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Good $250 5-CD changer (Denon vs HK vs Sony ES)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Thomas_Berg, Jul 31, 2001.

  1. Thomas_Berg

    Thomas_Berg Screenwriter

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    sorry for posting so much but i've been waiting for my setup since Feb! this should be my FINAL tap into the infinite knowledge of the HTF folk.
    i need a good 5-6 cd changer that will sound good & have digital out to keep DMB flowing throughout the night in my dorm. stuff i'd like it to have:
    1) HDCD processing
    2) a good warranty 'cause i hear the trays break after ~1 year
    3) swap cds while one plays
    4) a remote (i dont think this is a problem)
    i'm looking at the Sony CDP-CA70ES ($299), Denon DCM-370 ($299), and the Harman/Kardon FL8380 ($249). advantages: Sony ES has cd-text (which is nice, but not necessary) and the normal 5-year ES warranty; heard nothing about it but no HDCD. the Denon is highly recommended and i can buy from the HTF's 'For Sale' in good condition for
     
  2. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Thomas, first of all, search this site. This subject has been talked about quite a bit over the past couple of months. One thread circulated here last week even. In any event, I will share a few thoughts. Harman/Kardon had reliability issues with last year's FL8550 carousel changer. I don't know if they corrected those problems with the current models. This year's models certainly look better than last year's, but I can't vouch for them sonically. Build quality looks average, but one doesn't get much in that area for $250.
    I have the Denon DCM-370, and for $250, I've been very pleased with it. Again, build quality isn't all-world, but I've had no reliability issues. The sound is quite warm and smooth given the low price. I don't find HDCD to be a big deal, however. HDCD-encoded discs can sound great on good non-HDCD players in my experience. HDCD isn't going to give you the step-change in sonics like SACD or DVD-Audio will. Therefore, I wouldn't base a decision on a player on HDCD capability. That said, I would recommend the Denon at it's price point.
    As for disc exchange with the Denon, you can open the disc drawer without disturbing the disc that is playing by pressing the open/close button on the remote. However, that only allows access to one disc slot, whereas most changers allow you to access two slots at a time. Also, with the Denon, I have had problems accessing all the other disc slots in the exchange mode by using the Disc Skip function. It seems a bit quirky. Maybe the player wasn't designed to allow disc exchange. I haven't played with it much.
    Looks certainly aren't the Denon's strong suit. I sometimes think that the guy who designed its chassis moonlights for Pioneer and designs its non-Elite DVD players. Have you seen the DV-343? Yech! [​IMG] The Denon DCM-370 is bland, but that shouldn't be the most important factor anyway.
    As for the Sony CDP-CA70ES, give it a listen. I have two CDP-CA80ES players (retails for $500) and have been extremely pleased with it. Admittedly, I have limited experience with the 'CA70ES, but it is a solid player. The 'CA70ES isn't built as well as the 'CA80ES and has a lesser DAC than its more expensive sibling, but it is solid at its price point.
    In the end, I doubt you can go wrong with any of these changers, assuming H/K has corrected problems plaguing last year's models. Maybe one will suit you best from a sound standpoint, but look at features, the remote, looks, etc., and decide which one works for you.
    ------------------
    My:
    HT Pics ; Equipment List ; DVD Collection ; LD Collection
    KeithH: Saving the Home Theater World Before Bedtime
     
  3. JamesG

    JamesG Extra

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    I own the Harmon Kardon FL8550, which I believe is very similar to the FL8380. I picked it up fairly recently from the Harmon Kardon outlet store online for about $110 (refurbished - MSRP is listed at around $500, I think). It sounds really good, but there are a couple things that bug me a little. First, the ergonomics of the unit are pretty bad. The buttons on the unit are small and hard to read, it takes a couple seconds to open once its turned on, and the remote doesn't have a power button. Second, the random mode is really bad. It likes to play multiple songs in a row off the same disk, and sometimes it favors 2 or 3 disks over the others.
    These are all faily minor complaints, but if they're important to you, you may want to look at other players. For me, price and sound quality were the two most important criteria, and I think that given that, this is one of the better values out there.
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  4. Thomas_Berg

    Thomas_Berg Screenwriter

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  5. Thomas_Berg

    Thomas_Berg Screenwriter

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    also, anyone know where i can get a cheap-cheap digital coaxial cable? Rat Shack has it for $15...i was wondering if there was cheaper?
     
