* Prices may differ from that shown
Introduction I have had this CD player for around seven years now and it has served me well. I first had it paired with an Aiwa mini system which did improve the sound quite a lot and then I used this with a Technics Amplifier with Acoustic Solution Floorstanding Speakers and I have have the CD player with a Sony Surround Amp that my dad gave me recently as he hadnt used it since he got a new Cambridge Audio Azur Amp and my speakers are Mission 771's which I bought from Ebay after selling the Acoustic Solutions floorstanders. Back when this CD player was released it was over £100 and was a five star winner in magazines like What HiFi but I have since seen it for £24.99, Don't be fooled into thinking it is too old in HiFi terms by the price, It still competes with a lot of similarily prices CD players that arent from the likes of the main budget CD player leaders Marantz, Denon and Cambridge Audio. There are the exceptions but for the most part this player will cope very well even now seven years on. Build Quality and Look. The Sony CDP-XE330's build quality is very good and gives the player a solid look. It doesnt look dated even though things move so fast nowadays, especially in the world of Hifi. There are even players twice as expensive that don't look at solid as this player and that's something for Sony to be very proud of. The Sony CDP-XE 330's CD tray also works very well and is relatively silent which is always good as you get put off by a noisy player. It also loads very quickly and is pretty good when it comes to playing without any skipping trouble or anything else like that. You can also control the tracks with a quick turn of the knob at the top of the front fascia. The Sound Playing everything from Pearl Jam to Boyz II Men this Player copes very well and it would be a good idea to replace the freebie interconnects with something better as I have just done that recently and boy there is a big difference with things sounding so much more open and there's a much firmer and tauter bass. Vocals sound natural with this player and are seperate to the music which makes a cohesive performance which doesnt get cluttered easily even with some fairly complex music. There's very good detail though This Sony will be beaten in absolute clarity by the better budget players but the player stands up very well with the competition. Any product that has had a five star award is a very capable piece of kit. Whilst you can buy better now you would have to spend £350-£500 on a whole system to get what you could get. You could pick up a very capable system for £100 from buying good as new condition items from places like ebay. The Remote It is also an advantage for A cd player to have a fully flexible remote and With this player you get an easy to use remote which has clearly laid out buttons for each track and also has all the various extra options like repeat and shuffle. This means you can just sit back and relax and your player will sort out the music. If you lose your Sony CDP-XE 330 remote you may be able to find a replacement remote control from somewhere like Ebay or maybe through Sony Direct or you may be able to use another sony remote if you have a sony dvd player for instance as most of Sony's remotes will work with other equipment of the same brand. Overall I have had this player for around seven years and have built my latest system around it as it still has some great time left. You will be very pleased with this CD player if you are looking to put a budget hifi together. And getting something like this means that you will be getting almost as good as a performance but you will also be able to buy any equipment like interconnects, speaker cable or anything else that you might need. If you want to move into the world of seperates and are on a tight budget then you should check out this CD player as you could build a very good hifi for just £100 if you got former five star winners.
A little while ago I tested the CDP-XE530, which is closely related to this model. At £130, the 530 cost a little more than the object of my attention here, but the specifications included a number of value added features, including CD Text, an output attenuator that operates on the digital output as well the analogue one, a headphone socket and more. The CDP-XE330 is the companion model. Aside from the minor switching they look identical, even sharing their instructions booklets. Differences concern price, and the feature set is shorter and more conventional. Their audio circuits are also related. The best feature by far is the indented rotary track selector, which enables tracks to be preselected at blinding speed, although track search itself is much tardier. The display is bright and clear, with a calendar-type track readout, but it can't be dimmed or switched off. An output level control is available, which attenuates the analogue output down to -20dB. A fader function provides automatic fades at the beginning or end of tracks, and the output can be adjusted down to -20dB, but the last two operate on the analogue output only. The optical digital output (there is no electrical equivalent) is unaffected. The remote control is a simplified version of the 'stick' remote that comes with the senior models, and is similar to most recent Sony handsets: it handles well, is a clear design and is a little more ergonomic than some. The player itself is a flyweight, and no better built than you'd expect at the price - but at £100, who's counting? Sound Quality The Sony was received surprisingly well for such an inexpensive player. It has a straightforward honesty that meant it easily held its own at the price - flattered, perhaps, by the standard of the group as a whole. On the Alice in Chains track, the panellists commented: "Good rhythm, pace and speed without harshness"; &qu ot;cymbals a touch splashy, almost slippery, like silicone on Teflon"; "fairly robust, rounded sound," and "tight bass, but lacks some detail." The Kissin piano recording was felt to lack "dynamic differentiation" and "warmth in the lower midrange", although a minority felt it sounded "lively and responsive... [with] transparency and speed". The Corrs song was notable for its "excellent separation", but also for being "slightly distorted" and "grainy". The excellent Mahler recording, however, was outside the Sony's compass. It sounded "vivid but sterile" according to one listener and "small scale" according to another. My listening was in line with the panel view. The Sony does sound rather thin and lightweight, and although there's plenty of detail, this is partly because the rather grainy and congested mid/top tends to dominate the sound to the detriment of the solidity and structure that better players are able to capture. Conclusion Not for the first time, an indifferent musical performance is rescued by a low selling price. The difference is that this player is not as indifferent as some, and by any standards the price is very low indeed.
The Sony '330 CD is almost at the bottom of the pile for their CD decks (basically, it's a '220 with a supplied remote control included. The '330 is a very basic machine and if you are serious about hi-fi, I'd spend a few quid more on some of the higher spec machines which have more controlable features, other than the basic "open drawer, put CD in and then play it". One single optical output as well as the standard phono outs make this piece of kit very basic but being a Sony, the sound quality is decent but the casing is a little bit too big (it must use the same chassis as the '530 and others) as the buttons and other controls look lost on the front panel - otherwise, it is smart in appearance in it's standard, smart black finish - the proper colour for hi-fi (silver units are awful to keep clean and look cheap, no matter how much they cost). A handy feature is that if you own a Sony minidisc deck, than that remote will control this deck. It does the absolute basic functions well, though. Its up to you if you want an additional remote. If you have the MD, get the 220 and save a tenner. It seems a daft choice having both the '220 and '330 on the market at the same time.