Some ideas are just bad. From "shall we bring back dinosaurs from fossil DNA?" to "shall I go down into the cellar of this spooky house to investigate those noises alone?", there are plenty out there. But wise heads don't always prevail, so when Moondrop thought to bring back the portable CD player, it made sure to bring on board an engineer that had worked on Sony's original Discman. This time around, it's called the DiscDream and it's a lot more high specced than the retro portable CD players you might be remembering.
This isn't the first time we've seen old audio tech brought back to life. Fiio brought the Walkman back at CES last month. But while I'm someone who loves retro tech, I'm also old enough to have experienced its downsides first-hand – and portable CD players were rubbish because CDs and motion don't go together. We don't have vinyl decks in our cars for similar reasons.
The DiscDream is slightly different, though, and one reason for that is that it isn't just a CD player. It also has an SD card so you can use its built-in digital audio player – like one of the best MP3 players – to play your digital audio files without worrying about anything skipping. The CD bit here is intended for stationary use, and it's a lot higher spec than any audio player that used to get bashed about on the school bus.
What the DiscDream brings to the CD player party
The DiscDream was reportedly designed by a 30-year Sony Discman veteran, who redesigned the player to meet the more demanding requirements of modern audiophiles. There's a 32-bit MasterHiFi Cirrus Logic decoder and three audiophile-spec oscillators for accurate timing, what the manufacturer says is a top-grade motor drive, and a shock-absorbed laser head. The 3,500mAh battery feeds six independent power supply chips and the headphone out has its own amp with a claimed 115dB output and 0.00037% harmonic distortion.
The digital audio player supports a lot of the latest hi-res audio codecs, including APE, FLAC, LL-AAC, MP3, OGG, and WMA, from a memory card. Moondrop's DiscDream can also stream up to 384kHz PCM and up to 11.2896MHz DSD from your PC via USB-C.
The price isn't bad – it's $199 in the US – but if you want one you'll need to provide your own set of headphones, and to be patient: some pre-order customers are apparently still waiting for delivery of DiscDreams they ordered in September, and MOONDROP's retail partner Shenzhen Audio is not currently accepting new orders until "all pre orders [are] shipped out".
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Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.