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History

History

History

   

     First introduce the brand of Cen.grand, Chinese trademark: 世纪格雷 (R), English trademark: cen.grand (R)

 

    (1) The birth of the first external independent audio dual clock architecture in China

 

      Cen.grand was founded by experienced audio professionals. It started research and development in 2009 and was established in 2011. The purpose of the project was to develop and produce digital players. What makes us different is that we not only need to be hifi in digital audio, but also high-end in video, and audio and video are competitive enough.

 

      In the beginning, we chose sigma design among several scenarios. After contact, we are quite satisfied. The sigma scheme's HD Blu-ray performance is good, but the audio is average. In order to get a hifi-quality architecture, we asked Sigma to modify the core of the chip according to our vision. After a long wait, our request was rejected, and the staff of the office in China told us privately that they thought that your request was "perverted."

 

      Everything that happened later proved that we were lucky to be rejected by sigma design! If there is no such rejection,  Cen.grand  may not be able to reach the current height. After being rejected by Sigma, we turned our attention to another American company, Marvell, which is a high-tech company in the US that has a reputation in the chip field. Since 2008, they have developed a Blu-ray solution for Google and Sony, but because of various The reason was that the plan was not completed. It was a coincidence that we met this project and it felt good after the initial test. The most important thing is that they fully accept the changes we have made to the chip core. After a long year of R&D and millions of investments, the 3010 solution of our planned audio architecture was finally completed. Setting up the platform test, the effect is very exciting, the hifi quality is so excellent that sigma design can not be compared, and because of the marvell award-winning QDEO technology, its video performance is super-class, the picture quality is absolutely the first .

 

      The main reason for the excellent audio is that there are two DSPs inside, one is CirrusLogic, dedicated to multi-channel decoding, and the other is Philips, dedicated to hifi. Although there are many ways to achieve decoding functions, such as the use of single-chip, arm chip, fpga, and even intel chip, etc., after a long time of testing, the quality of Philips' high-end audio DSP is extraordinary. In addition to the clock structure modified according to the requirements of hifi, the acquisition of wonderful sound quality is a matter of course. The concept of “independent audio dual clock” proposed by Century Gray in 2009 is the first in the industry and the first brand to use this architecture. As a legendary brand in the audio industry, Philips' audio DSP algorithm is undoubtedly the advantage. The following picture is a frame diagram of the Cen.grand Media Player:

 

      There is no doubt that this is the world's first hifi Blu-ray architecture, which is still the only one that is still not likely to appear in the future.

 

      An interesting tidbit is that the sound of Cen.grand's products was said to be AV sounds from the beginning, just because there is video. Most of the friends who have this view are misled by competitive merchants or peers, and a few are due to a habitual thinking or lack of professional knowledge. As time goes by, today, Cen.grand's high-end media player has been well-known in the hifi circle, and there are a lot of fans in the hifi group. In particular, the 20,000-yuan flagship 9i-AD "black gold version" and "black gold ultimate version" are the best in high-end digital broadcasting, and there are a large number of users in the hifi group in many cities. These two products have established Cen.grand's market position in the hifi field, and the market has lasted for five years. Time is the only criterion for testing hifi. The "black gold version" and "black gold ultimate version" are a typical example. All good equipment has a long market life. Below are the "black gold version" and "black gold ultimate version".

 

 

 

 

      The 9i-AD Black Gold Ultimate Edition is currently the main product of Cen.grand. The black gold version has gained market recognition in its majestic American style, and the ultimate version of Black Gold has attracted many high-end fans with its exquisite Nordic style. The biggest feature of the 3010 program's sound is its superior detail and analytical power. It has a very high density and is characterized by high-end equipment. The DAC chip uses Wolfson's WM8741, an excellent DAC, which is used by almost all of  Cen.grand's digital products. Speaking of WM8741, there are two stories worth recalling.

