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Parasound Ships Computer-Based CD Player

San Francisco — Parasound launched a new home CD player that uses a CD-ROM drive, internal Linux-based computer and proprietary software to deliver a “nearly bit-perfect data stream,” the company announced.

 The $4,500-suggested Halo CD 1, which is shipping, “demonstrates that CDs can sound significantly better than anyone has imagined possible,” said president Richard Schram. “The full potential of the 16-bit CD format is realized for the first time in the CD 1,” he contended.

 The player’s CD-ROM drive runs at four times the speed of a conventional CD player drive to read every part of a CD as many times as needed to significantly reduce read errors and thus reduce the need for error-concealment processing that yields negative audio effects, the company said. “This sophisticated process almost always results in error-free data,” the company contended. “When interpolation techniques are needed, they are confined to [a] single small bad fragment [sample], thereby minimizing their negative sonic side-effects.”

 The player accumulates all of the data read by the drive in a memory buffer for data-error analysis and processing performed by an onboard Intel ITX computer, which runs the Linux operating system kernel and proprietary software from Denmark-based Holm Acoustics. Details of the technology can be found at Parasound’s website.

Standard CD players, in contrast, do not read disc data nearly as quickly, transferring data to a DAC as soon as it is read from a disc. As a result, “they don’t have time to accumulate enough data in a buffer so that it can be analyzed and processed,” the company said.

Like other Halo-series products, the Halo CD 1 features an aluminum chassis with extensive shielding for electrical and mechanical isolation. It also features three separate power supplies for the analog and digital circuits. The outputs use balanced XLR connectors, gold-plated RCA outputs, and S/PDIF Digital audio outputs via 75-ohm BNC, coaxial and optical connections.

A Discrete OpAmp selector lets users listen to the analog outputs directly from the low-noise National LME49990 op-amps or through discrete transistor-output stages to subtly changes the sonic character of the CD 1.

The player, already available in silver or black finishes, will be displayed at International CES.