Mar 182010
 
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Have you ever had a dream or fantasy? I guess if we are all honest, we all have, from time to time had something we would like to do, someone to meet, a super car to drive etc. There are many types of dreams, for me one thing that has both haunted me and thrilled me, was a simple question. What would it be like to hear a Reimyo CDP-777? However sadly I never got to do that….until perhaps now. Though these are  the offspring and not the parent, the DNA is very similar.
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The previous distributor of Reimyo, Audio Freaks didn’t bring the CDP-777 to any show I had visited, favouring the Zanden transport and DAC instead…those products are fabulous, but the  CDP-777 was what I really wanted to hear after reading a review of it in Hi-Fi + issue 29 and the DAC DAP-777 in issue 32. My curiosity was stirred, and as time went on my desire to hear one grew, but sadly I never got to hear a CDP-777.
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A few years ago distribution passed on to Select Audio, but by that time the CDP-777 had been discontinued due to JVC stopping production of the XRCD special mechanism that the CDP-777 used. The DAC technology (JVC K2) used in the CDP-777 was still available in the form of a standalone unit the Dap-777 ( also at the core of the DAP-999 as well), but Reimyo had to design a new transport to partner their digital decoder.  However rather than produce another single box player the new disc spinner from this Japanese company is a blast from the past, a two box unit. The new transport uses a Philips Pro2 mechanism, one of the few dedicated mechanisms still available for CD playback. This is the choice of all serious CD player designers and interestingly also the same one used in the Moon Andromeda, one of my reference players.
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The CDT-777 has been available for awhile now but the DAP-999 is a brand new DAC. Combined cost of both units is around about £13000, a lot of money at anytime but considering the current economic climate these two products have to be very special to justify their cost.
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In the flesh both units are fairly plain (bar the nicely brushed metal work), build quality is very good as you would expect, but there is a distinct air of functionality here and not bells and whistles. The transport bar its splayed isolating feet is functionally basic. There is nothing but basic controls, play,pause, forward, reverse and stop. Thats it, no display off feature or anything else of note. The back panel has a single SPDIF co-ax digital output, mains in and thats your lot. To my mind the transport could do with a AES XLR digital out and a true 75ohm BNC out.  Reimyo obviously think differently on this subject of digital data transfer. However I find it a bit odd that the matching DAC has these inputs and the transport lacks them.
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The DAP-999 is positively bursting with features in comparison to the CDT. It has a number of digital ins, AES, SPDIF, Fibre Optic, but no digital outputs, odd that, nor has it the increasingly important USB input, for computer audio.  Signal to your amplifier is via XLR and RCA, and the front panel allows input select, and has an error indicator. The only other feature of note which is useful in my opinion is a phase reverse flick switch, but it is on the back panel;is this the best place for it ?  In my opinion no, a front mounted position would be preferable. In my own experience over the years phase for me has been a readily heard issue. Absolute phase of recordings is an issue and also the fact that Europe and American wiring of  XLRs is different; the inclusion of a phase switch allows correction of these issues.
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Both units have special Harmonix isolation feet, and on the transport these are in the form of beautifully made spikes, which sit into matching cup supports (supplied) and can be adjusted to level the unit. From past experience however with players with adjustable feet it would be preferable to place the player on a level surface rather than have to level via the players feet; same goes for turntables. The DAP-999 feet don’t give it any grip to what ever surface its on and sadly due to the light weight construction of the DAC, bulky cables did push it about. However I think these feet are a better choice than the cones that came on the original DAP-777 DAC.
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Well after setting the units up using Harmonix ( part of the same group as Reimyo, the Combak Corporation) cabling, both mains and digital, and placing the units on my Clearlight Audio RDC Aspect rack; I placed a disc in the transport. This is achieved via a sliding door on the top and the CD is secured via a magnetic puck. The top loading drawer slides open and closes easily and smoothly, and the front mounted controls have a nice action in use.
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I have one major issue with the player, and it is the crap plastic remote. I hate to say this, but I will….Reimyo, sorry, but in my book a player at this price level should come with a nice metal remote, not a cheap generic Philips handset. Its predecessor had one, so why not this one? The Philips operation system is also bare bones. Quite often having another Philips remote control with extra features allows you to access them on a player which comes with a simpler remote. I tried display off and a few other things, with such a remote…nope, no extra features; what you have is what you’ve got….basic operation.