 

       After the project was established in the same year, the selection of the DAC was promoted at the same time as the design of the main control. There were not many chips that could support 192 at the time. At that time, WM8741 had just come out. He was not very angry in the country, but he was very famous in the UK because the engineer of Linn said that it was "the only DAC that can meet the requirements of Linn." Our R&D team chose it, wrote an article on the hifidiy website to introduce the DAC of the "King of Analogue Sound", and made a sales of a test board. I didn't expect the response to burst, and received rave reviews. After the sale of the experimental board, the user Ask us to produce a complete product for sale. As a result, the complete product sold more than 1,000 sets in a short period of time. The number of clicks on this article exceeded 3 million and became the first article of the hifidiy forum at the time. Of course, this article has also been questioned by many peers, and we have also resolved it one by one, becoming an interesting history. Many users later became the users of the first generation of  Cen.grand, and many users have followed the century to the present, and we are moved.

 

       WM8741 is so good, we will recognize it. Later, its performance is indeed worthy of its price. Since the wolfson is fixed, the receiving chip also uses its home, so the WM8805 was also selected. It was a small number of DIRs that could support 192K at that time, and the jitter was only 50ps, which is really a cow! However, it has a fatal bug: the support for 176.4 is unstable, which makes many manufacturers dare to use this excellent chip.  Cen.grand's R&D team worked hard to circumvent this bug by imaginatively using multiple jumps. From the 11th year onwards,  Cen.grand has only used this DIR, and the work stability is excellent. Wolfson's staff expressed their appreciation for  Cen.grand's achievements and offered to authorize  Cen.grand to use their special markings on the machine's panels. Therefore,  Cen.grand's machine panels using Wolfson products have the following mark:

   

 

     Affected by the big environment, chip manufacturers are focusing on network products. There are few manufacturers in the HIFI field. Wolfson is no exception. It was acquired by CirrusLogic, which is embarrassing! I wish wolfson a better development in the future.

 

 

 

       (II)  WM8741 product launch 

   
 
        The first product of Cen.grand is not the player, but the 5i-10 DAC. See the picture below. This product has no high technical content and is the standard application of WM8805+WM8741. The sound of WM8741 is an old-school British sound. Many fans believe that linn likes the 8741 estimate because of its traits. The analysis power of 5i-10 is general, the sound is soft and warm, suitable for enjoying the charm of vocal strings, and it is not suitable for large-scale music. 5i-10 was priced at RMB2K at that time, which was a very good value for money and achieved good market performance. But in fact WM8741 is not a "dark British sound", it is a changeable dragon, it depends on how you adjust it. The black gold version and the ultimate version use WM8741 as the dac, but one is the standard American style and the other is the typical Nordic style. The key is how to design!

     CEN.GRAND's first media player is the 5i-A/5i-AD media player, as shown below. This is the first product in China to use "independent audio dual clock + audio DSP". The two media players have one bright spot: in addition to the two-channel output, there is another 5.1-channel analog output, and the DAC chip is the WM8740.

      The 5i-10, 5i-A, and 5i-AD products form the cen.grand startup team and are also three pioneers in the hifi field. In 2011, these products were not available for sale, and we have harvested a considerable number of reservations. Later, 5i-300 video HD players and 5i-1600 Blu-ray disc players were also put on the market.

 

       Why is the model name 5i? The original meaning is the meaning of "I love". A series of products allowed cen.grand to quickly accumulate a large number of users in the first two years, and has a good reputation in the hifi field and high-definition field. These three products are mid-range products, and they are not enough to lead the market. Therefore, since 2012, the development of the 9i series products has been put on the agenda. 9i is the meaning of "just love." The first 9i models are the 9i-60SDAC, 9i-AD media player.

            

 

 

 

   

        After the 9i-60S DAC was discontinued, it replaced the 9i-80S. This dac conforms to the trend of the times, loads the latest XMOS second-generation USB solution, and uses cpld technology for digital processing. The DA chip uses dual AK4495, and the output circuit is 9i-AD black gold version. This DAC also has a good reputation among users. It has a heated discussion on the hifi forum in Hong Kong and is a successful product of cen.grand.

 

      

 

       The highlight of the 9i-60S is the use of a new output circuit that liberates the WM8741 from "darkness" and completely replaces the world with the 5i-10, becoming a majestic American style. Although it has been discontinued for several years, it is still nostalgic. With the long-term out of stock, the 9i-60S in the second-hand market showed a phenomenon of “price increase”. The significance of the 9i-60S is to verify the potential of the 8741. It also proves that the chip only determines the framework of a DAC. The excellent circuit design can make the same chip get a variety of sounds. The 9i-60S technology is used in the 9i-AD. This product changes the cen.grand brand from "hifi+AV" to "hifi-based and AV-oriented". In this sense, this is a memorable product.

