The shock inclusion of a USB in a Metronome player passes off smoothly. The player is a touch cable-demanding in all its guises and the USB is no exception, so choose wisely. But the overall sound of the USB input is on a par with the spinning disc. This does give one the golden opportunity to compare CD and computer audio files through the same electronics and interestingly it comes out as something of a dead heat. Ripped CDs sound as good as their live-played original discs, and the Metronome’s computer audio side isn’t letting the side down in any way. Whether this means the start of a planned migration to ripped disc replay or it just means you add some internet radio to the front end is down to the individual.
The difficulty anyone faces writing about CD in 2012 is two-fold. First, there are those who think there should be no reviews of CD players anymore, because the time of CD playing has long since passed. This is, of course, nonsense, making the fallacious jump from the individual to the masses. Not everyone has migrated away from CD replay, and it seems not everyone will until it becomes impossible to do otherwise. And, as long as there are new CD players, we’ll keep reviewing them, because there is still a market out there.
The second problem is CD is a victim of its own success in hi-fi circles. They have all got pretty damn good, and the gap between a good £200 player and a good £20,000 player is considerably smaller than it is between other aspects of hi-fi replay. Worse, many of those differences only manifest themselves after long hours of close scrutiny. Generally, the more you pay the better you get (a lot of cheaper players deliberately choose a brightly lit presentation that doesn’t lend itself to long listening in full-range systems), but sometimes the price differential becomes hard to justify.
Not with the Metronome CD8. The sound it makes is inviting, natural, beautifully structured and more like analogue than many players. Not in an artificial, softened edges kind of way, but just in that organic, not listening to electronics sound that CD so rarely achieves. If you want even more analogue-ness about the sound, there’s always a valve version of the same for £1,000 more. But, the solid-state sound is particularly wonderful from the outset.
There’s just one other question to be answered. How close does the CD8 get to the full Kallista? Well, that depends. If you have a system that scales the heights of high-end, the difference is marked and immediate. In that case – and, let’s face it, if you have a system that reaches those heights, there is unlikely to be anything in your system that costs less than the CD8 – the difference is (a lot of) money well spent. In systems where spending £8,000 on a source component seems more logical and likely, then the differences are less pronounced. In other words, you have to throw the window really wide open to notice the differences. The only big change between the two is the Kallista sounds a couple of notches faster and more direct than the CD8, whatever the system.
Metronome adding USB to a player sounded ominous, but the reality is the result merely adds to the whole system, while taking nothing away. It remains an excellent player that simply adds computer music to the line-up. Few other players flow quite as well as Metronome, and the CD8 brings that bang up to date. Strongly recommended.
CD player, with USB input
Transport mechanism: Modified Philips CDM12 PRO v6.8
DAC: Dual 24/192 AKM chips
Outputs: Line level RCA phono, balanced XLR, digital audio S/PDIF coaxial phono
Inputs: USB Type B
Dimensions (WxHxD): 45 x 12 x 42.5cm
Weight: 15 Kg
Available in black or silver aluminium
Manufactured by Metronome Technologie
Distributed by Absolute Sounds
Tel: +44(0)208 971 3909