Metronome Kalista CD Transport

Most CD players and transports are relatively featureless, boring rectangular boxes, but not the Kalista from French boutique maker Metronome Technologie. Distributed in the US by TMH Audio, the Kalista looks more like a modern sculpture, though it offers plenty of substance in addition to some serious style.

Designed by Dominique Giner, the goal was to retrieve CD information as accurately as possible by preventing any vibration from reaching the laser pickup. The modified Philips laser assembly is housed in a chassis made of several different materials that effectively damp any resonances.

The Kalista is available in four different configurations—three transports that require an external digital-to-analog converter and one player with an integrated DAC. All models provide several digital outputs, including two S/PDIF, one AT&T, and one AES/EBU, and they can upsample the data to 96kHz from all outputs except one S/PDIF. Of course, the player version also provides 2-channel analog outputs, both balanced and unbalanced.

All Kalista models include an external power supply in order to further isolate the laser pickup and audio electronics from noise and vibration. The more-expensive Kalista Reference and Reference SE use an advanced battery-based power supply for even greater sonic purity.

The Kalista is designed to deliver the best CD sound that money can buy—and you'd better have lots of money! The basic transport lists for $45,000, while the Reference model adds the advanced power supply and an acrylic isolation platform (shown above) for $65,000. The CD-player version also carries a price tag of $65,000 with the basic power supply and no stand. At the top of the heap is the limited-edition Kalista Reference SE that comes with the advanced power supply and a tripod floor stand for $85,000, and as of this writing, only one remains available to buy.