The NV-500 is a large, though slimline, CD player, one of the principal claims to fame of which is its Resolution Intensive Vector Enhancement circuit, designed to drastically reduce distortion at low signal levels. The player also features a 'high performance' 1-bit D/A converter, with a claimed 24-bit resolution, though as such a beast barely exists at everyday price levels, the resolution claim at least must be taken with a pinch of salt. The ability to deal with 24-bit numbers from the digital filter without truncation at the input is the usual meaning of this claim. Potentially useful operating features include CD Peak Search, and a tape edit function that reorganises the disc contents to make best use of tape sides, and to ensure that tracks are not interrupted in the middle. Auto Space adds even gaps between tracks, and a system control function allows a Kenwood system to be controlled by a unified remote controller. Other features include random play, repeat, and random track access through a numeric keypad on the front panel, as well as on the remote control. CD Text data is delivered from the optical digital output and, recorder permitting, can be included on MD recordings. There is no electrical digital output, however. Headphones can be connected, along with a volume level control, which not only adjusts the headphone feed, but also the main player output. The most notable omission from a contemporary player: CD-RW replay compatibility. The handset is a small and chunky item, with output level keys, random play, repeat mode, preset facilities, a time display mode change key and editing features. Sound Quality This is an above average CD player, though it is up against stiff competition at similar or lower prices, from the Arcam Alpha 7SE and the Marantz CD6000 in particular. 'It's on the lean side,' commented one panel member after listening to the Eve Cassidy track, 'but it's nice
to listen to. Instruments are well portrayed, and the voice has a sense of scale.' Others agreed. 'It's nice and warm, almost like a live PA sound,' wrote one, while another remarked that the song sounded 'well balanced and enjoyable'. The harpsichord recording was 'nicely delineated, accurate and poised', with particular praise reserved for the lower registers, and another remarked on the Kenwood's 'good depth' and the way that the music was able to 'flow realistically'. 'It's a good, well balanced sound', he concluded. In the hands-on testing, it lacked the easy clarity of the Arcam, and the sonority and smoothness of the Marantz, but it gave an airy, spacious account of a wide range of music types. It seemed less sure-footed with very dense choral and orchestral recordings, which sometimes tended to lose focus and sound mushy. But, for the most part, the Kenwood sounded clean, lively and entertaining, with plenty of grip and purpose, and with a powerful and extended bass. It retained these qualities even at very low levels, where some players begin to lose control. Conclusion This decent, well-organised sounding player from Kenwood is not a giant killer, but it more than holds its own in this large and surprisingly diverse group. Recommended.