I moved to Berlin in 2016 with precisely zero CDs. My listening habits back then were (mostly) Roon streaming with a side of vinyl. Any CDs were long gone. I’d sold off a collection of around 2000 discs between 2004 and 2010, predominantly on eBay, disc by disc, until the then-nascent streaming services began to squeeze demand.
In 2018, Norway’s Hegel sent me their Mohican CD player (€5000) – the last of its kind – which reignited my love affair with the shiny silver disc. And since then I’ve bought, disc by disc, a new collection of around a thousand CDs. This new collection includes many rarities that I’d missed (or couldn’t afford) the first time around. Excepting some early 00s electronica releases and some mid-2010s indie-rock reissues, CDs are pretty darn cheap.
Earlier this year, Hegel got in touch again. Two years after the Mohican’s discontinuation due to parts shortages, the Norwegians were about to introduce a new €5000 CD player to satisfy unrelenting customer demand. The new model would be called the Viking and would feature a brand new DAC chip from AKM, improved digital staging, a better master clock implementation, a better output stage and the same connectivity as the Mohican. However, the Viking would be a slot loader (and not a tray) and it wouldn’t be announced for a good few months — did I want an early sample to test?
The presence of this video tells you of my reply. Besides, I still had the Mohican in regular rotation in Berlin to make light work of my first side-by-side comparison. But what of other high-end CD players? I had none! However, Schiit had just pushed its new Urd CD transport through my letterbox: how would it compare to the Viking when partnered with three different external DACs? There was only one way to find out…
🎥 Camera: John Darko / Olaf von Voss
🎬 Editor: John Darko
🌈 Colour: Olaf von Voss
🕺🏻 Motion GFX: John Darko
💰 Ad segment: Jana Dagdagan
🎵 Song IDs? Playlists of all music heard in this video – and other videos – can be found on PATREON: https://www.patreon.com/johndarko
Further information: Hegel
👉 As seen in this video…
15 reasons why I still buy CDs
Steve Hoffman forum on 2004 Kraftwerk ‘Der Katalog’
Hegel Mohican & more
AudioQuest balanced interconnects
Cables and power products by AudioQuest
Hi-fi furniture and speaker stands by Solid Steel
Room treatment by Vicoustic
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**CORRECTION** The Kraftwerk box set shown in this video is the 2009 version 🤦🏻♂️