Pro-Ject prepares for Compact Disc revival with precision CD transport
When it comes to music consumption, streaming continues to be the music industry's biggest earner. Sales of physical formats like CD and vinyl are declining overall, though the latter has been clawing its way back slowly over the last few years. High-end audio brand Pro-Ject is clearly hoping that the Compact Disc will also enjoy an upturn in fortunes, as it releases the CD Box RS 2 T transport.
Though CDs still accounted for well over half a billion dollars in sales last year, according to the Recording Industry Association of America, and generated over US$250 million more in revenue than vinyl, unit sales were still down by over 40 percent compared to 2017. So it may seem like precisely the wrong time to invest in a new CD player... but Pro-Ject doesn't think so.
"We have always been crazy and making products and investments which are not particularly mainstream," said Pro-Ject's Heinz Lichtenegger in a press release. "As everybody was going in CD, we were starting with turntables. Now as everybody goes in streaming, we invest in a new revolutionary CD-player."
The company recognizes that many music lovers may have relegated their CD collections to the basement, and now spend much of their daily listening streaming music. But some folks might keep treasured favorites to hand just in case the mood for physical playback grabs them. And Pro-Ject believes that such listeners should treat themselves to a "proper CD player."
The top-loading CD Box RS2 T is described as a top class CD transport, meaning that the device has been designed for a single purpose – to read Compact Discs – and relies on the digital-to-analog conversion prowess of the hi-fi system it's connected to rather than risk a built-in pre-amp and converter potentially interfering with operation.
This transport-only approach also means that users can choose to connect the device to a preferred high-end digital-to-analog converter, rather than have to make do with one selected by the manufacturer.
At its heart, the CD Box RS2 T features a BlueTiger CD Pro 8 drive and CD-84 servo system from StreamUnlimited. "The entire body is suspended on a proprietary anti-vibration system, which allows us to control the level of outside vibrations reaching the insides of the device," said Pro-Ject. "The CD mechanism is stabilized, unaffected by external influences."
Pro-Ject has included a CD clamp made from a new aluminum alloy to ensure "perfect contact between the disc and the drive, achieving smooth rotation and perfect disc reading." The system plays CD Audio, CD-R, CD-RW and Hybrid SACD discs, and the promised jitter-free signals end up at digital outputs to the rear, which includes AES/EBU over XLR and I2S+ masterclock via HDMI.
The CD Box RS2 T suggested retail price of €2,499 (about US$2,825).