JVC XRCD 1050 K2 CD Player

jvc xl-Z1050 CD K2

This is one of the most interesting players of all times.  What is intriguing, that it has one of the BEST pre-lampization sound of all players I tried in 2006. And it has a very nasty and dirty output stage. So after some clean-up it may really shine.
My guess is that it may even take the throne from the Grundig 9009. Time will tell.
My small investigation revealed that this gem is in big demand, small supply, it has a patented K2 reclocking circuitry before the DAC chip (of unknown origin, signed by JVC-JCER4501 (18 bit !?) , my guess is : Sony).  The DAC chip has 8 analogue voltage outputs, (sic!)  followed by analog domain filters of HF, followed by summation into four (a perfect place to take XLR output) and followed by op-amps summing into stereo pair, followed by 3 more opamps and muting transistors.

jvc xl-Z1050 CD K2

After listening in balanced mode DAC-direct, with bypass of ALL OP-AMPS, the sound is phenomenally liquid and shiny, beautifully analog, deep, smooth, you name it. There is almost no need for tubes. All is just perfect already! I have no doubt this player is a giant killer, I could put it against Wadia 861x anytime. Or Krell 25.


JVC XRCD 1050 K2

Inside the jvc xl-Z1050 CD K2


JVC XRCD 1050 K2

jvc xl-Z1050 CD K2 DAC

The patented K2 thing that is so famous is not actually a DAC itself, it is a digital filter with some (I guess) additional fifo buffer for reclocking (anti-jitter measures). The chip itself - The DAC - is not documented anywhere on the NET. Don't bother looking. It must be a genuine JVC chip or a Sony or Sanyo or NPC or something like that.

This crazy chip has 8 analog outputs - 2 left neg. 2 right neg, and 2 pos left and 2 pos right. Go figure what it is for. Anyway - it is truly digitally balanced which is nice. XLR conversion is possible at no extra cost.

JVC XRCD 1050 K2 laser

JVC XRCD 1050 K2

jvc xl-Z1050 CD K2 mechanism

It is hard to show it on the picture but this mechanism is very solid, very good looking and in general it ranks on the top with the best there are. Nothing to compare with say Philips CDM12 or VAL1250.  Everything is made of metal and the finish is impeccable.

March 2007

Sound of the JVC XRCD 1050 K2

This battle was inevitable. 30 players have passed through my hands and the choice of the ultimate boils down to 5 machines. My subjective preference is between the two of the above. Pay attention that Burr-Brown didn't make it to the finals. But it was very very close. - the three other semi-finalists were all burrbrowners - Kenwood CDP-7090, Shanling T200 and Copland 289.

I built the Grundig 9009 and JVC 1050 in such way, that they were both hard wired from DAC to XLR and then feeding external balanced lampizator and then from XLR to my mono amps.  I could switch inputs and listen to same music via same set-up except the naked player's drive plus DAC-chip combo. We could finally compare apples to apples.

The verdict is ... drums rolling .... Grundig.  My subjective preference goes to Grundig but only by a hair.
In both cases the sound is phenomenally good. Even for me it is still a breathtaking experience.
The general differences are:
- Grundig requires expensive Sowter balancing transformers, JVC does not (voltage dac)
- Grundig has extra large display, JVC extra small
- Grundig mechanic and electronic parts for spares can be easily had for nothing. JVC is a "white raven".
- Grundig has the warmth which is addictive, JVC is more neutral and colder. On natural analog recordings, like un-manipulated live album of Nina Simone from 1971, on the Grundig it is a hallucination, and emotionally involving experience. On JVC it is only a hifi playback. For me - that does it.

- Total end price (base player, lampization) is about 1000 Euro in case of Grundig, and 500 for JVC. That is a big difference. For this difference you could get a SET amp from Hong Kong.

In the case of both players  with Lampizator the absolute level of quality will - with 100% certainty - not likely be beaten by any newcomer red book CD player available from a shop.