Honestly, this is one of the best CD changers we’ve ever had the privilege to use. Kenwood’s 200-disc 4700M is a smart unit that blows away all the competition with its well thought-out features. Not only does it come with a perfectly functional remote, but the box also contains an infrared keyboard that helps plug in disc information and acts as another fully functioning remote. The greatest feature of the 4700M is its most forward-thinking one: the changer can, with the assistance of a null modem cable, hook to a PC or laptop and pull down CD information from the Compact Disc Data Base (CDDB). Although it’s not the newest player on the market (Kenwood put this unit out in early fall), it’s still clearly the leader in the CD changer field.
If you’ve got a large CD collection (this reviewer has over 800 discs taking up too much room at home) [editor’s note: Ooooooooo! Fancy guy!!], you need a multiple CD changer. Don’t talk to us about any of those wussy five, 10 or 25 changers. Fifty discs? Pssht — that’s a start. 100? Now you’re getting interesting. Two hundred is great, but 300 would be even better. In the case of the Kenwood 4700M, we’re willing to go with 200 discs as a trade-off for the player’s amazing features.
The worst part of owning a big tank of a CD changer is actually labeling the CDs once inside the player. Cheaper players get around this by including a notebook for CD liner note booklets, which is more trouble than it’s worth. Other players allow you to tippy-tap in the name of the CD through an ungainly remote interface, akin to dialing names on a telephone. The 4700M blasts straight through this issue with two separate solutions: a remote keyboard and the ability to connect to the Internet.
The keyboard is a separate piece of plastic, just under a foot long by four inches wide. It’s certainly not meant for daily word processing, but it gets the job done when it comes to typing in CD information. Typing in 200 disc names and artists takes one-fifth of the time that it normally would, for which we must salute Kenwood. The keyboard also works as a remote control for the changer, with all necessary features included as separate function buttons. Repeat, random, search, fast forward, pause, mode… everything is clearly marked and easy to operate. Your “significant other” or less fortunate roommate probably won’t want another big hunk of plastic sitting on the coffee table, but the capability is there if you need it.
The overriding reason to buy this changer is the PC connectivity. By hooking up the included cable to your PC, the Kenwood 4700M will talk to your computer. The software, which is freely available on Kenwood’s website, allows you to use the awesome Compact Disc Data Base (aka CDDB) to almost instantly title your CDs for you. The software will search through each one of the discs in your changer and call out to CDDB through the Internet, downloading the name of the album, the artist and even the track information. This is both a godsend and one of the best examples of convergence we’ve seen in consumer electronics. Kenwood’s software also allows you to browse your CD collection, make playlists, set music themes (“party,” “jazz,” “baby makin'”) and create user profiles in order to have the unit play the kind of music that you like to hear, rather than blast your roommate’s crappy punk rock albums.
The appearance of the 4700M doesn’t quite match its abilities. The version we were sent had a silver face that looked kind of cheap (it also comes in a more palatable black). There’s a small timer switch on the left side that looks as though a larger button has broken off. The Disc Skip knob is a long plug of a switch that protrudes a good quarter-inch from the face of the already deep unit. The dot matrix display is perfectly serviceable and bright enough to be read even from across a brightly lit room. The one thing we didn’t like about the changer is that it searches through all the CDs every time you turn it on, which takes a few seconds and doesn’t seem necessary. There’s an optical output on the back for true digital sound, RCA connectors for old-fashioned stereos and Kenwood system controls jacks.