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Advice About CD Music Upgrade Please

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by Hawklord, Feb 13, 2004.

  1. Hawklord

    Hawklord
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    I currently have a CD72T that I use for music coupled with my A75+ integrated amp. I use my sony DVP NS900V for dvd and sacd playback.
    I'm very happy with dvd and SACD wise but I'm now in a position to upgrade the CD side of my kit (Just paid of cc:))
    I've read the sticky about dacs which seems very interesting but I have a few basic questions you may be able to help me with.

    Which would be best to use as transport? The Sony or the Arcam? would there be much difference between the two? If I could use the sony then I could sell the Arcam and put towards a dac and also not have to make way for an additional box (ie remove the arcam to make way for the dac)
    My budget would be around £700 (plus any money from selling the Arcam if I can use the sony's transport) for a DAC or CD player upgrade.
    I'm not sure which would give me the best performance hit for money spent. Would it just be more beneficial to upgrade my arcam to the CD82T for £200? or are there major benefits from getting a dac over a designated cd player?

    Any pointers about makes and models of DACS in my price range would be much apreciated and the pro's and cons of having one over a standard cd player set up.
    I'm also well aware of the limitations of my current integrated amp (A75+) and this will be the next likely candidate for upgrade.

    thanks for any assistance:D
     
  2. alexs2

    alexs2
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    The Arcam should definitely make a better CD player/transport than the Sony,as I've yet to find a sub£1000 DVD player that's as good as a CD player costing half that.....I also think that the upgrade to the Arcam would be a worthwhile propostion,although you may have better luck with that as a separate post on the Arcam forum.

    As for Dac's in your price range....the market in separate DAC's has been shrinking recently,although there are some good buys to be had in used MF and Meridian Dac's,and the Perpetual Technology DAC would also fit into your price range and sounds superb,even without it's upsampler/interpolator.

    If I were you,I'd explore the upgrade option a bit before deciding.
     
  3. Hawklord

    Hawklord
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    I have looked into the cost of upgrading to the CD82T (£200) and CD93T (£550) both being a dealer install and was on the verge of biting the bullet when someone suggested a dac instead.
    I'm really just trying to see what other alternatives there are to just upgrading my current cdp and any benefits that may be on offer if I go the DAC route.
    I suppose what I'm really trying to nail down is which would give the best performance increase for money spent.

    I also thought that the Arcam used a sony transport or am I getting mixed up with the cd text side of things? and would therefore be similar to my sony dvdp in performing as a transport.

    I already know I like the Arcam voicing but if using the arcam as transport and buying a dac would sound better for the money then I'd certainly be interested in giving that a go.:smashin:
     
  4. alexs2

    alexs2
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    I don't know which transport the Arcam uses,but that's not really the problem within most DVD players as regards CD playback....the usual problem is high levels of jitter induced by the power supplies,and data related jitter also,resulting in a harsh,flat sound on CD.
    The solution is to spend more money on isolating the various sections(audio and video)but the tradeoff comes in cost terms.
    DVD players can be made to produce good CD playback,but at a price.

    Have you actually tried a CD82T or CD93T?.....if you haven't,then I'd strongly suggest trying to arrange a home demo,before branching out into the world of alternative DAC's which will very likely have a different sound from your current Arcam,which you like.
     
  5. Hawklord

    Hawklord
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    I think the only way forward is to go listen to a CD82/93T and a seperated transport/DAC set up to hear the difference.
    Never had a home demo before do most dealers do this?

    I'd be looking at Audio-T Basingstoke/Camberly (where I got my Ninka's) or somewhere in Guilford.

    any suggestions?:)
     
  6. John Dawson

    John Dawson
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    Hi Hawklord -

    Please try out the Arcam CD82 and / or 93 players to get an idea of where you can go with your CD72. Because the master clocks are then inside the player and generated by the appropriate DAC board, there will be far less clock jitter than with most outboard DACs (which have to recover the clock from the inherently dodgy SPDIF data stream) and in most cases the CDP will give you a more musically satisfying result.

    Just my opinion of course :)

    John Dawson (Arcam)
     
  7. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    I would actually go for the Sony NSV900 as my transport Hawklord out of the 2 : with aproviso : You are choosing a DAC that has an eye on low jitter recovery as part of its design, for example MFs or TAG are quite well known for this. Why would I choose the DVD-V based player as my transport, well the one you have in place just now is 24/96 compliant in spec terms its of a high spec than the Arcam. Why limit your self to SACD & CD from the 900 when you can get hi quality stunning stereo playback from the DVD-V format with many 16/48 LPCM soundtracks and even 5.1 DD music soundtracks sound awesome to my ears via my stereo DAC. Live concerts on DVD-V are becoming a huge part of my stereo collection. FWIW a dude over on the HFC forum used to have a CD72 bought a second hand DAC for £200 IIRC (a Rotel RB970 again IIRC) fed from a Sony 305 DVD player and perfered the Sony-Rotel DAC combo quickly sold the CD72.

