A Left Coast Perspective

 

                                        

 

Being the entire West Coast contingent of the Stereo Times staff has definite disadvantages. I am not able to participate in the equipment auditions and gatherings. So when some new product excites Clement and his local writers, I can only participate vicariously. Their excitement concerning the Memory Player was infectious and at the same time frustrating for me since I was a continent away.

It was especially frustrating since I had been searching for the "perfect" transport for over a year. During that time I had been able to audition numerous high $$$ transports in my system. Some were revered classics, some were new, and some were modified by well-known individuals. I did not miss any of them when they left my home and some I was glad to be rid of. I had become very discouraged with the “state-of-the-art” transports and had pretty much given up the quest. Then early in 2006 the first buzz about the Memory Player reached me from Clement. I was not necessarily looking for a music server. My objective was the absolute best CD playback I could afford. Clement assured me that the Memory Player was the best he heard so I placed an order based on these three things: Clement's experience(s), faith and more than a little hope.



Faith, Hope and Experience Are Wonderful Gifts.

                            

Now I am privileged to own the first Memory Player in California. I am also very grateful. While I was not able to A/B any of the other transports against the Memory Player because none floated this boat, BUT—if memory serves me correctly (pun intended)—I have no hesitation in stating the Memory Player simply spanked them all.

The other transports were only noteworthy in their failure to distinguish themselves and live up to the praise they had garnered. The Memory Player clearly stands apart by raising the bar above the fray when oft-spoken terms like bass authenticity, stereo imaging, incandescent-like transparency and overall musicality come to mind. As George Bischoff warned me, I do not think I could listen to any other transport again. At least not any I have heard so far.

It is a real challenge to describe the Memory Player without going over the top but I will try. The Memory Player removes so many little nasties that I previously thought were a permanent part of the recording I have gained a new respect for CDs. The Memory Player is the most balanced transport I have heard. It performs uniformly from the lowest bass to the top end. Detail and definition are exceptional but the Memory Player never becomes dry or clinical. It combines the best attributes of analog and digital. All the detail and musicality are present but there is no hint of digital noise and likewise no smearing, bloating or exaggeration that frequently accompanies analog.

A more appropriate name would be Musical Player because it is the most musical player I have experienced. Vocals take on a new intimacy and with some female vocalists I find myself hanging on every word. Guitars and pianos gain body and definition in addition to extension of the harmonics. Saxophones become silky smooth but with plenty of breath.

Many respected players and transports seem to increase bass volume but without definition. With the Memory Player when a low note is played on a piano or upright bass it is not just an amorphous “thud”. Even at moderate volumes I can both hear and feel the vibrations and definition in the notes. Music with the Memory Player takes on a more visceral impact.

I could continue instrument by instrument but that is only part of the story because they are just that, parts. How the parts are put together is the rest of the story. With the Memory Player the soundstage is wide and deep without losing the proper sizing and spacing of the performers and instruments. Pace, rhythm, and timing seem so right.

Frequently equipment reviews focus on subtle differences in specific areas. But the Memory Player is not subtle. It is exceptional in its performance in all areas and actually exceeds what I had expected for CD playback even after reading the reviews by Clement and Greg Petan. The Memory Player is the transport I had been searching for.

Don Shaulis