Need a single disk Audio-CD Transport

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by David Ely, Aug 3, 2001.

  1. David Ely

    David Ely Supporting Actor

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    Okay ... I have a 7 year old Kenwood DPL Mini-System who's CD player is basically dead. I want to buy a seperate CD transport that I will hook up to the system and in the future it will eventually be connected to a good stereo amp.
    I was wondering if anyone here could suggest a good single disk CD transport. Currently, I'm looking at the NAD C541. I haven't really done much demoing yet, so I'm open to any suggestions.
     
  2. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    David, something to keep in mind here. Stereo amps do not offer any digital processing, meaning that they have no DACs. So, if you get a stereo amp, you will not be able to use the CD player as a transport, unless you buy an external DAC. As a result, you will need to evaluate the quality of the players' DACs, which with no intention of being rude, could be difficult with your Kenwood system. A better, more revealing amp is probably necessary to properly evaluate the quality of various players. Again, I am not intentionally knocking your system. You might want to at least identify the amp you would like to buy and then try to test various players with that amp. Of course, the speakers you use when testing is important too.
    This is not the ideal suggestion, but you might consider purchasing an inexpensive CD player for the time being to tide you over until you get the amp. The Sony CDP-CE370 for $140 USD is one option.
    Now, the NAD C 541 will run you about $400-450 USD. Should I assume that this is your upper limit? If we consider this price range, here are some models to consider other than the NAD:
    Pioneer Elite PD-65
    Marantz CD5000
    Marantz CD6000OSE
    Ah! Tjoeb '99
    Cambridge Audio D500SE
    I have not listened to all of these players, but I have read about them and they are all well regarded. I own the Pioneer Elite PD-65. It was discontinued last year after being in production since 1992 and retailed for $800. Used units go for $300-450 USD on www.audiogon.com and eBay. I feel it is a steal at that price. It is regarded as an excellent transport based on the stable platter design, but I use the analog outputs to an NAD C 350 stereo amp and the sound is great. I was able to find a brand new PD-65 last November shortly after it was discontinued, but I see a fair of number of used players in good condition available on the web. Buying used might not be the ideal situation, but the PD-65 is one excellent player. Build quality is very good as the player weighs 20 lbs. and the chassis is copper-shielded.
    Many people speak very highly of the Cambridge Audio D500SE, which www.audioadvisor.com sells for $430 USD (black or silver chassis). I've always wanted to hear one, but haven't gotten the opportunity. Used units sell on www.audiogon.com every so often for around $300 USD. It's worthy of consideration.
    I listed two Marantz players because the CD6000OSE was discontinued recently. The CD6000OSE sold for $500 USD (is that out of your price range?), and you might still be able to find it new. I've seen used units sell for around $300-400 UDS on www.audiogon.com . If you can't find the CD6000OSE, consider the CD5000. It isn't built as well as the CD6000OSE, but is considered good for the price ($300 USD).
    In case you aren't familiar with the Ah! Tjoeb '99, it is a Marantz CD38 (past model) that has been modified with a tube-based analog output stage in Holland. The Ah! Tjoeb '99 was discontinued and sells on www.audiogon.com for around $350 USD. The nice thing about a tube player is that you can change the sound quality by using different tubes. Www.upscaleaudio.com is the US distributor for the Ah! players, and they sell different tubes for it.
    The Ah! Tjoeb '99 was discontinued earlier this year in favor of the Ah! Njoe Tjoeb 4000, which is a tube-modified version of the current Marantz CD4000 (the CD4000 is not available in North America). Www.upscaleaudio.com sells the Ah! Njoe Tjoeb 4000 brand new for $579 USD. I bought one back in April, and it is a very nice player for the price. Currently, I am using the stock Philips tube, but I have a pair of Siemens tubes on the way that are supposed to significantly improve the sound quality.
    One thing to note about a tube-based player, of course, is that to hear the benefits of the tubes, you must use the analog outputs. Using the player as a transport bypasses the tube output stage. Check out reviews on the Ah! players on audioreview.com. The last time I looked, the Ah! Njoe Tjoeb 4000 had a rating of 4.87/5.00 with around 47 reviews. It is an impressive machine.
    Good luck!
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    [Edited last by KeithH on August 03, 2001 at 03:57 PM]
     
