NuPRIME CDP-9 Review Sample available, here is my evaluation

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John Casler

CDP-9

Many of you know I have worked with and for NuFORCE and NuPRIME since their very beginnings.

I am involved in Marketing, Product Development, Support, and many other functions including being a dealer.

I recently was sent the NuPRIME CDP-9 to evaluate.  This REVIEW SAMPLE is available for purchase at an OPEN BOX Price

This unit was just REVIEWED by Absolute Sound.  This unit has a retail list of $1695 and packs a lot of Audiophile level components and functions into one chassis.  I’m not sure I can think of a CDP (only) at this price point that can compete with this MULTI-FUNCTIONAL component.

Firstly, this model is almost hidden since there are also 2 CD Transports in the model lineup, and this model gets little attention and exposure, so you may not have heard of it, or even knew it existed.

For those who wish to reduce their footprint and number of components, this is an EXCEPTIONAL unit as it contains the following:

1) CD Player
2) Headphone Amp
3) High End DAC
4) High End Volume Control (Stepped Ladder Resistor Network)
5) Fully Functional Preamp
6) With the BTR-8 Bluetooth Dongle ($59 option) also offers Wireless Source options.

There are specs and information on the website, so I won’t bother to cut and paste these, but more focus on the FUNCTIONS and SOUND

I received the Unit a couple weeks ago and finally got it set up.

My Sources are:

1) A brand Name Media Server, which allows me to play my Audiophile and Test File Cuts and Playlists
2) The Onboard CD Player which allowed me to visit several of my Reference CD Cuts from previous Audio Shows to evaluate gear
3) Various Internet Radio Stations via Roon Essentials

I wrote most of this evaluation a couple weeks ago, but was having trouble “level matching” the digital inputs of the server, with the levels from the CDP which were approximately 2 x the level.

We discovered, that the ROON Essentials had a little quirk which caused this and rather than setting the Volume Control (as one would think) to “fixed” it needed to be set at variable. Had never encountered this with a digital stream before.  In any event it is now level matched and this DID demonstrate the VERY HIGH Quality of the CD Transport, Correction Code, and Buffer of the PLAYER Section, compared to Digital Sources (HD)

So we have a system set up as follows:

1) Source Device Streamer Music Server
2) NuPRIME CDP-9
3) XLR Cables Output
4) To a Pair of Highly Respected “POWERED” Bookshelf Speakers (300wpc per speaker)
5) Sitting on Solid Front Pedestal Stands

The CD Player:

While I didn’t think that CD Players were all that popular, we found out that an awful lot of people still like the shiny discs.  This player clearly has a strong transport and laser system with ECC (error correction code) and buffer that can compete with some of the $6000+ players sonically.  Online reviews have mentioned this often.

I used a few old standard TEST cuts to determine certain qualities.  To be sure my descriptions are of the total system and the interaction of those components and room.

Amused to Death – Roger Waters with Q-Sound – The ballad of Bill Hubbard

This is one of my favorite cuts to test if a system and room are PHASED correctly , and that the listening position and room are contributing properly and all acts in a Phase Coherent manner.  It also demonstrates imaging and soundstage.  The most important part is the very first minute or so where you hear a babbling brook, crickets and circadia in the night air.  Then if the system is capable and set up perfectly you will hear a dog bark, but not from in front of you, but 90 degrees to the right side of the soundstage.  It is so clear and placed so solidly, that you would swear my (or your) neighbor’s dog is actually barking outside.  (funny thing happened while listening to this.  My neighbor’s dog DID start barking and sounded almost identical to the recorded dog)

Also immediately after the dog barks, you hear a Radio or TV show of someone selling pearl jewelry to a customer.  This image is solidly to your LEFT well outside the LEFT Speaker.

If you do not hear these sounds in those exact locations, then your room and or system is not well phased and or suffering from phase damaging room effects, reflections, or set up errors.

