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"Home Appliance Forum": "Century Gray HIFI Digital Play/Amplifier 9i-ESA", the best sound of Chinese audio

"Home Appliance Forum": "Century Gray HIFI Digital Play/Amplifier 9i-ESA", the best sound of Chinese audio

  • Categories:Review / TEST
  • Author:
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  • Time of issue:2019-03-03 00:08
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"Home Appliance Forum": "Century Gray HIFI Digital Play/Amplifier 9i-ESA", the best sound of Chinese audio

  • Categories:Review / TEST
  • Author:
  • Origin:
  • Time of issue:2019-03-03 00:08
  • Views:

Wu Tong Home Appliances Alliance Network 2016-07-11


Although the audio equipment I use most of the time are foreign products, sometimes I really encounter cost-effective products that win glory for the country. They have the best sound quality and performance at their respective price points. Share them with your fans.
One of the very good impressions of the domestic equipment I have recently tried is this one---"CEN GRAND HIFI Digital Player 9i-ESA"
1. Simplicity is supreme, highly integrated, and fully functional:

The combination of these two pieces of equipment should be the easiest way to combine audio, an all-in-one machine that integrates a digital player and a headphone amplifier, plus a pair of fever headphones, if you don’t include the random cable provided by the manufacturer and the storage of music data If you have a hard drive, there are only these two pieces of equipment, and it will bring the listeners a very good audiophile sound quality!

In one signal source, PCM, DSD, PURE Blu-Ray can be integrated at the same time

There are very few hif players that play the three music formats of Audio (Blu-ray Disc), and the Century Gray 9i-ES/ESA can also replay Blu-ray HD video, which is a bit of a cow.

Since CEN GRAND launched the "9i-AD Black Edition", it has attracted attention. This time, the 9i-ES/ESA I auditioned is based on the "9i-AD Black Gold Edition" and is an improved version for headphone users. 9i-ES is a digital player with analog output and digital output (including: balanced/RCA analog output, digital SPDIF coaxial, BNC, digital balanced AES, optical fiber), while 9i-ESA is an additional set of two channels Amp output.

CEN GRAND's Blu-ray digital playback solution integrates the high-end audio DSP of philips, so it has outstanding performance in audio decoding performance, coupled with KDS high-performance audio dual clock system, the good reputation of 9i series digital players benefits from this Advanced audio architecture.


2. The most compatible digital player:


High-definition PCM and DSD decoding products have been discussed a lot. 9i-ES/ESA supports PCM24/192 and DSD64, naturally, it can also directly play ISO files in compressed SACD format. 9i-ESA whether it is PCM

The sound quality performance of 24/96 or DSD is quite good. I had this impression when I first listened to the "9i-AD Black Gold Edition".

As for the several power amplifiers I have tried listening to recently, many of the auditioning tracks are played by connecting the 9i-ES/ESA to the hard disk or NAS.

3. As a CD/PCM high-definition, DSD and Blu-ray audio digital signal source:

1. PCM and LPCM:

PCM (Pulse Code Modulation) is a lossless compression format that everyone is familiar with, but PCM is divided into "non-linear pulse code modulation" and LPCM "linear pulse code modulation". In the three processes of A/D sampling, quantization and encoding, the two are exactly the same in the sampling process. The quantization process is to convert the sampled signal into a discrete time and discrete amplitude digital signal. The quantization process is divided into linear quantization and nonlinear quantization. Non-linear quantization uses unequal quantization intervals, and LPCM linear quantization has equal quantization intervals in the entire quantization range, so the LPCM data volume is larger, and the result is better sound quality restored by LPCM.

2. LPCM and Dolby (Dobly True HD) or DTS (DTS-HD Master Audio):

The larger capacity of the Blu-ray disc stores the multi-channel audio data of Dolby (Dobly True HD) or DTS (DTS-HD Master Audio). Although Dolby and DTS are multi-channel high-definition formats, they are still lossy compressed audio. Coding, Dolby and DTS are based on the cinema multi-channel format, and the sound still has the timbre characteristics of the movie, and classical music lovers still prefer the LPCM sound style. Fortunately, the Blu-ray disc has a large capacity and there is enough space to store stereo or even multi-channel LPCM lossless signals, and restore the data closest to the original recording, so we can say that PURE Blu-Ray Audio can provide lossless compression. The best multi-channel music carrier in HD format.


