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CD Player
Metronome Technologie CD ONE T

Prices: 30 900 zł

Distribution: Koris

ul. Dąbrowskiego 40, 60-843 Poznań
tel.: (+48) 61 847 26 63
tel. 507 509 100


Manufacturer's website METRONOME TECHNOLOGIE

Text: Wojciech Pacuła
Translation: Krzysztof Kalinkowski

This is my first encounter with a device from Metronome Technologie, at least in my system. This French company, based in Toulouse, started operations in 1987 with loudspeakers. They sold 800 sets. So they made more and sold them too. A history like many others, but with a happy end, and this is rather not so common. I am not sure, if they were in the company from the very beginning, or joined Metronome later, but it turns out, that engineers have most to say in this company, people who left another French company - Jadis. We wrote about the top digital source of that second company (HERE) and for me this is still one of the best sounds I heard from a CD player. It did cost a lot, but… So this should not coma as a surprise, when I say, that ex-Jadis people stand behind the CD One T(ube) Signature. The final decisions were with Dominique Giner, who made changes based on the listening sessions he conducted. And this is not a simple and quick process, because – as he tells himself – designing a new model takes anywhere from eight to eighteen months. When we look at the tested player, it will be hard to say, that it is not “complete”, that there were some savings made, etc. Still it is not the top Kallista, or Kallista SE. In 2009, for the 25th anniversary of the company, the SE version was designed, and despite the global crisis and extremely high price – 40000 euro – 25 pieces were sold, and in Hong Kong, a place, where nobody is impressed with such prices, it received a nomination to the narrow group of “the best CD players in the world”. Nevertheless in the CD One T we will find many elements, which make the digital sound better than ever before – worked out power supply, a splendid drive and a thought through, tube output circuitry.

And this is the player I listened to.


Discs used for testing:

  • Assemblage 23, Compass, Accession Records/Irond, 10-1674, CD.
  • Danielsson/Dell/Landgren, Salzau Music On The Water, Act Music+Vision, ACT 9445-2, CD; review HERE.
  • Deep Purple, Perfect Stranger, Polygram Records/Polydor K.K. Japan, 25MM 0401, LP.
  • Diana Krall, All For You, Impulse!/JVC, 532 360-9, XRCD24.
  • Diorama, Child of Entertainment, Accesion Records, A 119, SP CD.
  • Ella Fitzgerald&Joe Pass, Take Love Easy, Pablo/JVC, JVCXR-0031-2, XRCD.
  • Frédéric Chopin, The Complete Nocturnes, piano: Gergely Bogányi, Stockfisch, SFR 357.4051.2, 2 x SACD/CD.
  • Gerry Mulligan Quartet, Dragonfly, Telarc, CD-83377, CD.
  • Lars Danielsson & Leszek Możdżer, Pasodoble, ACT Music, ACT 9458-2, CD; review HERE.
  • Matteis, False Consonances for Melancholy, Gli Incogniti/Amandine Beyer, Zig-Zag, ZZT 090802, CD.
  • Miles Davis, The Complete Birth of The Cool, Mark Levinson edition, Capitol Jazz, 94550, CD.
  • Muse, The Resistance, Warner Music Japan, WPZR-30355-6, CD+DVD. · e.s.t., Viaticum. Platinum Edition, ACT Music + Vision, ACT 6001-2, 2 x CD. · Laurie Anderson Big Science, 25th Anniversary Edition, Nonesuch, 79988, Enhanced CD.
  • Japanese versions of the discs are available on CD Japan.

    Placing the Metronome on the rack I had the idea of looking at something I already know, and this impression was reinforced by listening to it. This déjà vu remained with me until the end of the listening sessions. And this because the CD One T plays with a sound very similar to the Lektor Prime Ancient Audio, which I used for four years, before it found a new home. This is incredible, how similar two devices can sound, made in two different countries, by two different people! While some solutions applied in them are similar, the approach to some problems is similar, but to achieve the same results? This is really a mystery… But there is no coincidence, there is at maximum some kind of relationship we do not notice, or cannot explain. In this case it is about the fact, that having defined elements, a defined construction, almost the same result was squeezed out of them. Almost, because we can find some differences between the French and the Polish product. But those differences are by far smaller, than the similarities.

    The sound from this French player is at the same time soft and precise. One could say this is coincidentia oppositorum, existence of two things that never go together, are always separated. But audio is a complex matter, and such statements, that seem illogical at first glance, are valid here more often than elsewhere, and this test is good example of that. The sound is soft, but not because it has a softened attack – far from that – but because it is not “contoured”. Such sound, as presented by the Lektor Prime, or the CD One T, is closer to reality than the “sharp” sound, made to show each element as precise as possible. The French player does it really nicely, because the midrange, very resolved and precise, does not allow us to miss anything or any fogging to exist. This is the reason, that the differences between the original and new mastering, prepared in the XRCD24 K2 technology by Mr. Kazuo Kiuchi, of the disc All For You Diana Krall were shown so nicely. The new version is softer, deeper and has a deeper reaching sound stage. In fact it resembles more the sound of the new vinyl edition, prepared by Bernie Grundman from Original Recordings. CD One T showed it nicely, pointing to the too much underlined sibilants in Krall’s voice. The device is resolving enough, that I was able to show some kind of depth within an instrument, not necessarily related to room acoustics (and/or added reverb – it is a studio, and not a live recording). The piano sound was still strong and vivid, not trying to impose Bösendorfer, or something like that, but it was not bright, and resembled more that, what is on vinyl. The sound of the latter was even deeper, smoother, but there was not a cliff between it and that, what I heard from the French player. And this is really something.

