Face-on, Kenwood's players look good. Contrasty and/or pastel colours, interesting masks and a nice mix of soft and hard materials; and where available, precise engraving are unique to Kenwood. Dayum!
By the way, check out those speakers! Wow! (Bud they sound horribly tinny.)
Then there's Kenwood's Clear Digital Amp. All that clarity, all that tension, all that contrast- gone, lost to noise, mechanical noises coming through their outputs, and sometimes, poor load drive capability.
The DMC-S55 works. It's got great battery life. It looks nice. (Check out that sexy belly button!) But its buttons are spongey, and arrayed too closely. Where's the pause button? Why's its remote so hard to use? Whatever.
Like most portable MC players, the DMC-S55 doesn't reach any single 16-bit standard. RMAA calls it average. If it didn't hiss so bad, or drop signal in the bass under the load of the Earsonics SM2, I'd say, sure thing. But it hisses bad. In fact, I curse about it at length in my latest Fauxtaku Lounge MD VLOG video. Check it: Minidisc VLOG - 03: Hiss ranking.
By percentages, unloaded deviation from RED BOOK 16-bit targets are as follows:
FR: +1,07dB; -3,29
Noise level: ~88%
Dynamic range dB (A): ~88%
THD, %: ~880x over target
IMD + Noise, %: ~63x over target
Stereo crosstalk, dB: ~80%
Source: Kenwood DMC-S55 portable Minidisc player
ADC: Lynx Studio HILO LT-TB
Computer: 2012 27" iMac
Cables: 1,5m Hosa Pro 3,5mm stereo to dual 3-pin XLR (around 8$); bespoke y-split 2,5 TRRS to dual 3-pin XLR made by Musashi Sound Technology.
NL - no load
SM2 - Earsonics SM2
ES7 - Audio Technica ES7
DT880 - Beyerdynamic DT880/600
16-bit VOL (Full) @+0dB - all targets
16-bit summary (Full) @+0dB - NL
It's a damn fine-looking MD Player. If you're not using sensitive earphones, it doesn't even sound too bad. But if you care about your music, don't bother. If you like looks and don't mind utility, check it. Meh.