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Best single-tray CD player under 1K....


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#1 of 31 ReggieW

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Posted September 21 2002 - 07:12 AM

Can anyone give me any suggestions in this area? I have been told that the Rotel RCD-1070 and 971 are the best players in this price range. I am looking at players that do HDCD decoding as well as be sigificantly better at playing CD's than the Sony SCD-222es, SCD-555es, 70es, or the Denon DCM-370.

Thanks,

R.C.
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#2 of 31 KeithH

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Posted September 21 2002 - 07:55 AM

Reggie, I am not going to say that your 'C222ES is as good a CD player as $1000 models, but I thought you were happy with it. The 'C555ES is still a model to consider, as it is an excellent CD player. Remember that it originally retailed for $1700. In any event, quality single-disc players other than the Rotel include:

* Ah! Njoe Tjoeb 4000 (mail order only from www.upscaleaudio.com)

* Heart CD5000 and CD6000 (mail order only from www.fsaudioweb.com)

* Arcam DiVA CD72T and CD82

* Rega Planet 2000

* Music Hall CD25

* NAD C 541i

I have the Ah!, and it is a good player, though not as good as the 'C555ES. Otherwise, I have heard the Rega player, but was not able to compare it anything else. I did not like it. It was too warm. Anyway, these are some players you ought to consider.
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#3 of 31 Kevin C Brown

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Posted September 21 2002 - 09:17 AM

Some of the now discontinued Sony ES CD players were supposedly very good. I have also heard good things about Rotel CD players.

To echo Keith, I would imagine any of Sony's ES SACD only (not DVD/SACD) machines would probably have very good CD playback too.

This may be heretical too, but in spite of the few comments about poor SACD performance on the Pioneer DV-47a, it got quite good reviews for its straight redbook CD quality.
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#4 of 31 ReggieW

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Posted September 21 2002 - 01:39 PM

Thanks Keith and Kevin,

Don't get me wrong, I am quite happy with my 222es and my Denon 1600 on redbook playback for casual listening, but have been told by an audiophile friend who came over to check out my system a few days ago, that the Rotel 1070 has the best CD playback he has heard in a player under 1k and that I should check it out. I believe that he himself has a Rotel 971. He owns the SCD-555es, and says that the Rotel sounds better to his ears hands down on CD's. The Sony ES carousels are fine, but I am talking single disc audiophile quality players here built exclusively for maximum redbook/HDCD playback. No carousel stuff. I will be looking into the players that Keith recommended, but again, I am simply looking for something for very critical listening. If I can't find a single-disc player for under 1K that bests the 555es, then I'll just have to up my budget for one next year. Damn, now if I could only afford that LinnPosted Image .

Reg
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#5 of 31 Mike_Ch

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Posted September 21 2002 - 03:19 PM

If you were living in Europe or Asia, I'd recommend the Sony SCD-XA333ES (goes for about $1500, retails for 2K), which will wipe the floor with Arcam CD72 and Rotel's new cdp... but since you're not, then for better redbook playback, a dac like Musical Fidelity's A3.24 dac or even a modified Art Di/O like the one offered by Bolder Cables would be a good idea. I also second Keith's suggestions, but I'd try thosse players out at home first, since I wouldn't expect them to be significantly better than your current Sony. More refined yes, but then it might come down to system matching. Posted Image

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#6 of 31 JasonWaddington

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Posted September 21 2002 - 05:38 PM

I have a Cambridge D500SE that I stole for $300 bucks. I think it is an incredible value at the retail $430. Check it out, it's worth a look. Many people say it belongs in the near 1k cd player class.
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#7 of 31 KeithH

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Posted September 21 2002 - 11:33 PM

Reggie said:

Quote:
have been told by an audiophile friend who came over to check out my system a few days ago


Ah, that was your mistake. It's like coming to web sites like this one or Audio Asylum when you think you have a good system. After visiting the web sites for awhile, you realize you have to replace everything. Posted Image

I still would not dismiss the 'C555ES without listening to it. It does beat the 'C222ES, and to my ears, does so significantly. I know you are looking for a single-disc player, but get one because it is the best player in your price range to your ears in your system, not because it is the "audiophile" thing to do. Posted Image
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#8 of 31 ReggieW

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Posted September 22 2002 - 04:51 AM

