So new that our review sample was, at the time, the only one in the country, this model tops out Marantz's line of CD-only players, since all the dearer ones also play SACDs.

When looking at the other players its in direct competition with, the CD6002 boasts the cheapest price tag of its class.

Not that much on the exterior gives that away. The specification is very similar to those of its rivals, with the usual spread of outputs plus a headphone socket with level adjustment.

The display offers CD Text and the logically laid-out front-panel buttons include the often missing search functions. The case is smart and well built and the innards offer some surprisingly good parts.

Granted, the passive components are all essentially standard commercial-grade stuff and the transformer is a fairly small frame type, but the analogue circuits use Marantz's 'HDAM' modules built up of numerous discrete transistors in preference to integrated-circuit op-amps, and the DAC chip is a recent high-performance one.

There's even a pitch-shift function, covering two semitones up or down in one per cent steps. This isn't intended for full-on hi-fi use, of course, and indeed there's something of a quality hit in using it, but the function can be useful for musicians or collectors of vintage reissues, not all of which are transferred at the right speed. Just like on a variable-speed LP player, pitch and speed change together.

Quite unaware that they were comparing this player with models costing up to twice as much, our listeners had plenty of good things to say about it. One found it a bit fuzzy and indistinct in places, and there was an isolated comment from another on mild congestion, but in tonal and dynamic terms, it seems there's very little wrong with the CD6002.

Its bass is extended, strong and tuneful and made the most of all the very varied musical selections, while treble also has good reach. That said, on occasion it can be a touch bright, particularly when the sound is very busy and rich in high frequencies.

Dynamics appear to be among the best in its class. The piano track drew praise for the agility with which the sound started and stopped on each note, while the excellent rhythmic qualities found in the Ian Dury selection were a further indication that dynamic contrast is well maintained, especially on a local timescale.

Percussion was well reproduced throughout the music programme, and the ebb and flow of musical phrases was lovingly preserved.

It's worth noting that while female voice was singled out as a strong point, male vocals seemed less confident, with an unexpected degree of huskiness.

Since no issues were raised regarding instruments in the same frequency range, it's not clear where the problem lies, but we subsequently felt it was another symptom of the slight brightness already noted. In fact, listening sighted to the player over a longer period, its brightness became more noticeable as time went on.

All the same, we can only agree with the listening panel that this has no detrimental effect on detail, which is good going on excellent. Imaging is also admirable, and in many ways this player considerably exceeds expectations born of its price.