Millions of Canadians awakened to discover their home phones, mobile wireless, ATMs, cable, and home Wi-Fi offline. It didn’t help that my iPhone that uses Verizon in the United States flipped over to Rogers as we began our journey to French River; one of the more picturesque and lesser known parts of my home province.
The Canadian part of my personality just shrugged because this seemed like par for the course for Rogers that owns a considerable slice of the pie and charges exorbitant rates for its less than reliable service.
The American side of my personality found a local donut shop in the early hours that used Bell so I could reach out to friends and loved ones.
The human side is almost giddy that one is without a connection to the outside world and nobody can bother me. No news. No emails. No phone calls.
I experienced that once before. No access.
Sitting on the dock that overlooked the waterway in front of our loaned cottage, I remembered why CD players still have enormous value.
As I write this out, the sun is rising over a shimmering Wolseley Bay, and we have 4 days remaining here. We have electricity and the Marantz CD60 includes a headphone jack and that really could have come in handy with no Wi-Fi and a selection of headphones in my backpack.
The CD collection here is pretty sparse; the owners left 20 of their favorites along with a rather worn looking NAD CD Player that looks very 1990s.
The Marantz CD60 would have been a lot better. You can read my review here.
While looking for some extra pillows in one of the guest bedrooms, I found two boxes of very old 45s. Records. Not guns or marginal malt liquor. Sorry Lando.
The first box was an assortment of Sinatra, Elvis, Bobby Darin, Vivaldi, Johnny Mathis, Joey Dee & the Starlighters, The Belvederes, and Conway Twitty; the sleeves were all in relatively good shape and I’m sure the owners enjoyed these for many years.
There was an assortment of 1970s rock in the second box, but they all looked a tad worn and were the types of music one found at Kmart, or in the bin next to Kresge’s lunch counter.
The 45s triggered a memory of my grandfather taking us to Kmart as little kids and stealing candy from the bins; the poor kid making $2/hour who challenged him at the time wet himself at the sight of a pistol in his waistband. Mental illness on full display.
When I mentioned the story to my father, he became agitated and distant. A diatribe about glorifying someone who didn’t deserve any thought whatsoever and a quick history lesson about where I come from and how I needed to move on and stick with my own ensued.
Apparently, someone missed his ability to stream YouTube videos on his iPhone far more than I did.
We looked for a turntable, but it would appear that it had died many years before and the owner had not yet disposed of the records. A part of me wanted to ask for permission to keep them, but it felt like I was stealing someone’s memories by doing so.
Before I left for my homeland, I did run the CD60 through the Cambridge Audio Edge A, Cambridge Audio DacMagic 200M, and Holo Audio Spring 3 KTE DAC just to see if the performance could be elevated when used as a transport. The Optical/Coaxial digital outputs (no USB) made it easy to try all 3 and it was interesting to see how that changed the overall sound quality.
A number of readers pointed out that I had not mentioned that the buttons on the front panel of the CD60 are not backlit and rather hard to see if there is not a lot of light in the room. They would be correct about that. Marantz should incorporate that into the next design.
The Marantz CD60 has a rather warm and organic tonal balance and it is one of those components that makes even the worst recordings sound almost listenable; it does some truly wonderful things with DCC, MoFi, and JVC XRCD recordings that pushed the envelope when it came to digital recordings in the 1990s.
Horns had texture, color, and a degree of presence in the room that made focusing on anything but the music rather difficult. Coltrane, Byrd, and Lou Donaldson were propelled forward in front of my Q Acoustics 3050i loudspeakers; the soundstage on each recording felt wider and there was an obvious shift in color.
The Cyrus Audio CDi-XR that was recently shipped back delivered music in a very different way than its Japanese rival.
The CDi-XR is about speed, clarity, detail, and sharply drawn lines; music is carved rather firmly in the space in-between your loudspeakers. All of that impressive performance comes at the cost of color and texture.
In a system with an abundance of that, the Cyrus Audio CDi-XR might be exactly what you need. In a system that borders on being analytical, that neutrality will not work over the long haul. It will be exciting and detailed, but lacking in warmth and presence.
The Cyrus Audio CD player does have a rather firm grasp of the bottom end and it most certainly delivers bass that is quicker, tighter, and more detailed than the Marantz, which offers a fuller sounding presentation at the expense of speed and detail.
Vocals can be slightly cool through the CDi-XR and it definitely requires a warmer sounding amplifier or pair of loudspeakers to shine.
Have you ever felt your mind start to go? I know what that feels like. Donald Byrd’s hauntingly beautiful track has always felt like a prayer or hymn to me. I have used it for years when listening to components. When Byrd’s trumpet explodes, a loudspeaker either awakens and takes your mind and soul someplace else or it falters badly.
Listening to the CD with the CD60 connected to the aforementioned DACs, I was reminded just how important tone and texture are when listening to any component.
The DacMagic 200M stripped some of the color and texture of the track and I found myself less drawn to its sound. Perhaps I was wrong about it. It wouldn’t be the first time I was wrong about something. It sounded like a different track.
The far more expensive Edge A painted a more vivid picture; the sound stretched further across the width of the room, and most of the color returned. The internal DAC of this $6,500 integrated amplifier is very competent and the combination was certainly something that would work for me long-term.
The experience with the Holo Audio Spring 3 KTE was something else; vivid, organic, and far more natural sounding. The Spring 3 is well out of my personal reach from a financial perspective, but it did something with the Marantz CD60 that made me not miss streaming platforms at all.
If I ever have to start again from scratch, this combination might be where I start and finish. That is starting to look more and more likely.
Marantz has reaffirmed my belief in the sanctity of the imperfect CD. Don’t give up the faith.