Stop this World – Diana Krall title cut

I think everyone in Audio has heard Krall’s Sultry Voice and Talents.  Well Kudos to the Production and Engineering Departments as this cut is a Sonic Masterpeice.  I use it to establish just how detailed and transparent a System is, and This NuPRIME based System was exactly that.  Of particular note is listening for to the Cymbals.  Drummers have many cymbals and it takes a very revealing system to allow you to hear the differences between all of them.  On this cut the drummer is using a clearly specific CYMBAL 1:55, and at a 2:46, he CLEARLY switches to a different Cymbal.  If your system displays this sonic difference it is highly resolving and transparent.  As well the images DOES move just a smidgen as the sound emanates from a different Cymbal image wise.

The Moonbeam Song Son of Schmilsson - Harry Neilsen -

You probably aren’t old enough to remember this cut, but it is quite lyrical and likeable, displaying Neilsen’s Voice along with harmonies by other vocalist.  Great Acoustic Guitar and Stellar Bandmates made up of the BEST Studio Musicians of the time.  I just enjoy the fullness and soundstage.

Seeds of Love - Best of Tears for Fears – Tears for Fears

Another oldie but goodie.  Back in this period it was quite common to encounter what was termed the “Wall of Sound” in a recording.  Listening to this with the CDP-9 a surely was enveloped in a Wall of Sound, BUT. . . the Soundstage was so transparent and imaging so precise that it made this an INCREDIBLE listening experience.  You can hear each vocal, and instrument in this complex Sonic Soup as it contributes to THE WALL. The CDP-9 in this system had deep, full bass, lush Midrange and very clear and precise treble.

You will find this cut reminiscent of the Bee Gees, and the Sgt Peppers era Beatles in Style, and is quite a study in Sound Engineering and Production.  There is a Sister Cut titled “Woman in Chains” with a black female guest singer who’s voice is off the charts, in Arethra like range.

STIMELA (Coal Train) - Hope – Hugh Masekela 

One of my favorite Jazz Fusion cuts that displays the qualities of components.  This cut tells a story of poverty stricken mine workers in South Africa via a very MUSICAL score.  There are several notable things to hear on this cut. 

Dynamics – It starts with cowbell and percussion building dynamically to a crescendo, then wonderfully clear and deep resonant Bass Guitar. . WOW.  Does the CDP-9 track this. . .Oh Yeah.
Vocals – Masekela and his back up singers fill this cut with the lyrical story that paints vivid word pictures and scenes, right down to his “choo choo train” sounds he makes.  It is really quite a cut for displaying a good system or component.  Likewise, if it is a poor system, then this cut will tell you.
 
Instruments – First a fantastic Sax Solo, that transitions into Masekela’s Trumpet Genius. . what a talent, and this Systems presents every sonic morsel clearly and cleanly.  Then comes Masekela with his famous HORN.  Both the Sax and the Horn Solos are solidly a beautifully accompanied his bass guitar player.

I listened to several other incredibly reproduced cuts including:

I SHINE, by Infected Mushroom (UNREAL Electronica Dynamics and BASS)  This was one of my friend Andrew Jones’ favorite SHOW Demo Cuts, and it really does push all the SONIC buttons.

Kokomo, by the Beach Boys (so well produced it is scary)

That’s Just the Way It Is, by Bruce Hornsby (Wonderful Piano and Vocals)

Giorgio Moroder, by Daft Punk (a Sonic Tribute to one of our Music Legends)


Each and every cut I am intimately familiar with and have played and auditioned on MANY Systems so I know what they can sound like.  I am proud to state in this System they sounded as good or better than any I have played them on.

I also wanted to know just how good the CD Player portion of the CDP-9 was so I listened to BOTH the CD and the Music Server Files of each one of the above cuts.  SONICALLY IDENTICAL.  I could switch back and forth without being able to tell which was which.  This is a good thing for the CD Player portion. 

And finally, even on the lowly Internet Radio, this system sounded sharp, dynamic, full, and musical.

So that concludes my evaluation and as mentioned earlier, this Absolute Sound Review Sample, is available as an Open Box Review Sample