Yamaha CDC-655 CD-changer

Yamaha's CDC-655 is one of a new series of five-disc CD changers featuring the company's PlayXchange design, which enables any of the nonplaying discs to be moved or replaced without interfering with the playback of the currently selected disc. The CDC-655 uses single-bit D/A conversion and an 18-bit digital filter, which are said to contribute to such excellent performance specifications as distortion of less than 0.003 percent (-90 dB) and a signal-to-noise ratio (S/N) of 106 dB.

The changer provides a full complement of playback functions, including forty-track programming (distributed over any or all of the loaded discs), Disc Scan (which plays the first 8 seconds of each disc), pushbutton selection of the disc and track, fast-forward and reverse scan, repeat of tracks or discs, and even (through the infrared remote control) direct access to any index point on a disc. It also enables automatic synchronization with a compatible Yamaha tape deck for recording selected portions of a CD. Regardless of the tape deck used, setting of recording levels is facilitated by an automatic peak-level search function that quickly locates the highest signal level on the portions of the CD selected for taping.

The CDC-655 is slightly deeper (front to back) than most carousel CD changers, providing the extra space to accommodate a deeper disc tray. When the tray is fully out, all five disc positions are accessible; it can be opened far enough during play to reach four of the five disc wells. The player is supported on large, rubber-cushioned feet designed to isolate it from external vibration. On the rear apron are phono-jack analog outputs and an optical digital output.

The front panel has a row of ten small pushbuttons for selecting track numbers and a smaller row of larger buttons for disc selection. It has the conventional control buttons for play, stop, pause, and disc-drawer open/close. A Skip/Search bar provides fast-forward and reverse playback control. The PlayXchange button opens the disc drawer partway without affecting the currently playing disc. A small rocker control, next to the headphone jack, varies the output level smoothly from maximum (a nominal 2-volt level) to zero for both the line and headphone outputs; a sequence of squares in the display window shows the setting of the level adjustment. The display window is relatively small, showing which disc positions are occupied, which one is currently selected, the total number of tracks on that disc, the current track number, and the elapsed or remaining time on the disc that's playing and in the current track.

The CDC-655 comes with a remote control that duplicates all the front-panel controls while adding several more. The extras include a three-step adjustment of the display brightness, switching for the time display, and index selection.

The CDC-655 acquitted itself admirably in our lab tests, especially in respect to its ability to track flawlessly through large gaps in the data stream (such as might be caused by scratches or careless handling). In its immunity to disc-surface damage, the CDC-655 far surpassed any other CD player we have yet tested, playing the calibrated 3,000-micrometer errors on Track 37 of the Pierre Verany #2 test disc without even a momentary "tick". Only a few players in our past experience have gone beyond 2,000 micrometers ji in that test; at 3,000 micrometers they are usually "hung up" and stuttering, if they have not shut down altogether. Demonstrating that this achievement was no fluke, the player also handled the two successive 3,000-micrometer interruptions in Track 50 of the test disc without difficulty.

The CDC-655 was relatively resistant to physical impact. Although its large top surface did flex enough when slapped to cause momentary mistracking, it still ranks among the better current players in that respect. And despite the considerable mechanical movement involved in disc changes, the player's action was very quiet. It was surprisingly fast, too, with a change taking only about 8 seconds between adjacent discs and typically about 9 to 10 seconds between more widely spaced discs.

As our measurements show, the CDC-655's electrical performance was also first-rate. Its low-level linearity was well-nigh perfect, with the output at levels between -60 dB and -90 dB measuring within 0.5 dB of the nominal value.

One of the CDC-655's most impressive specifications is its price - a mere $299. And at that, it is actually the next to the top model in Yamaha's current lineup of CD changers. I have seen numerous examples in the last year or two of the almost incredible value offered by many of today's hi-fi components, but it is still noteworthy when a product is innovative, state-of-the-art, and inexpensive to boot. The CDC-655 is an incredible bargain any way you look at it.

Yamaha CDC-655 CD-changer photo