Even in 2004, CD players seemed to be nearing the end of their useful life. Because of the onslaught of DVD-Audio, SACD, and even universal machines, less and fewer people sought outdated, unreconstructed CD separates. Those who did were discerning audiophiles who realized that even the best DVD spinner couldn’t play 16-bit Compact Disc as well as a genuine, purpose-built CD machine, regardless of performance at 24/192 resolution. As a result, CD separates, such as MEL Audio’s latest Rechav II, have become highly specialized concerns.
Enrico Lusuardi, the project’s designer, referred to it as a “digital turntable.” “A CD player through which the abandonment of the analogue system would not be too greatly mourned,” the long-haired, smartly attired musician added. It is distinguished by its circular design, which recalls the vinyl record and analogue turntable in terms of dimensions (33 cm in diameter) and operation (opening the cover and manual insertion of the disc), which I have always favored and admired for their superior sound quality.” The odd name comes from ancient Jewish tradition and is portrayed in the book of Ezekiel as a “celestial chariot” – a God’s throne capable of performing “amazing acts.”
The Rechav II isn’t the most solidly built machine around at 6kg. Rather, the large spaceship-shaped casing is made entirely of MDF, which has anti-resonance capabilities, and is lavishly painted in a variety of colors such as “black Aston Martin,” “blue Bugatti,” “Orange Lamborghini,” “yellow Porsche,” “white BMW,” and “red Ferrari.” The finish is fantastic, and it’s a real eye-catcher as well.
A row of blue illuminated acrylic buttons sits atop the machine, allowing you to choose between play, repeat, fader (which fades the music in and out – a great touch), programming mode (with a maximum of thirty steps), and display mode. To the aforementioned feature set, the included remote control adds a volume control. The blue fluorescent display is a straightforward Sony design that performs the job admirably, if a touch shabbily. The transport is in the center of it all, and it appears to be Sony-made, replete with a nice self-centering disc stabilizer/lid. A pair of RCA phono plugs, a coaxial digital output, a 6.3mm headphone socket, and a power input are located on the back.
The Rechav II is a machine with a sound as well as a visual difference, and it performed admirably for its £935 price tag. Essentially, it has a smooth and open nature, similar to Meridian’s famous 507, with superb detail control and sound staging. Its wonderful rhythms, on the other hand, are where it shines. It’s not one of those ultra-tight, ‘in your face’ devices like Naim’s CDX2 or Linn’s now-defunct Karik III. Rather than socking you in the eyes, it is charming and works on delicate seduction. As a result, the machine sounds rather “analogue.” Enrico had been correct all along.
Say You Love Me by Simply Red was the first song I listened to. Smooth and organic vocals with some much-needed euphonic coloration made for a really enjoyable listen. Despite not being the quickest machine on the market, the MEL Audio never sounded clunky and was always fluid and supple. The treble was still open and not veiled or rolled off at the top. Things were pleasingly fluid in the midband, allowing the music to ebb and flow in a more organic manner, resulting in a very engaging presentation of the CD.
Here’s a really musical machine with a somewhat warm upper midband and treble, as well as a robust, rich, and dynamic bass that’s just a tad on the soft side. It’s a fine all-rounder in the midrange, with a wide and well-proportioned soundstage, strong dynamics, excellent detailing, and, most importantly, a naturally musical demeanor that seems to get into the groove of whatever music you throw at it, whether it’s a Karajan recording of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony or a classic BlueNote jazz reissue like Lonnie Smith’s Think.
The Rechav II’s music just oozes out of it, and when combined with its beautiful warm tonal inclination, you get a player that looks like it’s from another planet but sounds absolutely down-to-earth — in the nicest conceivable manner. It’s wonderful to be able to recommend unique, lovable, charismatic, and quirky products from small businesses, and this is one of them. The wacky appearance conceals excellent acoustic engineering. As a result, the player is pleasingly musical, with a strong emphasis on emotion and expressiveness.