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The Pioneer PD-D6-J CD/SACD player

Review of the Pioneer PD-D6-J SACD Player

Pioneer PD-D6Well, this IS a surprise. Pioneer has given us SACD enthusiasts in Europe a great gift in the form of the chic looking Pioneer PD-D6-J!

Price UK : £399
Price EU : €499

Still no word as to when or if it will be available from Pioneer USA.

Of course this isn’t the first time Pioneer has offered audiophiles a proper disc player for music. In the 80′s they brought us the beautiful Pioneer Elite PD-73 with its huge transport that had to have the disc inserted upside down. The PD-D6J is made with the same spirit of a real music playing machine, but the disc goes in right side up now.

The PD-D6-J is strictly an audio player. It is compatible with CD and SACD as well as CD-R, mp3 and wma on an ISO9660 finalized disc.

Air StudiosOne of the things that makes this a special affair is that Pioneer called upon the expertise of the British recording and audio fine tuning experts Air Studios of London.

The AIR Studios logo means that they have been involved in the design since the prototype. It is their guarantee that some of the best ‘ears’ in the world have approved the product.

The PD-D6-J is a young thoroughbred player for CD and SACD. Although that sounds limiting compared to all the mega format DVD players out there, when it come to music there are some very audible advantages to having a player for music only. The first thing to note is that all the video circuitry causes a lot of digital noise in the audio stage. It requires some very sophisticated (and expensive) additional circuitry to clean that up and keep it from running through the power supply and the audio section. So by removing the video circuitry, the cost is lowered (less parts) and at the same time the sound quality is improved. Hmm, it kind of makes sense.


The Build

The Pioneer PD-D6 comes in an aluminum chassis that feels nice and solid. No plasticy feel here. This will contribute to isolation from vibration and reduce isophonics in the electronics.
The system uses a Sony transport with a Pioneer designed laser assembly. This feeds a clean and simple signal handling board using a pair of Burr Brown 192khz/24bit DACs. We see use of high quality parts including Schottky barrier diode and Oscon capacitors.
Also present is Pioneers unique Legato Link Pro circuit. This system only functions for CD and is designed to smooth out the signal in the rough 44.1 khz/16bit signal. It works well and brings CD up a fair notch in roundness and high frequency hardness, but it doesn’t help with spaciousness or textural quality. The power supply is likewise kept simple as it only needs to power an audio system instead of a video and audio system.

On the back, we find a pair of RCA cinch connections for left and right line level output, and one more for coaxial digital output plus a toslink optical connection. So obviously this is for stereo systems only. Well that suits me fine as my rig is still stereo only. I’d rather spend more money on my two speakers and amp than divide that into 5 channels plus all the extra hi end cables. Quality of sound is everything!


The Specs
Quick Response Power Supply Circuit
Twin D/A Converter (192 kHz/24-bit)
Low Jitter Clock Circuit
Legato Link Conversion PRO (on/off)
Hi-bit
Pure Audio Mode
Direct Construction
Honeycomb Chassis
Large Insulator
Schottky barrier diode
SR (System Remote) Control Unit
Random Play / Repeat Play / Programme Play
Audio Output: Optical / Coaxial 1 / 1
Audio Output: Analogue 1
SR In/Out
LCD Dimmer 3 step

Dimensions 420 x 100 x 340 mm
Weight 4.5 kg

Pioneer PD-D6

Pioneer PD-D6 rear view


The Sound

We like it!
As far as SACD is concerned, this is very good! Comparing the sound of the PD-D6 to the high end universal player Pioneer DV-747 with SACD, there is far more textural detail through the whole spectrum.
Listening to Herb Pomeroy Big Band Jazz / Live at Sandy’s (Red Rose Music RRM09), the space and positioning of the sound stage is far more precise to the Pioneer universal player. No comparing to a Sony SCD-C555ES there is less difference, but the Pioneer is still more detailed, especially in the high frequencies. The symbols with the Sony come across as glossy and over shimmery, were as the PD-D6 is more precise and detailed. The Sony seems to be adding something that isn’t right. The other thing hear is the new SACD player keeps the different instruments far better separated, where is it rather becomes a mixture of sounds with the Sony.

Hllary Hahn plays Bach Violin Concertos [Hybrid SACD]With classical music I find that the violin of Hilary Hahn playing Bach’s violin concerto in D minor (Deutsche Grammophon SACD 474 639-2) has a silkier feeling compared to either of the other two players. The bass continuo stays very distinct and the texture of the bass strings is very nice; it vibrates with the feeling of the big bass instruments. Unlike the Herb Pomeroy disc, this is a hybrid, so let’s have a listen to the CD layer. Hmm, this is a seriously big difference. The sound stage is collapsed, the texture is agressive and the highs bite. I turned on the Legato Link Pro and this helped the agressive highs, but the texture is gone and the the sound stage as flat. Playing this in the Pioneer DV-747 I find that the sound with from the CD layer is blurred and lacks detail and space. I would put the PD-D6 as a good cut better than the DV-747 for CD as well. The Sony does better here but his quite bright on the highs, almost difficult to listen to. The space is a bit better though that either of the others.

Yo-Yo Ma, Katheryn Stott : Paris - La Belle EpoqueChanging the disc now to Yo-yo Ma and Katheryn Scott playing French classical pieces on Paris – La Belle Epoque (Sony SS 87287). This is an SACD only disc with only two instruments. The piano sounds very similar on all three players but the cello has a bit better textural detail with the PD-D6. Very little difference otherwise.

Gotan Project - La Revancha del TangoChanging musical again I put in the Gotan Project’s groovin SACD ‘La Revancha Del Tango’ (Barclay 981 878-7). This is very revealing! The biggest difference here is the detail in all the instruments, and again, in the entire range. Bass is tighter than the Sony, the highs are better separated and clear. This is especially evident on the third track, ‘chunga’s revenge’ with it’s deep bass line and the light symbol sound. The fifth track sounds really great on this thing! OK, laptop is closing for a while! We’re gonna enjoy this!!
OK, back. This is a player made for music. It grooves, it is rich in sound, but keeps lots of textural detail. I put in Boston (Epic ES 34188) and played it right to the end. I rocked all the way!

No doubt about it. This is a great player; at 400 pounds it’s a gift!

One Response to “The Pioneer PD-D6-J CD/SACD player”

  1. Gary Says:

    Hi, a good review. Note the older PD-73 Reference player played discs the normal way, i.e. label side up. It was not a stable platter unit.