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I shall shortly be moving home, and am taking the opportunity to draw up lists of furniture I want in my new place. As my current CD storage is, shall we say, not up to scratch, I decided that I'd probably need something decent to hold my cahoosive amount of albums and singles I own.
Having looked at the prices of some storage units in one of the large Swedish Home Furnishing stores, I decided that there must be a better way to house my collection.
After a bit (OK, a lot) of research on the net, I narrowed my choice down to either the Sony CDP-CDX350/355, or the Pioneer PD-F1009. That was before I discovered the PD-F1007.
The Sony was discounted because I read a lot of reviews slating it's inability to cope with discs - apparently it has a tendency to drop discs as it's trying to load them; and even lose them in the back of the unit.
The PD-F1009 was discounted in favour of the -7 for the sheer fact that this unit has the ability to read CD Text (which the Sony also does).
So, a spot more research led me to discover a company on the Internet selling the 1007 for £253 including VAT and delivery. An eBay auction led me to pay £125 for a mint condition one (yes, I was fortunate!).
The unit itself is a very sleek black colour. Yes, I know that almost every piece of electrical equipment is silver these days, but black is the new silver. You heard it here first. It's a meaty unit - 42cm wide and 20cm high, stretching back some 44cm. I have a Pioneer Home Cinema Amplifier and it's the same width and depth as that, so stacking the two meant that there was no overhang (hurrah!).
The player comes with a remote control, and for once it's a remote control that operates everything - you may never need to revisit the player ever again once loaded!
The front of the unit is quite simplified for such a technical piece of kit. There's a screen on the left, with a few operational buttons underneath. It uses a jog dial to allow you to scroll through the disc numbers, with the option of manually entering the disc number using the numberpad on next to the jog dial. The loading/unloading 'hood' to the carousel is located in the centre.
So, yes, it's carousel based. The discs are slotted into their very narrow sections, all numbered at the bottom, and sit on their side, with the labels facing to the right. Once you've got your discs loaded, it can be a bit fiddly to pull out the disc you want, and it helps to use a cloth to pull them out to avoid fingerprints, but other than that, loading is as easy as hitting the 'unload' button, and using the jog dial to scroll to the disc slot you want to load. Getting the discs in the slot straight first time can take a bit of trickery, but once you've done a few, it's a doddle.
The system supports CD Text, so if your *cough* burned discs (and shop-bought ones) have that, it will automatically read the title/artist/album name and display them as the disc is playing. If not, you can input the album name and artist name into the machine and assign it to the slot. This helps you to remember which disc is in which slot. On the subject of *cough* burned discs, it's played all the CD-R's I've popped in there, although I haven't tried CD-RWs as yet. The manual states that it isn't compatible with them, so I don't think I'll be trying.
The machine accepts three forms of input - directly on the front of the machine using the jog dial and numbered buttons, via the remote, or most simply - and the method I used - via a standard PS2 keyboard which can be plugged into the front of the unit and unplugged when not in use. It made for much easier catalogue - manually entering some 250+ discs can be time consuming!! My only gripe with the manual text input is that you are limited to 12 characters on input, this makes for some very interesting abbreviations on the longer-named discs! (When It's All Over We Still Have To Clear Up by Snow Patrol ended up being abbreviated to it's initial letters only.. I still do a double-take at WIAOWSHTCU!). However, for some reason this restriction doesn't appear to apply to CD Text, as the player will scroll the title and artist names. I find this a little infuriating, but nothing that interferes with the use and playback of my discs.
I have to admit, that even with the cd text and text input, I've still kept a database of the discs and their slots on my computer - just in case I want to find that one elusive disc one day!
Talking of single discs, the player has an 'extra' one-disc slot, which it treats separate from the other 300. This is useful when you have a disc that you want to access and play quickly, without the hassle of finding it a slot and naming it. There's a separate button on the front of the machine to unload and play this disc, known as the Single Loader. It's part of the carousel, but has a couple of small plastic markers around it to signify it's existence. A thoughtful, and useful addition by Pioneer, and much used by me when borrowing discs from people.
Once you've got your discs loaded and the text entered, you also have the opportunity of entering them into 'custom' files. As an example, I have created custom files for Pop, Indie, Alternative, Rock etc. You get up to 10 files which you can create, and this allows you to categorise your music according to your tastes. The custom files can be named as well as numbered, so you have complete control over your collection.
Playback of the unit is fantastic. As mentioned before I have a Home Cinema Amplifier, and you will need an amplifier of some sort as there is no built-in amplification. As my amplifier is also a Pioneer, I can't comment on how it would cope with other amplifiers, but as it has standard phono jack outputs and optical output, it should hook up to just about anything. If you're feeling really rich (or have too many CDs), there's also a line input on the back which will allow you to connect another PD-F1007 to the unit, thus creating the capacity for 602 discs all in all.
You can choose to play a single disc, all discs, or your custom files. On top of that, the player has a 'random' shuffle option, which can apply to just the single disc, all discs, or you can hit 'random' during custom playback and it will randomise your custom discs track after track. The latter function is especially useful for parties! Those who like 'spaceless' playback won't like the 3-4 seconds that the player takes to change between discs - I expected this as it's got 300 of them to cycle through, and wants to drop the disc it's just played back in it's slot before loading the next. It's certainly something I'm willing to put up with!
The system uses Pioneer's "Legato Link DAC" system. For non-techies, this means that the player extends it's frequency response when playing compact discs from the standard 20kHZ to 40kHZ. To you and I that means that sounds which are slightly distorted due to remastering / recording somehow sound 'smoother'. Playback of the Beatles Red album clarified this for me - on other players, it has sounded quite 'harsh' around the edges. The Pioneer copes amazing well with it and the sound is smooth and clear. Pioneer boast that the Legato Link system will let you "listen to music that is as close to the original as possible". So now you know...!
Overall, the size of the unit, as well as the bonus that it'll play anything I throw at it has bowled me over. On top of that, the fact that it's freed up goodness knows how much space in my lounge is the biggest winner for me. I just can't fault the unit in any major way - if you're looking for somewhere to house your CD collection; something that plays them all to boot as well, this is absolutely ideal.
Leave any questions in my guestbook - if I've missed anything, I'll update accordingly.
Edited to add: I have asked Ciao to move this CD player into the Electronics / HiFi category - as there's no way it's a portable in any sense of the word!