- Written by Chris Heinonen
- Published on 09 December 2010
The first thing anyone would notice about the SCD-XA5400ES is the heavy duty construction of the unit. I have a 5 disc SACD changer from Sony, but the construction of that is nothing compared to the ES model. Weighing over 22 lbs, the ES is a seriously well built machine and as soon as you open the disc tray, you'll notice the quality of the drive mechanism. The front panel is made of aluminum, with metal all around the rest of the machine, save for the headphone level dial on the front panel, and a couple of switches on the back that are plastic. The rear panel features gold plated RCA and XLR stereo outputs, with an HDMI output for sending multichannel DSD to a compatible receiver or processor, as well as optical and coaxial digital outputs.
Internally, the ES features dual R-core power transformers, known for being more compact and running cooler than more common EL transformers, as well as having lower noise leakage that can cause interference with the audio circuitry. There are dual laser pickups, one for the SACD layer and one for the CD layer, for optimal performance with each type of medium. The digital and analog sections of the player are kept on entirely separate boards, with the digital board on top.
If you wish to use the HDMI output of the player, there is a button up front to enable or disable the HDMI jack. When the HDMI is enabled all of the analog circuity, including the headphone jack, as well as the optical and coaxial digital outputs are disabled. This helps to prevent noise leakage from the HDMI sections into the analog circuity and vice versa. Overall, the Sony player is as well built as almost any CD player I have used, and better than any $1,500 player I have used.