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Back when it was launched I wrote the world's second printed-mag review of the Planet (we got beaten by the UK's What HiFi with one week).
I assessed the Planet in a group review, against 3 other like-priced machines, and using careful level matching. Compared to all of these the Planet simply sounded warmer and darker. Perhaps of lesser resolution (especially in the treble), but ultimately musically (much) more rewarding. The others sounded thin and grey or overly-colourful and busy (e.g. Marantz CD-63/67)
Later circuit analysis revealed that the Planet used a cheap Burr-Brown delta-sigma DAC chip, used in a slightly unconventional configuration (if I remember correctly, on-chip opamp DC levels were decoupled to Vcc instead of Ground). It interfaces with a single Sanyo chip that contains a number of opamps and voltage regulators (for these opamps, and for the DAC chip itself). This chip was probably originally designed to allow greater circuit densities in portable players. No specific care towards supply voltage quality, lots of crummy electrolytic caps and ceramic caps in the signal path.
In short: according to standard high-end audio design lore the Planet's design was a pile of crap.
But it sounded good.
I later on bought a Planet, and after many years modified the output stage somewhat, bringing more clarity without losing the musicality.
I am not surprised by the "pile of crap" circuitry. As a musician, one thing that is always to be remembered is the imperfection of every note played. Guitar amps, for example, are designed to sound a certain way. Originally, Fender Champ amplifiers contains instructions stating that if distortion occurs, turn the volume down. Now obviously some of the most musical tones from a guitar happen when the instrument is right at the threshhold of distortion.
I have also been noticing a certain sound from vinyl, and one of things that seems to make a big difference in the sound is that it is not perfect, there is a tiny amount distortion or sibilance (at least in my setup!) that just sort of sounds right.
Interestingly, since I am only 21 I grew up listening to CD's (my first Nirvana Nevermind) and I had never heard a record play until 9th grade. Furthermore, it is only recently that I have been listening extensively to vinyl, but I can definitely tell the difference between vinyl and CD. There is just a certain "presense," or space, that some CD's definitely don't have.
So far I really like the Rega. It replaces a Marantz CC4300 that I lived with for a week before it broke down. While it sounded fine, I really like the sound of the Rega better. Even it is only psychological, I don't know.
Thanks for the replies!
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