Opera Audio Consonance Droplet CDP5.0
This has been one of the easiest-ever (and briefest) follow-ups to pen. Had the original review loaner not suffered intermittent read errors -- it refused to play certain CDs -- I would have bestowed a Blue Moon Award on it for performance, value, functionality (analog-domain, digitally actuated remote-controlled volume after the 6H30 analog output stage for amp-direct usage) and over-the-top build quality.
Opera Audio assured me afterwards that a software rewrite had fixed the problem. Would I now grant their product the award? Only if I could personally confirm the fix so I could confidently recommend the product as being flawless in that regard. Would I then accept a second unit on long-term loan to take it through its paces? Fair's only fair so I did. And I'm very pleased to tell you now that this unit hasn't done anything it shouldn't over a 3-month period and only what it should: make music, look gorgeous and operate as advertised and described sonically in my review.
This time delay for our award comes with an added benefit. I still haven't come across anything at this price that I'd recommend instead. If you want the subtle infusion of valves; if you want to be able to eliminate a preamp from the equation; if you value not just sonics but pride of ownership from massive construction and unusual cosmetics - the Droplet CD player from Opera Audio is the one. Reader Tom Sumida feels the same: "I'm now three days (24x7) into playing the Droplet CDP and it's incredible sounding! And it's better looking in person than in photos. I'll keep my BAT player for those CDs that are recorded "too hot" (at least to my ears) but it probably won't get much use. Thanks again for the review. It's exactly as you described - except that my CD well doesn't get hot, even after non-stop use. That's a good thing. I may be done upgrading (yeah, right) for a good long while."