Heaven knows there's little scope for a Unique Selling Point where CD players are concerned.
So Audio Analogue's marriage of digital technology and vacuum tube (or ‘valve') technology gives the Rossini VT CD Rev2.0 (to utilise its full, laborious name) a dash of the exotic. What's emphatically not exotic is the way the Rossini looks.
Indistinguishable (except for the lettering) from the machine it replaces – itself, let's be frank, no looker – the Audio Analogue is hampered by a small, indistinct display, buttons that are attractively grouped but unintuitive to use, and a remote control of such poverty that we'd prefer to use a stick to jab at the fascia's controls.
Stacked up against those unfortunate USPs, the inclusion of a valve in the player's output stage seems scant compensation.
Errs on the side of cautionPlaying a copy of Richard and Linda Thompson's Shoot Out The Lights, the Rossini's hybrid specification is much more influential than its unfortunate ergonomics.
More after the break
Tonally, the Audio Analogue errs on the side of caution. There's a definite rolling off of the highest frequencies, and just a hint of a soft centre to the bass end.
The distinctive vocals are well judged and come across with plenty of character intact, though there's not quite the bite or bile a divorce album like this one demands.
It's around the edges that the Rossini falls decisively short, though. Compared to the (admittedly startling) precision and authority of the Cyrus CD8SE, the Audio Analogue is just a little soft and blurry; tempos and rhythms can sound uncertain, and there's some vagueness to the way the soundstage is described that is entirely absent from the other three machines on test here.
Mere competence isn't enough Indeed, there's an inclination to sweeten what should be pretty stark music in a way that could only provoke toothache over time.
It's by no means a lemon, the (deep breath) Rossini VT CDRev 2.0, but rivals such as the Arcam CD37, Cyrus CD8se and the Yamaha CD-S2000, prove that if you want to charge the thick end of £1000 for a CD player, vague competence simply isn't going to cut it.
Unless you intend to partner this player with an amplifier and some stereo speakers of unyielding aggression, it's a struggle to see where the Audio Analogue would fit in to an appropriate system.