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CD mods...again!

The Maxiclock from Antiléon

[Italian version]

Product: Antileon Maxiclock
Manufacturer: Antileon - France
Distributed in France by musiphil@claranet.fr - Musiphil Tel: ++ 33
Approx. price: 1,100 FF (800 FF as KIT)

[The Antileon Maxiclock]

I have a nice CD player, a Micromega Solo P. It's beautifully built, looks wonderful, sounds good, but is now a little off the pace as it's five years old.

So I've a dilemma. Here I am with a cd player once considered one of the best in the world which can be bettered by cheaper models now available. To replace it with the latest equivalent would cost me well over 20000 FF and the alternative, a newer but cheaper model might sound better, but certainly would not look or feel as good. Given that the second hand value is probably around 5000 FF either option will prove expensive.

There is an alternative, and that is to try to bring the Solo up-to-date. But what needs updating and at what cost?

Firstly the transport is a Phillips CDM 11, one of the best ever made so nothing to be gained there even if it were practical. So we are left with the electronics side where there have been improvements over the last few years. An offboard DAC might be worthwhile, but to do justice to, and improve on the Solo's on-board DAC will be expensive.
The Solo's DAC is roughly equivalent to the Micromega Duo BS.2 DAC which was very well thought of a while back so to better it will cost more than I feel like spending, certainly 500 pounds or more.
But there is another area where improvements can be made, and that is the 'clock' circuit. This bit of electronics comprises a quartz oscillator and associated components. All the digital electronics of the player are referenced to this clock, in effect it makes sure all the 0's and 1's are correctly spaced in time.

A little explaination: - Many people will say that digital signals are perfect i.e. 0,1,1,0,0,1,1.will always be reproduced as 0,1,1,0,0,1,1. The snag is that CD players have to reproduce this in 'real time' and as far as music is concerned 0,,,1,1,,0,,,,0,,1,1 is very different from 0,1,,,1,0,0,,,,1,,1. This difference is called 'jitter' and its importance in the recovery of music from the disc has only been properly appreciated in the last few years. When my Solo was made its *clock* left something to be desired.

Enter Maxiclock from Antileon. This is a very high quality *clock* circuit. It's a simple fit in any player, replacing the oscillator and the rest of the old circuit with a state of the art board. If you feel able this can be supplied as a kit for 800 FF or fully fitted by a dealer for 1100 FF, not a bad option I would have thought.

In my case I left it to Musikits to fit mine. It took a week and the machine was returned unmarked and unchanged to the eye. I left it on repeat overnight to warm up and burn in.
Next day I settled into the listening test. My first, and gratifying impression was that this was obviously the same player - this is good as otherwise I wouldn't have bought it in the first place.
Apart from this there was a definite change and all for the better. I started with "Sex Without Bodies" from the Chesky sampler, a lovely gentle jazz number with excellent imaging.
The female vocal was definitely pushed forward into the room, taking on a physical presence well in front of the speakers, so much so that you felt you could see behind her if you know what I mean.
Likewise the drumkit was back further from the plane of the speakers. The players seemed to occupy space in a way they didn't before, not *pin-point* imaging, but real formed people.
This improvement carried through to other discs, though of course many have very poor image depth. There also was a removal of digital haze, a darker acoustic. The overall effect was as if the modified player was simply getting more off the disc.

I've now lived with this mod for a month. For the price of a half decent interconnect, the improvements have been substantial. To put it into perspective I've tried many interconnects and none give this level of improvement even at twice the price. It also has no downside, the player just sounds better.
All the things I liked about the unmodded Solo are still there, but now it comes closer to my vinyl source, and with simple music betters it, though it still lacks the dynamics of a top turntable.
For those with a good quality but ageing player this is excellent value for money. However there is one caveat, if you simply don't like your present CD player the 'Maxiclock' will be a waste of time, buy a new player. If, on the other hand you like what you have now, but want more, then the Maxiclock could well be what you are after.

Thanks to Musikits tel: ++ 33 and to Antileon - distributed in France by Musiphil tel: ++ 33 E-mail: musiphil@claranet.fr

© Copyright 1999 Geoff Husband - http://www.tnt-audio.com

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