Cambridge Audio has finally revealed the price and some specs for its long-awaited Evo CD transport, ending months of teased hints about its imminent arrival.
Here's everything you need to know about it.
Evo CD: features and specs
The Evo CD will measure 317 x 89 x 352mm and weigh 5.3g. It's a transport (has no DAC integrated) which usually means the unit will need to be connected to an amplifier with a DAC built-in or external DAC. In this case, the Evo CD has been specifically designed to work with Cambridge Audio's existing Evo 75 and Evo 150 all-in-one players.
This is slightly atypical as many of the best CD players we've tested, such as the Award-winning Marantz CD6007 and Cyrus CDi, are integrated players, while we've seen the emergence of all-in-one systems similar to Evo that also have a CD player incorporated, such as the Technics SA-C600.
Cambridge Audio has further confirmed Evo CD is designed to only work with their Evo players, which could be an issue for those who don't want to purely use Cambridge products in their hi-fi system (or don't own an Evo already). Which is the only minor catch we've spotted so far.
We also now know it’ll support multiformat playback and gapless playback. The CD-DA, CD-R, and CD-RW audio formats are supported and it will have a 20W max power consumption (0.5W on standby). Cambridge Audio also claims the S5 Servo used will offer better error correction and faster disc detection than competing systems, which should result in better detail retrieval.
Finally, the Evo CD will work seamlessly with Cambridge's StreamMagic app platform. This means you'll be able to see the album artwork and other details on your smartphone/tablet when playing them on the Evo CD.
Evo CD: what it looks like
The Evo CD is designed to match the aesthetics of the Evo all-in-one players and even includes swappable side panels.
You can see a series of images detailing what the Cambridge Audio Evo CD looks like in the gallery below.
Evo CD: price and release date
Cambridge Audio is available in "some" territories now, with it set to launch in the UK in two days on 18 May. Visitors to the High End Munich 2023 this week will get to see the first glimpse of the product at the show.
The Evo CD will retail for £999 in the UK, $1,199 in the US and AUD $1,999 in Australia. This makes it slightly more expensive than the pricing Cambridge Audio initially detailed when it first soft-unveiled the Evo CD.
The Evo CD was first teased in April 2021 alongside the launch of the Evo 75 and Evo 150. The CD transport was originally scheduled to launch that year costing £799 / $950 / AU$1600.
Why Cambridge Audio made the Evo CD
Stuart George, CEO of Cambridge Audio, told What Hi-Fi? earlier this year that the company is anticipating a CD revival, potentially driven by younger listeners.
“CD is an interesting one. I think part of the Renaissance for CD is people discovering music as a physical form and identifying with being a music lover,” he says.
George added he believes CD's revival will take a very different direction to vinyl, which has enjoyed a renaissance for nearly a decade.
“[It’s different from] where vinyl was 10 years ago. Back then, vinyl was all cheap. It was in second-hand stores and you could pick things up for not very much money; but it was a bit of a lucky dip in terms of what quality the record was in when you got to it, and how playable it was. The CD is a bit more robust than that, so you've got a decent chance as long as the CD is in one piece,” he said.
“There is a fair chance it will play and it is of high quality compared with what people might have experienced by listening to stuff on their phone. And CDs are still relatively affordable in the second-hand market.”
Cambridge Audio is one of many companies set to release CD players this year. The Denon DCD-1700NE was unveiled earlier this year, as was JBL's new Classic Series CD350 and Audiolab's 9000CDT transport.
Check out our guide detailing the best CD players we’ve tested
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None of this applies to CD to any comparable extent and, as for sound quality, potential customers who are interested enough to consider spending £1000 are probably well aware that a quality rip is likely to be the same or superior.
As for this specific product, now I know Cambridge Audio are based in the UK and generally make excellent kit, but to describe the inability of this CD transport to connect to anything beyond other Evo components as being ‘the only minor catch we've spotted so far‘, well this understatement did make me chuckle.
If you're listening to high res 512 DSD or FLAC sourced material on your PC via external high quality DAC or Jukebox DAC player (AUNE, nice budget 512 DSD media player) or even a stand alone high resolution Streamer (Onkyo a little dated but capable DAC player resolution up to DSD 256), you start to question the validity of a CD transport. Maybe this explains why vinyl's are still alive because CD technology per se is flawed, limited to16bit 44kHz frequency, the envelope of the full spectrum of sound is choked. Nice try but modern digital audio has evolved.
Cambridge will beg to differ and I get it but I do think, if you're going to have a CD transport unit on the market, it should be the perfect swiss knife, it should be able to multi-task, such as, ability to play multi-formats SACD/DTS/DVD as default (maybe the Cambridge does that?), it should include a USB port to read other formats from external drive, lossless PCM FLAC, MQA, DSD etc. Ideally, it should adopt some of the DAP features, such as a working OS (built in F002000 software or Android OS perhaps?) that allows you to set up your favourite music files and the perfect interface that allows enhance listening experience. Most of those features you can find on your top end internet streamers, which begs the question, why do we need a CD transport?
Its a bit like supporting an under performing football team but if it's self validation you seek it's only logical you support the team that brings trophies and title but football is about the emotions.
If it strikes a cord, you follow the team you love.
Music is kind of like the same, if you like vinyl or CD thats great.
Like the big old xbox one ha