Panasonic SL-CT790 Review (vs. Sony D-EJ1000)
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Eagle_Driver

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Today I bought the "big brother" of the SL-CT590, the SL-CT790 (replacing my broken-down CT470). (BTW, the SL-CT790 that I'm reviewing is the version that's marketed in the U.S., with no line-out at all whatsoever.) So far, I think the headphone-out of the SL-CT790 sounds better than that of my Sony D-EJ1000 - the bass on the Panasonic is more articulate than that of my top-shelf Sony. And I heard virtually no difference in the Panasonic's sound with or without its supplied remote (unlike a lot of their other models with a remote).

As for using that Panasonic CT790's headphone jack as line-out, it sounded almost identical to the line-out of my Sony EJ1000 (except for loudness, of course).


Are there any weaknesses? Well, the headphone jack on the Panasonic CT790's remote (and also that of my Sony EJ1000) won't accomodate the plugs found on Grado headphones - the plastic grip is too wide for the plug to be inserted fully into those remote jacks. Some sort of modification is needed on those plug housings for them to fit the remotes' jacks properly. And the Panasonic defaults to S-XBS whenever the batteries are replaced - you'll have to press the EQ button on the remote (which, unfortunately, is required to access secondary functions on the CT790) three times to defeat the EQ. And speaking of the EQ, the only setting that's suitable for me is Off - the default S-XBS is overly boomy, Train mode is overly muffled and Live mode is overly tinny and echoey.
(The Sony D-EJ1000 and D-EJ855 also require their bundled remotes in order to access their secondary functions.) And speaking of default volume settings, Panasonic's default is 10/25, so you can at least listen to music with efficient headphones; the Sony's default setting is an extremely low 3/30.

Overall, I'd rate the Panasonic SL-CT790 slightly above the Sony D-EJ1000 - and both are among the best performers of the currently available (read: current model) portable CD players.


Randy a/k/a Eagle_Driver
 
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Just to refute jlo mein's impressions of the SL-CT790:

Quote:

Originally posted by jlo mein
yesterday while i bought my sony srf-s83 radio (very SWEET!
), i also tried out the ct790 just to see how crappy it is. It was the north american version, with no line out, optical, or uncompressed sound.

Let me first just say that: IT SOUNDS LIKE CRAP. Yes, to me it sounded worse than the sony srf-s84 radio i was trying out. the s83 radio i actually bought sounded a little better than the pana. I used my tape and foam modded sony ex70's to audition the units.

What stood out the most on the 790 was that it sounded hollow, echo-y, and mid bass heavy. I was really tempted to buy it, since its so small and it only was $180 canadian. however after i listened to it i decided not to.


Well, jlo mein obviously didn't realise that the EQ on the SL-CT790 is set to S-XBS as a default, and that the remote is required in order to defeat the EQ. And the place where PCDPs are auditioned at are unlikely to have a remote for anyone to demo those PCDPs that require one.
 
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Thanks for the review Eagle_Driver!

When I first became a Panasonic fan (around '96), their portables always defaulted to EQ off when you remove power...either that, or the EQ switch was a slider. Back then I used S-XBS all the time, so I guess they probably surveyed their customers, listened to the results and made everything (CD and cassette at least) default to S-XBS.
 
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andrzejpw

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Hey, anyone know how the sony 955s are?
 
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Eagle_Driver

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In case you're wondering, the headphones that I used in the comparative review are the Sennheiser HD 280 PRO's. And through those headphones the Panasonic CT790's bass sounded more articulate (read: tighter) than the somewhat loose and mushy bass from the Sony EJ1000 from their headphone jacks.

Yeah, better headphones will always improve the sound quality from portable CD players like these. But what about the bundled stock headphones? Well, the ones that come supplied with both players should have been sent to the circular file. Boomy, muddy mid/upper bass; mids that are just plain MIA; screechy upper mids and lower treble; nonexistent response at both extremes of the audible spectrum; craptastic overall sound. The Sony's stock 'phones suffer slightly less from boomy bass - but their highs are even scratchier.
 
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Today, with a pair of Sony MDR-A35G VITE headphones, I noticed a slight hiss in the output of the SL-CT790. Slight, but I can live with it.

Which goes to show you that op-amps put into PCDPs are full of compromises. As a matter of fact, I've heard slight hissing in all of the better-sounding amps that I've ever owned, as well. My Sonys don't hiss at all from their headphone jacks - but their sound quality is no better than mediocre from those non-hissing jacks (sloppy bass response and rolled-off highs).

