Chinese-made tube gear has always intrigued me, especially the price-to-performance ratio that can be had especially when purchasing these components on the secondary market. The Opera-Consonance probably is one of the leaders of production CD Players from China for the US Market.
The particular player I have here is the Opera Consonance Reference 2.2 MKII. The MKII differs from the previous model in that it has a Balanced output in addition to the single-ended tube output. The Balanced output uses a solid-state output as opposed to the tubed output of the RCA output.
The player has a volume control built-in so you can use this player without a preamp as well. I found the XLR Output substantially different from the tubed output. Though the XLR was pretty warm as far as solid state gear goes, it does have a mid-rangey sound to it, like much tubed gear does. The laid-back sound combined with the rich midrange gives the player a lot of warmth and prescence with voices, especially male voices.
Listening to Josh Groban on the Opera there is a sense of power to it, and musicality is definately a strong point. This player does impart some character to the music, but its not a bad thing. Its a very enjoyable player to listen to, and at the price point there is not much that can touch it. Having compared many players in it’s price range, most are inferior.
Comparing my Bel Canto CD-1 with my Opera Consonance does reveal that the Bel Canto has much more air in the top end and detail. The Bel Canto has a decisively more neutral and digital sound to it, while the Opera is much more warm and heavier in the midrange.
Overall the Opera is a heck of a player, and I could definately live with it in my system for a long time.