  6. Andrew Pratt

    Andrew Pratt Producer

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    Thomas I'd seriously look into one of the Marantz changers. They let you change on the fly, have very sturdy trays, sound great and look pretty decent IMO. I used to own their entry level 5 disc changer and it was built way better then anything close to its price point. As for cheap coax cables IMO I wouldn't skimp to low on them just for build quality but any coax video cable will work just fine. I happen to like Acoutic Research for quality cables on the cheap.
    FYI
    http://www.accessories4less.com/advscripts/detailpg.asp?sModnum=MAR-CC-4000OSE&sPrice=257.77
    [Edited last by Andrew Pratt on July 31, 2001 at 04:33 PM]
     
  7. Steve T

    Steve T Stunt Coordinator

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    I do not have one of HK's newer model players, but have compared the older FL8350 to the Denon DCM-370. I would have to say I like the HK better. The Denon's disc tray is very noisy and not as smooth as the HK. The HK also sounds better (IMO) as a transport than the Denon. But, the Denon's analog output sounds better (again, IMO) than the HK.
    There are advantages and disadvantages to both manufacturer's players. Although I prefer the sound (as a transport) of the HK to the Denon, I no longer use it because of it's disc sensing problems. I have never had any problems, mechanical or otherwise, with the Denon DCM-370.
     
  8. Mark C.

    Mark C. Supporting Actor

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    I second the Marantz recommendation. Truthfully, I don't know if Marantz offers HDCD, but my Marantz 5-disc changer, a now discontinued model, is a fine performer. I wouldn't hesitate to buy Marantz again.
     
  9. Thomas_Berg

    Thomas_Berg Screenwriter

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    i have decided to go with Marantz, but the dealer listed above doesnt take American Express. i have a Blue card and wanted to get the free 1-year extended warranty feature by using it.
    anyone know another authorized place that has about the same price and takes AMEX?
     
  10. Thomas_Berg

    Thomas_Berg Screenwriter

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    also, can someone tell me what's the difference between the CC-4000OSE and the CC-4000 ?
    the phone lines for hifi.com are all f'd up and i'm still looking for an AMEX-taking dealer...
    one last thing: how do the DACs on my Onkyo 595 compare with the CD players in this price range? After talking to my brother I realized if I've already got some nice DACs on hand, no need to spend $$ on anything but a "good enough" transport...he says there are more jitter issues with this setup vs. using a CDP's internal DAC but whatever...
    [Edited last by Thomas_Berg on July 31, 2001 at 10:23 PM]
     
  11. Mark C.

    Mark C. Supporting Actor

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    I believe the OSE versions simply use upgraded internal parts. Does it make a difference in sound? It might. I wouldn't know, though, because I simply purchased one of the "budget" Marantz changers. As for the DACS, I use a Nakamichi AV-10 DD receiver. I prefer the DACS in my Marantz over the Crystal DACs in the Nak.
     
  12. Mike Burke

    Mike Burke Stunt Coordinator

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    Thomas,
    I was in the same boat at Christmas time deciding on the same Denon and Sony CD players. I went with the Sony CA70ES for these reasons:
    #1 5 year Warranty !!
    #2 Much nicer ashtetics!
    #3 Can store 255 names of CD for Text use
    #4 You can link up to 2 more CD players via patch cable and still use only 1 sony remote.
    I REALLY wanted to get the Denon..I have a Denon AVR3200 and wanted to stay in the Denon family but I will also slide this in. If you go to over to DigitalTheater.com and look up the profile of member ABCIII. This guy has a MINIMUM of $40k into his system and WAS using the High end Denon DCM 5000/1 100 Disc changers ($1800.00 & $1300.00 respectively) and he changed to the Sony ES changers due to his HUGE CD collection soo this should give you an idea of the Sound quality of the Sony ES line.
    I hope this helps
    Mike
     

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