Looking for a sturdy, reliable CD changer, suggestions?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Debbie_L, Feb 9, 2003.

  1. Debbie_L

    Debbie_L Stunt Coordinator

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    I am currently in the process of putting together my first HT system and have so far picked up two components: an HK 325 receiver and a Panasonic CP72 DVD player (5.1 speaker system and new HDTV-ready set to be determined over the next couple of months). My question concerns the purchase of a CD changer -- I am seriously considering one in order to avoid too much wear-and-tear on my DVD player. So, my question is this: What brand and/or specific models should I consider? I can spend up to $300, but would really prefer not to exceed $200. Of course I want good sound quality, but long-term reliability is a MAJOR concern to me as I am not in a position to replace components frequently. I would very much appreciate feedback as to your own personal experience with various brands and your satisfaction, or lack thereof, with how they held up over time. A friend has suggested I stick with either Denon or HK, but he's not a HTF member, and I really trust the opinions I find here. Thanks all!
     
  2. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Debbie, is it correct to assume that you are looking for a carousel changer and not a 300- or 400-disc megachanger? There are a few good carsousel changer out there in your price range. First, I would avoid the current H/K FL8380. I have never been impressed with the H/K changers, and I've read a lot of comments on message boards about reliability issues. the '8380 seems to be better in this regard than previous models, but I still feel you can do better than H/K.

    I have a Denon DCM-370 carousel changer, and it's quite good for the money. It's been replaced by the '380, which retails for $300. You should be able to find it at a brick-and-mortar dealer for $300 (such as Ultimate Electronics in your area). Also, crutchfield.com sells it for $300.

    The '380 offers HDCD decoding, which you may find beneficial. For $200, you could get the Denon '280, which lacks HDCD decoding. Go to www.crutchfield.com for more information on the Denon changers.

    Other models to consider are the Marantz CC4300 and Sony CDP-CA70ES. I have not used the CC4300, but previous Marantz changers were solid buys. The Marantz changers I have used have excellent carousel mechanisms. You should be able to find the CC4300 for $300 at a local dealer.

    I believe the Sony 'CA70ES is still available. Check crutchfield.com, J&R Music World (1-800-221-8180), and OneCall (1-800-340-4770). They are all authorized dealers. The 'CA70ES is a very detailed player at $300 retail. Build quality is quite solid for the money too.

    In the end, I don't think you can go wrong with a Denon, Marantz, or Sony ES changer. Give them a listen if you can, and decide which one works best for you.
     
  3. Debbie_L

    Debbie_L Stunt Coordinator

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    Keith, thanks for the info. Yes, you are correct in assuming that I am looking for a carousel changer and not a 300/400 disc megachanger. I'll definitely check out the various models from Sony, Denon and Marantz which you suggested.

    Your response brings up yet another question (isn't that the way it always seems to go?): regarding HDCD players, are there enough available CD's recorded in the HDCD format to justify this option? Perhaps I am wrong, but I did a quick google search on the subject and it seems that not too many titles are available, at least not for the artists I generally listen to. As for the players themselves, a couple of sites I checked out stated that HDCD enabled players produce better sound even with non-HDCD discs. Thoughts anyone? In the meantime, I think I'll hit the local Media Play at lunch and check into the whole HDCD thing firsthand.
     
  4. Debbie_L

    Debbie_L Stunt Coordinator

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    "Build quality"........that's the term I was really looking for in my original post on this subject. I am looking for opinions on the build quality of the various brands of CD carousel changers in the $200 - $300 price range. Keith H. has already been a huge help.[​IMG] Does anyone else have suggestions or comments based on personal experience? Any and all input is appreciated.
     
  5. Thomas_Berg

    Thomas_Berg Screenwriter

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    hands down the best in this category is the Marantz. i have a CC-4000 (which might still be on sale at www.accessories4less.com for $137 shipped), and the tray mechanism is second to none. i've messed around with tons of other brands and models, and NONE (in ANY price range) have compared to the Marantz's speed and efficiency. it's also a very great sounding 5-disc player.

    if quality of the tray is a concern of yours, get the Marantz.
     
  6. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Thomas,

    I wouldn't say that the Marantz changers are best "hands-down", but they are good. The build quality of the carousel on recent Marantz models is quite good, though. When using the analog outputs, I find the Marantz changers to be a bit on the warm side. If Debbie is going to use a changer as a transport, then that's obviously not an issue.

    Accessoriesforless.com still has the CC4000 for $137 delivered, but it is a refurbished unit. They also have refurbs of the CC3000 and CC4300. I am always leery about buying refurbs, regardless of warranty coverage.


    Debbie,

    If you go to www.hdcd.com , you can see a complete listing of CDs encoded in HDCD. It's a decent list, but in my opinion, HDCD is nothing to be concerned with. I have an HDCD-capable player (Denon DCM-370) and have used several others. In my experience, HDCD-encoded discs can sound better on the right non-HDCD player. In other words, HDCD decoding capability does not guarantee better sound. Simply seek out the best CD player in your price range.
     
  7. Debbie_L

    Debbie_L Stunt Coordinator

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    Keith,

    Just wanted to let you know I took your advice and went with the Sony CDP-CA70ES which I ordered yesterday and should receive next Friday -- can't wait to hear it! I now have all my new HT/audio equipment purchased with the exception of a 5.1 speaker set, so will be doing my listening through a pair of 20-year-old ADS L710s (those old speakers are near and dear to my heart, but sadly will have to go when I move on to 5.1 -- just don't have the room for them [​IMG] ). But enough of this reminiscing...... [​IMG] ......Once I get the Sony hooked up, I'll post my listening experience here. Thanks again for you help!

