Pioneer XDP-30R

High-res au­dio? Count us in

Mac|Life - - REVIEWS -

$399 From Pioneer, pioneer-au­dio­vi­ Fea­tures Twin DACs, Up to 192 k Hz/32-bit au­dio, nor­mal and bal­anced out­puts

Mu­sic fans are get­ting very ex­cited about high-res­o­lu­tion au­dio, which de­liv­ers sound that’s vastly su­pe­rior to CD qual­ity or standard down­loads. There’s just one catch: high-res au­dio play­ers are in­cred­i­bly ex­pen­sive… or at least, they were.

Pioneer’s XDP-30R is a pretty thing, black alu­minum with a touch­screen, a cop­per vol­ume knob, trans­port but­tons, and twin mi­cro SD slots: high-res au­dio files are big, and you’ll fill the 16GB in­ter­nal stor­age in no time. Cards up to 256GB apiece work. There’s a 3.5 mm head­phone jack, and a 2.5 mm jack for bal­anced head­phones, plus Wi-Fi, Blue­tooth, and USB. PC users get man­age­ment soft­ware, but on the Mac you must drag and drop in Finder.

The XDP-30R has two DACs (Dig­i­tal Ana­log Con­vert­ers) and sup­ports au­dio files of up to 192 k Hz/32-bit (CD is 44.1 k Hz/16-bit), or DSD 5.6 mhz. The controversial MQA for­mat isn’t cur­rently sup­ported, but is promised.

Ra­dio­head’s OKNOTOK, the newly re­mas­tered and high-res an­niver­sary edi­tion of OK Com­puter, sounds ex­tra­or­di­nary on this player. Lis­ten­ing to densely lay­ered songs such as “Climb­ing Up The Walls” feels like an ad­ven­ture, things you’ve never no­ticed be­fore com­ing in and out of fo­cus.

The player’s tal­ents aren’t lim­ited to high-res prog rock. 44.1 khz FLACs sound fan­tas­tic: Bowie’s “Life On Mars” feels brand new, while the boxy drums, swoop­ing synths, and the strange noises of “Sound and Vi­sion” ap­pear to be com­ing from all around you. Fleet­wood Mac’s “The Chain” is jaw-drop­ping, Chic’s “Le Freak” is glo­ri­ously funky, and the bass in Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” makes your brain vi­brate.

The XDP-30R can up sam­ple such au­dio to 192 khz, but the un­touched au­dio sounds per­fectly good to us: the up­sam­pled au­dio feels a lit­tle wider, more spa­cious, but it’s a sub­tle dif­fer­ence. Our only real nig­gle is that the max­i­mum vol­ume is a lit­tle low; switch­ing to line-out mode boosts it.

This is a su­perb mu­sic player, but while it of­fers 16 hours of bat­tery life we suspect it’s not go­ing to leave peo­ple’s houses very of­ten: out­side means bat­tling am­bi­ent noise, which tends to kill mu­si­cal sub­tlety. You’ll get the best results in quiet rooms with good head­phones.

the bot­tom line. All the ex­cite­ment of high-res au­dio with­out a ter­ri­fy­ing price. A treat for your ears. Gary Mar­shall

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