California Audio Labs CL-20 DVD Players

CL-20

Introducing California Audio Labs' new CL-20 : the world's first DVD/CD player offering uncompromised, audiophile caliber sound quality that delivers outstanding, high fidelity DVD video performance. Solidly engineered and built in the USA for discriminating Audio-Video Futurists, it is not just another pretty faceplate, but Quality You Can Hear and See, from California Audio Labs.

User Reviews (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2  
Linny   Audiophile [Sep 07, 2001]
Strength:

Awsome CD sound from a DVD player. (Whod'a thought it was possible?) 24/96 capable (though internal DACs operate at only 20 bit precision). HDCD is nice.

Weakness:

Lack of ANY bells and whistles (progressive scan, component video outs, SCAD or DVD-A capability--or any up-grade path).

O.k. I replaced an Audio Alchemy combo that, while OLD, I thought was still pretty good at what it did (e.g. it stacked op pretty well against the Rega Planet that everyone has been raving about). I thus expected an improvement from the CAL but, WOW, I was not even close to ready for the improvement in EVERY aspect of its musical preformance: micro- AND macro-detail, bass slam AND articulation, sound stageing, etc.

THE GOOD:
As soon as the unit arrived, I put the CAL through its paces (it being used, I didn’t worry about break-in, though I did allow the unit to warm up for an hour or so). I pulled out all of my ‘usual suspects', Massive Attack’s Mezzanine (bass demo.) from the opening bass line of Angel, the CAL slayed! I could hear soooo much farther into the chorus and so much more of the hall ambiance of The Dream of Gerontius on Stereophile’s Test CD2; I was floored! The Ellington/Armstrong Complete Sessions Classic DAD sounded scary-good through the CAL. Through the CAL, female voices, especially, sounded so much more palpable, so much more real: Maria Muldaur’s smoky vocals on Nature Boy (Clarity Recordings, The Hot Club of San Fransisco) were THERE in my listening room, and I’ve only heard Rabecca Pidgeon’s Spanish Harlem (Chesky The Ultimate Demonstration Disk) sound better once (on about $75K worth of CAT and mbl gear).

To my ears (in only a short demo, I’ll admit), the CAL sounded every bit as good as the twice-as-expensive Proceed DVD player—though with nowhere near the upgradability or video performance of the pricier Madrigal deck. Given the esteem in which the Proceed is held, I can think of little higher praise....

THE BAD:
As far as features go, this unit is seriously lacking. Although one doesn’t buy a piece of gear such as the CAL CL-20 for the latest in bells and whistles, the fact that my friend's new $150 Sony DVD player was significantly better appointed left me feeling a little... awkward. The CL-20 doesn’t even have component video outputs (they are available as a $500 option—more than three times the cost of a budget DVD player!).

Also, the video (on my 35” direct-view ProScan), while not at all bad, has left me a little cold. Again, I mostly bought the CAL for its awesome music performance, but, I don’t know, I somehow expected something... more.

THE VERDICT
This unit is no longer being made by CAL, however their service dept. is friendly and competent and I wouldn’t worry about repairs—at least for a while. If you can pick one up used (as I did) it makes for simply the best CD player in the world at anywhere near the money. If you want to play music—and be able to play DVDs and DADs to boot, and if you can find a CL-20, BUY it! If you primarily want a DVD player for video/HT, save yourself a few (thousand) bucks and look into something a little less extreme.

My System:

Linn Majik intigrated amp;
Linn LK 100 pwr. amp;
Linn AV 5140 speakers (Black Ash);
CAL CL-20 DVD player;
All calbles are Linn and Synergisic Research.

Similar Products Used: Replaced an Audio Alchemy DDE 3.0 and 1.1 DAC (I think I got the numbers right...). Also auditioned: Rega Planet; DDE 3.0 with Goldmund Mimesis 21+ DAC; top-o'-the-line DVD players from Marantz and Pioneer Elite.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
suchart supamongkol   Audiophile [Jan 26, 2002]
Strength:

It is also CD player with HDCD . I play 90% of the CD the remain 10% DVD. it serve me very well of both A and V

Weakness:

I don't know , but may the parts from Japan .anyway I used iT almost 3years still no problem at all

cal cl 20 is one CD player that I used longer thn other brand since it give a very good sound stage especailly when decoding HDCD,

Similar Products Used: only audio , proceed 3 ,
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Showing 1-2 of 2  

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