    Also listening to Miles Davies Birth of The Cool, material from 1949 and 1950 (in the version prepared by Mark Levinson) I heard the same, I mean combination of dynamics and delicateness; soft bass and lower midrange with a strong, precise upper midrange. The latter was stronger in the Metronome than in the Prime, as was treble. But it did not pose any problems, as it was smooth and just plain nice. In bright systems it might jump out of the track, but it will be an error of the system, and not the player. It is important, that nice reproduction of high frequencies, showing the instruments in space, splendid spatial effects, when used by the sound engineer, gave lots of fun from listening.

    I would like to draw more attention to the upper midrange, which will need some correctional efforts. It will be easier to do exchanging tubes. Those used by the manufacturer are not bad, we have a guarantee of pairing and longevity, but they are not the best out there. I would rather not use EAT tubes, because those are too bright, but I would rather choose goldpin Tesla, or red Valvo. If somebody wants it warmer, then Telefunken E88CC will be best. There is a lot of available choices. It is true, that companies do not put the best tubes in their products, but the most reliable ones. I talked about that with many people from our branch, among others from McIntosh and Canora, but also with Mr. Kiuchi, who employed JJ Electronics tubes in his Reymio CAT-777 MkII. And all they say: there is no possibility, to use special tubes in production of more, than just a few units, because they have a very wide dispersion of parameters.

    The supplies of NOS is limited, and therefore it is impossible to have a batch of a few dozen (hundreds) of identically measuring tubes. And in addition guarantee – nobody can guarantee old tubes, even unused one. This is the reason they choose a safer, and at the same time a more honest, way, one they can uphold: they select new, commonly available tubes, to provide them with the same parameters for all products. If that would be not the case, then each unit would sound different. And this is still a very expensive option, because according to Zdeněk Březovják, the main engineer of Canor, during the selection process 50 to 90% of a batch needs to be utilized. Tragic, but true.

    But to the point – it is easiest to exchange the tubes to correct the slightly too audible upper midrange. But the same goal can be achieved by selecting the components around it. Moje Dobermann Harpia Acoustics have an accent on exactly the same part of the sound spectrum. And with them, especially with slightly worse mastered discs, like for example The Resistance Muse, or the good, but not ideal Child of Entertainment Diorama, it was a bit annoying in longer, louder listening sessions. But like I say, this is not a big error, and can be easily corrected.

    And it even not so prominent with jazz and classical. Listening to the ultra-soft, warm disc Take Love Easy of the duo Ella Fitzgerald & Joe Pass I would sweat, that the player is equally soft and warm! The same case was with the disc I listen to quite often lately, the Mass In B Minor J.S Bach played by Dunedin Consort & Players, directed by Johna Butta. The “Kyrie” opening the disc is sung strong, and it sounded melodic, strong, but without any brightening. With this disc I had the impression, that the sound is slightly limited and boxy, but this can only be handled by the most expensive players, and I would not make this an accusation to the Metronome. It showed the timbre beautifully, it handled the placing of voices in space brilliantly, etc. And space is very important, because the Metronome is one of the few players in the world, regardless of their price, which does it similar to the Ancient Audio players. This is not the level of the Grand SE, which plays in a different league, even amongst the Ancient family, but it is really close to the Prime here, which is much better than most of the renowned and titled competition, in that aspect.

    I think, that for this precise holography the incredible pace of the sound is responsible. The name Metronome obliges, so the first piece I played was I’m An Errand Girl for Rhythm, sung by Diana Krall. And it was superb – splendid pace and rhythm, attack and reverb in the right proportions, fullness. It sounded quicker compared to the vinyl version, but this is just how the digital medium behaves. In this context it is interesting, what I told earlier, that the sound is not contoured in this player, that there is no hardening of bass in it. It is really natural, a slightly soft, but in a good tone. And it can hit in a physical way. The instruments are not as three-dimensional as from my Lektor Air, or the Accuphase DP-600, nor the stage is as big as from my Lektor, but still everything I said is valid. This is really a very successful sound source. So the natural question is, whether to choose the CD One T or the Lektor Prime. The easiest response than comes to me is: “I do not know”. Those are devices very close, sound wise, with a slight advantage of the Polish construction in terms of space. On one hand the Metronome is beautifully made, nice and looks much better than the Ancient. When it is placed on the rack it is a joy to look at. On the other hand, the Prime has a built in line preamplifier, and it has a bigger, more readable display. It is also smaller, what can be important at times. I cannot say what is better. Those are two classy players, and the one to choose will be the one that fits the needs of the buyer better.


