The days of the CD-as-Frisbee are long gone, but there doesn’t seem to be much distinction between skip-in-track and skip-track that can occasionally prove frustrating (try playing an opera under such circumstances!). Also, logic commands tend not to work when the disc draw is open. Except when they very occasionally do. It’s nothing to get too frustrated about and it’s as much down to the listener learning to approach replay logically as it is the twisted logic of the Metronome, but if you are used to a player that allows the user some degree of laissez faire in track navigation, you will need to relearn your approach to music replay.
Ask any Kallista owner about this, and they will immediately say that it’s worth the effort to learn, because the rewards are so great. The full Metronome system redefines the word ‘texture’ in audio. Those unused to what the Metronome can do find the idea of music having its own feel, as if it were a piece of material, an absurd suggestion. Those who have spent time with any of the Metronome products understand precisely what that means. It’s like mouth-feel in wine tasting, except with sound. I’ve tried to put more meaning on this unique property of sound from Metronome, but it’s almost impossible. It’s one of those intangible things that you get in real music but doesn’t happen so often in audio. Except in rare cases, and the CD8 is one of those rare cases.
It’s something to do with the flow of music. It doesn’t make everything legato sounding, and doesn’t make all its rivals sound staccato, but there is a sense of music moving from theme to theme here that is more like a good LP than CD normally delivers. I put on a James Taylor CD from the 1980s – That’s Why I’m Here – which is flawlessly recorded for the time, but suffers from Yamaha DX7 Synth Overkill Syndrome. It’s sometimes difficult to set these distinct and now relatively ugly chimey sounds in context today, but the Metronome straightens things out perfectly. The DX7 sounds no longer dominate and harden up a syrupy mix; they are a part and a function of the sound, and you can begin to see why every keyboard player in that decade used one.
There’s a temptation to think this a ‘soft’ sounding player, but transient information is portrayed brilliantly. It’s as much about harmony as it is melody though, and that is something that few players do well, and the CD8’s abilities here make it appear at first ‘soft’ in comparison. Nothing ‘soft’ about its ability to play Shosstakovich’s Trio for Piano, Violin and Violoncello no 2 (Argerich, Kremer, Maisky, DG 289 459 326-2), just good keen dynamics and excellent transient information, coupled to a rich and full harmonic structure.
I’m not wholly convinced CD players contribute dramatically to the way a system produces imagery (this element being better defined by the amp/speaker interaction), but if they do, this one is more about tight authority than huge vistas of sound. That isn’t to say it lacks soundstaging properties, but it’s more precision than size that counts here.