Classe CDP-202 review

Does everything a £5000 CD player should, and with some panache Tested at £4750.00

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

Does everything a £5000 CD player should, and with some panache


  • +

    Epic build quality

  • +

    distinctive user interface

  • +

    expansive and explicit sound


  • -

    We’d question the value of the video facility

  • -

    bass could hit harder

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Like Porsche with its 911, Classé hit on a winning look for its products some time ago, and it isn't about to change it now. When hi-fi is as distinctive, well-made and good-looking as this CDP-202, why would you?

The fact that it's visually identical to the (more expensive) CDP-502 and (less expensive) CDP-102 is neither here nor there. Behind the familiar industrial-strength Classé curves and illuminated touch-screen control panel, the CDP-202 is a disc player of few compromises and the odd surprise.

Digital-to-analogue conversion is handled by three Burr-Brown PCM1792s, and audio is output through either RCA or XLR sockets – undecoded digital output is supplied via digital coaxial or digital optical outputs.

Handles DVD-Video and DVD-Audio discs
The Classé uses a TEAC slot-loading mechanism and DVD-ROM drive – this not only allows the player to read CDs, CD-Rs and the like, but means it can also handle DVD-Video and DVD-Audio discs.

Naturally, sound is strictly two-channel, but the player's touch-screen can handle video previews, meaning there's no need to have it hooked up to a video source when enjoying DVD-A.

The provision of just composite and S-Video picture outputs shows the importance Classé places on the CDP-202's video playback.This is a music player first and foremost, and it's mightily impressive.

With material as varied as Carl Orff's Carmina Burana, Vashti Bunyan's Glow Worm and Four Tet's She Moves She, the CDP-202 is a confident, accomplished music-maker with no obvious chinks in its armour.

Stereo focus is sharp, dynamic variances great and small are handled with almost disdainful ease, and even the most testing tempos are resolved easily. Timing and integration are solid, while vocal textures and idiosyncrasies are revealed down to the finest detail.

Engaging and exhilaration
In a perfect world, the Classé CDP-202 would exhibit a little more outright
punch to its (deep, swift, and tonally impeccable) low frequencies.

However, that's nit-picking almost for the sake of it, because the Classé is every bit as revealing, engaging and downright exhilarating as a player at this elevated price level should be. Give it a listen!

What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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