Review - RCA RP8078 5-disc CD changer w/MP3 capability

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Clinton McClure, Jan 22, 2002.

  1. Clinton McClure

    Clinton McClure Casual Enthusiast

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    Last night I picked up an RCA RP8078 5-disc CD changer with CD-R, CD-RW, and MP3 playback capabilities. I am still playing around with it, but I will post a full product review either tonight or tomorrow morning.
     
  2. Clinton McClure

    Clinton McClure Casual Enthusiast

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    Ok, here's the scoop. I know there are others out there besides myself who have been looking for a quality stand-alone MP3 player for their HT. Well folks, it looks like we're gonna have to wait a while longer.
    Yesterday I took the plunge, dropped $99 and left Best Buy with an RCA RP8078. I already had a Kenwood 5-disc CD changer, but I longed for a dedicated MP3 changer and this appeared to be what I was looking for.
    After getting the unit home and hooking it up, I made several quick discoveries.
    First the PROS:
    1. Overall CD playback quality is very impressive. This is actually one of the best CD changers I have heard. It blew away my $250 Kenwood changer as far as sound quality.
    Now the CONS:
    1. We'll start off with appearance. The unit only comes in silver. The rest of my equipment is black so it really makes this changer stand out in my component rack. (Personally, I'd rather the unit to be black.) It is difficult to see anything on the display other than the track number from a distance of 3' or greater. I kept having to try to remember which number disc I was playing because the disc number is so small I could barely see it from my chair (5' away).
    2. The analog RCA jacks on the back will only accept the cheap RCA cables which came with the unit. There is not enough clearance around the jack to plug in a high quality cable (such as Monster Audio Cables). I tried, but they simply will not fit.
    3. I noticed as I was reading the manual that there are absolutely no electronic specifications listed anywhere. None, nada, Nil. How's a person to know what kind of power consumption or THD% they will have with this unit?
    4. The MP3 text display cuts off at 28 characters. While not a show-stopper, this is a little aggravating.
    5. The build quality of the unit seems to be pretty cheap. It weighs the same as my Kenwood, but the tray mechanism is louder and you can only load one disc at a time (whereas you can load two at a time with the Kenwood).
    6. Speaking of poor build quality, the remote control is a travesty unto itself. The buttons are not arranged well and there is no 1-touch disc select or skip. To change discs, you first have to press the shift key on the remote, then one of the numbered buttons.
    7. No batteries are supplied for the remote. (A personal gripe of mine.)
    8. Another gripe is the inability to directly select an MP3 track to play. I fault this to the format in general. You just have to start at the beginning of each disc and keep pressing the track skip up button until you reach the track you wish to play. In other words, if you want to hear the 78th MP3 track on the disc, you're in for a long wait.
    9. And speaking of long waits, did I mention the long loading time (anywhere from 25 seconds up to one minute) for each MP3 disc?
    10. Next we'll move on to the real problems facing this unit. I'll start with the unit's inability to handle files encoded at 320kbps. Playing files with this bitrate, I get frequent audio dropouts. Even with 256k I get a few, but nowhere near the number I get with 320k. And as if that wasn't enough, some files will not even play. When I select certain MP3 tracks to play, the unit begins to fast forward through the track. To get it to play, I have to continuously press the FF button, and then it might play and it might not. Other files will play fine for 20-30 seconds, then begin to fast forward on their own. So far I have only noticed this problem with 320k files, but I have only tested with a very small portion of my MP3 library (of which 75% of the files are 320kbps).
    11. Another big leaking hole in this player's boat is the optical digital output. I tried using this before the analog outputs, but I had to quickly switch. Using the optical output, I was averaging an audio dropout about every 2-3 seconds. This was not specific to 320k files. It occurred on all bitrates I tried.
    12. And last, but not least, when playing two tracks from an audio CD which should be seamless between (as an example I am going to use Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band/With A Little Help From My Friends from the Beatles Yellow Submarine album), the player pauses for a second. This got annoying very fast. It's like a very badly placed layer change on a DVD. Actually, this is the first CD player of any kind I have known not to be able to play these two tracks without pausing.
    After playing with the unit for the better part of the evening, I am still very unsatisfied with it. It is a good idea, but very poorly constructed. I would not recommend the RCA RP8078 to anyone unless you just wish to throw away $100. Over the past few weeks, while shopping at Best Buy, I have noticed several of these units marked down to about $80 as open box items and I was curious why. Now I know. Tomorrow I am heading back out to Best Buy to try to return it on the basis that it does not fully support the advertised media formats.
    Overall consumer rating: [​IMG]
     

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