Bleah, nobody can get their PCDP amps right. In fact, in a PCDP I'd rather have hissy but decent sound than hiss-free but crappy sound.
 
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Eagle Driver, can you comment on the build qualify,battery life, and how good the shock protection is on the 790? (maybe compare it to the sony dej1000?)

One of my friends is going to Hong Kong next month, I'm thinking about asking him to pick up the asian model w/ line out for me.


thanks
 
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zchen, the Panasonic SL-CT790's build quality is slightly inferior to that of the Sony D-EJ1000. And its skip protection is about equally as effective as that of the D-EJ1000. And neither is built as well as some of the tanks (old-style PCDPs) from yesteryear.
 
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i'm not sure, but audiocubes sells the version with the lineout right?
 
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kerecsen

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Eagle_Driver, you left out one interesting detail: how does the 790 compare to the poor abandoned 470?
I'm very disappointed with the sound of my iRiver 250 (compared to my age old stolen sl-s320 and my ose6000ki), and I'm trying to figure out what to buy instead...
 
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Eagle_Driver

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My "bastardized" U.S.-market CT790 sounds similar to the headphone-out of my broken CT470, but at a lower overall loudness level.
 
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jlo mein

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Quote:

Originally posted by Eagle_Driver

Well, jlo mein obviously didn't realise that the EQ on the SL-CT790 is set to S-XBS as a default, and that the remote is required in order to defeat the EQ. And the place where PCDPs are auditioned at are unlikely to have a remote for anyone to demo those PCDPs that require one.


Actually, i had absolutely no idea that it defaults to XBS. When i auditioned it, there were no batts in it, so the store guy supplied me some and i started it up. I had no remote, so i never knew that it set to XBS by default.

Hmmmm, maybe i should go give it another try? i think i may as well try using my sister's CT590. I never tried it because i assumed it would be worse than the 790.

Thanks for the heads up eagle!
 
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I am correcting myself on the Panasonic CT790 vs. Sony EJ1000 headphone out:

I still stand by the fact that the CT790's headphone-out sounds better than the EJ1000's headphone-out. But listening to both more closely, and I found that the Sony's headphone-out sounds overwarm and a bit murky - whilst the Panasonic CT790's headphone-out sounds a bit dry. And that is with no EQ or Mega Bass on at all whatsoever.

And don't try out the Panasonic 590 or 790 with Grado headphones, especially the SR-125 through SR-325 - they can sound a bit too bright. Koss KSC-35, KSC-50 and Porta Pro, and Sennheiser 497 are better matches for the CT590/790's phones-out.
 
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jlo mein

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i briefly tried the ct590 and my dej1000 in a camparison with my grado 60's.

Purely with the headphone outs, i actually very *slightly* prefer the ct590. The sound just seems smoother to me, while the sony sounds a little jagged in a way.

What really pisses me off though is that the volume ecriments on the pana goes too much. I want a volume BETWEEN 2 and 3 dammit!

I briefly tested them with amps, and i definitely like the sony better. The pana got really boomy when i hooked up my CHA47 to it.
 
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There is one BIG problem that I am having with the Panasonic SL-CT790 and the Sony D-EJ1000 (and the Panasonic SL-CT580 that I used to own, as well): When I carry any of those PCDPs in the PCDP bags that I currently own, and when I try to jog lightly with them, they tend to skip incessantly! That's because most PCDP bags that are sold at electronics superstores aren't designed to properly hold such ultra-slim PCDPs to begin with - they assume that you own one of the lower-end bulky PCDPs (or an older model PCDP), and they don't adjust to properly hold a slim PCDP. As a result, the ultra-slim PCDPs tend to get jostled around inside the electronics-store PCDP bags uncontrollably!
You might as well use an ordinary plastic or paper bag to hold that ultraslim PCDP if you're after that atrocious "anti-skip" performance!

There are two ways that I can stabilize the playback: Hold the PCDP entirely in my hand (but what good is doing that if I have to carry groceries or packages in both of my hands?), OR order a specially-designed PCDP bag from Headroom (relatively expensive, but has Velcro adjusters to properly secure even the slimmest PCDP, and may be worth the price). So this morning I ordered an AirBag from Headroom - along with a Headroom Extreme suspension system (I could have ordered a Headroom Hip Pack, which is basically a waistband version of the AirBag - but I'm now getting tired of carrying my PCDP at my waist, since that's the place where the PCDP is more likely to skip).

I will post my results after I receive my bag (probably Thursday).
 
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