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Looking for a CD player in the $300 range


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8 replies to this topic

#1 of 9 OFFLINE   ThomasC

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Posted August 26 2006 - 05:56 PM

The Marantz CD5001 is one option I'm considering. Is it good for its price range, or should I go with something else?

#2 of 9 OFFLINE   Phil A

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Posted August 27 2006 - 03:17 AM

I have not seen/heard that model. I was ribbing the local owner of the high end shop when I picked up my DV9600 he should carry it (I guess he figures he won't make enough and it might take away a sale from a more expensive player). The other option to consider (for instance if you have a DVD player) is an outboard DAC DAC. I actually use a DAC with the DV9600 for CDs. I had a Modwright XA-777ES I sold and while the DV9600 is decent for CDs, it is a great transport for my DAC, which I picked up used. I've owned some farily expensive stuff and the nice thing about a decent DAC is that there is no moving transpot to break and if you upgrade something later on you still have the DAC. I've had mine (an old MicroMega DuoPro that is likely about a dozen yrs. old and listed for around $2.5-3k in its day and I picked it up from my friend who worked at the high end shop for a trade of stuff useless to me that he sold to someone else and he still misses the DAC) in and out of the main system and basement system for about 5 yrs. and even when I was hardly using it I could not bring myself to sell it.

#3 of 9 OFFLINE   ThomasC

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Posted August 27 2006 - 04:46 AM

Well, my DVD player is a Pioneer DV-588A-S that cost $115. With a decent DAC, would it rival $300 CD players?

#4 of 9 OFFLINE   Phil A

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Posted August 27 2006 - 05:24 AM

I used is not a problem to you (there probably are a couple of things not much over $300 new too), it is very likely you will get better sound. It won't be as convenient as the one box solution. You might want to browse the digital section of audioasylum.com or look at the used market at places like audiogon.com. Rotel made one several yrs. back that is decent (I think $600 list) and when I've seen them they usually sell for in the area of $175. If you can find a dealer with the Marantz CD player you might want to bring your Pioneer in and do an A/B with your favorite music.

#5 of 9 OFFLINE   ThomasC

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Posted August 27 2006 - 06:23 AM

Thanks for the advice!

#6 of 9 OFFLINE   Phil A

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Posted August 27 2006 - 01:58 PM

My friend who used to work at a high end store had the separate Rotel DAC and transport about 6 (?) yrs, ago. He has also owned the Marantz 8260 and the MicroMega DAC I have (he has a Marantz DV9500 now which is essentially the same as my Marantz DV9600 in the audio section and misses the DAC). Another friend brought over his 8260 and we listened to various players in my system for comparison. I'd love to hear what a single disc $300 player sounds like. I can tell you that when my friend used the MicroMega DAC (with a JVC DVD player) he liked it better than CD players in the store where he worked that were $4k. The owner of the store will tell you separate DACs are outdated in various terms. He'd rather sell you that $4k CD player than have you spend less on DAC you can use with something you already own and also does not have the hassle of showing what different transports can or cannot do with the same DAC (not to mention boutique cabling). He'd also rather not have the $300 CD player on his floor that has the potential to take away a sale of something more expensive.

#7 of 9 OFFLINE   stevenHa

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Posted August 30 2006 - 09:01 AM

can someone explain "DAC" Thanks.

#8 of 9 OFFLINE   Phil A

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Posted August 31 2006 - 02:55 AM



DAC = Digital to Analog Converter

A CD or DVD player consists of a transport that reads the data along with a DAC. Many DVD players make adequate transports but are designed to playback DVDs in a home theater system. Many people run the digital connection out of the DVD player to the rec'r and use the DACs in the rec'r. This makes it convenient to decode all formats (e.g. DVDs, CDs, etc.) but does not necessarily result in the best music playback. For one thing most rec'rs (or even separate preamp processors) are typically more computer based than as an analog device. They do a good job of switching sources and are designed as the center piece of a home theater system. The DACs in such devices (rec'rs) are typcially piggbacked off the DSP (Digital Sound Processing). The DSP circuitry includes lots of stuff that the music has to go through that may not be optimal.

DVD players, designed to playback movies, typically do not have top notch analog output stages as they are designed to get into the market where they are used via a digital connection. Virtually all DVD players output the 48k (sampling frequency) DVD-V bitstream for sound, which includes 44.1k PCM (pulse code modulation) used on CDs. The manuf. feel 48k is close enough. An outboard DAC will typically have a good analog output stage. It will take the digital input from the transport and have analog outputs to go into the rec'r or preamp. Many rec'rs or preamps have 'analog direct' type modes which bypass much of the circuitry that may not do the musc justice.

That does not mean that someone can't enjoy clean undistorted sound from the normal DVD connected to a rec'r via the digital connection. Usually someone who is looking for a different level of music playback has done other things to his or her system or room designed to enhance music playback vs. the normal home theater set-up.

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#9 of 9 OFFLINE   Dick Knisely

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Posted September 01 2006 - 01:39 PM

In that price range there are lots of good choices and few if any really bad ones. Personally I'm partial to Denon and Onkyo in general tho' I owned a Toshiba DVD player and loved it as well. (Denon is in the process of revamping their line so I can't make specific model comments.) When shopping, don't neglect the "feel" of the unit -- how well it responds to the buttons and how sturdy/flimsy it seems. Also, if you're not going to be using a universal remote instead of the one that comes with it, make very sure you like the look and feel of the remote since you'll being using it a lot.
I am not young enough to know everything. -Oscar Wilde-