audio research

Compact disc player/transport.

From the ARC website

We are proud to introduce a model that may be the most musical and musically accurate single-chassis compact disc player, the Reference CD8. It replaces a product that was still garnering five-star reviews three years after its introduction, the esteemed Reference CD7.

With the advent of the CD5 and DAC7 in 2008, we knew that the DAC used in our Reference player needed a newer, higher-resolution version. (The new 24-bit, 192-kHz chipset is not retrofittable to the CD7.) And, our engineers found a way to physically incorporate the same power-supply regulation used in the Reference 3, using a single 6550C to replace two 6H30 triodes, giving better performance and longer tube life. Other enhancements include our newest output coupling capacitors and special damping tweaks. The playback mechanism continues to be the unsurpassed Philips PRO2R — still the best dedicated CD mechanism available.

The REFCD8 also features a new dimmable display, allowing five levels of illumination or completely off. A small LED indicator remains lit when the player is on, as a reminder to prevent the player from being left on inadvertently. In size, input and output configuration, —and in all other operational functions, the REFCD8 is identical to the REFCD7. But there the similarities end.

Sonically, the REFCD8 stands in a class all its own. While retaining the lush, full embodiment of the CD7 sound, the CD8 adds new dimensions of transparency. It immediately shows greater transient speed top-to-bottom, purer resolution of low-level detail and expanded dynamic contrasts, with more bass slam, definition and extension. The soundstage is larger and more holographic because of the heightened ability of the REFCD8 to embody and locate instruments and voices. Rhythmically, the REFCD8 also picks up the pace compared to the CD7, with improved timing cues and better rhythmic interplay. You will find other sonic dimensions to marvel as you spend time with this enticing player.

Quite simply, the REFCD8 will have you rearranging your compact disc collection all over again as you rediscover and reprioritize old and new favorites. It really is the most mesmerizing, musically accurate CD player we have ever experienced — and what better way to bring enhanced value to a growing, and costly, CD collection!





MSRP (US new retail)


Frequency response 0.5–20,000Hz +0 -0.5dB.
Distortion .03% 1kHz
S/N ratio 108dBA
Phase linearity  
Channel separation 100dB 1kHz.
Resolution 24 BIT DAC.
Output impedance 660 ohms BAL, 330 ohms SE.
Analog outputs Balanced XLR 3.6V RMS (+11.1dBv) max. 2. Single-Ended RCA 1.8V RMS (+5.1dBv) max.
Digital outputs XLR Balanced AES/EBU 110-ohm 4V P-P.
BNC coax SPDIF 75-ohm 0.7V P-P.
Drive mechanism Discs: Accepts 5" (12cm) and 3" (8cm) sizes.
Wow & Flutter: unmeasureable (Quartz stability).
Optical pickup Type: 3-beam LDGU (Laser Diode & Grating Unit), with holographic diffraction light pen.
Laser: GaAIAs semiconductor, 780nm, 0.5mW maximum output.
Servo: Digitally-controlled low-inertia linear positioning actuator.
Signal format Sampling frequency: 44.1kHz.
Quantization Bit: 16bit linear per channel.
Channel bit rate: 4.3218Mb/sec.
Channel modulation code: EFM (8 –14 modulation). Error correction: CIRC (cross interleave Reed Solomon Code).
Power requirements 100 - 135VAC 60Hz (200 - 270VAC 50/60Hz), 120 watts maximum.(2 watts maximum when unit is turned off)
Other Jitter reduction: High-stability crystal-controlled re-clocking for all outputs.
Display: Six-digit vacuum fluorescent, with optical filter.
Tube complement: (4)-6H30P dual triodes, plus (1 each) 6550C and 6H30P in power supply.
Compliance: RF Interference complies with FCC and CE MARK.
Dimensions 19" (48 cm) W x 5 1/4” (13.4 cm) H x 15 3/8” (39.0 cm) D. Handles extend 1 1/2” (3.8 cm) forward of the front panel. Rear connectors extend 3/4” (1.9 cm).
Weight 32.5 lbs. (14.8 kg) Net; 43 lbs. (19.5 kg) Shipping.