Micromega Logic CD-player

If the true art of industrial design has more to do with how good you can make an inexpensive product than how expensive you can make a good one, French CD player manufacturer Micromega has arrived in the real world rather sooner than some of its 'high-end' rivals with the Logic.

Ironically, while the big volume manufacturers are virtually tripping over each other to make their boxes look more heavily engineered and 'studio-ready', the £500 Logic looks like nothing more than a slim, front-loading budget Philips model with French writing on the facia. Not that there's anything wrong with that. You'll also find a few French expressions lurking in the instruction book ('disque' for the drawer, 'temps' for time information), but then much of the machine's operation is intuitive, and all the display information is boldly presented in English, as are the instructions on the slim remote.

One thing that doesn't inspire much confidence is the light, flimsy feel of the casing. 'The compact disc and the laser must be held in a constant relationship...isolated from mechanical interference...and that means providing a proper suspension for the disc drive as a whole,' writes the company. No matter how hard you look, however, it's impossible to detect any constructional differences between the Logic and the Philips model on which it's based.

The 'breathed on' Bit Stream components, though, are something else, and despite my reservations about the build quality, the Logic sounds great. I usually listen to CDs on a £3000 plus Meridian 602 CD transport and 603 offboard DAC which, in my experience, is about as good as Bit Stream gets. No, I'm not going to say that the Logic sounds as good if not better, but I was startled by how different it sounds - nothing like the Meridian, or any other Bit Stream player I've heard, come to that.

My first impressions were of a fresher and livelier presentation in which the tempo and timing of the music are given equal billing with the more usually heard Bit Stream benefits of low-level resolution and focus. There's nothing soft, de-focused or consciously quasi-analogue about the way the Logic does its stuff: it's all quite brightly lit and precise.

This gives life and structure to CDs as turgid and clogged even as the latest Yes album, Union, Jon Anderson's feeble voice sounding more clearly delineated against a background melee created by the absurdity of having two drummers, two keyboard players and three guitarists going hell for leather. Sparser, better-produced material like the Crusader's latest on GRP, Healing the Wounds, fares better still and positively shimmers with confidence, Joe Sample's piano phrasing coming across tighter and more soulful than I remember it and Marcus Miller's bass less heavy-handed with a greater sense of snap and drive. Like its more expensive stablemates, the Logic makes music.

Micromega Logic CD-player photo