Digital sources

The CD-7's sound is both attractive and addictive. Though it is still an entry-level player it does sound smooth and analogue. If your preference is listening comfort instead of sonic dissection the CD-7 may be the right player for you.

Function and form

Ease of use

Usher offers impeccable craftsmanship and some interesting construction details - like aluminum machined feet that have elastic inserts to decouple the player from the surface it sits on and prevent sliding. Or the heavy and rugged machined piece of remote control that can be used as a hammer.

The rear panel hosts gold-plated RCA cinches (they are gold-plated also from inside the box which supports the good initial impression), optical and coaxial outputs, IEC connector and the switch that allows the player to be used with different voltage standards.

Bass management


The CD-7's optical pick up is sourced from Sony (KSS-213Q) and is affixed on two steel rails. After D/A conversion (24bit/192kHz sigma delta Cirrus Logic CS4398 converter) the signal is processed by a duo of mono OPA134PA devices. The parts in the Usher are selected, like the five Rubycon capacitors, each having its own cooling.

The CD-7's chassis is a thick steel U-shaped plate. The front and rear panel are bolted together across the whole depth of the player by means of two metal rods. The upper lid slids on the chassis like a drawer and is secured by three plastic pieces. The whle contsruction is quite unusual but it is also extremely rigid. The transport pick up is a standard plastic one with a very shallow driver so one needs to be careful to place a disc correctly on it.

Despite the plastic drawer parts the loading of disc is dead silent and it remains to be silent during playback too - I could hear no noise from inside with my ear pressed against the player. Also the control software is intuitive and working very fast, no need to wait between commands. Not every high end player is so exemplary built.

Clarity & delicacy


Primitive from Holy Smoke soundtrack starts with tabla strokes with significant reverberation (the echo apparently made in a studio). Also Annie Lennox's voice is very atmospheric, yet very emotional at the same time, as if some inner sadness poured out of it. Through the CD-7 the nuancees of the voice, the choir and the instruments were clearly heard, as if I was listening to a personal performance in my room.

Tonal accuracy

Temporal resolution

The nordic clarity of ECM label makes a perfecct match to the Usher CD-7. The composition of Jan Garbarek, Ketil Bjornstad or Stephen Micus were almost magical, as was the massive Hillard Ensemble. The Garbarek's tenor saxophone was dreamy and soothing through the Usher CD-7, like a haze hovering over the music. The cello was punchy and dramatic, the CD-7 had no problem to play vibrating bass lines which might have better definition but considering the price category there was nothing to really complain about.

If you exclusively listen to orchestrated or classical music then you may miss denser sound and more colourful timbres. Some instruments had too way thin bodies and were less three dimensional.

Spatial resolution

Soundstage width
Soundstage depth

The CD-7's remote allows switching between two digital filters. The switching happens on the fly so it is possible to compare easily. The ´Sharp´filter keeps the frequency response flat up to 18kHz with sharp roll off afterwards. The 'Slow´filter's roll off is gentler but also here the signal is filtered off at 20kHz.

Usher suggests that the option to switch between the filters is good in accomodating the sound to mastering style of each recording. I found minimum audible differences between both filters. At the end I always preferred the Slow mode that gave me satisfactory results on any reccording. The Sharp filter was as if a bit clearer so it let me hear more ambience in some recordings and delivered sharper sounds that highlighted the program material of German Kraftwerk (Trans Europa Express).

Price as reviewed:22 000,- Kč

Recommended resellers

Nisel SK, Bratislava, tel. +421 905 203 078

PP HiFi Studio, Otrokovice, tel. +420 603 581 305

Associated components

  • Sources: Denon DCD-1500AE, Cambridge Audio Azur 840C
  • Amplifiers: Accuphase E-250, Usher P-307A and R1.5
  • Interconnects and speaker cables: Crystal Silver Star, Oehlbach 2x2x6mm, Rapport
  • Loudspeakers: Usher Dancer Mini One



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