CD Players

Parasound Halo CD 1 Player


Conclusions about the Parasound Halo CD 1 Player

I said above that this may be the finest player I have ever heard. I base this not only on the sound but the fact that I was able to listen repeatedly even to discs that used to drive me crazy with edginess and fatigue. Count in this category anything by Portishead or the Cocteau Twins. No longer! This player will have you looking at your CD's and the used CD racks differently.

It's hard to know how much the sound benefits from the error correcting methods used in the CD 1 vs the DAC and analog sections but my experiments with the Benchmark DAC2 suggest that the error free data stream is key. If that is the case there are alternatives out there. Naim's HDX Server also performs multiple reads but I don't know any details on that. In the computer realm, dbPoweramp is inexpensive software for the PC or mac that attempts to get perfect data by comparing your rip of the CD to others. A good idea to be sure. Seems not quite as powerful as the CD 1's multiple strategies however and would fail miserably if a particular CD has manufacturing issues. Don't know if that actually happens but given record companies' attention to detail and sound quality it seems likely.

Also in the computer realm, there are finally some interesting playback options such Audirvana which can upsample and apply IzoTope dithering. That one is available for Apple only at this point. However the convenience of just inserting a disc and getting good sound is hard to beat at least for those of us used to doing so. This is what Parasound is counting on with this player.

Of course I would like to see more features - the ability to read MP3 discs, or a digital input to take advantage of the DAC with a streaming source would be welcome, but would add cost. With the CD 1, Parasound was on a mission for the best CD sound and they have succeeded.