    Debbie
     
  8. Asim

    Asim Stunt Coordinator

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    Ok, so i won't chime in my vote of support for the Denon DCM370/380.
     
  9. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Debbie, great! I hope you like the 'CA70ES. I've always liked that player for the money. While I never owned one, I used it in stores on many occasions. I once owned the 'CA80ES (two actually for different systems), which was a step-up model from the 'CA70ES. The 'CA80ES treated me very well, as it was a very solid changer in its day. The 'CA70ES is still available, but the 'CA80ES was phased out a couple of years ago.
     
  10. Edward M

    Edward M Stunt Coordinator

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    I'm also in the market for a good Redbook CD 5 disk changer and am considering the Denon 380, Sony 70ES and the Sony 222ES SACD changer.

    Debbie....i'd be interested in hearing you opinion of the 70ES once you get it up an running. And are you using the analog outs or the DAC in your reciever?

    Keith....we're practically neighbors here in northern DE. Didn't you have a Sony 222 at one point? I was curious as to you impressions of the difference between it and the Denon 370. Oh...and if at any point you feel the need to rid yourself of one of your old units feel free to let me know.

    Ed ([email protected])
     
  11. Debbie_L

    Debbie_L Stunt Coordinator

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    Quote:
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    Debbie....i'd be interested in hearing you opinion of the 70ES once you get it up an running. And are you using the analog outs or the DAC in your reciever?
    __________________________________________________ _____________

    Ed,

    Good question, in fact I was planning to ask Keith H for some advice on that very subject, but would welcome opinions from others as well. My new receiver is an HK 325 and I am assuming that connected to it, the Sony 70ES will do well as a transport. Keith, Ed, and any other interested HTF members: what do you think? I think I'll try it both ways and will also compare it with my Panny CP72 -- just for fun really more than anything else as I don't plan to use the Panny to play CDs. I'll post the results back here within a couple of weeks of receiving the Sony.
     
  12. Debbie_L

    Debbie_L Stunt Coordinator

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    Oops -- posted this twice.... :b
     
  13. Angelo.M

    Angelo.M Producer

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    Debbie:

    First, I would try it both ways, using the DACs of the CA70ES and comparing them with those of the H/K. Your ears should tell you the difference.

    Second, good choice on the CD-changer. I have a 70ES and am considering stepping 'up' to the C222ES, for the SACD compatability. I also own a CDP-CE575 (Sony's non-ES changer), which is very decent as well, and half the price of the ES. Owning both, I'd definitely point to the 70ES as the better piece.

    Ah, now if Crutchfield could only tell me when my DVP-CX875P will arrive!
     
  14. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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    While I do not own your specific 70ES changer, I have compared the DACs in my Sony 555ES SACD/CD carousel player with those in my Pioneer Elite 47TX receiver. I prefer the Sony ES DACs -- they are smoother, where the Elite has a slightly edgier "digital" sound in comparision.
     
  15. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Ed and Debbie,

    I owned a Sony 'C222ES for about a week back in the spring of 2002. It was in my second system, and for the one week, I was quite happy with the sound. However, it developed a clicking sound when the drawer opened and closed, and on one occasion when I tried to open the drawer, nothing happened. The drawer opened immediately when I hit the button a second time, but I decided not to mess with the player anymore. I was afraid that the drawer would get stuck with discs inside. In the end, I exchanged the 'C222ES for a 'C555ES. I already had a 'C555ES in my main system and was very happy with it, so I decided not to try another 'C222ES. Now, I know I had a bum unit, so I cannot condemn the 'C222ES. It is a very good player for the money.

    Since I had the 'C222ES in my second system and the Denon '370 is in my main system, I did not compare them. All I can say is that I was impressed with the performance of the 'C222ES. I find the Denon '370 to be a good player, but nothing special. Of course, it only retails for $300. While the 'C222ES can be had for around $350 by mail these days, it did retail for $800 when it first hit the streets.


    Angelo,

    As I said in an earlier post here, I once had two Sony 'CA80ES changers. The 'CA80ES was a step-up model from the 'CA70ES. The first 'CA80ES replaced a 'CE535 changer, which came a couple generations before the 'CE575. There was no comparison between the 'CA80ES and 'CE535. The 'CA80ES was far superior when comparing the two via the analog outputs. I've compared the 'CA70ES to non-ES Sony changers at Tweeter before (using the analog outputs), and again, there is no comparison. The 'CA70ES is the way to go.

    While I like the 'CA70ES, the 'C222ES is the better CD player. The 'CA70ES is very good for around $200-300, but the 'C222ES performs at a higher level. Remember that the 'C222ES originally retailed for $800. That's not just because it's an SACD player. Sony stepped up the quality with its ES SACD players.
     
  16. Angelo.M

    Angelo.M Producer

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    Keith:

    I agree. The 70ES >> CE5x5. I think I'm going to pick up a C222ES.
     
  17. Adil M

    Adil M Supporting Actor

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    At CC the Sony 775 (less fancy version of 222) was the best sounding (IMO of course) cd player and had SACD to boot. The HK was the 2nd best and had HDCD. However, the very first display I had gave me quite a headache in it's claim that there was never a disk in it.
    The best built unit has been the Onkyo 6 disc DXC380. Three of them have been in heavy rotation all over the store for 6 yrs and not a hiccup. That's reliability from a changer.
     
  18. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Adil, H/K has had reliability issues with its changers in recent years. The previous generation (FL8550? had all sorts of problems reading discs. I believe the FL8380 is better, however.

    Onkyo makes well-built components. I only have limited experience with Onkyo CD changers, so I can't really comment about sound quality.
     

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