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Lots of CD Player questions... (1 Viewer)

John Chow

Second Unit
Sep 18, 1998
I've decided to get a dedicated cd player for my system, and have a few questions.
Let's make sure I have my facts straight first... If a cd player is hooked up to a receiver using either an optical cable or digital coaxial cable, then the DACs in the receiver are the ones that get used. This would seem to indicate that I only need to make sure that the cd player I end up getting can get the 1's and 0's off of a disc error free.
One question I guess concerns the DACs on the Outlaw 1050 (my receiver). Are they considered average? Below average? Better than average? Basically I'm trying to decide whether I would want to use a digital connection or the analog connection. My speakers are Kef Q35s w/SVS subwoofer. Basically what I'd call a mid-fi system, so I also question whether I'd even notice a difference. I'm currently using a Panasonic A320 dvd player as my cd player (hooked up through digital coax)
As far as cd players go, I could use a few recommendations, since I haven't been keeping up with what is popular right now. I'm considering getting either a 5-6 disc carousel or one of those mega-changers. I am concerned about quality, but assuming my statement above is correct, then I should pretty much be getting equal performance.
Featurewise, CD-R/CD-RW compatibility is mandatory. I'd also like something that had some kind of memory function that would allow me to skip tracks on a cd automatically (assuming this is a relatively common feature). MP3 capability would be a bonus, but not mandatory. Some input method other than the remote control would be good, I don't think I'd want to enter artists and titles w/o a keyboard at least. Quick disc switching is also a bonus. I don't have that many cds, around 100, so megachanger capacity isn't really an issue.
As far as carousel recommendations go, the search function has come up with
denon dcm-370
nad 523
marantz cc4000
sony cdp=ca70es
any specific comments on any of these are appreciated, as well as any recommendations on any mega changers.
I'm figuring to spend around $300, but wouldn't mind spending a bit more if it would make a big difference.


Senior HTF Member
Feb 15, 2001
If you're looking for sound quality, I'd recommend the Denon (based on hearsay, I haven't heard it myself). NAD and Marantz also get good reviews. However, one of the big features of the Denon is its Burr-Brown DACs, which are excellent, and have a lot to do with how good it sounds. If you use a digital connection to your receiver, you don't utilize these DACs, and IMO it would be pointless to get this CD player.
Since you've decided that all your CD player needs to do is get the bits correctly to the receiver (and you're right, with your system you probably wouldn't notice differences between transports/digital cables), why do you even want a dedicated CD player? The only reason I can see is for additional features, it wouldn't make sense if you were looking for sound quality, since all players would sound more or less the same.
That brings you to your megachanger options, which I know absolutely nothing about.

Burke Strickland

Second Unit
Jul 31, 1997
Suggestions in answer to a few of your questions:
Yes - a digital connection from player to receiver will just be passing the ones and zeros, letting the receiver's DACs to the conversion from digital to analog.
While the Outlaw is a "steal", I'm sure you are already aware that you are not getting DACs equivalent to, say, an external DAC unit selling for the same price as the Outlaw for just the DACs. But from all reports, the sound from the Outlaw 1050 is superb for a receiver at even double its price ($1,000 or less). I'd suggest that you connect your new CD unit both ways, listen and choose for yourself which connection (and thus which set of DACs) is more pleasing to you.
At a given price level, a single play player will typically outperform a changer. But for just a little more $$$, the added convenience of a changer is well worth having, IMO. Once the disc is in the "play" position, how it got there isn't going to affect playback quality.
I've had good service from a Sony 5-disc and a Sony 200-disc changers. I'd guess that from the models you are considering, that any will work well and sound good. But if you go for a high capacity changer where you'll need to enter disc titles to keep track of what's in there, I second your motion to get one that allows a PC keyboard to be attached. It is the ONLY way that kind of data entry makes sense.
And I agree about CD/R and CD/RW playback being mandatory. Be sure to check with each manufacturer to confirm the features you want unless you have a chance to play with the units at a dealer first.
As for capacity -- go for the largest you can find within your budget, since your CD collection is bound to grow. I wish I had gone for a larger one...


