Now's The Time For The Cd Plunge

November 28, 1986|TERRY ATKINSON

What's the safest gift to give this Christmas? If you're thinking of a compact disc player, you may be right, depending on the givee. If he or she doesn't have one of these revolutionary wonders yet, then a CD player may be sure to please.

But wait a minute. It's not as simple as that. Once you've decided to get a player, which player is it going to be? Models range in price from $98 (recently advertised by a couple of Los Angeles stores for a Sharp player) to $1,500 or more. Once you hear the good news--that most experts have heard little difference in digital-sound quality between various models despite their cost--the problem seems solved. But you still have to decide whether to get a player with added features, such as remote control.

And there's something else. Most people who own or are considering CD players are still in the first stage of their love affair with the compact disc. They're still overwhelmed simply at how the CD player can handle tracks in any order or skip unwanted tracks.

However, there's a new element in the picture: the multi -CD player.

Until just a few months ago only Pioneer had a multi-CD player on the market. Now, though, other companies are offering such models. JVC has one that, like Pioneer's, uses a six-disc magazine; Mitsubishi has a five-disc. Also, for the car, Sony has been offering a 10-disc Discjockey that locks away most of the equipment in the trunk; and just this week the company began shipments of a home version. To deal with this competition, Pioneer will introduce a pair of "second generation" multi-play models in January--adding features like a digital filter, "improved random play" and, on the PD-M70 model, 8-disc capability.

It may take a while for audiophiles to adjust to the advantages of multi-players. After all, in the last several years we've gotten used to giving up phonograph changers--almost an extinct breed--for single-record-only turntables (because of the increased mechanical problems and damage to records caused by stacked albums). However, unless similar problems show up on multi-play CD machines, music lovers will probably find themselves making a readjustment.

Think of it: While single-disc players already enable you to play the selections on one CD in any order or choose only the tracks you want to hear, with a multi-disc player you can play selected tracks from several discs, again in any order you wish, but with much greater variety and flexibility. Plus you can listen for hours without touching the machine.

Prices run higher than for many single-disc models, but the six-disc Pioneer PD-M6 lists for $500 and has been selling for as little as $400--comparable with many major-brand mid-line CD players. And the new Sony home-version Discjockey lists at $800 and will probably be found for less.

The CD-player shopping dilemma doesn't end there. There are portable and automobile CD players too. And CD/videodisc players should be considered--at least by those gift-givers in a really generous mood. These amazing gadgets accept both compact discs and LaserVision videodiscs (even though the discs are different sizes they work on the same laser/digital method). Pioneer has two such models, retailing at $900 and $1,400. Other digital audio/video combos are offered by companies like Teac, NAD and Luxman, all with retail prices over $1,000.

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