Roksan Kandy K2 - £899

With a highly competitive price tag, Roksan pushes all the right buttons on this fine player

Best known as a purveyor of all things analogue, Roksan has had a CD player or two in its catalogue for many years, the Kandy K2 being the cheaper of the two currently on offer. In essence it’s pretty much what you’d expect from a player at this price – straightforward with no frills.

The look is distinctive, though, as is the display, which is indeed a bit of a throwback to the 1990s. We mean that in a good way, as it gives a little more information than most. To be fussy it’s inconvenient to read off-axis, but it’s no big deal. The real touch of class is supplied by the remote control, though, which has a touchscreen as well as regular buttons. (Like most these days it can control a whole gamut of its maker’s kit.)

Roksan has built this player around a CD Audio transport, which is quick to load and respond, but makes rather more mechanical noise than most. It feeds a high-end DAC chip, which is followed by several op-amps in the analogue filtering and buffering stages, all powered by a decent-sized toroidal transformer.

Digital outputs include the professional-style AES/EBU balanced connection on an XLR socket as well as the usual S/PDIF (both flavours). Our only complaint about ergonomics is the lack of a fast-forward facility on the front panel, a common enough failing.

Sound quality

More than any others in the group, this player pushed all the right buttons for our listeners, quite an achievement given that they clearly had different priorities and expectations – but it seemed to rise to all the challenges across our range of listening material and tick practically all the boxes.

Most strongly praised was its rhythmic assurance and integrity. This has always been regarded as a Roksan speciality so it’s nice to see traditions upheld and, of course, it’s particularly welcome in any type of music where rhythm is an obvious feature (such as rock, or any kind of dance music). It’s also beneficial in more melodic styles, such as the madrigal track in our listening programme. This, we felt, was more gripping and immediately communicative than with any of the other players.

There was the odd word of criticism too, mostly about a trace of coloration, which most noticeably affects lower-sounding melody instruments and male voices, making them sound a touch thin. There’s also a slight lack of stereo image depth compared to one or two in the group, but image width is good and placement within images is clear and stable. Bass verges on excessive at times, but although all our listeners commented on this, none of them felt it was to a degree that makes listening uncomfortable.

On the positive side, the full bass contributes to a generally large-bodied sound which encourages one to turn up the volume and keep listening after bedtime.

LIKE: Rhythmically top-notch and generally full of life and verve
DISLIKE: Just a shade light in the lower midrange and bass could be better controlled
WE SAY: An excellent all-rounder, this player makes the most of any music

DIMENSIONS: (WxHxD) 432x102x380mm
• Analogue output: single unbalanced
• Digital outputs: electrical and optical S/PDIF, AES/EBU (XLR)
DISTRIBUTOR: Henley Designs
TELEPHONE: 01235 511166