Lector CDP-707 + PSU-707 and Digicode S-192 + PSU-DC 192
For this more up-close section of the review, I moved the Lector units to the main system where I used the CH Precision C1 DAC, Ayon Stealth preamp and CH Precision A1.5 power amp, connected via a Cardas Clear XLR cable. I started with the Martin Logan ESL15A’s and swapped to the Magico S1 MkII’s for the last bit of the review.
CDP-707 as a transport
The Lector CDP-707 as a transport to the C1 sounds effortless yet lively. It is immediately engaging and emotionally involving and although it has a smooth and slightly warm sound, this is not accompanied by thickness or rounded transients. In fact, the player sounds almost as open and articulate as the master in this field the 7.890-euro Aqua La Diva. The latter remains the king of tightness and transparency but the Lector has more romantic shimmer and harmonic richness.
I was curious to find out how the Lector would compare to the 2.495-euro Jay’s Audio CDT2-Mk2 CD transport because it has a NOS Philips CDM-4 on board and the Lector uses a very modern linear mechanism. The Jay’s has bigger bass with more slam and the free-flowing delivery that characterizes most swing-arm-mechanism players. It’s also lyrical and very musical but it lags behind the Lector in terms of refinement, transparency and low-level detail.
In addition to separate power zones, the PSU-7T offers a DC filter selection to tailor the sound according to personal desire. The manual is not clear about what this does precisely but I’ll just describe what I hear. With the switch in the down position pointing to the word “low” on the front panel, the sound is brighter and slightly more articulate but also sounds a little flatter and invokes less of a romantic feel. So far, I had been listening with the switch in the up position and as a few tests showed, I have grown a preference for this setting even if the “low” position is probably more accurate. As another comparison showed, the “low” position moves the Lector a little closer to the Aqua in terms of tightness and articulation but the overall Lector character remains intact.
Lector CDP-707 as an integrated player
Compared to the Ayon CD-10 MkII, both using the AudioQuest Water interlink, the Lector 707’s output level is a little lower but that’s adjusted for easily on the C1. Even then, its sound is less robust and impactful but definitely more refined and transparent than that of the Ayon. Gentle hi-hat swooshes are subtler and show more differentiation whereas with the Ayon they’re more similar to each other, less precise and more generic. In terms of soundstaging, the two are quite similar. Overall, the difference between the two is similar to as it was in the other setup, the Ayon being more down to earth while the Lector is more ethereal. But also as an integrated player, I can again feel the Lector magic. It’s a mix of gentle ease, timbral richness, resolution, precision and transparency.
So far, I have only used the CD player as a source but what can I say… the Lector player sounds so fantastically musical that I had no urge whatsoever to test anything else. Of course, I also have the Antipodes CX and EX server combo of which I lately use mostly the CX into the CH C1 DAC via direct ethernet. But since I heard the Aqua La Diva CD transport I also noticed that while the CX+EX combo sounds fuller and warmer and subjectively more spacious, the CX by itself sounds closer to the La Diva via USB than the CX + EX combo. That’s when I decided to use mostly the CX by itself as that presents the most neutral reviewing proposition.
With the Antipodes CX as a source via USB, the Digicode S-192 has a super-refined sound that is precise as well as fluid and not at all dry or anything like that, it is an absolutely inoffensive sound. I’ve tried a range of USB cables and found that the Final Touch Audio Callisto provided the most free-flowing delivery and, with that, a sound closest to the CDP-707.
However, I feel that the true Lector magic really only happens when the DAC is fed via SP/DIF, in my case by a CD transport and then preferably the CDP-707. And, again, I must stress that this magic that I refer to is not a simple metaphor for warmth: the CD transport does not sound rounded, is very transparent and leaves no details behind. It actually sounds more exciting and lively than the music server while simultaneously being more organic. It’s quite a rare encounter I can tell you. And to think the CDP-707 is not even the company’s top-model then it’s probably best not to find out what the Digidrive TL can do.
Lector CDP-707 + Digicode S-192
One should brace him/her self when playing with the full Lector stack. This is a sound so involving and so emotionally captivating that there will be a voice in your head screaming the words “buy me”. The four-box Lector combo simply spells magic with a capital M.
Now, the sound soars and soothes at the same time. It’s very relaxing and sweet but not at all slow. Just as I heard in the other setup, the Digicode S-192 has bigger bass, luscious and organic mids and wall-to-wall soundstaging. Here, too, I hear that the punch or “attack” of the bass is reduced in comparison to listening to the CD player by itself but you get so much in return!
Meanwhile, the differentiation, refinement and resolution are world-class, as a cross-comparison with the Aqua La Diva and Formula xHD confirms. The Aqua combo remains the most linear, articulate and transparent pairing that I have had access to in these quarters but has to hand it to the Lector combo in the fields where tubes inherently excel. Indeed, the Lector combo has an overwhelming amount of charm, making the Aqua combo sound less enchanting in comparison. Of course, the Aqua combo can absolutely also sound utterly engaging but its precision makes that this only happens when this is actually in the recording. The Lector components tend to make everything just a little nicer. Each has its respective camp and you probably know which one you side with.
As I learned, the Lector units are not finicky at all and work sublimely even with freebie power cables. Especially as a transport, there is no need to use anything but a standard cable unless you intend on coloring the sound one way or another. My default Belden with Bals and Oyaide C-004 connectors works fabulously as well but even when the CDP-707 is used as an integrated CD player and also with the Digicode S-192 DAC, the sound is all-Lector even with standard cables.
These components have a sound that is effortless yet lively. It is a smooth and warm yet transparent and agile sound that is immediately emotionally involving and always engaging. The CDP-707 offers tremendously good value and actually already operates on an audiophile level while remaining sweet and fluid. The four-box Lector combo adds immense wall-to-wall-soundstaging, bigger bass, richer and even more organic mids and even more magic. Starting right now, the brand has gained a huge fan!