Denon DCM-460 CD-changer
The DCM-460 changer is the lowest-priced CD player to incorporate Denon's new Alpha processing digital-to-analog (D/A) conversion system. The Alpha processor translates the 16-bit data from a CD to 20-bit data, interpolating an extra 4 bits into each sample based on the low-level characteristics of the waveform. Denon says that the system is based on a database developed from comparisons of 16- and 20-bit recorded data for a wide variety of waveforms, which enabled the company's engineers to determine what the additional 4 bits were most likely to be for a given set of 16-bit data. The resulting 20-bit data stream is then fed to dual 20-bit Denon Super Linear D/A converters. Denon credits the system with improving resolution and dynamic range.
The changer's five-disc carousel emerges at the touch of a button to expose the disc loading wells. All five positions are simultaneously accessible for loading and unloading discs - an advantage over the more common arrangement in which only three or four discs are accessible at a time, with carousel rotation required to reach the remaining positions. Also, the disc drawer can be opened during playback to add or remove as many as four discs without interrupting the one playing.
At first glance, the DCM-460 looks much like many other carousel CD changers, but a closer examination shows that it has an exceptional ratio of versatility to complexity. A row of five buttons on the front panel provides direct and rapid playing access to any of the discs. Above them, a row of smaller buttons, numbered 1 to 10, and one marked +10, give direct access to any track of a selected disc. To play (or program) Track 27 of a disc, for example, you merely press +10 twice, followed by the 7 button, and you can be hearing that track within a second or two.
In addition to the usual transport outtons (open/close, play, stop, pause), the front panel has a repeat button that (by successive pushes) lets you repeat a track, the disc, or all the discs. In its random mode, the DCM-460 can play the tracks on a single disc, or on any or all discs, in random order. The player can also be programmed to play a program of as many as twenty tracks from any of the loaded discs in any order. There is even a favorite-track file that stores the locations of as many as six tracks on each of up to a hundred discs, so that only those selections will be played when those discs are loaded. Clearly, this player provides as much operating flexibility as one could ever wish for. Best of all, its programming and other functions are clearly explained in the instruction manual, and it is actually easier to use than it is to describe.
Other, more conventional features of the DCM-460 include a headphone jack with volume control, rear-panel fixed- and variable-level audio output jacks, a coaxial digital output, and a synchro jack for connection to a compatible Denon cassette deck for synchronized taping of a CD. And the front panel has a display window that shows the player's complete operating status, including the current mode, disc and track number, and elapsed time on the current disc.
The DCM-460 is supplied with an infrared remote that not only duplicates the front-panel control, but whose use is required for certain operations, such as the favorite-track file storage and selection process and for adjustment of the level from the back-panel variable output jacks.
Although the DCM-460's specifications are superior to those for most competitively priced players, it not only met its specs but surpassed most of them by a comfortable margin. As one might therefore expect, sound quality was superb. Perhaps best of all, the DCM-460, despite its potential operating complexity, proved to be one of the easiest and most intuitive CD changers we have yet used. If you're seeking an exceptionally versatile, high-performance CD changer, don't overlook the Denon DCM-460.