  3. David Ely

    David Ely Supporting Actor

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    Keith,
    Thanks for your input.
    I actually made a mistake in my original post. I'm not looking for a transport. I purchase a CD transport last week and I guess that word has been stuck in my head [​IMG]
    I'm actually looking for a single-disk CD player. I will only be using it with the analog outputs. It will be hooked up to the Kenwood system for roughly 4 months and then a new amp will be purchased for this room.
    One of my friends purchased the Cambridge Audio D500SE and he wasn't very happy with it. Instead he got the NAD C541 which sounds terrific.
    Here's what I started thinking about this afternoon. The new amp and speakers I'd be buying for this setup will not be high-end equipment. I'd probably end up spending $700
    for the speakers and amp. I'm wondering if the NAD C521 would satisfy me. Ya, I know I seem to be stuck on NAD. I'm not 100% sure why, I guess it's because I've been demoing a lot of their stuff lately.
    If the C521 (or a similar unit in its price range) would give me similar performance in my setup, then I'd rather save the ~$200Cdn.
    [Edited last by David Ely on August 03, 2001 at 04:12 PM]
     
  4. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    David, O.K., so a player it is, not a transport. I assume you mean spending $700 CDN for speakers and an amp, not $700 USD. Well, allow to me to think in USD to make a point about the NAD C 521 vs. the C 541. Now, I haven't heard either player, but conventional wisdom plus reviews I've read lead me to believe there is a difference between the two soundwise and that the C 541 is the decidedly better player. I admit that I have no real basis for this in terms of first-hand experience, but I don't think it is a stretch to assume the C 541 would be better. The important here is how good a system does one need to hear the differences between the two players. I don't think you need an ultra-high-end system.
    Let's consider the amp and speakers I have in my second system -- an NAD C 350 integrated amp and Energy e:XL 16 bookshelf speakers. Certainly not high-end, but excellent for the price. I paid $325 USD for the C 350 and $248 USD for the Energy e:XL speakers, so I am under $700 USD. I can tell the difference between various CD players in this set-up. For example, I can hear the benefits of the Pioneer Elite PD-65 over a Sony CDP-CA80ES carousel changer, both of which I own. The PD-65 sounds more musical and has more life than the 'CA80ES. As a carousel changer, the 'CA80ES is quite good, but I can hear the improvements afforded by the PD-65, even in my modestly-priced system. Now, if there is a difference to be heard between the NAD C 521 and C 541, I am confident I could hear it in my second system. In the end, I suggest you demo both players and any others that might interest you if you get the amp and speakers first, which would not be a bad idea.
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  5. David Ely

    David Ely Supporting Actor

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    After testing a bunch of players, I think I have settled on the NAD C521. Yes, there is a difference between the 521 and 541, but I don't think it's enough of a difference to justify the extra cost.
    I'm still open to suggestions for other players to audition. I won't be making my purchase until August 25th (my b-day).
     
  6. Steve_D

    Steve_D Second Unit

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    David,
    Sony is coming out with a single disc SACD/CD in September around $400. I for one am intrigued by what SACD will bring to the table over redbook in my system....so it may be worth it to wait a couple of weeks past your Aug 25 date. You can audition the multi-SACD that's out now for a decent indication of what it will sound like.
    Of course, Sony/Phillips may lose the "format war" with DVD-A so you have to take that into consideration. Just another option to consider.
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  7. David Ely

    David Ely Supporting Actor

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    If I've been correctly informed, SACD is a multichannel audio format. I'm really only interested in 2-channel audio.
    Something that is of definate interest to me is HDCD. I realized last night that I'll need the NAD C541 if I want to take advantage of HDCD disks.
    And then there's onoe more thing to consider .... I have a lot of CDs that aren't mastered very well. I'm starting to worry that by getting such a good CD player that these sub-par recordings will be unlistenable (yes, I think I just made up a word). There are also other mixed disks in my collections that have been made from MP3 files that weren't encoded very well.
    This is giving me a headache! [​IMG] Maybe I should make two audio CD setups. One of my good quality CDs and one for crappy CDs [​IMG]
     

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