Onkyo DX-C320 CD-changer

The most popular form of multidisc CD player is the carousel changer, typically accommodating three to six discs on a rotating platter that delivers the selected disc to its playing position. Most carousel CD players are also very moderately priced, and they offer not only the flexibility of automatic multidisc playing but also most of the same operating features found in single-disc players.

Onkyo's new DX-C320 is a six-disc carousel changer with an exceptional assortment of operating conveniences. It features single-bit digital-to-analog (D/A) converters, eight-times-over-sampling digital filters, and several proprietary circuits said to enhance the imaging and listening qualities of music recordings.

The DX-C320 allows you to add, remove, or replace up to three discs from the carousel without affecting the playback of a selected disc. It has seven repeat-play modes: one track, one disc, all discs, a selected (A-B) segment of a disc, a programmed sequence of tracks on any or all discs, a random sequence of tracks from one or all discs, and a random sequence of whole discs. Up to forty tracks can be memorized for playback in any sequence.

A novel Next Selection button can be used while playing a programmed sequence of tracks. It allows you to enter the number of a different track on the same disc for playback when the current track is finished. For convenience in taping from a CD, a Peak Search feature can scan the disc for its highest peak level and play that 4-second segment of the program repetitively while you set the recording level; pressing stop cancels the process.

The front panel of the DX-C320 contains a number of pushbutton controls. The display, in the top center of the panel, shows the complete operating status of the player. The disc drawer, which occupies nearly the full width of the panel, extends forward about 8 inches when the open/close button is pressed, providing access to three of the disc trays. A Disc Skip button rotates the carousel as required for access to all six positions.

Six Direct Play buttons are used to load any desired disc into the playing position. Below the display window is a row of small buttons that provide direct access to any track of the currently loaded disc. The basic playback-control buttons are identified with standard symbols.

The remote control furnished with the DX-C320, in addition to duplicating the front-panel controls, offers high-speed search in either direction. The remote controls supplied with certain other Onkyo audio components (identified with an RI) can also be used with the DX-C320.

Our evaluation, using Technics and CBS test CD's, showed the performance ratings of the DX-C320 to be generally conservative and typical of the current state of CD-player performance.

The only respect in which the player fell below "excellent" was in its susceptibility to mistracking from mechanical shocks delivered to its top cover, a large (15 x 18-inch) piece of light-gauge aluminum with no reinforcing ribs. Even a light finger tap on its surface was usually enough to cause mistracking. Fortunately, the front and side panels were sufficiently rigid to prevent problems of this sort in normal use.

The player's laser beam tracked through rather severe errors on the Pierre Verany #2 test CD. It tracked without audible flaws through a 2,400-micrometer signal gap (above-average performance).

The typical time required for a change of disc in automatic operation was about 10 seconds. Opening or closing the disc tray required about 3.5 seconds. The ability to add or remove discs while one is playing makes it possible to have an endless music program with a manual change every few hours.

Although most of the player's operating controls involve standard functions, it has enough special features to require some hands-on practice. This is not a CD player that can simply be unpacked, installed in a system, and used with full effectiveness without studying the manual and experimenting with the controls. The time spent will be amply rewarded.

All in all, the Onkyo DX-C320 is a first-rate component, providing a well-balanced combination of versatility, value, performance, and price.

Onkyo DX-C320 CD-changer photo