered up a bit more dynamics and resolution, it would no doubt score slightly higher marks. Still, for what it is, the NA-208C is a fun, easy to use and inexpensive player that gets a solid recommendation from this reviewer.

Additional Resources
• Read more source component reviews from HomeTheaterReview.com.
• Explore AV Receivers and AV Preamps to pair with the NA-208C CD player.
• Learn more about Napa Acoustic's NA-208A amplifier.
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