The DX-7555 supports standard CD, CD-R/RW, and MP3-encoded discs, in sequential play, random play, memory playback, or repeat modes. Coupled to the A-9555, driving the Paradigm Studio 20 v.3, the Onkyo disc player offered a fine combination of easy use, stable playback, immunity from external vibration, and airy, open, grain-free sound. It’s as capable of communicating the emotional truth of superb vocal music (Renée Fleming, above) and instrumental nuance as any disc player on the market up to a few thousand bucks—in the two-channel realm, it held its own against the Lexicon RT-20, a $5000 multichannel universal-disc player. It’s a great bargain at $600, one especially recommended for those with no interest in SACD, DVD-A, or multichannel playback.
Some very practical, textbook technology types still believe that cables can’t make much difference, especially with inexpensive equipment. I would argue that they can make a proportionally bigger improvement with products like the Onkyo and Paradigm than they do with big-bucks gear. AudioQuest, Kimber Kable, and Nordost are but three high-end cable makers known for demonstrating the sonic improvements cable upgrades can bring to budget electronics. Here’s a simple example: The standard throwaway interconnect that came with the disc player was adequate, but rendered an uninvolving acoustic. Simply replacing that generic cable with a Chord “Siren” of the same length changed everything for the better: deeper, more enveloping soundstage,richer harmonics, more cleanly etched detail with a decrease in harshness. You might be tempted to hook up $800 loudspeakers with hardware-store zip cord, but upgrading to something like the Red Rose 336 (a steal at $5/ft.) can elevate a high-quality entry-level system into something extraordinary.
With a Tributaries TX-500 line conditioner supplying the power, I went “all the way” with cabling, trying the Onkyo/Paradigm system with the best stuff I had on hand, Nordost SPM speaker cables and interconnects. The irony of using cables that cost many times more than the components they connected wasn’t lost on me, but doing so eliminated the “choke points” that would ordinarily prevent most listeners from hearing all that a system has to give. Running “flat out,” so to speak, the Onkyo/Paradigm combo was an absolute delight. As a team or as individual components, they offer incredibly high value at astoundingly reasonable prices. TAS