Kenwood DP-5030 CD-player
Roll every CD player in the universe into a single, average one and you have the DP-5030, anonymity incarnate. Even the name implies it.
That doesn't stop it being well made, though. The loading drawer, which slows up near the end of its travel, is a particularly neat touch, and so is the dimming calendar display - although one that could be turned off, or was less complex - would have been even more welcome and tasteful.
The Kenwood DP-5030 uses a one-bit pulse Sony D/A converter with eight-times oversampling and third order noise shaping. The star of the technological show however is Kenwood's high precision master clock system (sic) which reduces digital jitter. Optical and electrical digital outputs are available, and the analogue output is routed via a volume control, which is pointless and harms performance.
There are an average number of facilities with the usual tape editing aids and a Disc File utility which stores individual programmed track sequences for up to 80 discs, recognized automatically on insertion. Disc File is analogous to the much better known Philips FTS.
Old San Juan from the AR album sounded slightly soft but unusually civilized. The saxophone solo was expansive and fruity, but not at the expense of precision. All instruments and voices in the mix were firmly located in a large scale acoustic with real depth as well as width, which is unusual for a CD player in this price range. There was some luscious deep bass.
The recording of Respighi The Birds illustrated another facet of this player, the fact that it was capable of resolving a great deal of fine detail, producing a sound picture of considerable subtlety and finesse and no trace of oversimplification or the caricaturing so prevalent at this price level. There was no obvious emphasis on transient leading edges either, the usual artifice for improving the apparent level of fine detail. Rather the opposite. If anything the Kenwood DP-5030 tended to favor the bass and midband, and the softness noted earlier with the jazz piece was repeated here.
This is a first rate low cost deck which will complement a wide range of systems.