Audiolab 8300CDQ CD Player
About The Audiolab 8300CDQ CD Player, DAC, Preamp
The Audiolab 8300CDQ is the sort of do it all product that is becoming very popular these days. It combines a top flight CD player & DAC with a fine line level preamp to give you great sound and even more connectivity options.
The 8300 CD has long been a great CD player and DAC option for digital playback. The 8300CDQ adds high-quality analogue preamp circuitry, coupled to three stereo pairs of line-level RCA inputs for analogue sources to give this product even more functionality. The preamp circuitry is kept as simple as possible using high-quality components to maintain signal purity, with line input signals passing to a precision analogue volume stage. Much eﬀort has gone into the physical layout of the 8300CDQ’s circuitry, protecting the sensitive preamp section from noise interference.
Master Quality Authenticated (MQA): Taking it to the next level the 8300CDQ now includes MQA technology, which enables you to play back MQA audio files and streams, delivering the sound of the original master recording. The brainchild of Meridian Audio co-founder Bob Stuart, MQA is a digital audio format designed for high-resolution music streaming and is available via subscription to Tidal’s ‘Hi-Fi’ tier (among other sources).
Audiolab’s MQA decoding solution was developed by John Westlake, one of Britain’s foremost digital audio experts. There are various ways to enable MQA playback on audio devices, and not all are equal sonically. Westlake’s solution maximises the format’s potential, just as the 8300CDQ’s design draws the best sound quality from other audio codecs and, of course, CDs
The Sound Of Science: The 8300CDQ adds further ﬂexibility by incorporating a dedicated direct-coupled headphone amp with current-feedback circuitry. Accessed via a front-mounted 6.35mm socket, its gain bandwidth and high slew rate ensure a dynamic, detailed and engaging performance with all manner of headphone types.
Building On The 8300CD: Launched in 2010, the original Westlake-designed Audiolab CD players – the 8200CD and 8200CDQ – were universally acclaimed for their superb sound quality and ﬂexible facilities. In 2015, the 8300 Series arrived and both 8200 Series players were replaced by the 8300CD, building upon its predecessors’ formidable reputation. The enhanced 8300CDQ further develops Audiolab’s classic line of CD players to reach still greater heights.
Aside from the additional functionality outlined above, the 8300CDQ draws upon the exemplary circuitry contained with the existing 8300CD.
Slot-Loading CD Transport Mechanism: Fast in operation and neat in design, the 8300CDQ’s slot-loading CD transport delivers excellent reliability. A read-ahead digital buﬀer reduces disc-reading errors, enabling scratched CDs that are unreadable by conventional mechanisms to be played. High disc stability and low susceptibility to resonance contribute to the 8300CDQ’s superb CD sound quality.
High-Resolution Digital Inputs: Five digital inputs comprise 1 asynchronous USB and 4 S/PDIF (2 Coaxial and 2 Optical). Hi-Res digital audio is supported up to 32-bit/384kHz PCM and DSD256, and USB HID compatibility enables driverless control of a connected PC, Mac or media player.
32-bit ESS Sabre DAC: The CD transport and digital inputs feed a DAC section with an ESS Sabre32 Reference chip nestling at its heart, utilising HyperStream architecture and ESS Technology’s Time Domain Jitter Eliminator to deliver ultra-low noise and high dynamic range. No company knows more about making the most of this 32-bit, eight-channel hybrid multi-bit Delta-Sigma DAC technology than Audiolab; the 8200CD and 8200CDQ were among the ﬁrst audio components to use it and the company has been honing its implementation ever since. The conversion process involves 512 DAC elements (256 per channel) each operating at 84.672MHz – all digital audio sources, whatever the sample rate, are upsampled or oversampled to this frequency.
Exemplary Jitter Reduction: Around the DAC chip are extensive measures to reduce jitter (digital distortion) to vanishingly low levels. Careful circuit layout and low-noise power supplies complement the DAC’s patented Sabre32 sample rate converter and clever DPLL (Digital Phase Locked Loop) circuit, radically reducing time domain errors from all digital input sources.
Time Domain Isolation: While the Sabre32 sample rate converter virtually eliminates jitter within the digital domain, external ‘analogue domain’ induced artefacts caused by RF breakthrough, PSU coupling and so on will aﬀect the DAC’s sonic performance. Audiolab resolves this issue via its CATDA (Cascaded Asynchronous Time Domain Attenuator) circuit. This circuit isolates the DAC substrate from sonically deleterious artefacts that aﬀect non-synchronous digital input data. To achieve the best possible performance, three identical cascaded stages are used – each individual stage provides increased isolation, thereby maximising timing performance, even at higher RF frequencies.
