[b]Rotel RCD-991[/b]\n\nRotel's most recent attempt at a high(ish) end CD player. It was fairly well received at the time, although things moved on fairly quickly it seemed. \r\n\r\nHowever, through lack of knowledge, they're now available at good prices. I paid £400 for mine new earlier this year, and cookiemonster recently got a good deal on a second hand unit.\r\n\r\nSo, what's it like? \r\n\r\nLet's start off with the physical bits. this is a BIG player. It's VERY deep (deeper than my CD63 was, deeper than my RA-971mkII amp), very tall (taller than the Pioneers with the turntable mechanism!) and it's full width. This is a SERIOUSLY big CD player. Obviously this means that it is heavy also, weighing in at more than a good few decent integrated amps. The front panel is pretty sparse, with power button, buttons for eject, play, pause, stop, prev track, next track and Dither (we'll get onto this). There's obviously a display (which unfortunately can't be dimmed or switched off) and there's a light to indicate HDCD decoding. \r\n\r\nThe bad bits about the physical bits.... the buttons are a bit fiddly and may not respond when you think you've pressed them. There's no buttons for direct track access or time/repeat/program, which would be welcome (imo), to reduce reliance on the remote. The logic of the player's software is not as intuitive as the marantz CD63 I had previously either. \r\n\r\nSo, how does it sound?\r\n\r\nDetail. Bass extension. Dynamic range and SNR. These are things that really hit you about the RCD-991's sound. It delivers pretty incredible levels of detail. The bass goes VERY deep, and is beautifully full and solid. The player is superbly smooth also, and not harsh.\r\n\r\nCriticisms mainly focus around lifelessness of the player. Now this would be a fair criticism, but for one thing...\r\n\r\nThere is an idiosyncratic fault with the RCD-991, whereby it starts to skip badly, even on clean, unscratched CDs. This is due to the lubricant on the laser rail which dries up in humid conditions. My player suffered this problem.\r\n\r\nSo, I opened it up, and put new lubricant onto the rail, closed it up, and no more skipping.\r\n\r\nBut, lo and behold, the player came to life somewhat! I wasn't looking for the change, but it was there, and very apparent. Now, this hasn't made the RCD-991 a party animal really... it can still be a little remote (but it's very easy to listen to for hours on end), but it is a whole heap better than previously. \r\n\r\nFor the price I paid for mine (ie RCD-02 money), it's a bargain player. I'm very happy with it. \r\n\r\nNow, what was this dither button I was on about? Dither is noise that is added to the signal to change the response of the DACs slightly. It can be used by manufacturers to tune the sound of the DACs they've bought in (so not going the expensive rega route of custom DACs) to the house sound. \r\n\r\nWith the RCD-991, rotel handed control of this over to the user. There are 8 selectable levels (0-7) and you can disable it. I personally prefer the sound with it disabled, but it gives you some flexibility with voicing the player to go with various amps and speakers.