Senior HTF Member
Mar 28, 2000
John, although I have not listened extensively to all of the CD changers you listed from your search results, I don't believe you can wrong with any of them. The Sony CDP-CA70ES is a solid unit. The sound and build quality are quite good. I have the 'CA80ES, which is a better unit (build and sound), but at $300 or less, the 'CA70ES is worth looking at.
I own the Denon DCM-370, and it is a very good CD player for the price. It is surprisingly warm-sounding. Build quality is average, but you don't typically get all-world build quality at this price point. It offers HDCD decoding when using the analog outputs, which you might enjoy.
Although I haven't listened to the NAD 523, I've seen it in a store, and I must say, the build quality is quite impressive. The carousel drawer is very smooth. It's an ugly player in typical NAD style, but don't let that scare you off. NAD makes great products (I have two of their integrated amps).
I have limited experience with the Marantz CC4000, but I just noticed tonight that www.reliableaudiovideo.com has the CC4000OSE for only $296 (list price is $400). I've never seen it that cheap. This is not for an open-box item or a refurb. Finding discounts on Marantz gear is tough, and I've only seen the CC4000OSE for $400 in the past. At $296, I would definitely look at the CC4000OSE instead of the CC4000.
In the end, try to compare changers using the analog outputs to assess the quality of the DACs. Some of them might have a better DAC than your receiver. You won't know until you try them out. Also, you would have to use the Denon's DAC to take advantage of HDCD decoding since your receiver does not offer it. See if you like the sound provided by the Denon's DAC.
As for MP3 capability in a CD player, I asked this question here last week and came up with nothing, as I expected. MP3 CD capability seems to be limited to DVD players and portable CD players for the most part (and only certain models). My Harman/Kardon CDR 30 dual-tray CD recorder plays MP3-encoded CDs, however.
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John Chow

Second Unit
Sep 18, 1998
Thanks for the input so far.
The reason why I want a changer of some sort is 'cuz I'm lazy :) I've gotten sick of having to get up every so often to change the cd.
I'll definitely have to try both methods of input to see which I think sounds better, figure i'd have to anyways, just looking for the easy/lazy answer :) Any recommendations on where to get equipment? There's a Tweeter and a Hometheater store up by Willowbrook, but I haven't been particularly impressed with them. Looks like I may have to get a whole bunch of stuff and try to compare it with my system, since listening on anything else would be pretty pointless.
I also now see that the Panasonic CV-51 carousel dvd player has mp3 support and is in the same general price range, although I really have no use for the dvd changer portion of it. Looking around also led me to the Sony CE775, which has SACD support. I would definitely have to use the analog inputs if I ended up with that.
Arrgh, i think i'm beginning to know how Joe6P feels. Talk about information overload. Ah well, I probably need to try and define exactly what I want, otherwise I'm gonna keep on running in circles.
Btw, is there anything new coming out that I should wait around for?

Scott Quick

Jan 12, 1999
I'd recommend the Denon DCM370 also. I have tried the Sony ES players and find them to be inferior (in sound quality) to the Denon, despite many other peoples' opinions that I received when I was buying. If you get this player (or any that you listed), I would recommed using the analog connection. The DACs in the Outlaw aren't quite up to par for high end music apps. Also, with any of the players you mentioned, you should definetly get yoursef a pair of SilverCats (www.silvercats.com) or IXOS Gamma 1001 interconnects. High quality interconnects are not high quality unless they use Teflon as the dielectric (insulator on wires). Be sure to look for this, even on pure copper wires. I can't emphasize this enough.
The only players I found that sounded better than the Denon were over $1000, including Adcom, Sony SACD, CAL, and a few others that escape me at the moment. Even the Sony 80ES CD player didn't sound quite as good as the Denon. There are some features that are lacking on the Denon (direct disc access numbers for one thing), but I just couldn't beat the sound quality without spending a rediculous amount of money. And with the system components I have at the moment, I couldn't justify the price. When I'm done with school, I'm sure I'll get the upgrade bug when I'm making the big bucks. There are definetly better players than the Denon, but none that I've tried for under $1000.
Again, I'd like to really stress getting QUALITY interconnects. And you honestly can't go wrong with any of the players you've selected in your list. Personally, I'd recommend the Sony 70ES, Denon DCM370, and NAD 523 all at least a step above the Marantz (strictly based on sound quality). Feel free to email me if you'd like to know my reference sound system.
You say your willing to spend a little over $300. Well, get the Denon for around $230 (www.federalstereo.com) and a pair of Catcables for $80. You'll get sound that'll knock your socks off, especially with HDCD media...

Glenn Overholt

Senior HTF Member
Mar 24, 1999
One plus for a mega-changer is that once the CD's go in, they don't come out! No fingerprints, beer stains or barf to clean up!

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