 

       Because some of the bugs in the 3010 lead to poor compatibility, the products of cen.geand have been made even better in hifi. Since the program itself has an excellent hifi foundation, it is the primary task of the design team to bring out its advantages. In today's buzzword, it is called “working hard after rolling up the sleeves”. Hard work pays off, cen.grand's 9i series products are successfully completed, grown, blossomed, and the result. In a sense, to understand the cen.grand hifi product, we must start with her 9i-AD silver version. Then go to the "black gold version", "black gold ultimate version". In the future, cen.grand will have more products and large-scale operation in the market, and will further explore research in the field of digital audio, while keeping up with the latest trends in the Blu-ray video market.

 

   

   
                    (3) 9i-AD, black gold series, blue music, blue light concert, multi-channel hifi
 
 
 
         The 9i-AD debuted at the Siav Grand Exhibition in Shanghai in 2013 and began to be launched in June of the same year.
 

 

        The main design goal of 9i-AD is to improve the audio quality on the basis of the 5i series, and improve the handling, positioning at more than 10,000 yuan. The appearance is based on the traditional style, not fancy, simple and generous, focusing on the traditional hifi market.

 

       These design goals were quickly realized, but the final adjustment process was delayed for a long time. Audio products have such a rule: no matter how advanced the theoretical design of the sound, the sound may not be suitable for the human ear, after all, the human ear is emotional, the theory is rational, after a long period of adjustment, you can find the problem of sound In order to adjust and improve with technical means. Experienced fans have this experience: most of the sounds that are good at first listening can't be heard for a long time. Many technical DIYERs are very keen on testing. Of course, testing is a very necessary basic work, but at present, the instrument can't measure whether the sound is "good" and can only detect whether the hardware has "basic errors." After the basic parameters have passed the test, there is still more than 60% of the work to be done from the success of the product--this is to rely on the "human ear" and "brain", two sensible "instruments" to test the sound of the product.

  

       Below are the two audition rooms of cen.grand. There are a lot of flagship reference equipment and wires used to detect the sound of equipment. The design of high-end products has to be adjusted here for a long time:   

 

 

 

 

  

      When it comes to cen.grand's media player, you have to say "Blu-ray music". It can be said that cen.grand and "Blu-ray music" have a close relationship. In a few years, Blu-ray music is widely known in China because The cen.grand media player charm. The cen.grand media player is also famous in the hifi field thanks to the brilliant music of Blu-ray.

 

       As early as 2012, there were fans who gave us feedback: cen.grand player plays Blu-ray pure music very well. This is the first time we have learned that there is a connection between Blu-ray and music, there is a Blu-ray pure music disc. The product is called "Pure Blu-Ray Audio" in English.

 

       It is actually a Blu-ray disc, and ordinary CDs can't be played, and they are loaded with pure music data. Its picture is a track list interface for manipulation. Because this is a new thing, the domestic name is not yet unified, everyone calls it "Blu-ray CD", in fact, this is a wrong definition, because "Blu-ray CD" already exists, the English is called: Blu-Spec CD. It is a normal CD, but the material of the disc is made of the material of the Blu-ray disc. It can be played on a regular CD and is said to be better than the normal CD. Obviously, calling Pure Blu-Ray Audio "CD" is not appropriate because it has nothing to do with the CD. Then cen.grand proposed: Pure Blu-Ray Audio's future Chinese name is called "Blu-ray Music", or "Blu-ray pure music", and the disc is called "Blu-ray Music Disc". A few years later, this name has been generally accepted by the industry.

 

      The world's first Blu-ray music was released by Norwegian 2L. In recent years, many record companies of Universal Music have joined the ranks. Although the number of Blu-ray music is not much compared to CD, and it is mainly classical. There are fewer popular music and Chinese albums, but their excellent sound quality has made many fans rush.
 
      Why is Blu-ray music so good? First of all, it uses high bit rate to record, generally above 96K. The other key is that the standard sampling rate of recording is mostly 48K. If you want to make a CD, you must have an asynchronous conversion process of 48-44.1. This process is the killer of sound quality. In addition, the master file is made into a CD and needs to be encoded and decoded during playback. The Blu-ray disc stores the file, which means that the master tape is directly copied to the Blu-ray disc after the processing is completed. There is no conversion process. Therefore, the Blu-ray music is a 100% master tape, and it has no loss.