Selectable Digital Filters: As digital audio reproduction technology has progressed, the importance of the characteristics of reconstruction digital ﬁlters has become more appreciated. The Audiolab 8300CDQ features seven user-selectable ﬁlters for PCM audio data (including CD) and four ultrasonic ﬁlters for DSD data. These settings allow the user to tune the 8300CDQ’s performance according to system conﬁguration, digital ﬁle quality and personal taste.
Discrete Class A Analogue Stages & Sophisticated Power Supply: The 8300CDQ’s analogue output stages and power supply are exceptionally well speciﬁed in the pursuit of sonic excellence. The circuitry includes a large, low-noise toroidal transformer, a plethora of reservoir/smoothing capacitors, an impressive number of regulator chips and discrete transistor (instead of op-amp) analogue stages at the output with ultra-low impedance to drive any cable and any load. The power supply incorporates 29 regulated supply rails including multiple ultra-low-noise regulators, with extensive measures against power supply contamination and cross-coupling.
Audiolab 8300CDQ Review
“Running through the gamut of its inputs, I realise the 8300CDQ is very hard to beat as an all-round mid-price player. Especially when working as a DAC, its standout traits are the clean and balanced tonality, fine detail retrieval, wide soundstaging, decent rhythmic snap and even-handed nature. Whatever digital format or codec you choose, it’s quite special to listen to and the CD transport is really very good.
The arrival of Audiolab’s 8300CDQ is likely to cause much grinding of teeth among its price rivals. It takes the recipe of the original 8200CDQ, polishes it and adds useful functionality that will stand it in good stead for many years to come.” Hi-Fi Choice
Our Take On The Audiolab 8300CDQ CD Player, DAC, Preamp
A great sounding CD player, a first class Digital to Analogue Convertor with multiple inputs and a fine line level preamplifier in one slim, easy to use, substantially built chassis. There is a lot to like in the Audiolab 8300CDQ and its versatility is a huge part of its overall appeal. Connect it to your TV’s optical output for great stereo TV sound. Match it with a good power amp and your choice of speakers and sit back and revel in the sound of your music or show.
Main Features & Specifications
- Design: MQA Compatible CD Player, DAC & Preamplifier
- Analogue Inputs: 3 stereo line level
- Analogue Outputs: 1 stereo RCA preamp, 1 stereo balanced XLR preamp, 1 6.35mm headphone
- Digital Inputs: 2 Coaxial, 2 Optical, 1 USB B
- Digital Outputs: 1 Coaxial, 1 Optical
- Triggers: 12V Trigger A & B Out
- Display: OLED 128x64 pixels 2.7"
- CD Mechanism: Slot-Loading
- DSD Compatibility: DSD64 / DSD128 / DSD256
- Disc Compatibility: CD/CDR
- DAC: ESS Sabre32 9018 chip
- Resolution: 32 bits
- Sampling Frequency
- Optical, Coaxial, AES: 32kHz - 192kHz
- USB: 32kHz - 384kHz (PCM) / DSD64, DSD128, DSD256
- Maximum Sampling Frequency
- Optical, Coaxial, AES: 192kHz
- USB: 384kHz (PCM) / 11.2M (DSD256)
- Output Voltage
- 4.2Vrms ±0.1 (Balanced)
- 2.1Vrms ±0.1 (Unbalanced)
- Output Impedance: 10Ω
- Total Harmonic Distortion (THD): <0.002% (1kHz, 0dB, 20Hz ~ 20kHz, A weighted)
- Frequency Response: 20Hz - 20kHz (± 0.2dB)
- Signal to Noise Ratio (S/N)
- <-100dB A Weighted (Balanced)
- <-98dB A Weighted (Unbalanced)
- Dynamic Range (A Weighted)
- >100dB (Balanced)
- >98dB (Unbalanced)
- Crosstalk (@1kHz)
- <-130dB (Balanced)
- <-120dB (Unbalanced)
- Standby Feature: Yes
- Standby Power Consumption: <0.5W
- Remote Control included
- Available Finishes: Black & Silver
- Dimension (WxHxD): 444 x 80 x 317mm
- Weight 6.0kg
- Manufacturer's Warranty: 2 Years
Note: Features & Specifications Subject To Change Without Notice. E&OE