Defining exactly what qualifies audio gear as "high-end" or "audiophile" isn't easy, but I'll give it a try. Sound quality that rises above what's available from mainstream manufacturers would lead the way, followed by exceptional build quality, and a high price.
Well, by those standards it's safe to say Emotiva's ERC-2 CD player is definitely a high-end machine. The only disqualifier might be the ERC-2's price; it's just $449, which includes free shipping in the U.S.. The ERC-2 boasts individually regulated and shielded power supplies that separately feed the CD transport mechanism, the display, microprocessors, and digital and analog electronics sections. Build quality, from the thick machined-metal faceplate; beefy, all-metal remote control; the Analog Devices' digital-to-analog converters; and fully discrete analog circuitry are all more in-line with what I'd expect to see on a $1,500 CD player.
You can also use the ERC-2 as a CD "transport" with an external digital-to-analog converter; it has a "professional grade" digital output XLR connector, as well as RCA and Toslink optical digital audio connectivity. The ERC-2 has RCA and XLR (balanced) analog outputs.
Where most digital players, including many high-end models that sell for many times the ERC-2's price have one- or two-year warranties, the ERC-2 has a five-year warranty!
I listened to the ERC-2 in my high-end system with Pass Labs electronics and Magnepan 3.7 speakers. It's a high-resolution system, so it was easy to hear just how spectacular the sound of this CD player really is. … Read more