Vocal sibilants were a shade more pronounced, producing a slightly disembodied effect. The bass was less firm and clear. All-told the new player sounded cleaner and tidier. What I like about the At3500 is the way it manages to sound lucid and detailed on the one hand, yet smooth and rich on the other. It produces a very powerful dynamic sound, yet remains relaxed, and natural in terms of presentation.
After a few days’ use I found myself ‘forgetting’ all about it – almost like it wasn’t there. Yet don’t infer from this that the At3500 produces a bland nondescript sound – far from it! It’s actually very vivid and involving, albeit in a way that’s less ‘in your face’ than many good CD players. Soundstaging is impressively three-dimensional, partly because the bottom-end is so solid and powerful. The depth of the low frequencies helps to enhance the impression of space and depth and if you’ve got speakers with extended bass (or sub-woofers) you should really notice the substance and textural quality of the bass.
By now, it should be clear that I rate the At3500 very highly indeed. It’s combination of warmth and solidity with incisive detail and transparency offers tremendous musical insight, allowing it to stand aside from the performance, so that you concentrate on the players not the player. The only question remaining is whether those of you with an At3000 should consider having your player upgraded to At3500 spec for the £650 this costs. It’d say it’s definitely worth doing, though (as always) try and get an A/B comparison before committing yourself. That way you’ll be absolutely sure of just big the difference is. The At3000 is an excellent player, but the At3500 is at another level altogether.