Turns out it’s been a while since I last reviewed a CD player. A few years, in fact. And to be honest, given my long-term player of choice is the dCS Puccini that came in for issue 65 and never really left, any review units following that always had to go some to get my attention. But somewhat to my surprise, it’s been ten years since I bought that dCS player. Probably the most obvious reason why I haven’t reviewed a CD player in a while is that there are rather fewer on offer these days, streamers and DACs having elbowed them out of the limelight somewhat. But some manufacturers have kept the faith, and one, Accuphase, has also managed consistently to produce the sort of players which might conceivably have tempted me away from my beloved Puccini in the intervening years.
The DP-570 is very new; the first units only arrived on UK soil a month or two ago. It’s the middle in Accuphase’s lineup of one-box players, above the (CD only) DP-430, but below the rather luxuriant DP-750 which itself sits below the 2-box DC-/DP-950 units. It’s the least expensive player to offer both CD and SACD playback (at £10,200 it felt wrong to call it the cheapest), and it replaces the DP-560 which came out 5 years ago (Accuphase product cycles are reassuringly long). You need to be a bit of an Accuphase geek to spot the physical differences between the outgoing and incoming models, maybe a slightly different button here, or slightly different display line there, and the finish on the top plate is more refined but Accuphase evidently hasn’t felt the need to revisit the styling decisions it made decades ago. And to be fair, it’s a handsome unit with a reassuringly solid build, and the sort of silkily silent loading mechanism that just makes you go ‘Ooh!’.
The build quality is part of the company philosophy, the in-house developed transport mech is carefully constructed and mounted so as to minimise the opportunities for vibration, motor noise and other extraneous energy affecting the reading of the disc. The ultimate objective being the pursuit of ultra low noise performance. Accuphase claims a signal to noise ratio of 120dB, which is 1dB (12%) better than the outgoing player’s already excellent figures, giving an output noise voltage of just 2.5µV. The DAC chip in the DP-570 is the same ESS Technology 32bit ES9028PRO unit found in the DP-750, the DP-570 using half the chip’s 8 DACs in parallel for each channel (the DP-750 doubles up on the chip count, using all 8 DACs in parallel for each channel). This employs Accuphase’s ‘MDS+’ approach to multiple delta-sigma D/A conversion, for improved linearity and signal to noise performance across the entire frequency range. Accuphase claims almost double the noise, linearity and distortion performance of conventional delta-sigma D/A technology.
It’s no surprise to find the Accuphase ‘house’ sound firmly established in the DP-570’s presentation. I shouldn’t really refer to it as a ‘house’ sound, though, because that implies the equipment is voiced to give a certain presentation, whereas I think the way Accuphase sounds is just the way it comes out when you engineer products according to their philosophy. At its simplest, I’d sum it up as a very organic hint of subtle warmth, an underpinning sense of calm, and an unforced and entirely natural-feeling level of detail. Oh, and an almost uncanny way with timing. The opening section of Alfred Brendel’s account of the Arietta from Beethoven’s Piano Sonata no. 32 in C minor [Philips] is a study in measured calmness, exquisitely metered out by the DP-570, making it all too easy to relax into the music, switch off your critical faculties and just enjoy the moment…
But enough of that sort of thing, this review isn’t going to write itself, unfortunately. There are generous input and format options, the player reads two-channel CD and SACD discs, including hybrid (two-layer) CD/SACD discs and CD-R/-RW, DVD-R/-RW/+R/+RW data discs, but not Blu-Ray. There are coaxial, optical and USB digital inputs; optical and coaxial digital outputs, and HS-Link input/output options. So you can use this as a transport, a DAC, or a one-box player for a wide range of physical formats. The USB input will accept sample rates of up to 384 kHz PCM and up to 11.2MHz DSD (ASIO), while the coaxial and optical inputs accept up to 192kHz and 96kHz PCM respectively.
So the tech side seems to be thoroughly sorted. Internal layout is neat, with the key functional blocks of componentry (power, digital, analogue and control circuitry) carefully separated and isolated from each other, and from the transport mechanism. Accuphase talks about the handbuilt, small production volume values of its manufacturing, and I’m going with ‘team of skilled technicians in immaculately kitted out workshop’ rather than ‘bunch of blokes in shed with solder-scorched workbenches, and screwdrivers and pliers on a pegboard’ which once formed the backbone of the British audio industry. Switches, buttons and mechanisms are a haptic delight – silky, positive and very nicely weighted. This sort of thing matters when you’re dropping a five-digit sum of money, but I’ve encountered more expensive kit that doesn’t have this level of tactility.