Philips CD604 CD-player
This is the least expensive full width component CD player to bear the Philips name. It is lightly built, but the deck looks well assembled and the controls feel as good as on players costing even three times as much.
Features include a good quality display with a calendar type readout, random, intro and A-B play and programming. There is even a tape edit feature which will pause playback before your tape runs out. There is a system control socket on the back, though you'll have to buy other Philips components to do anything with it, and a coaxial digital output. The only feature missing is remote control.
At the heart of the CD604 is a TDA1543, which is the budget 16-bit four-times oversampling converter, which makes this the only 16-bit player in the Philips range.
The CD604 sounds excellent in relation to price. It has adequate levels of detail and analysis. It is a little creamy and slightly lacking in real weight and projection. It tended to smother slightly the complex interplay of instruments on the AR jazz album, individual lines blended into each other and some of the energy in the playing was sapped.
On the whole though, the limitations sounded benign, not obstructive.
The Respighi recording of The Birds sounded pert and attractive, and Jennifer Warnes' voice throughout the Famous Blue Raincoat album was pleasingly clear and articulate.
The Philips even made a good stab at tougher and more wide ranging music, the powerful Stravinsky recording, which includes some extremely energetic writing for strings, being a good example. The Philips never sounded frazzled, yet made a good stab at suggesting the raw power and vitality on the disc. Many players at this price are much less listenable.
The bottom line is that at £130 not too many choices are open to you. There is this budget Philips, with every feature you could reasonably wish for except remote control. There are one or two respectable models at this price from other sources, and what's left comes from third ranking manufacturers, and could be a passport to trouble. You could say the way the Philips sounds is immaterial, and that you should buy it anyway because it's a proper piece of kit from a respectable manufacturer. The fact it sounds the way it does is a bonus.