Sony CDP-X555ES CD player Review System

Sidebar 2: Review System

The players reviewed in this issue were broken-in for roughly a month before I sat down to listen. I fed them CDs, set 'em for infinite repeat, and hooked their fixed outputs to a 10k load (you can make this by soldering a 10k resistor between the signal and ground of an RCA plug, or alternately, you can just hook the player up to an input on your preamp, turned all the way down), which ensured that signal would flow through the audio circuitry, output coupling caps, wire, etc. If you leave the output jacks unterminated there's no signal flow, and all you accomplish is a ha'pen'orth's higher electric bill. This is a good way to break in interconnects as well, although an FM tuner set for interstation hiss puts less wear on your player.

Just about the only change I've made to my system has been replacing VTL's Compact 160 monoblocks with their larger KT90-version Deluxe 225s; I need more juice than the 160s were able to swing, and the triode-wired Deluxe 225s are just the ticket. The new 225s extend the virtues of the Compact 160s (triode mode only for these amps) further in nearly every direction, with even clearer midrange textures and Amazing Space. And as the new VTLs are too big to fit on the books I had the 160s sitting on, I've got the 225s up on sky-blue plastic milk crates courtesy of the local Safeway one night when I went to steal them.

Other gear used to evaluate the CD players under review included my own buffered passive preamp, Spica Angelus speakers in cahoots with the Muse Model 18 subwoofer, and the Theta DS Pro Basic and Audio Alchemy DDE v1.0 digital processors for comparison.

Interconnects included Straight Wire Maestro, AudioQuest Lapis, and XLO type 1, while speaker cable remained the Straight Wire Maestro. All gear was plugged into the Audio Express NoiseTrapper Plus and NoiseTrapper 2000 AC line conditioners. The book most often read while listening in order to avert my attention and thus achieve the highest right-brain sensitivity was Greil Marcus's Dead Elvis (Doubleday).—Corey Greenberg

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