We all got very excited when the compact disc came along, the scratch resistant, jam-proof “perfect” medium for the first digital music format, but it seems that the gloss has well and truly worn off 36 years later. It looks like CD will be outlived by vinyl of all things, the very medium CD was supposed to have eliminated by the beginning of the 1990s. But there are still CDs being made even if CD players are getting a bit thin on the ground; so much so, in fact, that if you want to enjoy your disc collection for another few decades, now might be a good time to invest in a new player.
The dearth of decent new CD players is partly related to the difficulty in finding a dedicated CD transport mechanism. I was under the impression that only TEAC was still making them, but Rotel tells us that their latest and only machine, the RCD-1572 has one ‘purpose designed’ by another company, which implies that this is not a generic, made for PC, CD-ROM drive as found in many players today. The drawer itself is plastic, and thus a little insubstantial, but is ‘fit for purpose’ so long as you are nice to it. The other slightly unusual component choice is a Wolfson upsampling digital to analogue converter, chosen we’re told for sound rather than spec reasons. It’s still a 24/192 PCM device, however, presumably because they don’t make decent DAC chips with smaller numbers any more.
The output stage is where Rotel has the option to confer experience gained over almost as long a time as the CD format has been around. There was a time in the nineties when the brand made some of the most respectable disc spinners on the market. The various engineers involved with those products have long since retired, but the sound of this machine suggests that some of what they learned has been passed down even if the company itself has changed quite significantly. Slit foil capacitors are a good example of this.