Hot: Smoother and more organic presentation than its acclaimed 840C older and costlier stablemate but not as insightful. Sharp roll-off filter results are more immediate, with lots of detail in presentation and a wide stage. Tighter and with better grip on dynamics than in the slow roll-off mode. Very communicative musically, and does not add much to the signal – enjoyable without being too laid back. Clearly a cut above the competition in overall sound quality.
Cold: Bass not the best in the class, and slow roll-off filter seems superfluous. A USB input would have been nice.
Encore: Many traditional hi-fi brands refuse to give up on the Red Book format, and why should they when there are still billions of silver discs in circulation? Plus, CD players like the 550C only serve to remind us that there’s still a lot of life left in the old dog. Better still, the 550C proves you don’t have to spend too much to extract that life.
Specs: Audio-only transport with proprietary servo system / Single 24-bit/192kHz Wolfson WM8740 DAC with in-house filter (2 provided, sharp/show roll-off) / CD Text display / Navigator remote handset / Dimensions: 85 x 430 x 305mm (h/w/d), 4.8kg / Finish options: Silver, black