 

     This is "Blu-ray music." If the player has good quality, you can get better results than playing DSD. We have done a comparison. Blu-ray music has better sound field detail and analysis than DSD. It has different sound styles from DSD and has the temperament of high-end sound. In contrast, the sound of the DSD is slightly more awkward. Of course, some people think that DSD has more charm and better listening. In theory, DSD is a more perfect coding method than PCM, but this theoretical advantage has not completely translated into the advantage of hearing, because DSD music has too many conversion processes in the production process. For example, because the DSD is not editable, it should be converted to PCM during the mixing. After the mixing is completed, it can be transferred back to the DSD to make a record.

     Because of the problem of out-of-band noise, the DSD64 cannot be directly DAC, and must be converted to PCM and then decoded into an analog signal. After several conversions, the advantages of DSD have been greatly reduced! This is also the main reason why DSD has not beaten the CD in business. If it does not show an overwhelming advantage with the CD, the user will not give up the CD player and pay for the SACD machine to join the SACD camp.

     Therefore, SACD has developed very slowly and finally withdrew from the market after more than a decade. After leaving more than 10,000 SACD records, Sony gave up SACD, cracked SACD, and turned SACD discs into files that the computer could play. DSD has re-entered the climax, and only the copyright party is complaining.

 

      Here are some classic Blu-ray discs released by DECCA/DG:

 

     The 9i-AD black gold version upgraded the power system and analog system based on the previous version, adding some high-quality devices, and the quality has been significantly improved. Despite the price of 18,800, the sales were very good and unexpected. What makes us most happy is that the users of high-end systems appreciate the sound of the black gold version. The description is: it is the style of the standard American hifi equipment, especially when playing Blu-ray music, its density and sound field far exceeds High-end CD players, the music is very infectious. From the black gold version, the hifi image of cen.grand has been laid, and in the big cities of Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Beijing, the phenomenon of collective purchase by users has appeared. I once had a self-adjustment from Chengdu users: I am embarrassed to say that I am a hifi fan without playing the black gold version...

 

        If you pay attention to the brand promotion process of cen.grand, you will find that cen.gran's "gun articles" are rare. All the articles are sent by users. The black gold version is based on its own quality. The pragmatic propaganda style has also won the trust of the fans and the respect of the market.

 

       In 2016, for the characteristics of the black gold version, we made a big change in the circuit design, and changed the style of the sound into a more refined and Nordic style, so the 9i-AD "Black Gold Ultimate Version" was born. The price is rmb22800. Despite the high price, the user gave a higher rating than the price. As the finale of the 3010 program, the ultimate version has reached a very high level, and there are many wonderful performances in the system of high-end users. It can be said that the potential of 3010 has been developed to the extreme.

 

      In addition to Blu-ray music, we can't forget another hifi way, this is a live concert. Cen.grand's media player uses a Blu-ray solution with multi-channel capabilities and a high-end hifi design. What would be the effect if the cen.grand product was used to enjoy Blu-ray concerts? The resources of Blu-ray concerts are much more than Blu-ray music. A lot of excellent concert discs can only be played as ordinary Blu-ray discs because there is no hifi-level Blu-ray player. It is a pity!

 

       The best way to listen to a Blu-ray concert is multi-channel, which will make the scene more complete and feel the atmosphere. Hifi enthusiasts who often listen to live concerts should know that the stereo system that we usually listen to is very different from the scene, especially the low-end system, which is basically incomparable with the scene. Although I can listen to multi-channel on the AV system, because the positioning of the equipment is AV, the quality of the sound is far from the hifi, and it is difficult to obtain the desired effect.

 

       How can you restore the sound of the scene? We designed a multi-channel hifi player 9i-ADM, which can output 8-channel high-quality audio, which is equivalent to a combination of four black gold versions. It will output 7.1-channel analog audio signal, followed by 8-channel power amplifier, you can experience hifi multi-channel enjoyment. In several recent exhibitions in Guangzhou and Shanghai, the main exhibition hall of cen.grand is a demonstration of Blu-ray multi-channel system. The wonderful performance has won wide acclaim. Although this system is expensive and few buyers, it shows The achievements of cen.grand in the multi-channel hifi field have also made many people experience the charm of multi-channel.

