Sorry for the attention grabbing headline. Of course it is not likely to be the best in the world. You all know the audiophile version? model number scph1002. However, at 20 quid and using its straight analogue output phono (no Mods whatsoever- as yet?) and warmed up over 48 hrs in my second system next to the Naim CD5 it does give the immediate impression that it is likely to be one of the better midranges I have heard from CD. The midrange is so lifelike with so much natural presence. The notes stop and start at what seems like perfect moments adding to an emotionally charged and captivating performance the Naim could not quite match. PRAT if anything is better (more natural) on the Sony also!!! Very impressed so far. As the old cliché saying goes some of my familiar listening tracks sound like new tunes. They take on a new meaning and an understanding that is now genuinely enlightening and therefore probably more accurately expressive of the artists intent. For all those Naim fans out there this unit was not used in an all naim system or with naim cables as I understand it would sound at its best. And yes the Naim CD player was still excellent IMHO as one would expect in the musicality department over most other cd player makes I have heard in the past.
The bottom end is not powerful but it is spot on with time and maintains good timbre. The top is not truncated at all unlike some other reviews I have heard. Perhaps some airiness is missing but one does now wonder if that is analogous to tube distortion euphony.
Early days and of course as always this in my set up in my room and the impression of my ears which are hopefully not cloth covered! If you love it or hate it unbiased comments would be interesting from others.
At the very least recommended for a brief audition as they go so cheaply. I haven't even tried any of the mods so far, but would not be surprised if the mods made it sound technically better but less musical overall as others have hinted at. I guess the acid test will be once I move it into my main system and have a more microscopic eye on proceedings.