Keith,

I just have the impression that you and others know I won't get MUCH better than the 222es for under 1k. From what I'm gleaming, there will be differences but they won't be dramatic enough where I'll be wowed. I have a co-worker who has a 555es - under your recommendation Keith, and he preferred the DAC's of his Yamaha Rxv-995 which is a few years old. I told him that he needs to give it some time. To each his own, but I find it hard to believe that the Yamaha sounds better than the 555es for CD'S, esepcially since Yamaha's have never really been known for outstanding music reproduction. He told me it was to his ears, that the Yamaha sounded better. I have heard his model before at the Good Guys a few years ago, and personally don't see how this is so. To each his own. The Yamaha RXV-995 is a good receiver but the DAC'S definitely aren't equal to those found in the SCD-555es. I guess this just goes to show that hearing is highly subjective. Keith, my next upgrade will definitely be my speakers NOT another cd player. I believe once I replace the JBL N-26's with Paradigm Studio 40's or something similar, this is where the REAL difference will be heard, not so much in the audio components. I was just curious about the whole CD player issue because a friend peaked my curiosity. My Denon 1802 will be upgraded early next year to either a 3803 or 4803, but the specs on these still have yet to be announced.


Reg
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#9 of 31 KeithH

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Posted September 22 2002 - 03:27 PM

Reggie, I agree that you should upgrade the speakers and then the receiver before going for another CD player. Can you get better than the 'C222ES for $1000 or less? Yes, but I don't think you have realized the potential of the 'C222ES yet. Just my $0.02.

I can't see any way that the 'C555ES would sound better using the Yamaha receiver's DACs than using its own. That makes no sense to me. Does you friend's receiver have analog bypass? In any event, sound quality is definitely subjective, but I still don't understand what your friend is doing. I have never liked the cheaper Yamaha receivers for music.
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#10 of 31 Mike_Ch

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Posted September 22 2002 - 04:25 PM

Reg,

I think the older Yamaha receivers of the "X95" vintage did not have true analog bypass and digitised all incoming analog signals. Maybe this is why your friend preferred the Yammie's dacs. You might try to get your friend to see what the difference in sound is when connecting the analog outs of the Sony to the 5.1 bypass inputs of the Yamaha, since no conversion takes place using this input.

Cheers,
Mike

#11 of 31 ReggieW

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Posted September 22 2002 - 04:28 PM

Keith,

I don't know in regards to the Yamaha debacle, I'll ask him tomorrow. The Yamaha RXV-995 was a one thousand dollar 5.1 DD/DTS receiver when it came out three years ago or so, but noneheless, I have seen members on this forum upgrading from it on this board to the Denon 2802's and Marantz 5200's of this world -cheaper receivers, so the DAC'S couldn't have been all that great in the Yamaha. When he told me this, I found it odd and thought that he should give it more time. My SCD-222es is SLIGHTLY better than my Denon 1802's DAC's, so since I've started this thread, I've been using the 222es a lot more for regular redbook CD'S and will be giving the Denon 1600 a rest for awhile on redbook - been using it more for redbook playback since I got it than movies and DVD-A combined, whew. I think the 222es and 1600 sound about similar at redbook playback, but I believe that the Burr-Brown DAC'S in the 222es and 1600 are probably of the same caliber. I have no doubt since the 555es is using better Burr-Brown DAC's than the 1600 or 222es, that playback would be better. They both sound great thoughPosted Image

Reg
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#12 of 31 KeithH

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Posted September 22 2002 - 11:09 PM

Reggie, Mike makes a good point there. Your friend should compare the sound of the 'C555ES using a digital input and the 5.1-channel inputs on his receiver, if in fact the receiver does not have analog bypass on the stereo analog inputs.
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#13 of 31 Bill Blank

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Posted September 23 2002 - 04:50 AM

I'd recommend the Rega Planet 2000 as being one of the best sub-1k CD players out there. It's warmth gives many pop/rock recordings life, taking the edginess and harsh highs off, while retaining all the detail you could ever want. Others to consider are the latest offerings from NAD, Arcam, and Rotel. The Ah! Toeb gets great reviews as well. As others have stated, a Sony ES model might suit your needs as well and most, if not all, come with multi-channel SACD capability as well.

While some have suggested you upgrade your receiver and speakers first, remember garbage in, garbage out. Having a decent source is the first step in getting great sound from your system. Also, remeber to use your new players analog connection as it will likely have much better DACs than you receiver's processor.

Good Luck!
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#14 of 31 ReggieW

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Posted September 23 2002 - 02:36 PM

Thanks Bill,

but remember that I already own a Sony SCD-C222es, so this is why the others are encouraging me to upgrade my speakers before considering another player, since I already have a pretty good one. My JBL N-26's are really crippling the music end of my system, and they are what really must be upgraded first and foremost. I have heard positive things about the Rega Planet, and will consider all recommendations for a possible future purchase.


Reg
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#15 of 31 Lin Park

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Posted September 24 2002 - 12:14 AM

I've been reading posts like this for quite some time and would like to take this opportunity to say that matching of components is extremely important. This could explain a lot of things going on here.

