Test Drive: Denon DN-C680 Professional CD Player

The Back Panel

Since the DN-C680 is a playback-only product, its rear panel is unencumbered by unnecessary gozintas. However, there are all the gozoutas one could ever ask for. Analog outputs are provided on balanced XLR jacks and on unbalanced RCA jacks. Recessed level controls let you fine-tune the analog output levels between -20 dBs and +20 dBs. The analog outputs use 18-bit 8x oversampling digital-to-analog converters. Stereo digital output is available on either an XLR connector (for the AES/EBU format) or on an RCA connector (for the S/PDIF format).

There are both serial and parallel interfaces on the back panel as well. There are two serial connectors. One is on a female 9-pin D-sub connector for connecting a hard-wired remote, and the other is a male 9-pin D-sub designed for connecting the player to a computer or automation system. This input includes a switch to select between RS323C and RS422A protocols. The parallel connector is a 25-pin D-sub connector, and it allows you to use dry external contact closures to control every important function of the DN-C680, with tallies for each. You can access Play, Pause, Standby/Cue, Next Track, Previous Track, Search Forward, Search Reverse, and Fader Start via the parallel interface.

The DN-C680 is available with a couple of broadcast-friendly options. My evaluation unit came equipped with the sync option, which consists of an XLR input for SMPTE time code, and BNC connectors for video sync and 44.1 kHz word clock. It also came equipped with a built-in sample rate converter, described below.

In Use

This is a nice player. The build quality and finish is excellent, and it feels like it will deliver years of service. The CD tray slides in and out noiselessly and smoothly. All the rubber buttons have a nice, solid feel to them — you’re unlikely to hit the wrong one or have your finger slip off and strike some other button by mistake. Over half of the buttons are backlit, including the important ones like STANDBY/CUE, PLAY/PAUSE, and the various editing buttons. They either light up solidly or blink to indicate their current state, and provide clearly visible feedback to tell you what’s going on.

Operating the player is straightforward, even with the wealth of options available. Turning the Select Knob scrolls through the tracks, and can be used while playing to make the player play a track other than the next one in line. In this case the display shows which track will play next by number, under the NEXT NO. legend.

The three transport buttons are self-explanatory, except perhaps for the STANDBY/CUE button. When you press it while the player is stopped, it will cue to whichever track you’ve chosen with the Select Knob. If you press it during continuous playback, it will return to the point where playback began (this is also referred to as Back Cueing). Finally, if you’ve chosen a different next track using the Select Knob, then pressing STANDBY/CUE will cause the player to stop and cue to that specific next track.

The DN-C680 will play CD tracks in one of three modes, which can be selected by repeatedly pressing the PLAY MODE button. In SINGLE mode, the player will play the current track until the end and then stop. In CONTINUOUS mode, it will play the current track and continue to the next without stopping. The A-B mode allows you to play just a part of a CD.

Setting the A and B points is a simple matter of cueing to your desired  start point, pressing the A button which then lights, cueing to your desired stop point, and pressing the  B button which also lights. If you want to play the part repeatedly, you simply press the REPEAT button. To clear the A and B points you just eject the CD or you can press “-” when the buttons are flashing.

There are three “finish modes” on the player — STOP, NEXT, and RECUE — which are most useful when you’ve selected the SINGLE play mode. Pressing the STOP button causes it to light, and the player will simply stop at the end of the current track or disc. Pressing the NEXT button causes the player to finish playing the current track, then cue to the next track and enter STANDBY mode. When the last track is played it will cue to the first track. The third finish mode is RECUE, in which the player will finish the current track, recue to the position where playback began, and enter STANDBY mode.

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