Copland CDA822 Compact Disc Player Reviewed

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Just when you think you can consign something to the 'dustbin of history', along comes another cause for a re-think. Wiser heads than mine assure me that purist audiophiles will continue to buy conventional, two-channel CD players for decades, just as they continue to spin vinyl even unto CD's 20th anniversary. And yet, my logical side says, in the dawning of the age of SACD and DVD-A: why buy a CD player for £1598, when that will pay for a good universal player? But I hadn't reckoned on the sheer sweetness of the latest from Copland.

Copland's history as a manufacturer of CD players is slightly patchy, memory telling me that one or two machines issued by this Danish company deserved entry to Crufts. Be that as it may, Copland has gone through a period of complete rejuvenation, its entire range overhauled, a range which, yes, even addresses multi-channel. So maybe Copland is no different than the rest of you, circling in wait-and-see mode. While we pass time as the dust settles (and I am firmly of the camp which believes that every player sold a few years hence be a universal player, for it would be stupid and self-defeating to be otherwise), there clearly remains at present a market for 2-channel CD players.

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Being of Northern European origin, Copland believes in clean front panels and a less-is-more approach. Thus, some of you will fall in love with the CDA822 just because of its minimalism. There's not a whole helluva lot more that they could have left off this player, the unit being Spartan to the point of masochism. And yet, despite a near-total dearth of connection options, the Copland provides balanced analogue output - go figure. Clearly, these Swedes are serious about the audio performance above all else. But let's back up, starting with what the unit does and doesn't provide.

Across the front, the Copland bears an on/off button accompanied by a red LED which lights up when the player is in standby mode. Next is the tray-open button, the comprehensive display (showing track number and time, in total, remaining and elapsed forms) and five buttons for pause, previous, next, stop and play; the supplied, generic remote deals with programming, display on/off, display time modes, etc. Above the display is the tray aperture, with a nicely-machined metal end-piece.

Around the back, you're in for a shock if you expect a full complement of socketry for analogue and digital needs, as would be the norm at this price point. Instead, all you get are left and right analogue phono outputs, a single phono socket for coaxial digital output, the aforementioned XLRs for balanced output, the primary mains switch and an IEC three-pin mains-in socket. Interestingly, despite the absence of TOSlink, AT&T, BNC and XLR digital outputs, the unit is fitted with 12V remote triggers for remote operation with a Copland pre-amp or others with 12V triggers.

Obviously oblivious to flash, Copland put everything on the inside. Its power supply has two separate transformers, one for the digital circuitry and the other for the audio signal; two serial-coupled mains input filters reduce the incoming noise. The analogue audio output power supply is a +15V triple regulated type and separate regulators are used for the left and right channels. Copland also installed high value bypass capacitors, paralleled with polypropylene types.

For the digital signal processing, Copland employs a master clock for the system supplied by a 'very stable' discrete-type oscillator with very low phase noise; the buffer has its own separate power supply. The master clock is used for the CD transport, the sample rate converter and the D/A converter, the 44.1khz digital signal from the transport upsampled by to a 176.4khz, 24-bit signal while also removing jitter.

Analogue Devices' AD1853 was the DAC chosen by Copland, a dual-differential current output design that supports 196khz/24-bit sampling. Copland used it because the company feels 'that it is an effective way to keep noise, crosstalk and distortion at low levels, because differential architecture cancels out most distortions and noise.'

Analogue signal processing is accomplished without global feedback, and a discrete double-differential current-to-voltage converter is used. Double transistors cancel the output offset from the DAC (<0.5mV), while ensuring temperature independency. Copland used surface mounting of the transistors, while conventional transistors are employed at the output buffers. The output is capacitor-coupled with large polypropylene types.

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