3. Image display of PURE Blu-Ray Audio

The file format of Blu-Ray Audio is to store video and audio in the ts format of the movie, so one more function of 9i-ES/ESA than ordinary audio digital broadcasting is that it can read the ts file and convert the video signal and audio information. Decode the output separately. Most Blu-Ray

Audio only has static pictures, but to play this type of disc, it is also necessary to have an image display for prompting operations, including song selection, switching audio tracks, etc., and it can also display the color page picture of the current track. 9i-ES/ESA playing Blu-Ray

Audio has all the functions of a jailbroken Blu-ray player in this regard. It can play Blu-ray discs with the 9i-BDR digital player "companion", support Blu-ray original disc navigation and playback, and can directly play Blu-ray ISO in the hard disk. document.

4. Play PURE Blu-Ray Audio with Hi-Fi system

I don’t have many Blu-ray programs from PURE Blu-Ray Audio, and most of them are listened to by multi-channel cinema systems. Fans know that the design of the multi-channel cinema system is for the restoration of the movie, and more emphasis is placed on explosive power, transient speed and spatial envelopment, and it is not as good as the hifi system in terms of tone, softness, delicacy and musicality. . With Century Gray 9i-ES/ESA, you can build a music playback system with hfi equipment.

4. The design concept of Century Gray 9i-ES/ESA:

9i-ES/ESA inherits the successful design architecture of "9i-AD Black Gold Edition". The characteristic of the Century Gray solution is that after the dual-core CPU controls and reads the data through the hard disk interface or the network, the DSP chip of Philips is used to process the audio signal, and then two sets of WM8741 are used for DAC conversion. Compared with the use of FPGA solution manufacturers to program and implement decoding, this solution is more mature, and the timbre is relatively more neutral and accurate. At the same time, the clock source uses a suspension shock absorber design, and optimizes the power supply and components.

In addition, if 9i-ES/ESA wants to support the playback of Blu-ray music discs, it must do one more processing system, that is, use Cirrus Logic's DSP chip to process the movie files in Blu-Ray, and then use two sets of WM870 for audio DAC conversion. At the same time, Vmeta is responsible for the processing of video signals to achieve multi-channel or two-channel restoration of Blu-ray music.

In terms of use and operation, the 9i-ES/ESA is equipped with a 7-inch touch screen, and when playing PURE Blu-Ray Audio, this small screen can clearly display the control interface of the song selection and audio track in the Blu-ray disc and the static music of the music. Color page pictures, in addition to the control keys on the right side of the panel and the random remote control, it also supports ipad/android tablet/mobile phone/computer for remote control after connecting to the network.
5. The use and audition experience of 9i-ES/ESA in the speaker system:

The first set of equipment: 9i-ES/ESA + darTZeel LHC-208/ + Dali MENUET

Second set: 9i-ES/ESA + Einstein The Tune + Blumenhofer Tempesta 20

The third set of equipment: 9i-ES/ESA + Tonewinner AD-86Pro + B&W M80

Comparing signal sources: Studer A727 CD player, Mark Levison No.37 turntable plus French Totaldac Hiend Totaldac D1-Dual decoder, etc.



1. As a CD/HD digital turntable:

These three systems are all sensitive to the requirements of the signal source, including the use of different signal cables, which obviously have different timbre and sound quality restoration.

The overall feeling of 9i-ESA is healthy and atmospheric. The sound of each frequency band is very full and full of power. When playing high-demand PCM and DSD music files, it presents rich details, and the restoration of the sound field is also very stage-like. I think This is also the reason why the designers of Century Gray have used the big band to play classical music many times in the sample sound and exhibition demonstration equipment. Maybe many fans who have visited Century Gray's exhibition room at the audio exhibition will have the impression that CEN GRAND uses its own power amplifier to promote the PMC MB2-SE speaker, and the sound is accurate and very imposing and scale. credit.

The audition results with multiple sets of equipment show that the 9i-ESA's timbre is neutral and accurate, it will not bring too much color into the system, but let other equipment play its own characteristics.

2. As Pure Blu-Ray Audio:

When listening to Blu-Ray music with a two-channel system, whether it is a speaker system or a headphone system, it is strongly recommended to switch the sound quality to the 2.0 LPCM soundtrack, which has the most natural timbre and sound field.