    The benefits of a DAC are quite large IME for the very simple reason that you separate PSUs to the transport & isolate the DACs circuit board in their own casework with their own PSUs. As for money spent V performance ratio, you have a transport already, and are about to consider a “mediocre” DAC section as an upgrade, when you could be upgrading to a whole new DAC section is the best sound per pound use of money in CD terms. A DAC section is also a better upgrade item in that it can be upgraded via transport spec for as far as you want to go (some of us settle with lower spec transport like DVD-V players because we are happy with the DACs contribution) but the option is there if you wish. A CD82 has a shelf life that will meanselling to buy another integrated at some point.

    I assume we are talking here of £700 well that can buy you a plethora of digital replay that would blow a sub £1000 CD player into the weeds, for example a few months ago there was a TAG DPA-32R 24/196 Khz Digital Pre amp with 24/196 DACs for sale for £750 would also help with the limitation of your A75 ie addiing a PA to that combo. The PT P1=P3 is available second hand for £800 ish, MFs A3.24 is available for £4-500 and you can get a TAG DAC 20 for £300-400. There are loads more BTW. I would heartily recommend you going down to a 7Oaks and comparing a £800 MF A3.24 fed off any DVD player and compare it to a £800 Int. CD player, you may well prefer the £800 CD player BTW but I never have been comapred to equivalent DACs.

    Pros :
    Sound per pound a better DAC section than a Integrated based system
    Simple separation offers sonic benefits over integrateds.
    *** Using a jitter capable DAC offsets transport quality.
    Multiple digital sources : DVD-V, PC, CD-R, MD, Digital Radio from Freeview or Sky, or even the lower quality DAB ?
    One set of ICs from DAC to Amp for all your digital processing.
    One less transport to die and be replaced in future, especially aparent once you have a DVD-V player in your system.

    Cons :
    Jitter introduced from the transport will effect CD playback ***
    Extra digital leads if you use extra digital sources mentioned above.
    Ehhh ? thats it I think.

    Alex I agree that as a CD player in its own right my money would be on the CD player, but as a transport fed into a DAC ? Why “should definitely” the Cd82 be a better transport does it not suffer jitter from its digital output already its not a dedicated transport IMO. If reasonable care is taken from the Sony into a suitable DAC I think jitter cocnerns drop somewhat.

    Hawklord here is a thread that may interest you if you are condiering DACs : Page 3 FYI.

    http://forum.hifichoice.co.uk/viewtopic.php?t=8792

    John I have long been lampooned for finding DAC playback from the humble old RCA SPDIF format “accpeptable” there are many audio companies who can create a DAC with such an input, that satisfies some audiophiles (not all I would add), some ones that spring to mind are MF & TAG, using MF as a case in point, its funny that many reviews in the mags & from MF DAC users would prove this point out, quite a few preffering the new £1200 Trivista over the Chord 64 for example. In fact that lofty DAC is also finding a kind of rennaisance with its lowly Toslink SPDIF connection for a few of its users. So inherently dodgy SPDIF may be but a lot of DAC have no problems in recovery as it were. The DAC design being more important or in the first order than a jitter laden data stream from a transport.

    Best regards
     
  8. Hawklord

    Hawklord
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    I will definately be keeping in mind Arcam no worries:)
     
  9. Godfather

    Godfather
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    On a related subject, I'll soon have the chance to try an outboard DAC in my Arcam system (FMJ CD23 and A22). The DAC will be a 8 year old Audio Synthesis DAXII that cost over £2.5k new and I believe was (and still is) very highly regarded. It would be interesting to hear how the Ring DAC fares against the DAXII.
     
  10. Hawklord

    Hawklord
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    CJROSS thanks for your detailed reply. The link to the thread was very interesting and gives me more food for thought.
    I'm really gonna have to just go listen but how popular are seperate DACS? I'm not gonna have to go trapsing all over the uk am I?

    Have you any links to retailers that stock DACS so I can see what you can get for you £'s.

    many thanks:)
     
  11. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    Hawk I bought my first DAC from the chap who runs this place :

    http://www.midlandaudiox-change.co.uk/

    Not far from you, he is does demos BTW, worth maybe a days visit in fact they have a Audio Synthesis DAC you could try out albeit @ 900, note they also have a FMJ CD23 for the ridiculous price of £699 ( a good bargain) just in case anyone thinks I have It in for Arcam Int. CD players.

    Hopefully the DAX2 is not Godfathers or you may buy it before him !!!
     
  12. Godfather

    Godfather
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    No the DAX2 is my dad's! Might buy it off him if it's much better than the Arcam. £699 isn't a bad price for a CD23 but they are usually no more than £550-£650 on eBay.
     
  13. Godfather

    Godfather
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    OMG! I've been listening to the DAX2 for the last couple of hours and I'm blown away by how good it is. As much as I love my CD23, the DAX2 is in an altogether different class. I knew the DAX2 is a far costlier design but I didn't expect it to outperform the Arcam by such a wide margin. The DAX2 sounds so much more natural, open, smooth, 'rich', detailed and, for lack of a better word, musical. Orchestral pieces in particular sound much more convincing. So the CD23 has sadly been reduced to transport duties for now (if my dad lets me keep the DAX!).
     

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