Retro Audio Gear Makes a Comeback With FiiO CP13 and Moondrop DiscDream

A look at the Moondrop DiscDream and FiiO CP13
A look at the Moondrop DiscDream and FiiO CP13

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The Walkman and portable CD Players are back from the dead.

After years of digital dominance, the allure of analog audio has made a grand return, with FiiO and Moondrop leading the charge.

FiiO, known for its audiophile-grade digital audio converters and streamers, has made a surprising pivot with the launch of CP13, a cassette player that pays homage to the iconic Sony Walkman.

Not to be outdone, Moondrop has unveiled the DiscDream, a portable CD player that promises to deliver not just nostalgia but a high-fidelity audio experience suited for the modern audiophile.

The release of these ‘throwback’ gears aligns with the growing trend of CDs and cassette tapes for the past years.

FiiO CP13: A Nod to the Walkman Era

Dust off your cassette tapes with the new Fiio CP13! (From: Fiio)
Dust off your cassette tapes with the new FiiO CP13! (From: FiiO)

The FiiO CP13 cassette player emerges as a tribute to the Sony Walkman, a device that revolutionized personal audio in the 1980s. But, unlike mere replicas, the CP13 offers an authentic cassette-playing experience.

The CP13’s design is immediately reminiscent of the 80s, featuring a dual-tone silver-blue finish that captures the essence of the original Walkman. This comes with large playback buttons and an oversized knob for a tactile experience that digital devices often miss.

Unlike many modern audio devices, the CP13 does not have Bluetooth connectivity. This decision was made to preserve the authentic experience of using a cassette player.

Inside of the Fiio CP13 cassette tape player. (From: Fiio)
Inside of the FiiO CP13 cassette tape player. (From: FiiO)

However, FiiO has integrated a USB-C charging port into the CP13. This addresses one of the original Walkman’s limitations: the constant need for battery replacement.

The CP13 is powered by a rechargeable 1800 mAh, 3.7-volt lithium battery, offering up to 15 hours of playback on a single charge.

More than that, the CP13 boasts a high-quality tape head capable of reading Types I through IV cassette tapes. It also comes with a heavy copper flywheel, driven by a stabilized motor, which reduces jitter and pitch errors, thereby enhancing the overall audio quality.

The device’s audio circuitry includes an LTA8092 op-amp for amplification from the tape head, followed by a JRC5532 op-amp that powers the headphones, ensuring a signal-to-noise ratio greater than 55 dB.

Where to buy

The different colors available for the Fiio CP13. (From: Fiio)
The different colors available for the FiiO CP13. (From: FiiO)

The CP13 became available for pre-order last January 2024, for around $100. But, has since been sold out. However, FiiO is expected to offer a second batch of orders by March 2024, via AliExpress.

The FiiO CP13 comes in different color variants, including matte black with white and blue with metal silver.

Moondrop DiscDream: Reviving the Discman With a Modern Twist

The Moondrop DiscDream in action. (From: Moondrop)
The Moondrop DiscDream in action. (From: Moondrop)

Moondrop’s DiscDream not only revives the beloved Discman but reimagines it for the modern audiophile.

At the heart of this revival is the blend of the cherished tactile and auditory experiences of yesterday with today’s cutting-edge technology. This was designed by a team led by a 30-year veteran of Sony’s original Discman project.

The DiscDream is equipped with a 32-bit MasterHiFi Cirrus Logic decoder and three audiophile-spec oscillators. These ensure crystal-clear audio delivery with precise timing across the device’s operation.

However, Moondrop didn’t stop at internal components. The DiscDream is also built with a top-grade motor drive and a shock-absorbed laser head. Because of this, users can enjoy their CDs without the skips and jumps that plagued earlier generations of portable players.

Plus, the headphone out features its own amp, boasting a claimed 115dB output and a minuscule 0.00037% harmonic distortion.

Micro SD slot at the side of the Moondrop DiscDream. (From: Moondrop)
Micro SD slot at the side of the Moondrop DiscDream. (From: Moondrop)

The DiscDream also embraces the digital age with additional playback options.

For one, it has an SD card slot that can support a wide array of high-resolution audio formats, including APE, FLAC, LL-AAC, MP3, OGG, and WMA. It can also stream up to 384kHz PCM and up to 11.2896MHz DSD from a PC via its USB-C port.

Powering all these features is a robust 3,500mAh battery, which feeds six independent power supply chips for a 10-hour battery life.

Where to buy

The Moondrop DiscDream comes in just one colorway. (From: Moondrop)
The Moondrop DiscDream comes in just one colorway. (From: Moondrop)

The Moondrop DiscDream became available for pre-order last September 2023, with shipping yet to be fulfilled. However, it’s expected to be open for orders again sometime this year via the ShenZhenAudio website for $199.

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