Best CD Player for $1000US?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Kevin Biller, Feb 3, 2003.

  1. Kevin Biller

    Kevin Biller Agent

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    I am currently on a quest to buy a dedicated single disk CD player. I am using a Classe CAP 150 intergrated amp powering B&W 805 speakers. I don't really want to spend more that $1500 Can or $1000US.

    Used gear is an option, as have been looking at various Classe players. Ie. The Classe CDP .5 has gone as low as $650US. The current CDP .3 is around $750US used.

    I would like anyones experience with similar gear. I have looked at Arcam, some Rotel, Rega planet and now Music Fidelity and of course Classe.

    Please share your experiences so I can achieve 2 channel nirvana.
     
  2. Mike Fenech

    Mike Fenech Agent

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    Kevin,

    One option for you is a Art Audio DI/O outboard DAC together with a true 24/96 output DVD player. The DAC runs around $300 and can be upgraded as you see fit. You can obviously find a proper DVDP for under $300 (don't ask me which) and save the rest of the money to upgrade the DAC, even toward 24/192 I believe. The tube D/A stage of the Art should help settle that stringently bright and amusical Classe sound. [​IMG]

    http://www.artroch.com/products_detail.asp?PRODUCTID=75

    Otherwise I vote for the Rega Planet 2000 (flat-earther that I am).
     
  3. DanaA

    DanaA Screenwriter

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    I own the Arcam 72T. It is pure 2 channel with no SACD or DVDA. The only problem I have with it is that it doesn't have an HDCD decoder, so I have to hook it up to the DAC's in my processor when I want to listen to HDCD. Otherwise, it is easily the best player I've had: dynamic, with good bass definition, crystal clear sonics, and, most of all, quite musical. It has a bit of a forward sound stage, but isn't harsh sounding. To get HDCD decoding, you can either upgrade the 72T for $400 or just buy the 82T right off.

    One thing I already knew before my recent search for a new player was that there are quite distinct sonic signatures with the different players. I was only able to audition one of the Sony ES's, the Rega Planet, and the Arcam. The Arcam was the one of the three I preferred. Other people would, I'm sure, prefer other players based on their listening and music preferences...and they'd be just as right for their ears as the Arcam is for mine. I'd check over at the digital section of audioasylum.com to see what they had to say, but beware, because individuals there can be quite set in their preferences.

    One last note on the Arcam, it takes a long time to break in. At first,it seemed fine, then went through a period where it sounded harsher, then blossomed beautifully. I have no explanation as to why or as to whether it was just my adjusting to the sound.
     
  4. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Kevin, I've heard the Rega Planet and Planet 2000 and never cared for either of them. They are too warm to my ears. I used the Classe CDP .3 extensively at a local dealer when it was current, and it is a great player. Of course, it retailed for $1600. At $750, it's a bargain.

    I have limited experience with the Arcam DiVA players, but they get great reviews. Rotel generally makes a good CD player too, but I have not had the opportunity to hear their latest models.

    In the end, you need to listen to your various options and decide which players sounds best to your ears in your system. All of the players you are looking at are highly capable, but you need to determine which one is best for you.
     
  5. Kevin Biller

    Kevin Biller Agent

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    Just for info, I am upgrading from a Denon DCM-370 CD Changer. Although it has worked fine, I would like a better source to get the most out of the 805's. This player has digital outs, could it be used a transport with an outboard decoder like the ART DIO? What would be good cheap alternative if it would not? I think it only has Toslink digital out.

    As stand alone players, what does anyone think of the Music Fidelity A3.2? I know the local dealer very well would be able to get a smoking deal on this player, although I have never heard it.
     
  6. Mike Fenech

    Mike Fenech Agent

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    Kevin,

    It might work as a transport, but I'm guessing the DI/O will want a coaxial connection. Read the specs from the link I provided yesterday. Also, do a word search on the Audio Asylum website for info on upgrades, transport suggestions, etc.

    I believe most current Sony, Panasonic, and Pioneer DVD players have a true 24/96 output for the DI/O. Can't see that as being a big problem for you.

    Sounds like your dealer doesn't have the MF in stock, otherwise he should let you borrow a demo overnight sometime. I agree with the other poster who suggested you listen to as much as you can in your own system.
     
  7. Gary_Z

    Gary_Z Auditioning

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    I have the Arcam Alpha 9. It sounds great to me after 6 months of auditions. It has a digital out. I have it hooked up to an Anthem AVM20 both ways and go back and forth. The ringDAC in the Arcam is much more pure, with better real stage presence on vocals and softer music. The DSP modes of the Anthem sound good on Pink Floyd tho wider stage more floaty.. its fun to switch and hear the differences. These players can be had used for your budget. Reply if you need help finding one. I have a friend who I think is selling his.
     
  8. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Kevin, the Musical Fidelity A3.2 is a nice player. The thing that bothers me about Musical Fidelity CD players, however, is the build quality. Every unit I've demoed has had a "shaky" drawer. Specifically, when it starts to close, it wiggles just a bit. I have come to expect this from certain cheap DVD players, but would not have expected this from Musical Fidelity.
     
