Denon DCD-1510AE CD-player

This Denon is another one of the players that sports a USB input that plays MP3 or WMA (Windows Media Audio) files, and music or alternative portables. The disc drive plays with CDs of course, and like the other Japanese machine here - the Pioneer - there's SACD playback too.

As is the manner with machines from the land of the rising sun, there is a welter of other facilities, including a pitch control (+/-12% in 0.1% increments) and a dimmable display, all accessible via the supplied remote control. In use, the machine senses very swish indeed.

Under the bonnet, the player sports a 32-bit/192kHz DAC and there's Denon's Advanced AL32 Processing upsampling. There is a special master clock said to suppress jitter, along with the power supply segment has individual rails for analogue and digital circuitry. Short signal routes are used, to protect signal innocence.

Denon's bespoke disc drive mechanism is fitted, including an incredibly classy damped disc drawer, along with the casework sports 'Precision Direct Mechanical Earth Construction' to completely suppress vibration. A low power consumption in standby mode of only 0.1W is claimed. Astonishingly for a Japanese machine, there's no balanced XLR outputs, but RCA phono outs are, of course, standard.

Sound quality

It was nicely refined typically, with a great, open tonality that didn't descend it into glare and hardness even complete with its nineties era-defining compressed 'digital' audio.

It gave a fair sprinkling of element, letting the sound to shine out from the mixture on Solsbury Hill out, and carried vocals nicely in a clear and simple maimer.

It was likewise criticised for the bass, which was a little light and instead detached from the midband - one panelist said it was like listening to two players in one, together with the bassline on the Peace Orchestra track being "on an alternate page". It was likewise remarked that on the Peter Gabriel tune, the bass "was not actually there at all". Rhythmically this made for a quite inert listen.

While the Yamaha was likewise criticised for being rhythmically pedestrian, the listeners felt it at least sounded "all of a piece", while the Denon seemed disjointed. Nor was the pioneer's imaging particularly special, as both the Annie Lennox and Peter Gabriel tracks appeared shrunken in scale compared with the Audiolab, and didn't demonstrate any great precision in the imaging inside the recorded acoustic, either.

Overall then, the DCD-1510AE came across as a nicely finished, intelligently specified machine that was missing an awareness of passion with music, quite at odds together with the Audiolab 8200CD, Cyrus CD6SE2 and Roksan Kandy K2.

No panelist took against it, but nor did they think it'd any particularly redeeming features. Unless SACD playback is a precedence for you, the DCD-1510AE is not the most inspirational CD player proposition here.

Denon DCD-1510AE CD-player photo