Roksan does things differently to other manufacturers. Rather than release a product, then spend years designing, developing and building an all-new replacement, the company is constantly experimenting with new components and releases minor but regular upgrades.
The names stay largely the same, as does the styling, so although this may seem identical to the Kandy K2 we tested in November 2009, on the inside much has changed.
This Kandy K2 has a new CD mechanism, an improved transformer and power supplies, improved noise isolation, and a more stable master clock, all of which is meant to enhance detail retrieval, dynamics and timing.Enthusiastic but never annoyingHas it worked? Yup. Compared with previous versions this is far cleaner and more precise, but the essential full-bodied and enthusiastic character remains.
Play God Particle from the Angels and Demons OST and the early strings and ethereal whispers build the tension tantalisingly.
When the violins join in they twinkle the treble without sounding piercing, and when the track reaches its first crescendo, the Roksan proves to be effortlessly dynamic and authoritative. There's huge body and depth to the soundscape, but it's also nimble and thrilling.
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It lacks the precision of some, but in this case that isn't a bad thing. The Kandy's marginally wider brush means it finds it hard to illustrate the finest details, and there's a slight rounding-off of edges, but it's more insightful and driven than some and it gets to the core of the music, and it seems to enjoy playing it as much as you enjoy listening to it.
This approach means the Roksan can turn its hand to any music. Foo Fighters' Wheels is bouncy, weighty, big and supremely clear and open in the vocals, The Unthanks' Here's the Tender Coming is authentically mournful and nuanced, and The Chemical Brothers' Swoon is club-fillingly open, dynamic and gleefully chunky.
It'll even have a good stab at overly-compressed recordings like Ellie Goulding's Lights album, rounding off the hard edges of a bright track such as Starry Eyed – which lets you get the most out of this very decent, dance-tastic pop song, and a perfect match for the K2.Roksan remote is swank zapperWhat this all adds up to is a genuine all-rounder that's impossible not to love, unless you hate the glossy-panelled styling, of course (and there are reviewers who do).
Also, although there's an optical output to allow the K2 to be used as a simple transport, it lacks the digital inputs that allow rivals like the Audiolab to be used as a DAC.
Still, we give praise to Roksan for providing a programmable touchscreen remote that makes those that come with most other CD players look like dim-witted poverty sticks.
But it all comes down to sound, and if you want to hear everything on the disc precisely as it's supposed to be, you're probably best off looking elsewhere. However, if you want a player that will find the fun in any recording, the Roksan could be for you.