The 8300CD demonstrates a level of fine detail, transparency, soundstage depth, dynamic range and musical flow across all sources. It is both an exceptional CD player and a top-class external DAC/digital preamp, able to make the most of your CD collection. While delivering an enormous sonic boost to external digital audio sources it now extends its resolution to 32-bit/384kHz and DSD compatibility via USB.
Control Where You Need It
The 8300CD adds full digital preamp functionality, with volume and source selection accessible via the player’s front panel and remote handset. This means the 8300CD can be connected directly to a stereo power amp, or a pair of monoblocks like the new Audiolab 8300MB, as well as to a traditional integrated amp like the equally new Audiolab 8300A.
8300 Series also allows control of music playing from a PC/Mac/media device via USB. When connected to a computer, the 8300CD not only identifies itself as an asynchronous DAC, but also as a HID-compatible device (Human Interface Device). This allows driverless control of the PC/Mac/media player (Play, Pause, Stop, Track Select etc).
New Updated Aesthetic
The newly updated external structure of the 8300 series follows the new design aesthetic of Audiolab products going forward, incorporating softened lines and textures yet still maintaining Audiolab’s instantly recognisable and contemporary style.
The 8300 series’ blasted aluminium finish, CNC routed aluminium dials and display certainly look cutting-edge, yet with every Audiolab product, form follows function. The new display and controls enable a fast and intuitive access through the vast routing options and filter settings in both the A and CD.
Slot-Loading CD Mechanism
Audiolab's extensive research and development found that previous tray-style mechanisms sometimes produced a rare weak spot. The 8300CD sports a new mechanism that includes slot loading – much quicker and neater than the old tray.
The new mechanism also reduces the occurrence of disc rejection, able to play CDs that other CD players may reject for being imperfect from dirt or damage. Its digital buffer circuit is a perfect mate to the asynchronous input of the DAC, improving even this area of performance. A final benefit is increased disc stability and reduced susceptibility to resonance, which additionally contributes to the overall improved sound quality.
Connectivity options have been further expanded on the 8300CD with the addition of an AES/EBU digital input and XLR digital output. These join a full complement of inputs/outputs retained from the 8200CD: 2x coaxial digital inputs; 2x optical digital inputs; 1x asynchronous USB input; 1x coaxial digital output; 1x optical digital output; single-ended RCA and balanced XLR analogue outputs.
On the 8300A Engineers have developed a new phono stage catering for the resurgence in vinyl records with MM and MC configurations accessible via the front panel controls.
12V remote trigger loop feature on all units so as one device is switched on, paired units are switched into or out of standby mode - working as one system for quick operation.
The 8300CD DAC
The 32-bit ESS Sabre DAC as used inside the 8300CD continues to have a reputation as the best-sounding DAC chip available, and most CD players that use it are much more costly designs. In terms of the way it measures, its distortion figures are extraordinarily low. Around the DAC there are extensive measures to reduce jitter to vanishingly low levels, of a nature you’d expect to see only in much more expensive players.
The conversion process within Audiolab 8300CD results in the 512 DAC elements (256 DACs per channel) each operating at 84.672MHz – all digital audio sources, whatever the sample rate, are upsampled or oversampled to this frequency. This results in a conversion process that is switching 3840 times higher than the typical audio upper bandwidth of 22kHz. Without this Digital upsampling technology, the analogue filters would likely affect frequencies at or near the audible range, resulting in unwanted level and phase variation within the audio band.
The inclusions of the Hyperstream modulator means optimal transient response is achieved, thus eliminating dynamic response deficiencies and noise floor modulation artifacts typical of traditionally designed Delta-Sigma DACs.
The new 8300CD can accept and process data up to 32-bit/384kHz; this is a far higher specification than that required even by current hi-res music formats, ensuring the 8300CD is fully equipped for future advances in ultra-high-definition digital sound.
The USB input now also accepts DSD data, as well as PCM. This is a significant addition, as DSD has an important role to play in the developing high-res digital download scene. Accordingly, the filter section now includes four extra filters for DSD playback, allowing the user to optimise the noise floor to suit the performance of the source file and the bandwidth of associated equipment such as amplifiers and loudspeakers.
The uprated digital processing associated with the increased resolution at the USB input delivers additional sonic benefits, for both CD replay and other connected digital sources, whatever the resolution of the file. In advancing the capability of the USB input to include files of up to 32-bit/384kHz, the processing of data preceding and within the Sabre DAC has increased the subjective resolution of musical detail and dynamics, resulting in a more energetic and transparent performance that sets a new standard for CD players at this price level.
Digital Filter Optimisation
As digital audio reproduction technology has progressed, the importance of the characteristics of reconstruction digital filters has become more appreciated. The Audiolab 8300CD features user-selectable digital filters for optimal listening. These filter settings allow the user to tune the 8300CD’s performance to suit his or her preference, depending on system configuration and musical taste. These filters are available for CD and PCM audio via digital inputs.
• Optimal Spectrum
• Optimal Transient
• Optimal Transient XD
• Optimal Transient DD
• Sharp Roll Off
• Slow Roll Off
• Minimum Phase
the 8300CD also adds four DSD filters that progressively attenuate the out of audio bandwidth noise floor. Given stable, wide-bandwidth amplification and loudspeakers that can handle high power ultrasonic output, the user can choose the widest bandwidth setting of 70K. More modest equipment will benefit from the lower bandwidth settings, as may files that contain little or no recorded ultrasonic musical detail.
The four DSD settings are:
• Normal (47K)