Not perhaps the most exciting way to start a review of more than £70,000 worth of CD player, but taxonomy is important here. Métronome Technologie is a French company that makes digital players. Its top CD player/converter combination used to be known as the Kalista Reference CD player and Nausicaa DAC. There was a slimmed-down version called Calypso. Then Métronome Technologie brought out a line of more affordable players, such as LePlayer. The company patently didn’t want the LePlayer line to be undermined by the very different looking high-end range, so the parent company Métronome Technologie split the two brands into entirely different entities; Métronome (making the more conventional looking players and DACs) and Kalista, which currently makes just two products – the Dreamplay transport mechanism, and the DAC. Both are still made by Métronome Technologie. Simple, ain’t it?
All of this is important to know because the Kalista line of old helps shape the Kalista brand today. Actually, forget ‘helps shape’... this is a full-scale begatting. Kalista Reference begat the Dreamplay and the Nausicaa begat the DAC. They have a huge amount in common, not least the distinctive three-point inches-thick clear acrylic styling that forms the suspension and isolation system of both head units (also like the previous Kalista/Nausicaa models, both devices are fed by a more conventional looking Elektra external power supply).
The Kalista Dreamplay is more ‘chip off the old block’ than its converting counterpart, in that it shares much with its predecessor. The top-loading mechanism is still a Philips CDM12 Pro transport, commonly considered to be the best dedicated CD transport mechanism ever made. Unfortunately, that is in the past tense, because Philips is out of the transport mechanism game and the only way you can get hold of new mechs today is to fire up the time machine. Métronome is one of the few companies with enough good sense to buy up as many as they could when Philips announced they were End Of Lifing it, and the company has enough transports stored to both continue to make and service new Kalista Dreamplay transports. Unless, of course, there is a sudden spike in CD-loving lottery winners.
That’s not to say this is exactly the same player, though. The transport housing and puck have been subtly redesigned, with better sensors, the front panel display has moved from hard-buttons and an antiquated blue LED readout to an elegant black on light grey touchscreen (to match the DAC), and the hard-to-find upsampling switch has been removed because that’s a job for the DAC. It sends a digital signal in pure, unadulterated 16/44 PCM in your choice of S/PDIF (coaxial and TOSlink) and AES/EBU.