Nakamichi CD700
www.nakamichi.com
Nakamichiís CD700 forgoes bells and whistles for pure style and elegance.
CD700 Specs

Price & Contact: $1750, 310-538-8150; http://www.nakamichi.com/
Max output level:
5.2 volts @ 0.003% THD+N
Max undistorted output:
5.2 volts @ 0.003% THD+N
Relative loudness:
-3.4 dBu
Usable Dynamic range: -110.9 dB Zero bit; -96 dB Zero bit (no weighting)
THD+N @ full output:
0.003%
Output impedance: 1460 Ohms
L-R channel error: 0.27 dB
Frequency response: +0.02 dB, -.46 dB

by Brian Smith
Here we have Nakamichiís offering in the ďopen classĒ head unit category. A single-DIN CD/Tuner with CD changer control that features 5-volt preamp outputs, subwoofer outputs, SPDIF digital output, auxiliary inputs, and 24-bit DACs. The main focus of the CD700 seems to be playing single CDs in a highly accurate and user-friendly fashion. The unit does not feature a detachable faceplate, internal amplification, or even a boatload of DSP. Iím likiní this already...

Performance
As the accompanying chart shows, performance from the preamp outputs of the CD700 is quite good. 5.2 volts @ 0.003% THD+N is the best output that weíve seen from a head unit in at least a year or two. A-weighted dynamic range measured well in excess of -100 dB with both zero-bit and our ultra-low level gate-cheater signals. In fact, the CD 700 is the first head unit that Iíve personally seen thatís capable of producing the maximum dynamic range of the CD medium (-96 dB) without the benefit of an A-weighting filter.

While in most technical categories the CD700 is among the best, it also possesses the highest output impedance weíve seen in quite a while. High output impedances can degrade the deckís ability to drive a signal free of radiated noise to your amplifier. Not exactly a desirable trait, but it certainly doesnít guarantee that youíll experience noise problems. Many factors contribute to noise immunity, so grab some good UTP signal cables and make the most of those 5.2-volt outputs.

User Evaluation
Compared to practically everything that weíve seen in the past couple of years, the CD 700ís user interface is nearly divine. Volume, balance/fader and all tone controls utilize (weighted pause) analog pots. My God, how I hate those foolish things that beep every time you touch them and always make you wish that there were a setting between Vol 35 and 36. Iíve worked with digital representations of analog pots on everything from cheap head units to kilo-buck digital audio workstations and they have all sucked compared to even a cheap pot.

As you may have noticed in the specs, the CD700 has about .3 dB of channel error. Not a lot, but perhaps more than one would expect in a unit in this price range. However, because this unit has analog controls, that error can be trimmed to a few thousandths of a dB in about the time that it takes you to read this sentence. Try that trick with the average digi-knob and youíll only succeed in taking five times as long to get frustrated as hell.

Then thereís that silky smooth volume control. The largest, easiest to reach control on the whole unit has but a single function ó to turn the volume up or down. Yessssss. This is how it should be done. Although itís simply a matter of taste, I should also mention that the CD700 doesnít light up your dashboard like some mutant freak Christmas tree; itís stealth via classiness you might say.

Donít get me wrong; this thingís not ergonomically perfect. Your installer is probably going to gripe because he has to find somewhere to stash that external DC-to-DC converter. The buttons could always be larger and...well...damn, those pop-out tone control knobs are dead sexy!! Iím sure there are those who would disagree, but if this thing were to start an analog knob Ďtrendí in the head unit market, some of us would be delighted.