Harmonix Reimyo CDP-777 Transport/CD Player

Harmonix Reimyo CDP-777 Transport/CD Player

Rejoice! Analogue-like reproduction has finally arrived!


August 2005

My first encounter with the Reimyo CDP-777 Transport/CD Player was at the HE2004 show in New York. The Reimyo room provided some extraordinary and magical experiences. The sound was dynamic and open, with a midrange to lust for, and it was emotionally involving as well. I just had to have this player in my system to see if it was as advertised: “The Absolute Finest CD Player.” 

Reimyo, which means “miracle” in Japanese, produces state-of-the-art audio equipment, but what really intrigues me is that they only produce one model for each category of equipment it makes and they’re all true reference caliber. Kazuo Kiuchi is a very mystical and soft-spoken innovator; at the same time he is a true perfectionist. I believe that Kiuchi san, being from Japan, has a philosophy of design which is quite different from others. He is open minded, willing to embrace the latest technological innovations as well as the best ideas from the past. His sole aim in designing is to make best there is. He is single-minded and focused like a Samurai. The Reimyo CDP-777 CD Transport/Player is also unusual in that it is the collaborative work of three mayor Japanese corporations, designed through “High-Tech Fusion”. Kiuchi san heads up Combak Corporation (home of Harmonix resonance control and cable products), provided resonance control technology and all the cabling used in the player. The Japanese Victor Corporation (JVC) contributed their latest version of the high resolution, ultra wideband “Extended K2 Processing Version 2.0, as used in their acclaimed XRCD recordings. The transport mechanism, also JVC, comes from the legendary XL-Z900 transport mechanism. Kyodo Denshi, the manufacturer of precision measuring instruments, designed the assembly of the end product. Craftsmanship is on a par with the best of Rolex 

Every detail, external and internal, is painstakingly thought out. For example, the Reimyo logo, engraved in script on the top cover, is both elegant and classy. The CDP-777’s quality is magnificent. The designers are so meticulous that the entire unit sits on four Harmonix tuning feet. The unit features superior fit and finish with solid construction, featuring a 5mm thick chassis, an 8mm thick brushed aluminum front panel and a 3mm thick rear panel, which heighten rigidity and eliminate unwanted vibration. The case is constructed entirely of aluminum. No detail is overlooked.

The Reimyo CDP-777 is a top-loading player. The disk is inserted via a manual top loading smoked acrylic sliding door and is held in place by a substantial magnetic clamp (88 grams). The front panel is intelligently laid out including operating mode indicator lights and a display that can easily be seen from a listener’s chair. Physically, the Reimyo CDP-777’s rear is simple. On the left, it offers analog output in both balanced (XLR) and unbalanced (RCA) connections and in the center, digital output (RCA) along with external sync input (BNC) to be used when connected to a D/A converter with external word clock sync. Finally, there is an IEC connector for the power cord on the far right side which, strangely, is not included in the package. 

The Reimyo CDP-777 employs the latest version of the ultra wideband “Extended K2 Processor Version 2.0.” High resolution is achieved by operating with 24-bit resolution. This oversamples standard 44.1 kHz to 176.4 kHz, and upsamples the signal four times to 705.6 kHz. The CD drive mechanism’s rigidity has been reinforced with the use of a very thick 6mm diameter spindle shaft and the digital and analog sections each use an independent power supply transformer to suppress mutual interference. Excess vibration is controlled through use of the manual magnetic clamp top-loading system. However, over-engineering and a built-in quality to die for doesn’t necessarily produce a reference caliber product. The real test was sitting down and hearing the music in my system.

First Impressions
I was extremely happy and excited when the Reimyo CDP-777 arrived during the first week of December 2004. I felt like a little kid whose wish had finally come true and for a minute, I believed in Santa Claus again. The unit came double boxed and was as heavy as an amplifier weighing in at a robust 32 lbs. As I anxiously unpacked the unit, I was immediately impressed by its look and feel. But there was a problem. I had to return the player in 3 weeks for the 2005 CES. The good news was that I would have it back soon after the CES. Actually, the folks at May Audio Marketing assured me that the player would sound even better by the time I got it back because it would have been broken in by then. Just to make sure I let the player warm up for three straight days. I had waited for seven long months and, after just a taste of this fine wine, I would have to wait again.