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System used for review…
In order to get a grip on what the individual parts were doing I also used the internal DAC of my Moon Andromeda and its transport section, as well as the Andromeda as an integrated CD player. Pre-amplifier was my BAT VK31se and the power amplification was supplied via the Music Reference RM200 MK1. Cabling used, was balanced XLR Atlas Mavros and Atlas Mavros speaker cable.  Digital cabling was Harmonix, XLO and a QED P75R. The speakers used during the review period, were my Anthony Gallo Ref 3.1’s.
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So was the dream realised? Yes and No. I suppose I had built the idea of hearing a disc spinner from Reimyo up quite a lot…this is a slight understatement. So by doing this, had I set it up to fail by not being as good as I had fantasied ? Well again Yes and No. The most frustrating thing about this listening session was, it was way too short (12 o’clock to 4 o’clock) and the units had not been warmed up or run in fully….the question I was left with after listening was how much better could these be ? The answer to that question stands, so this write up should be viewed as an introduction only and not a deffinative review. However in saying that, what I did hear was….well pretty amazing on a number of levels.
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This is the first time I have ever heard such excellent sound from any CD player or DAC from cold. It was very open and detailed but not etched or hyper detailed. In fact in this regard it was like my own Moon or AMR CD players, but it surpassed both of them in its effortless organic, and highly focused sound.
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The discs I played at the start like Steely Dan-Goucho and the Opus 3 compilation SACD/ CD surprised and thrilled me with the depth of image, instrument separation and focus, but when I tried some electronic dance music such as Afterlife-Electrosensitive and Tosca-No Hassle, I became aware of a slight lack of depth and slam in the bass. Was this as a result of lack of run in and warm up ? I suspect so. However on more acoustic music this lack was…well much less noticeable.
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There was no thinness to the midrange evident on the music I listened to but the lack of bass troubled me. Both my Moon Andromeda and AMR CD77 are better in this area. I would have loved to compare the Reimyo to the AMR but alas it was not switched on at the time, so as that unit needs a week of warm up it would have been pointless to have brought it down from upstairs and wired it into the downstairs set up. However there was more similarity to the AMR evident on this showing than the Andromeda. The AMR player has a similar take on things to the Reimyo pair, being highly musical and yet very open and detailed and at the same time very organic and seemless. The Reimyo pair however took this to a different level, creating a very real musical experience in my room; when used as a pair.
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Trying the inbuilt DAC in the Moon and it as a transport, revealed that the Reimyo items should be viewed really as a one piece unit. Yes they can be bought separately, but as one they excel. The DAP-999 was very good with the Andromeda as transport, but the CDT-777 as transport into the Moon’s DAC was poorer, still very good, but just not as focused, open or organic.
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I have come across this before, and like the Reimyo pair the Moon Andromeda is best used as an integrated unit. Based on what I heard today, I would say the Andromeda has better bass, and thats about it. How much better is a fully run in warmed up Reimyo ?  We shall have to wait and see…I can hardly wait for a repeat visit. This listening session, while short was very useful, but I felt a bit underwhelmed in a way. I think its true to say that having lived out a dream its not always quite as good as you imagined in your head. Such is the case here for me. However the reality of my experience was still very special and with more run in and warm up I think that the Reimyo might well live up to its name and be a miracle for optical disc playback.
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So bits are bits, transports and DACs should sound the same or be similar. Well once again I have heard that this is not the case. On this all to brief listening experience I have to say, and I want to be cautious here, but I think I have heard probably one of the best digital pairings I have had at home in my own system (this comment with the proviso of the performance in the bass issue ), so what we have here is a CD player that sounds a lot like the best analogue can be. I say this cautiously, but I would be very shocked if the follow up review reveals nothing less than this or better. Excellent from cold, but how much better will it be ?
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Watch Adventures in High Fidelity Audio for a follow up, hopefully very soon.
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If you get a chance to hear a DAP-999 and CDT-777 you should in my very humble opinion jump at the chance. This pair of digital Miracles are highly recommended.
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Neil
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Source of Review Products Loan…… End user owner
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The Dap-999 Specs.
