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The Naked Truth for CD? - Acoustic Precision EIKOS CD-Player

[Italian version]

Product: Acoustic Precision EIKOS Compact Disk Player
Manufacturer: Acoustic Precision - UK
Approx. price: 1,850 UK Pound, 3,000 $ (2,000 Euros)

How much did you say did you say?

Let me first get my main Gripe with this CD-Player out of the Way.

Just as you probably did - when I first heard the Price and saw the thing I said - "No way Jose' - quit joking". I am not at all sure if I should write this review or not. But I am doing it anyway. Because I am excited about this CD-Player.


A card-carrying Analogue Addict and founder of the "Latter Day Luddites"?

Excited ABOUT A CD-Player?

Well yes! But the problem's first.....

The price is as it stands.

One thousand eight hundred and fifty hard and hard to earn United Kingdom Pounds (no Euros here). And this is not a joke. What that money buy's you, is superficially a Pioneer PD-904 CD-Player re-badged and slightly altered in it's physical appearance!

I hear you saying - "The Pioneer PD-904 is a $ 650 box of far eastern mass produced electronics." and then "How do you figure the 3,000 Bucks - get real bucko...".

Well as said, this is my gripe. Here is a $650 CD-Player in drags.... And it costs a small fortune.

The 2,350.00 Dollar question is: "What makes it different?" Without long tirades and pages full of detail, the EIKOS is Archtweaker Tom Evan's "Statement-Product". Tom Evans has a long and varied history, starting in some corner-shop hot-rodding Japanese consumer junk. He later designed the exceptional ISO Phono-Stage for Michell Engineering.

Still later he resurfaced as Designer for Tricord Research - who modified Pioneer CD-Players and also sold (much less expensive) badge-engineered CD-Players like the Genesis or the Revelation. These players where well received, kept a lot of people in bread and butter and eventually netted Tom Evans a job as Design Consultant for Pioneer UK - working on their Precision Range of Products.

Still he felt he could do a lot better if he where allowed to work without constraints on the final product price. The EIKOS Player as well as the Company making it are the result.

EIKOS - what's in a NAIM

Looking under the Hood, it is more as if the whole CD-Player has been rebuilt from scratch. It appears that more components have been changed than have been left in place. Many of Tom's secret "Lithos" Regulators (very small PCB's full of SMD Components) are dotted all over the Boards. Elna Cerafine Capacitors join Nichicon MUSE Capacitors.

The entire Output Stage (a separate Module on the PD-904) has been replaced by Tom's most advanced analogue circuitry and some of the best RCA sockets are fitted to the output. Lastly a supercharged version of the all time favorite Tricord Clock has been fitted. Cables have been redressed and fitted with Ferrite Rings. The chassis is re-inforced by an additional Bottom-plate. This seems to be made from foamed, mineral loaded polymer.

Instead of the normal feet you get four squishy spheres that look a little like Squash-Balls but are not (I tried very hard finding some). For the Makeup on the outside, the Front-Panel is resprayed with High-Gloss Paint, a superb paint-job worthy of Jaguar or Mercedes.

But still, nothing REALLY to write home about. Nothing to confer the kind of pride of ownership one would expect for 3,000 Bucks.

The Acoustic Precision promotional Literature claims: "Tom Evans has created a source component which completely redefines the performance achievable from Compact Disk... "

Now that I think is a tall order. REDEFINING CD - okay can Tom Evans make CD sound acceptable?

EIKOS by the way is Greek for Truth. And we quickly approach the moment of it....

The Moment of Truth

The first time the EIKOS made an appearance in my own System at home was a surprise gig. A meeting of the London Live DIY Circle took place in the hallowed halls of Mi Casa. Quite a few people brought along challengers for my Marantz Hotrod CD-67SE, in good old tradition without warning me first. One of these was the EIKOS. To cut a long story short - the EIKOS took the honors of the Day and by no small margin.

Okay it is easy for 3,000 Dollar CD-Player to beat a $ 500 one - yes? Well considering that my hotrod player had seen off many a contender for the throne of best Budget CD-Player, including some seriously high $$$$ Gear from Meridian and Audio Synthesis the gap between my poor little player and the EIKOS was rather large.

I am still not sure about re-defining the performance of CD, but one thing is sure:

The EIKOS is a substantially better player than it's price suggests!


Okay - read it again:

The EIKOS is a substantially better player than it's price suggests!

Am I saying then that the EIKOS is a Bargain?

Actually - yes - if you want the VERY BEST CD can offer YOU MUST hear this CD-Player. My Friend who had borrowed this player for a while and brought it along thought so too and put down his money.

I myself - I think I will stick to my old Vinyl Records. They still have something even the EIKOS cannot provide for the Music. A kind of being alive, of being real, of taking me into the original recording Venuee in a way that CD never provides. Not even the EIKOS got that far.

Since (in September) my Friend bought the Player it has become invariably a part of the test setup we now use regularly.

If a description of the sonics of the EIKOS is needed, well the name say's it all. The Low-End (Bass) is deep, tight and fast - almost unbelievably so. Some classical recordings have truly subterranean Timpani - the EIKOS does them with a grin.

The midrange and treble is best described as crystal-clear. Other Players (including the highly regarded Audio-Synthesis DAX Converter + suitable transport) sound shut in, boxy and dirty by comparison. The soundstage is wide open and deep.

In short, of all that one likes to hear from a recording. The EIKOS provides more of the recording than any other CD-Player I had a chance to evaluate in my system.

True, I never had Spectral or top of the line Krell, Mark Levinson or EAD in my system. I guess I never will. However I have heard all these in other system and one thing is for sure, the EIKOS would be still punching very hard in this league....

Melancholic thoughts

Unless I win the Lottery (statistically impossible as I do not play) or Tom Evans finds it in his heart to let me have an EIKOS CD-Player on permanent Loan (purely for Review purposes of course), I will never have an EIKOS for myself. With only about 50 CD's and over 1500 Records to my name it does not exactly break my heart. Well okay - it does. You know how it is if you had a chance to play with THE COOLEST TOY around and then have to give it back....

What I find much more interesting is the fact that such a performance can be coaxed from a piece of mass market electronics. It says something about the fact, that what we consumers are being sold is nowhere near where it could be.

Looking at Tom Evan's modifications that turn a $ 650 mass market Player into true High-End Esoterica; I think a substantial degree of them of could be designed into a mass market produced Player with barely a price-increase over the $ 650.... The fact that it is not being done is both worrying and frustrating.

As usual - my conclusion

Should you buy an EIKOS? If you have the prerequisite loose change and think that your current CD-Collection is large enough to warrant spending this kind of money - move heaven and earth to hear one of these Players.

If you think DVD Audio will happen anytime soon and that these DVD Audio Units will play your CD's to the best of their capabilities - think again and read the above again.

If you are (like me) an impoverished civil servant and/or simply have not got enough CD's in your collection to make this whole thing worthwhile - well we can dream - can't we.

The System

The EIKOS was auditioned in my own System consisting of:

Other CD-Players during the evaluation where my heavily modified Marantz CD-67 SE. Also employed was a Series 1 (upgraded to Series 2) Audio-Synthesis DAX Converter and Audio-Synthesis modified TEAK VRDS Transport linked via a DIY Coaxial Digital Cable. A Pioneer DV-505 DVD Player (review in progress) also took turns as did a variet of "consumer" CD-Players (the less said about them the better).

© Copyright 1999 Thorsten Loesch/TNT-Audio

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