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The Thule CD 100 inside view

As with other models from this company, the outer appearance is very sober, very understated, but exudes quality. The case is made from heavy steel, the fascia from an 8-9 mm thick aluminum plate, machined to that it has a gentle sloping front.
Controls are kept simple, however, you'll find most of them on the supplied remote control, which also controls other Thule audio components. Actually, only the remote control unit looks sort of cheap, even if it is made of durable plastics and does its job reliably.
Only the top plate is detachable, and is held down by five screws; if fastened properly, there will be absolutely no rattling or any other mechanical noise.
All this means that the unit is quite massive, weighing in at around 7 kg, not at all typical at this price point, but very good indeed, as this also means less vibration and what there is has been moved down in spectrum.

Inside, we'll see the whole divided into three logical parts - the power supply, the mechanics control board and the DAC board, which also holds the analog output section.

Everything is unusually neat and tidy. The drive mechanism is by Philips, a 12.4 unit, however, using Thule's own control software and electronics. As with their other products, SMD has been used wherever possible, rational and applicable.
Parts have been carefully selected. Capacitors are mostly by Philips, the DAC uses Burr-Brown's PCM1710, a multi bit unit with multilevel Delta- Sigma. Analog outputs are amplified using Burr-Brown's OPA2134 FET op amps. Also, the DAC's clock is actively and separately buffered, a good practice seen far too rarely.
Output connectors are soldered directly to the board and use good quality gold plated RCA Cinch connectors - again, good practice on both counts.
Since the board is a stand-alone unit, it can easily be exchanged for another model higher up the scale, or serviced in the unlikely event service is needed, given the quality of the parts used and the SMD technology, known and used for its high degree of reliability and cost-effectiveness. The small blue blocks are high quality polycarbonate capacitors - if one has to use them, then these are the ones to use.
The Opponents
CD100 was pitted against a Harman/Kardon CD730, a model just replaced by CD740. It uses Philips' Bitstream technology, with two typically H/K touches - the power supply is somewhat above average in both capacity and quality, and instead of using integrated circuits, H/K traditionally use discrete component outputs, in this case in a dual differential configuration.
This is said to provide great speed and better sound. In terms of price, this model costs roughly the same as CD100; its successor maintains the same price, but uses twin Burr-Brown DACS, and would thus be an even more direct competitor.
Then there's a modified Marantz CD53 player, which instead of NJR2114 op amps now has OP275 chips, and its power supply and decoupling capacitors have been both changed and substantially upgraded.
The last opponent is a Philips CD721 player which has been extensively tweaked (rebuilt would be a better term). While keeping its original power supply for the mechanism and display, it has been endowed with two new toroidal transformers and dedicated extremely high quality power supplies, one powering the digital, and the other powering the analog section.
In addition to this, its rather cheap'n'cheerful 4560 output op amp has been replaced with an Analog Devices AD826 op amp, which increases the initial 15V/us slew rate to 350V/us, while decreasing the settling time from some 2000 to 70 ns.
Instead of the cheap captive cable, it has been endowed with high quality, Teflon insulated gold plated RCA Cinch connectors, connected to the board using solid silver

For more information, click [view offer] to the right side.