Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
- Great handling of SACD and CD audio, innovative and unique features
- Expensive, doesn't include speakers
A player clearly designed with audiophiles in mind, the Pioneer PD-D6 delivers exceptional audio quality, but at a price that will make most users baulk.
Price$ 799.00 (AUD)
Pioneer's latest Super Audio CD player, the PD-D6, is a very impressive piece of equipment. Although its price, features and technology make it a device targeted squarely at audiophiles, if budget isn't an issue for you and you want to get the most out of your music, the PD-D6 is well worth considering.
Super Audio CDs, along with DVD-Audio (which isn't supported by this player) offer high quality sound, focusing specifically on delivering the clearest and most accurate reproductions of music and other audio possible. The PD-D6 handles them excellently, delivering exceptionally clear and vibrant reproductions of the original source material. Treble was especially well reproduced by the player, although with the vast majority of SACDs being of either classical or jazz music, this isn't a big surprise. The bass and mid-range were also impressive, with each note being distinctly audible, yet not losing the connection with the rest of the music, forming a richly detailed audio environment.
The PD-D6 handled regular CDs just as well in our tests, with excellent clarity and accuracy of reproduction. CDs played on the player generally exhibit less degradation and deliver richer, more 'authentic' feeling audio. Although the differences are fairly minimal, this is what defines high end audio equipment. Most audio products these days are made to a fairly high standard, so the high end devices really need to go that extra step to deliver the best possible quality to users. The PD-D6 does this effortlessly.
Feature wise, Pioneer has kept it sweet and simple. All the standard random, repeat, play/pause and track skip features are available, as would be expected. Pioneer has also included a couple of other very impressive options as well, though. 'Pure Audio' mode allows the player to focus entirely on analogue audio playback, switching off the front panel display and disabling digital outputs. A pleasant feature, it suits the mood and purpose of the player well, although we weren't able to detect an overly noticeable change in audio quality. Additionally, the player supports a feature dubbed "Legato Link Conversion", which works to extrapolate and restore high frequency audio not available in the vast majority of CD based digital recordings. While this feature doesn't quite manage to give audio the same quality you'd get if listening to the original performance, it nevertheless adds a noticeable amount of detail to the audio, making it sound a lot fuller.
The PD-D6 also boasts an impressive design, with a horizontal, DVD player-like form factor. Connections options are minimal but all-inclusive, with optical audio, coaxial and line out (RCA audio) outputs available. Pioneer has also included input/output connections to connect the PD-D6 to other Pioneer devices, allowing all devices to be operated via a single remote control. A useful addition, especially considering this unit's intended place as a part of a larger audio setup.
Technical specifications further underlie the player's high quality audio performance, with a signal to noise ratio of 118 dB for CDs, and 110 dB for SACDs. The internal Digital to Analogue Converter (DAC) provides a great dynamic range (99 dB for CDs and 108 dB for SACDs), and we noticed excellent performance during testing, especially in conjunction with Pioneer's A9 amplifier. The 4 Hz to 20kHz (50 kHz with SACD) frequency response, in combination with the Legatto Link feature (which extrapolates data outside the 20 kHz range) delivers excellent high-frequency performance, although is slightly lacking in bass. However, as the vast majority of SACD releases are from classical or jazz genres, an emphasis on treble performance is to be expected.
From a purely technical standpoint, the PD-D6 is an exceptional audio player, delivering fantastic sound quality and SACD performance, as well as a useful and innovative feature set. Unfortunately its price, exacerbated by the lack of included speakers, puts it out of reach of all but the most enthusiastic of music fans.
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