Parasound has introduced a new high-end Compact Disc player. The Halo CD 1 uses new CD playback and processing technology that is the result of a collaboration between Parasound and Holm Acoustics in Copenhagen, Denmark.
"The CD 1 demonstrates that CDs can sound significantly better than anyone has imagined possible," said Richard Schram, Parasound's president and founder. "The full potential of the 16-bit CD format is realized for the first time in the CD 1."
The Parasound CD 1 uses a new method for playing CDs that is based on using a CD ROM drive instead of a conventional CD drive and a Linux-based computer to read and process the CD data. The CD ROM drive in the CD 1 runs at 4 times the speed of a conventional CD player drive in order to accumulate a vast amount of data. An on-board Intel ITX computer, running the Linux operating system kernel and Holm's proprietary software, dramatically improves the reading of CD disc data. It analyzes CD data and reads every part of a CD as many times as are needed to significantly reduce errors and, accordingly, the negative effects of error concealment. The result is a nearly bit-perfect data stream, the company says.
Standard CD players cannot accomplish any of this, Parasound says, because CD drives are slow data readers and data must move through the buffer at the same speed it comes off the CD. Unlike the CD 1, standard CD players must transfer data to the DAC as soon as it is read from the CD. As a result, they don't have time to accumulate enough data in a buffer so that it can be analyzed and processed.
The Parasound Halo CD 1 has a rugged aluminum chassis with extensive shielding for electrical and mechanical isolation. It has three separate power supplies for the analog and digital circuits. The outputs use premium balanced XLR connectors, gold-plated RCA outputs, and S/PDIF Digital audio outputs via 75-ohm BNC, coaxial, and optical connections.
The CD 1 offers a unique 'Discrete OpAmp' selector that gives users the option of listening to the analog outputs directly from the low noise National LME49990 op-amps or via discrete transistor output stages. The discrete output stage uses individual transistors in a Darlington configuration that operates in the feedback loops of the LME49990s. This subtly changes the sonic character of the CD 1 and there is no "wrong" choice.
The Parasound Halo CD 1 Compact Disc Player is offered in both traditional Halo silver chassis and the new Halo all black finish. It is now shipping with a suggested retail price of $4,500.