CD Player Quad 99 CD-P2

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The Quad is the lightest and arguably the plainest-looking player here, but closer inspection yields a bigger line-up of clever stuff than the others in this review.

The first important item in the feature list is something which potentially carries great appeal for purists - as well as having the usual fixed voltage stereo phono output on the back, there's also a variable gain output which is operated with the remote control. This allows users to connect directly to a power amplifier or active speakers. The benefits from taking the shortest possible signal path are undeniable and there's also a certain pleasure in the simplicity of a one-step solution between player and speakers.

The other big feature is being able to use the P2's high-performance up-sampling DAC for other digital output gear. This is taken care of with no less than six digital inputs (three optical and three coaxial) - all controlled with the remote which switches the source and can individually set the output. Great stuff as long as you don't misplace the remote.

The remote control is clearly-marked and commendably simple in its layout, but alas, will never win a beauty contest with its rather utilitarian looks.

Quad also claims to have moved away from standard computer-style disc-reading decks by changing the way the laser head works. Picking up computer data has priorities which conflict with reliable retrieval of audio data. Quad's method claims to significantly lower the noise floor.

This is a truly fascinating player in terms of audio delivery - it could never be accused of a lack of enthusiasm. It does deep and wide across the sound stage with a boisterous verve and good accuracy apart from a very slight widening of the source of instruments and voices.

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