Introducing the long-anticipated New Digital-To-Analog Converter DAP-999EX! Reimyo DAP-999EX, a high-purity digital-to-analog converter unparalleled and unprecedented performance in its class bring you exquisite sound you have never ever experienced before. Employs Japan Victor’s K2 technology 24bit DAC IC, rigid constructed all aluminum body, custom design parts including transformers and condensers, special made super purity and ultra high-speed signal transmission internal wiring, original design tuning feet addition to our oriented and our rigorous study over the digital behave let you excite and invite you to a new level in music listening!
Already known as the best of CD transport Reimyo CDT-777 and new DAP-999EX combo produces fabulous reality of music performance as if they are live! DAP-999EX equip with AES( XLR-3P) Hot No.3, Coaxial (RCA), BNC and Optical(TORX) digital inputs and balanced and unbalanced outputs.
Input Quantization: 16bit
Sampling Frequency: 48 kHz, 44.1kHz, 32 kHz. Auto-switching.
Digital Inputs:
1 x AES (XLR-3P- Hot: No.3) Input Impedance:110 Ohm
1 x BNC: 75 Ohm
1 x COAXIAL (RCA) 75 Ohm
1 x OPTICAL (TORX)
Signal Procession: K2 Technology (CC Converter IC; 16-24bit)
DA Converter: 24bit 8-time oversampling/multi bit)
Phase Inverter SW: 0-180 on the back panel.
Analog Outputs:
XLR balance/ 5.1 Vrms/ Low Imp.
RCA unbalance/ 2.55 Vrms/ Low Imp.
Frequency Response: DC ~ 20kHz (+/-0.5dB)
S/N Ratio: Better than 114dB (IHF-A)
Dynamic Range: Better than 100dB
Linearity: +/-0.5dB (+10dBm ~ 90dBm) 1kHz IHF-A
THD: Better than 0.003% (30kHz LPF on)
Channel Separation: Better than 105dB (1kHz)
Channel: 2-Channel Stereo
Power Requirement: 117V-50/60Hz or 230V-50/60Hz (Single Voltage Transformer)
Power Consumption: 15W
Dimensions: 430(W) x 44(H) x 337(D) Max.
Weight: 11.2 Lbs or 5.5kgs
Standard Accessory: Harmonix X-DC2 1.5m Special made (ROHS compliance)
* Specification and design of DAP-999EX may be changed without notice for the purpose of further improvement.
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The CDT-777 Specs
CD MECHANISM UNIT:
*****System: 16-bit Compact Disc Transport.
*****Loading system: Philips top loading mechanism.
*****Channel: 2-Channel Stereo
INTERFACE FORMAT:
*****Sampling frequency: 44.1kHz
*****Quantization bit: 16bits Linear.
DIGIAL DATA OUTPUT: IEC958/EUB Standard
*****Line output: Unbalanced coaxial
*****Type of Connector: RCA
*****Signal amplitude: 0.5Vp-p(+/-0.25V0-p) +/-20% 75 ohms(shunted)
*****Output Impedance: 75-ohm
Performance trait (Specifications based on the combination with CDT-777 transport and DAP-999EX digital to analog converter):
*****CDT-777-DAP-999EX: 8-time oversampling (352.8kHz) multi-bit.
*****20bitK2 D/A converter
*****S/N Ratio: Better than 117dB (IHF-A)
*****THD: 0.002% (1kHz) / 30kHzLPF
Power requirement: AC117 or 230V (50/60Hz)
Power consumption: 15W
Dimension: 430(W) x 325(D) x 88(H)mm
*****466(W)x361(D)x131(H) overall size (with feet arm)
Weight: 14.0kgs (30.8Lbs)
Standard Accessories: CD stabilizer & remote Control
*****AC power cord & set of spike base (4 pcs)
Note: Specification and design of CDT-777 may be changed without notice, when needed, for the purpose of further improvement.
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UK Distribution of Reimyo, is via Select Audio http://www.selectaudio.co.uk/
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Direct Link to Reimyo’s Website http://www.combak.net/
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NB. Copyright ownership of some images used in this review do not belong with me. If there is a problem contact me please.
© Copyright 2010 Adventures in High Fidelity Audio.
NB No part or portion of this article may be reproduced or quoted without written permission.
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