But now the moment of truth had finally come. I plugged the Reimyo CDP-777 right into my Tact Audio RCS 2.2X preamplifier using Virtual Dynamic Revelation Series interconnects. As I inserted the first CD and hit play, I knew instantly that the Reimyo CDP-777 wasn’t just a good player it was a remarkable player. The sound was magnificent. It was music to my ears. My immediate impression of the Reimyo CDP-777 was simply “wow”. This marvelous player reproduced music with a relaxed naturalness rarely heard from digital playback. The closest I’ve heard to analogue in every way. 

But wait! There is more to my story. I was so impressed by the CD player that I simply could not wait to call it my own. I listened to many different players but the magic was not there. So I sent back the unit they sent me, wrote a check, called Nizar, and said, “Send me a CDP-777 of my own a.s.a.p.!” I had my new baby in two short days. 

Calling it my own!
Once again, I was the happiest guy on the planet! The CDP-777 had found its new home. Already knowing that the player needs a good amount of burn in, I let the player warm up 24/7 for a week before I did any serious listening. But my initial listening impressions with this new unit were not good. There was something wrong. It didn’t sound anything like what I had experienced with the CDP-777 before. This Reimyo CDP-777 was rather ordinary sounding; the magic wasn’t there and my expectations just crumbled. That it needed additional break-in time was obvious. I played it continuously over the next week, the tipped up treble slowly began to settle in but still it was not right. I knew that it needed a long break-in but I already had logged more than 300 hours and I was getting a little worried. All I could do was patiently wait for it to burn in fully and hope that the magic would resurface. Could I have a defective player? It was time for the 2005 CES and soon another week had passed. As soon as I returned from the show, I hit “play” hoping the sound matched my first encounter with the player. Well, it sounded much better but I would say it was delivering only 90% of its potential. I understand the importance of burn-in time, but clearly the CDP-777 needed an unusually long burn-in time. Finally, I said to myself that I would let it burn-in for another two weeks and see if the lost magic would reappear. I waited impatiently for what seemed like the longest two-weeks of my audiophile career.

Finally, my listening sessions after the lengthy burn-in were beginning to pay off particularly when I heard the superb Edvard Grieg’s “Peer Gynt” Op.23Incidental music to Ibsens’s play[PH411038-2]. The magic was back! I was thrilled even after enduring such a long hideous burn-in time. The CDP-777 presented the music in the most relaxed and natural fashion that I have ever heard from redbook CD playback. It was obvious that the Reimyo CDP-777 was something special, not just good, but extraordinary. The magic persisted throughout the frequency range, from top to bottom and from the softest passages to the most extreme crescendos. Everything sounded just right, with no exaggeration or attenuation. I became more deeply involved with the music than ever before. 

Listening to music through the CDP-777 was such a joy that I was losing sleep, often staying up until the wee hours of the morning.The more I listened to the CDP-777, the more I was struck by its presentation of naturalness. The legendary recording of Elgar’s Cello Concerto in E minor Op.85 [XRCD 7243] performed by none other than maestro Jacqueline du Pre and maestro Sir John Barbirolli, conducting London Symphony Orchestra, also sounded magnificent. It was natural, creating a huge, seamless soundstage, making my Ascendo System Z loudspeaker vanish and my front wall seemed to melt away. The Reimyo CDP-777’s reproduction of the cello and the orchestra were the best I’ve ever heard from a one box unit. Elgar’s Cello Concerto is a very demanding work: highly dramatic and powerful and it requires a system that can handle extremely complex dynamics. While lesser components sound strained and compressed, it was smooth sailing for the Reimyo. It could play loud without strain or compression while maintaining tonal and harmonic characters in a natural way. Jacqueline took center stage, well in the front of the orchestra. The orchestra itself remained behind Jacqueline in a deep and wide soundstage. With the CDP-777, both the fully orchestrated passages and Jacqueline’s solo lines simply had more shades in their tonal palette and were painted with sharper, more vivid lines and textures.

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