 

       Here is the 9i-ADM, a product with a sense of authority. At the show, it was accompanied by a 9i-908 stereo amplifier, 250W 8 ohms, with strong driving force. The 9i-908 performed brilliantly at several exhibitions and completed the task brilliantly!

 
 

 

 

 

 

      Because multi-channel hifi has more sound sources, the positioning is very precise, and the density of the sound is very high. When listening to music, the sense of the scene is very prominent. A single instrument solo is vividly presented in front of you, making people forget that they are Listening to audio equipment, plus a beautiful picture, is also a great enjoyment. Therefore, despite the high cost of multi-channel hifi, more and more fans have begun to participate in it, cen.grand has set a precedent in this field.

 

       Cen.grand has two other power amplifier products: 9i-808/606, especially 9i-808, which uses FET as the output circuit amplifier, which reflects the high level of cen.grand driving sound, it is not a Cheap amplifiers, and finally have to stop production because of the lack of devices. Fans who like it use a lot of beautiful words to praise it, summed up only a few words, that is, "not a tube machine is like a tube machine." There is also a friend who has been using the pass amplifier to evaluate "pass defeated the tube amp, cen.grand (here referred to as 9i-808) defeated PASS". Unfortunately, this product that reflects the superior simulation technology of cen.grand can no longer be produced.       

 

 

       (4) Headphones and desktop audio market 9i-ES/ESA 9i-90SA "Lark"   

 

       Cen.grand has been working hard in large hifi systems and started to enter the headset desktop audio market in 2016. In order to bring beautiful video to the earphone enthusiasts, we reduced the black gold version to a smaller size, and made it smaller on the desktop, and adjusted the sound to make it more suitable for the headphones. After all, the sound requirements of the big system are not exactly the same as the earphones. This is the 9i-ES. The other model that integrates the headphone amplifier is called 9i-ESA. See the following figure:

 

      The 9i-ESA received high praise from the organizers at the 2016 Shanghai Siav exhibition. The final summary of the exhibition was highly rated for 9i-ESA:

https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s?__biz=MzU3NDYzOTY2MA==&mid=2247492309&idx=1&sn=7b24991be63234195482db1e7b99d417&source=41#wechat_redirect.

 

      Although it is a newcomer in the headset desktop market, cen.grand has a deep accumulation in hifi, especially in the field of digital audio, with a wide range of brand influence, our earphone products will also be high-quality products.

 

 

      At the 2016 and 2017 Guangzhou International Audio Record Exhibition, 9i-ES/ESA participated in the demonstration and gave a good presentation. At the exhibition, they all achieved good sales performance, especially in 2017. All the machines brought to the exhibition were sold on site. At the end of the final stage, there were three people competing for one. This product is still not well-known in the earphone market, and many earphone enthusiasts still don't understand it. We will increase the promotion afterwards.

 

 

 

     

 

       Finally introduced is the cen.grand DAC / headphone amplifier / preamplifier one machine: 9i-90SA "Lark".
 
 
       This product is positioned at the price of rmb3K, although it is very cheap, but it is a versatile high-end performance product. It is the key product of cen.grand to fully enter the earphone market. It is to let more people know about cen.grand and experience cen.grand welfare products.

 

       

 

   In 2018, at the Guangzhou International Audio Recording Exhibition, the largest audio recording exhibition in Asia, the 9i-AD Black Gold Ultimate Edition was rated as "Best Media Player" (below 50,000 yuan), 9i-90SA "Lark" was commented For the "best headphone amplifier" (3-8 thousand dollars). This award is highly authoritative. For details, please click:

http://en.cen-grand.com/news/38.html

 

 

      Thank you for reading the long article!

 

      This is the chronicle of cen.grand, which tells about the growth process and main products of cen.grand in the hifi field, so that everyone has a deeper understanding of cen.grand.

      In the past few years, cen.grand has achieved certain results in brand building. In the future planning, we also have some important technology research and development in progress, such as exploring the basic theory of DSD and seeking a more direct way of DSD restoration. 

      In the brand operation, we will develop to cultural enterprises. Hifi's road is very broad, cen.grand needs your support, your attention will be the driving force of cen.grand development!