"Let's have the facts, and you can bloody well say this: I can think of at least six makes of CD players that are highly reviewed, five stars and all the blather that goes with it, that are considerably worse than an iPod," he said.
"And I'll tell you how they're worse. They're so bad that when you put them on you don't want to listen to them. They're disgusting. The iPod is not perfect any more than the Airport Express is, but what it is, is so good and so nice to listen to that you don't find yourself worrying about its problems."
"We took the iPod nano and we plugged it into the most expensive hi-fi systems. And the music is slightly hard, if you've got to be critical. But, honestly and truthfully, at normal listening levels you're never going to say 'I can't stand that'."
"But there are some CD players from prominent manufacturers that are miles worse. They're so bad that from the moment they're on - if you came into this room with one of these CD players I'm telling you about - you'd know there was something wrong with it. You wouldn't know what it was, but you'd just say 'that's bloody terrible'."
But James says that this is not the case with Mac products, and that any "hi-fi people" who say otherwise are talking "rubbish". He also commented that hi-fi journalists who criticise computer equipment and MP3s as sources of music are not being very discerning.
"A lot of the problems are that the equipment they are evaluating is not good enough to play the music properly. So as reviewers they are making a lot of mistakes. That's the problem with subjective reviewing."
Ashley James went on to say that he fully expects hi-fi CD player sales to continue falling until it gets to the stage that no one at all is buying them.
"We've seen player sales drop and most people we talk to have said the same thing. There are a number of reasons; the first is that CD player mechanisms are nothing like as reliable as a hard disk mechanism, unless you use a top loader which nobody wants because you can put it into an equipment tray. But I wouldn't be surprised if people end up just buying music from the internet and playing it on their Macs and PCs."
He added that CD players will linger for a long time, until CD manufacturers find that the sales aren't there anymore. You could tell how passionate James is about this, by the amount of swearing that ensued:
"And then finally the bloody record companies have done everything they possibly can to f**k music sales. They're a bunch of complete c***s - and of course all this copy protection stuff and all this jerking around, it's really done an enormous amount of damage.
"Us as CD manufacturers have had five years of these f*****g w*****s changing the copy protection five times since 2000, and then every time they do it the CDs won't play. We wouldn't lose too much sleep if we never saw another CD player again."