    Metronome Technologie CD One T is an integrated CD player. It is quite big – wide and deep. The enclosure is made from aluminum, the front is a thick slab made from one of the best available – 6061-T6. The fascia has a big window covered with acrylic, which houses a small blue display, and five metal buttons to operate the main functions of the player. The pictograms describing them look strange at first sight, but it turns out that those are fairly standard, but the bottom half was cut away. The display is the standard, kit version sold with the Philips CDM12 pro 2 V6.8, which was used in the player. It is a pity, that there is not a bigger display. CD One T (the Polish web page descrambles it as CD One Tube Signature) is a toploader, without a classic tray, with the disc placed directly on the axis of the motor. After placing the disc on the spindle, placing the puck we need to manually close the lid. This lid is very nicely moving, it slides very soft and smooth. The signal to read the TOC is given by a micro switch activated by closing the lid. The puck is made from Derlin – a material made by DuPont – aluminum and magnesium. An important thing: the element placed on the shaft, on which we place the disc is modified here. As a standard there is a plastic cone – like in the Lektor. But many companies exchange it to something else, because it does not guarantee the stability of the disc. It was done in the Jadis, and in the Electrocompaniet EMC UP, where the classic puck was exchanged for the “spider” – which is also offered separately as an upgrade. I grabbed the opportunity and I used it in the Lektor. In the CD One T the element on the spindle is even better – it is a metal one, and not plastic, because the company believes, that the disc must be earthed, to lead the electrostatic charges away, which are built up due to the rotation of the disc in air. On the back of the player we have RCA and XLR sockets for analog signals, and a digital RCA output. In the new version of the player CD One T USB there is also a USB input.

    After unscrewing the cabinet, it turns out, that the drive is hung under a large, cut in a special way, acrylic plate, and the whole is placed on soft supports and is mounted to the top on the same kind of washer. The servo is placed on a large PCB below, which houses almost all the circuits of the player. Attention is drawn by a big, worked out power supply, with three transformers – one for the logic, one for the digital and drive section and one for the analog output tubes. Each one is connected to many BC capacitors and many stabilizers. In addition, near the IEC power socket there is a small, high quality AC power filter from Shaffner, with two 38mH coils for EMI interference reduction.

    The signal from the disc is initially decoded and goes to a splendid upsampler – this is an asynchronous chip 32 bits/192kHz Cirrus Logic CS8421. From there we go to the DAC chip, which I could not find – it is most probably soldered on the underside of the PCB. Company materials state, that this is a chip with 24/192 parameters. It works with a digital filter AKM AK4395, and then the output circuitry. It is based on two miniature double triodes ECC88 – here the Philips ECG Jan 6922. The tubes are placed in solid ceramic sockets with golden pins. In front of them we have polypropylene coupling capacitors MKP/HS ENEC. On the output there are big, made especially for Metronome, capacitors from the French company SRC with MTPA01 markings on them. As you can see on the pictures – there are two capacitors, and there is a balanced and unbalanced output. The signal is unbalanced in the whole unit, but just before the XLR sockets it is symmetrized in small transformers. The inside is very neat. The remote controller has a metal top, and is identical to the one supplied with the Ancient Audio players. Finally we should mention the blue LED, which lights on the disc – I will remind you, that in the Holfi players the LED was green, and was used to minimize the dispersion of the laser light on the edge of the disc…

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    • CD player: Ancient Audio Lektor Prime (tested HERE)
    • Phono preamp: RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC (tested HERE)
    • Preamp: Leben RS-28CX (tested HERE; soon to be changed to Polaris II, tested HERE)
    • Power amp: Luxman M-800A (tested HERE)
    • Integrated amp: Leben CS300 (reviewed HERE)
    • Loudspeakers: Harpia Acoustics Dobermann (tested HERE)
    • headphones: AKG K701, Ultrasone PROLine 2500, Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro, 600 Ω version (reviewed HERE, HERE, and HERE)
    • interconnects: CD-preamp: Wireworld Gold Eclipse 52 (tested HERE; soon to be changed to Acrolink Mexcel 7N-DA6300, article HERE), preamp-power amp: Velum NF-G SE (tested HERE)
    • speaker cable: Velum LS-G (tested HERE)
    • power cables: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9100 (CD; reviewed HERE) and 2 x Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC7100 (preamp, power amp (reviewed HERE)
    • power conditioning: Gigawatt PF-2 Filtering Power Strip (reviewed HERE)
    • audio stand Base
    • resonance control: Finite Elemente Ceraball under the CD (article HERE ) Turntables change continuously, as do cartridges. My dream setup: SME 30 with Series V tone-arm and Air Tight PC-1 cartridge (also in the PC-1 Mono version).