The most published Pure Blu-Ray Audio is the Norwegian label 2L, which is said to have released more than 130 Blu-Ray discs. Some of 2L's recent Blu-ray releases include two discs, one in Blu-Ray format and the other in double-layer SACD. After listening to several Pure Blu-Ray Audio tracks, I found the advantages of 9i-ESA! There are many classical music Blu-ray discs recorded by Norway "2L", and there are many LPCM two-channel audio tracks played by 9i-ESA The texture of all instruments is very strong and vivid, and the high-sampling rate digital audio also gives very great dynamics and dynamics, even without the addition of percussion, just the performance of the strings can produce bursting sound effects ! And thanks to the multi-channel recording, the restored sense of space is very good.

Take the 2L Blu-ray as an example. The tracks included in the BD Collection released in 2009 include: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (192/24), LPCM 5.1 (192/24) and LPCM 2-channel (192/24) , plus the picture data a total of about 45G.


6. 9i-ESA is used as a signal source/amplifier with three earphones:

1. Fostex TH610:

The 9i-ESA has an amp output. The headphone amplifier adopts single-ended class A design, and the output current is large, which can drive high-impedance headphones.

There are exactly three large headphones that can be used for audition, and these four headphones are all low-impedance models. Among them, I think the Fostex TH610 is the most effective. This earphone has the delicateness and softness of Japanese earphones, without losing its strength and refreshing. In addition to the advantage of playing female voices, I also used it to audition several symphony tracks. 9i-ESA can fully drive something like this. Large headphones, and the advantages of 9i-ESA outputting high-definition music signals have also been fully demonstrated. Fostex TH610 shows that the two are very friendly under the 9i-ESA combination, and will get high scores in all aspects of performance. It seems that once the Fostex TH610 has 9i-ESA, there is no need for anything else. So for Fostex TH610 users, I strongly recommend listening to the combination with 9i-ESA.


2. HIFIMAN Edition X:

After I connected this earphone, I realized that Hifiman launched this earphone to let audiophiles know that they are also capable of producing large earphones that are very easy to drive. But Edition X is not as simple as high sensitivity. Often high-sensitivity speakers or headphones are more sensitive, and they are more picky about the sound of the front section. 9i-ESA is still a stance that no one will refuse, and it still plays as usual. Instead, the high-resolution, fresh and bright features of Edition X are brought into full play. If you like, you can use this combination to play "Grieg: Piano Concerto", and find that the combination of the two can more fully restore the hall feeling of Blu-Ray Audio recording, and at the same time, the layers of the instruments are more distinct, just right These two equipments are all from Chinese design manufacturers, I am a little proud of this!


3. Sennheiser HD800:

Finally, there was a player who was difficult to serve. The HD800 is not only a driver problem, but also in terms of tone, I think it needs a neutral and slightly warm amp to match. After listening to several songs, I found that the 9i-ESA lived up to expectations, driving the HD800 very well, the treble had a metallic luster, the low frequency was deep and powerful, and the sound field was quite imposing. The large-scale band can also show a very high level of stage sense. . It is believed that most HD800 users will choose high-end and suitable amps for it, so the audition of the 9i-ESA also shows the strength of its signal source and built-in amps. For HD800 to play a richer, more natural and relaxed tone, it may only be possible to achieve it with an amp of tens of thousands of dollars.



7. 9i-ESA's network playback function:

For a lazy person like me, you can play multiple records without getting up to the CD player---because in a network NAS system, some music files of different formats, including PCM, DSD and Blu, are stored in advance. -Ray

Audio files, it is very convenient to use 9i-ESA to play these files on demand. As the music files on hard drives and NAS systems grow from hundreds to thousands of CDs, it really seems like it's time to say goodbye to these CD collections in the record cabinet.


9i-ESA is a digital signal source with complete functions that I have used. Thanks to the technical advantages of Blu-ray music records, whether it is a speaker system or a headphone system, there is a very realistic and uncompressed music playback. . After listening to it, I realized that the previous recording technology was indeed unable to release the information and energy in the sound signal. As an all-in-one at this price point, the 9i-ESA does everything it's supposed to.

Attached are some collected Blu-Ray Audio tracks:

  2L flutist Hans, Olaf, Gost and friends NODEBOG
  Mozart Grieg Works for Two Pianos Vol II 2009 Blu-ray 1080p AVC DTS-HD 5.1
Ole Bull Violin Album.BD Original
  Sara K Made In The Shade
  The Nordic Sound - 2L Audiophile Reference Recordings (2009) Blu-ray 1080p AVC DTS-HD 5.1

Classical music fever test film.Blu.Ray

Grieg: Piano Concerto. BD original version


The Door of Perception (BD-Audio).BD Original

Blu-ray Pure Audio Tiger Fish.BD Original



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