What Hi Fi Sound and Vision Wed, 19 Jul 2006, 3:00pm

Shanling CD-T300

Tested at £4000
80100
4

This crazy-looking CD player gets points for effort and plenty more for its sonic performance

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For

  • Rock-solid midrange
  • excellent detail
  • good bass weight
  • cohesive sound

Against

  • Styling won’t be for everyone
  • timing could be better
  • lacks a little punch

These pages are far more than mere havens for products that cost a hefty wedge. More often than not, it's also where we find the kit that bucks the trend in terms of design. Regardless of what we think of the styling, we applaud any novel approach in the often predictable world of hi-fi. And this CD player is one of the most eye-catching we've seen in a long time, possibly taking design hints from He-Man's shield, or perhaps Thunderbird 5?

Either way, it's fair to say that the blue neon light effects, coupled with the red LCD display and orange burn of the valves - more on those in a minute - create a design that divides opinion.

Build quality isn't flawless
The build is good, but not flawless: while the whole aluminium alloy chassis and two supplied remotes feel built to last many lifetimes, there are a few sharp edges that could still do with some light filing - which isn't great on a £4k player.

Inside, four EH6922 valves form the output stage. These valves run hot, producing plenty of heat and an orange glow in next to no time.

The transport is a Philips item, complete with removable lid, while power comes via a separate supply unit. Elsewhere, there are eight DACs, balanced and phono outputs, and an upsampling mode.

Shanling can go gung-ho
Listening to Leftfield's Melt from the stunning Leftism album, the Shanling produces a solid, detailed sound. The midrange is firm without being harsh, while integration of sounds is seamless, with the player producing a coherent blend.

Switch to John Williams' Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith soundtrack, and the T300 shows it's plenty capable of delivering gung-ho dynamics without ever losing its poise, even if the soundstage is a little compact. Meanwhile, the hip-hop remixes of Sergio Mendes show the player's low-end agility.

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