  9. Eujin

    Eujin Supporting Actor

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    Kevin,

    I have to agree with Keith--I don't think the Rega Planets are for you. Don't get me wrong, I think they can sound fabulous with the right gear, but I think the warm coloration that the Planet is known for will not be a great match with your Classe integrated, which to my ears, reside on the slightly dark side of neutral. I actually think that the Classe CDPs sound great with Classe components--you can hardly go wrong picking up a used unit for under $1K.

    One player that I haven't heard personally, but would definitely audition if I were you, is the Cary 308. It carries an MSRP of $1500, so I'd think that you'd be able to find it for a bit less from a dealer. I've seen them used for around $1000--and there's one on Audiogon right now for $1100 (no, I'm not the seller). It can upsample to 24/96 or you can use it at 44.1. Not sure if it will output 24/96 from the digital output, but I'm sure you can email Cary about it. It also does HDCD if you care about that. If I was in the market for a player between $1000 and $1500, I'd put it on my audition list. Good luck!
     
  10. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Eujin, I have read good things about the Cary CD-308 over on Audio Asylum. I am also intrigued by the tube version, the CD-308T. As I recall, the '308T also retails for $1500. I'd audition both models if I were in the market for a new player.
     
  11. Scott_N

    Scott_N Second Unit

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    I have the 308T and it's a great player but the MSRP is $2500. The JoLida JD-100 is a good tube player and retails for $899 without mods.
     
  12. Kevin Biller

    Kevin Biller Agent

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    I have looked at the Cary players. All I have heard is good things about them. Used 303/100 are also available on Audiogon for under $1000. How do they compare to the 308?

    I am curious about the ART external DAC option. However I wonder how a $200 external DAC + basic digital out DVD will outperform many $1000 plus stand alone players. Does any have direct experience with the ART vs a quality player to verify Mike's claims?
     
  13. Eujin

    Eujin Supporting Actor

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    Kevin,

    If you're interested in the ART, take a look at www.harmonicdiscord.com. You'll find many ART users in the Bolder Cables forum there--it's pretty much inactive now because Wayne has shifted his attentions to www.audiocircle.com, but there should still be plenty of first-hand reports there if you do a search.
     
  14. Kevin Biller

    Kevin Biller Agent

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    Thanks for the links for the ART DI/O Dac. I currently own a Pioneer DV-333 with 24/96 output. Would this be a reasonalbe choice as a transport? It has been an excellent player thus far although a little long in the tooth.
     
  15. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Kevin,

    I have read about people using Pioneer DVD players with the ART DI/O. The '333 is not the best transport out there, but it should work with the DI/O.


    Scott,

    I didn't realize that the '308T retails for so much more than the '308. Given this difference, it would have been nice if Cary had simply given it a completely different model number.
     
  16. Scott_N

    Scott_N Second Unit

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    Yeah I don't know why they didn't give it another model number but the price difference is worth it IMO. Now that I have 100 hrs in it i'm going to try some different tubes.
     
  17. Kevin Biller

    Kevin Biller Agent

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    The Cary 303/100 can be had used for less than $1000 US. I mentioned this earlier, but will a DAC like a modded ART DI/O paired to a cheap transport like my pioneer DV-333 out preform a quality stand alone player?

    If it will, I am all for the cheaper option. Some please chime in who has had similar experiences.
     
  18. Mike Fenech

    Mike Fenech Agent

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    Kevin,

    Your Pioneer '333 should be fine with the DI/O. You can always move up over time to a more substantial transport, but the various DAC upgrades would be your first priority.

    It's a tough call picking between the DI/O vs. a presumably good stand-alone player. I had a Cary CDP myself about five years ago, together with Golden Tube separates and Proac speakers. It was a nice setup, but the Cary was the first item to be changed out. I wanted something more dynamic and more suitable to all kinds of music. I wouldn't presume to say the new Carys would be different, but that's my experience. Since then, I've gotten out of the tube thing (and Proac thing) altogether. Not that it was bad, just that I wanted to go in a different direction. Keep asking around (elsewhere) until you get responses you can relate to and feel comfortable with. Try the Soundstage forums, if you haven't already.
     
  19. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Scott, so you were able to a good comparison between the '308 and '308T? Do they share the same chassis? I thought they were the same player on the outside, thereby differing only by the type of analog output stage. Are there any other differences? What I do know is that both players have been spoken well of on Audio Asylum. One well-known Cary fan over there has repeatedly stated that the '308 comes very close to the '306/200. He's compared both in his own system (he owns the '306/200).
     
  20. Scott_N

    Scott_N Second Unit

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    Well I thought the highs were sharper on the 308 and the bass maybe a little tighter but the midrange on the 308T is just more natural than the 308 IMO. My system was a tad bright with the 333ES I have but with the 308T I have more detail without the glare and plus the fun of trying new tubes. Yes the only difference is the output stage but 308T has more of the "Cary" sound than the 308 IMO. I have Studio 100's with a Aragon 8008ST and a Aragon 28k preamp but I plan to add a Cary SLP-2002 preamp for more tube sound and the home theater bypass and i've ordered two pair of Harmonic Technology Truth-Link interconnects and for speaker cable HT Pro-11 Plus for even more smoothness.
     

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