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Sony SCD-XB 940

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      08.02.2001 04:52
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      I've been using the Sony XB 940 for about 6 months now which has given it plenty of time to settle down. Playing CD's the machine gives a fairly refined version of the typical Sony sound. Base is powerful but controled, mid range is good but the top end "could try harder" The overall balance is both involving and easy to live with. It's not a sound which stands out in a 5 minute audition. It doesn't have the same "by the throat" sound of some of the Marantz or Arcam decks but in a longer listening session its strengths easily see off the opposition. It doesn't provide the same level of detail as a top end machine but I would rate the sound as amongst the best of the £500 cd only machines. It also offers text display for the few discs which cary the code. Plus you get to play SACD's! If you can find any! Choice is limited, especially in the UK and a lot of the titles are re-masters of old analogue tape. Beethovens "Pastoral" Bob Dylan "Blond on Blond" etc. The change in the level of detail when switching to SACD is not as life altering as some of the hype would have you believe. The "Pastoral" certainly reveals all that was caught on tape in 1958 and as a historical piece it is certainly an eye opener (ear opener?) to discover just how little we have advanced in audio terms over the past 40 years. Cyndy Lauper's "She's So Unusual" is a more modern studio recording and begins to show how good SACD can be - this disc is single layer so can't be directly compared to the CD sound. It's only with the few DSD recordings that SACD really begins to distance itself from CD. Tomy Smith's "Blue for You" has much more impact on SACD with leading edge detail being the biggest give away as to which version is playing. The drum snaps and cymbal realy comes to life with the top end in particular having much more life than the CD tracks. Bu
      ild quality is very good and I have no doubts about the long term reliability of this player. It is a bit short on facilities if you use it with a tape deck to make tapes for the car etc. although that becomes less of an issue with CD players in most cars. The remote is essential - the player itself has only the most basic set of controls (play/stop/pause/eject and a track select jog wheel) everything else is on the remote - including the SACD / CD selector - I think Sony have slipped up a bit here. The deck defaults to the last played media type so a dual layer SACD will play the CD tracks if a CD was the last disk played - unless you tell it to play as an SACD - Surely if anyone loads an SACD into an SACD player they expect it to play as an SACD! The 940 is an easy machine to live with. It's sound is fairly natural and neutral so it may not appeal to everyone but I have no problem listening to it for extended periods.

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