I whole heartedly agree with just about everything KeithH says here (and just about anywhere else too because the guy is always spot on) with regards to the Sony ES DAC's being better than the Yamaha DAC's but I think that statement assumes that you have excellent quality pre/amps/speakers. It could be that the Yamaha DAC's just sound better in the setup.

With regards to the Rega, I'm glad KeithH makes comments like this:

Quote:
I did not like it. It was too warm.

Because this could be very telling about his electronics, his speakers, and his listening preferences - I happen to love warm sounding music but that's just me. Let's take the following example, say that someone has invested in a pair of very detailed amplifiers and speakers. I don't want to pick on anyone but for the sake of argument let's choose Martin Logan speakers and Yamaha electronics (both are great but they fit my example well). This system to me would be very agressive, bright, and detailed. Now, if we pair that with a bright CD player it could be extremely difficult for me to listen to, but if we paired it with a warm, natural, laid back CD player, I would say that it sounds just fabulous.

What it boils down to is you really need to audition the piece in your setup and see if you like it and keep in mind that it doesn't have to sound better, you just have to like the sound more (confused yet?). This is why I have been so hesitant to get a 555ES myself because I think the Denon that I have sounds just fabulous in my system. I would love to find someone who lives nearby in NJ with a 555ES that would like to bring it over for a visit and enjoy some music one day - any takers?

Lin

#16 of 31 dpippel

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Posted September 24 2002 - 02:29 AM

I'll throw in another vote for the Cambridge Audio D500SE. Really an incredible player for the price.
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#17 of 31 Cary P

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Posted September 24 2002 - 08:27 AM

Quote:
Don't get me wrong, I am quite happy with my 222es and my Denon 1600 on redbook playback for casual listening, but have been told by an audiophile friend who came over to check out my system a few days ago, that the Rotel 1070 has the best CD playback he has heard in a player under 1k and that I should check it out. I believe that he himself has a Rotel 971. He owns the SCD-555es, and says that the Rotel sounds better to his ears hands down on CD's.


Just another opinion, but I myself have found both the 333ES and 555ES to be far superior to the Rotel 971 on redbook CD playback.

My friend bought a Rotel 971 on my recommendation back in March 2001 and was fairly happy with it. At the time, I felt it was one of the better values for a mid-priced CD player. But this was before the price drops on the Sony ES series players. When I purchased the 333ES in October of 2001 during the GoodGuys $399 blowout, I set it up in her system for a couple of weeks. We both greatly preferred the sound of the 333ES on redbook CD, with a richer, more spacious midrange, and greater soundstage depth than the Rotel. The Rotel sounded dry and flat in comparison.

It was too late for my friend to get the 333ES, but Sony slashed the price on the 555ES soon after. She ended up getting the 555ES from J&R for less than she originally paid for the Rotel! Luckily, the dealer where she purchased the Rotel has a one year upgrade policy so she was able to return it for store credit. The 555ES sounds great in her system, although I sometimes wonder if the 333ES sounded a little better on redbook CD playback.

I agree with the other posts that the 555ES is a stupendous value at it's current price. I doubt if there's a better redbook CD player for the money, and you get multi-channel SACD playback and a five year warranty to boot.

Cary

#18 of 31 Tom Grooms

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Posted September 24 2002 - 09:33 AM

My vote goes to the Pioneer Elite PD-65. Stable platter design, built like a tank and can be had for under $500.00 on E-bay or Audiogon.

I would use this player/transport until I wanted to spend $2500.00+

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#19 of 31 KeithH

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Posted September 24 2002 - 10:44 AM

Lin,

Thanks for the compliment. You are spot on about the importance of matching components. Excellent post. Anyone looking for a front-end component owes it to him or herself to audition candidates at home, if at all possible.

We all have our sonic preferences, and our recommendations very often reflect them. As you know, I like Sony ES SACD/CD players. Some people talk about "the Sony sound", which is often referred to as bright, detailed, etc. That may be true, and perhaps I am not "programmed" to appreciate warmer components. All I know is I love the punch, drive, and detail that my Sony ES components give. And I don't consider them to be bright. Posted Image


Tom,

The PD-65 is an excellent choice, as used units can be had for a song (typically $350 or so). It is still an excellent player. I have one in my second system along with Sony SCD-C333ES and 'C555ES SACD/CD changers. I give the Sony changers the edge, but the difference is not night and day.
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#20 of 31 ReggieW

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Posted September 24 2002 - 05:23 PM

Keith,

How do you think the SCD-C333es compared to the SCD-C222es for redbook playback? Just curious.
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