Synthesis ROMA 14DC+ CD player

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Synthesis ROMA 14DC+
Synthesis ROMA 14DC+ CD player

Although I know it’s an unrealistic expectation, I always hope and pray that any new CD player I encounter will have an immediate and transforming effect on my entire silver disc collection – in much the same way a new turntable, arm, or pickup cartridge might. Alas, digital doesn’t really work like that. Of course, it reaches a high standard, but it’s difficult to get it to go past the point where the total result (sonically) is much greater than the sum of the parts. But, still – the hope remains! 

Such were my thoughts as I unboxed the Roma CD 14DC+ player from Synthesis, and got it going. The review sample had been fully run in, so I could listen straight away. It meant those important early first impressions were valid...

The Roma 14DC+ uses a TEAC CD 5020 transport, and this provides a very stable disc platform. By chance, a week or so before the Roma arrived, I happened to play a CD I bought about 25 years ago. The disc was made at the PDO plant in Blackburn, and it had suffered oxidisation. PDO CDs were notorious for this. Oxidisation turns the top surface of the disc a sort of bronze/gold colour rather than silver. The aluminium corrodes and the digital pits on the disc become corrupted. The disc might still play, but only part of it will be okay. Using my regular player, I heard a nasty cyclic crackle and audible distortion/breakup after about 12m. Bah! The first 10m or so of the disc played fine, but after that the sound started to coarsen and I heard swishing/clicking noises. However, playing this disc on the Roma, I was able to listen for around 40 minutes before anything untoward happened – and even then, the deterioration was relatively benign. This demonstrated the TEAC transport’s ability to retrieve every last drop of information – even off a corrupted disc. Another corroded CD from the same factory behaved similarly. On the Roma, it played right to the end. And while there was some coarsening of the sound, and a bit of background swish, the result was listenable. On every other player I’ve ever used, the final 23m were always unplayable...

During use, the transport is to all intents mechanically silent. There are no whirrs or swishes to be heard – even putting your ear right up close to the player. You don’t even hear a mechanical cyclic hiss or series of clicks when playing corrupted discs. Excellent!

Track access is fairly fast, but not instant. The CD drawer moves at a medium pace, being neither too-slow nor too-fast. The drawer itself could move in and out a tad more smoothly. There was a very slight judder on the review sample, but perhaps I’m being over-fussy.

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