TEAC Distinction CD-3000 SACD Player Preview
- Product Name: Distinction CD-3000 SACD player
- Manufacturer: TEAC
- Review Date: March 20, 2012 20:05
- MSRP: $1999
- First Impression: Pretty Cool
Model Description MSRP CD-1000 CD/SACD Player $899 CD-2000 CD/SACD Player with USB input $1,199 CD-3000 CD/SACD Player with USB input and dual DACS $1,999
TEAC didn't just release new integrated amps for their Distinction line. They wanted to give audiophiles and budding audiophiles a way of getting high end audio into their listening spaces without breaking the bank. At the same time, they also wanted to give options as for those that had a bit more money and wanted the highest fidelity possible. For that reason (and more, we're sure), they released, along with their integrated amps, a complete line of SACD/CD players.
The new CD line has a nomenclature in line with the integrated amps. This time, the model numbers are the same (1000, 2000, 3000) but the prefix has switched from AI to CD. All of the players share a similar sized case (17.1” x 4.6” x 14.4” for the CD-1000 and CD-2000, the CD-3000 is .2" deeper) and can playback SACDs, CDs, and CD-R/RWs. DVD-As and any sort of video is not supported. All of the players have 24-bit, 192kHz DACs (the press release has them listed as 196kHz but we are pretty sure that is a misprint) as well as both coaxial and stereo RCA outputs.
Starting with the entry level, the CD-1000 will retail for $899. It shares the aesthetics with the rest of the Distinction line with a brushed aluminum front panel with sculpted cut-ins on the top and bottom. The front has all the normal controls including power and playback controls. There is a single line LCD readout plus an SACD button.
Glancing at the back, we run into our first real question. The TEAC CD-1000 has exactly four ports in the back. Two are accounted for by the stereo RCA outputs. There is a coaxial digital audio output plus what looks to be a 3.5mm port labeled "upgrade." We're most concerned about multichannel output. While it makes sense that multichannel information could be sent over the digital connection, we're guessing that it won't be. We think (none of the Distinction products are listed yet on the TEAC website) that the entire line will be focused on two-channel. While that is fine if that is what you want, we hate to see multichannel so ignored.
When you bump up to the CD-2000, you'll have a hard time telling it apart from the CD-1000 from the front. Other than the change in the model number labeling, the one difference is the input button. Glancing at the back, however, you'll see that there is more than just your basic outputs.
Along with all the outputs included on the CD-1000, the CD-2000 has a USB Class 2, high speed input. This allows you to connect your computer, server, or laptop to your SACD player. It also allows the superior 24-bit, 192kHz DACs to do the conversion for the highest possible resolution. Usually, this would be the point where we'd make a joke about how the DACs don't matter when you are dealing with a lossy MP3, but, honestly, if you just spent $1200 on an SACD player, you probably have your music encoded in one of the lossless codecs.
The other big change is in the inclusion of a pair of XLR outputs. This lines up nicely with the integrated amp line that receives XLR inputs at the 2000 level. With the exclusion of a USB input on any of the integrated amps, including it on the SACD players is a perfect solution (keeping the amp completely in the analogue domain).
The most expensive, and most feature-laden, of the new SACD players is the CD-3000. This SACD player is a bit larger than the other two (17.1” x 4.6” x 14.6”) and a bit heavier (at 22.7 pounds versus 15.9 pounds for the other two). This weight difference is likely explained by the CD-3000 having all aluminum top and side panels (an aesthetic upgrade from the other two models). The CD-3000 also takes a big jump in price to $1999.
Again, from the front, the differences are small. There is, again, one additional button (see the picture at the top of the article). This one labeled SRC. We'll get to this in a second. When you turn the CD-3000 around, you'll find much of what you saw on the CD-2000 including the USB port and XLR outputs, but also the addition of an additional coaxial input. Why? Why would you want such a thing? Hold on, we're getting to that.
One of the biggest selling points of the CD-3000 is that they've included dual 24-bit, 192kHz DACs on each channel. These DACs operate in a dual differential mode. The CD-3000 is also the only one in the line that will upconvert any source (incoming data or CDs) to 192kHz prior to decoding (this is what the SRC - Sample Rate Conversion - button on the front is for). Now, the coaxial input makes sense. If you have these superior DACs that can do the digital to analogue conversion and up-sample to 192kHz, why wouldn't you want to use them as much as possible? You paid $2000 for them, might as well get as much use out of them as possible. We really wish TEAC would have considered, at least with the CD-3000, multichannel audio (with XLR outputs) though, we're betting, that would have made the unit considerably more expensive.
Without a full spec sheet or a listing on their site, we have to curb our excitement about the the new SACD players from TEAC. Their Distinction line certainly seems to be well thought out and well matched to each other. The CD-3000, in particular, with its 192kHz upsampling before decoding and dual differential DACs has us excited. But without knowing exactly how the players work (in particular, what codecs are compatible over the USB connection) and if it can put out multichannel over the coaxial input, we'll have to wait to see how it all shakes out. Still, we can't help but think that TEAC will have some winners on their hands here. With prices that range from kinda expensive to OMG!!!! (or, as a true audiophile would rate them, "too cheap to be any good" to "affordable"), there is something there for any budding audiophile. We can't wait to see how the TEAC Distinction line is received by consumers and, more importantly, how they do on our test bench.
For more information, please visit www.teac.com.