As far as CD redbook players go, this has to be one of the best kept secrets in audio. For years the Music Hall CD 25 has been getting one rave review after another. The XCD 88 CDP is the same internally as the Music Hall CD 25 player and shares the same chassis as well. The face plate on the Onix is the only difference I see in the two players and in fact both are manufactured in the same production facility in China, known as Shandling.
This player replaced my venerable Denon 1560,as well as a newer Arcam CD73 and eventually my Classe CDP .5 player. The Onix XCD 88 is to my ears as good if not better than the pricer Arcam 73 with better build quality.Overall sonics bettered the Denon 1560, but the venerable 1560 has better build quality,something about these older Denons,very well built. So with that being said the Onix XCD 88 is no slouch in this area. Not in the same leaque as the Classe .5 CDP, but not that far away either. Plus the Onix has the HDCD that the Denon and Arcam units did not have.
As with the Music Hall CD 25, the Onix readily lends itself to the upgrade path in the same vein as the Music Hall. However in its stock form, there is very little to fault the Onix XCD 88 in sonics or build quality. And at $299.95 with a 3 year warranty it is a total no brainer to choose the Onix XCD 88 CD Player. To choose something over this in its price/performance ratio is sheer lunacy. It just doesn't get nuch better than this till you hit the $1,000.00 mark. The Onix XCD 88 just does not have any peers in its category - PERIOD!
Minor tweaks aside from major upgrades really bring this player to another level. The use of a high quality power cord, I use the Audioquest NRG 1 power cord, with John Hilligs Musical Concepts RCA interconnect futher enhanced an already great sonic signature.
Recently tried the Dakiom Feedback Stabilizer with the Onix XCD 88 and have to admit that the Dakiom unit brought the Onix XCD 88 to another level that was on par with the Classe .5 CDP. Have never been a big fan of so called gizmo tweaks such as the Dakiom, but even as jaded as I am after 47 years in this hobby have to admit that the Dakiom produced a major overall improvement in the sonic signature of the Onix XCD 88 and the Dakiom will remain in the system it is just that significant and improvement.
Burr-Brown 1732 24-bit/96kHz DAC
HDCD decoding chip
Two digital outputs; 1 x coaxial and 1 x optical
Standard analog output
Philips CDM-12.1 transport controlled by a CD-7mkII servo
The OPA 2604 op amps are used for the output stage and low pass filtering
Thick brushed-aluminum front plate and solid chassis
Full remote-control operation
High quality remote control
Easily readable and dimmable florescent display
Detachable power cord
Shipping weight: 18lbs
3 Year Warranty!
Listed below are some of the CDs I used for this review.
Ben Webster At The Renaissance (Contemporary Records OJCCD-390-2)
The Royal Ballet Gala Performances (Classic Compact Discs CDSCD 6065)
Peter And The Wolf - Boston Symphony Orchestra (Sony SK 64079)
Dave Brubeck - Time Out - Columbia (CK 65122)(HDCD)
Jurassic Park Motion Picture Soundtrack (MCAD 10859)
We Get Requests - The Oscar Peterson Trio (Verve 810047-2)
You Won't Forget Me - Shirley Horn (Verve 847482-2)
Sneakers Motion Picture Soundtrack (Columbia DIDP 078100)
On Every Street - Dire Straits (Warner Brothers 26680-2)
Trio Jeepy - Branford Marsalis (Columbia CK44199)
Paris Jazz Concert - Louis Armstrong (RTE 1001-2)
Braveheart Motion Picture Soundtrack - London Symphony Orchestra (London LC0171)
Patriot Games Motion Picture Soundtrack (RCA 07863 66051-2)
Hook Motion Picture Soundtrack (Epic EK 4888)
Highlights From The Plugged Nickel - Miles Davis (Columbia CK 67377)
Cleveland Symphonic Winds - Frederick Fennell (Telarc CD 80038)
Tchaikovsky 1812 Overture - Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (Telarc CD 80041)
As you can see I used a very wide selection of music genres in order to evaluate the Onix XCD 88 CD Player. I found that the overall musical reproduction clearly exceeded what I expected in a CD player in this category.
The Classe .5 CDP played the classical selections with a slight more authority, but it was ever so slight in overall presentation, with the Classe player having a bit more bass presence. Mostly so on real time recorded CDs.
Dave Brubecks Time Out CD on Columbia is actually a HDCD encoded disc. But no where on the disc or the liner notes will one find the HDCD logo. This was a very pleasant surprise and the Onix XCD 88 played this disc with great verve. This was one of the real treats in the inital evaluation of the Onix player. I continue to play this disc often as it is such a joy to hear on this player.
One in a great while a product such as this sets a very high benchmark for price and performance and the Onix XCD 88 certainly falls into that category easily.
This one has been up and running for near 6 months now and I remained amazed that a $300.00 CD Player has sonics that rival some of the more exhaulted players in the market place. Perhaps someday I will spend the additional dollars to do further upgrades. In one way that this one of the hidden values in the Onix XCD 88 is it upgrade path to higher performance. But for now it will remain as stated as I find it very good in its present form with the minor upgrades I have done.
It has never failed in its execution and has always played each and every CD placed in its tray. However I am not sure it will play copied or burned CDs as I do not copy CDs to CD. I do record to Mini Disc and it works quite well in doing that.
So if you find yourself in need of a way above average CD Player and have limited budget, this is the one to get. Plus later on you can tweak and upgrade to your hearts delight as your budget dictates.
But stock out of the box, this is one very fine CD Player worthy on anyones consideration.
Remember in the final analysis this hobby is about the music, much more than the gear or paranoia that surrounds high end. And as such the Onix XCD 88 is one fine musical performer.Associated gear Click to view my Virtual SystemSimilar products
Arcam,Denon,Cambridge,Music Hall,Musical Fidelity,etc