CD Players

Audiolab 8200CDQ CD Player with Built-In Preamplifier

ARTICLE INDEX

Design of the Audiolab 8200CDQ CD Player

Audiolab has a long history in British hi-fi. I can recall wanting an 8000A integrated amp when I put together my first hi-fi system. Unfortunately for me it was out of my price range at the time. Founded in England in 1983, Audiolab was acquired in 1998 by Tag McLaren. Tag McLaren renamed the company to Tag McLaren audio and moved the entire brand upmarket. After shutting the doors in 2003, IAG acquired the brand and re-launched it as Audiolab. International Audio Group initially put into production the original 8000 series products. Recently IAG (which has a great roster of hi-fi companies under its belt, including Luxman) re-designed the entire product line and now we have the 8200CDQ which belongs to the all new 8200 series components.

The design of the 8200CDQ was headed by John Westlake and Dominik Peklo. John Westlake has a long history designing ground breaking digital playback products. He is responsible for the original DacMagic, the legendary Pink Triangle DaCapo (still viewed by some as one of the best digital playback systems), and the DAC section of the Peachtree Nova.

I opted to get the silver finish, black is also available. Build quality is above par with components in this price range. The entire chassis is very rigid, buttons have a pleasant amount of resistance and have a positive engagement. Connectors are securely mounted to the back panel as well. Internal build quality is considerably better than most products of this type and price.

A particular stand out is the quality of the remote. Most remotes for hi-fi equipment are off the shelf units. What we have in the 8200CDQ is the Audi interior of remotes. Logically laid out, good ergonomics, positive engagement of buttons, and a great feel. The underside of the remote is painted in black soft touch paint. The soft touch finish provides a good non-slip surface and a very pleasing feel. The top panel of the remote is made of brushed aluminum, very similar in color and finish to the front panel of the player itself. IR reception is exceptional, with incredible off axis performance and range.

The CD tray is slim, fairly rigid and operates very quietly. The CD section does not support SACD (which is an issue for you classical music fans out there), but it does support CD-Text. The transport section is slaved to the clock of the DAC which helps to reduce transport induced jitter.

Opening up the player, the sheer number of capacitors is amazing, as is the number if regulated power supplies and regulators. That said, I'm not one to believe that more of X equals better sound. Engineers/designers all have their unique philosophies to making good sounding gear. We often get caught up that X is a panacea for great sound. I prefer to let my ears be the judge and not buy into it, still...I appreciate ridiculous build quality like this.

John and Dominik have also implemented several digital filters including three that offer zero pre-ringing. Zero pre-ringing filters address one of the main problems with digital audio low pass filters. They introduce "ringing" before the attack of an impulse. These types of filters are usually not found on equipment anywhere near this price range. Though recently this has changed with the new Rega DAC having a similar filter. The filter algorithms used in the Audiolab have been written from the ground up by John and Dominik.