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CD players £600 to £1200

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by fastedd, Aug 31, 2002.

  1. fastedd

    fastedd
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    Ok, folks I'm looking for a bit of advice on choosng a new CD player. I plan to demo a whole load of players but it would be nice to get a short list of 5 or 6 players that might give me a head start.

    OK, for stereo at the moment I've got a Musical Fidelity A3 amp and Monitor Audio's new S6. When I bought the speakers I used my amp in the shop to demo them and used an Arcam CD72. I tried loads of speakers and left the CD player alone as I didn't want to get too confused changeing out too many things.

    The MF A3 is powerfull and detailed with a nice warm tone to it as well. I don't think I want a CDP thats too laid back as that will emphasise the A3's warmness (does this make sense :) )

    So I'm in the market for a CDP thats detailed and not laid back without being brash or tinny. So far I'm thinking about listening to Arcam's CD 72, CD92 and FMJ CD23, Roksan's Caspian, Rega's Jupiter, Cyrys CD7, MFs matching A3 CD and a meridian 507.

    Has anybody got any of these. Anybody with a MF A3 amp- what do you use?

    Any suggestions would be very helpfull.

    cheers
    Edd
     
  2. karkus30

    karkus30
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    Very subjective this one. Try the exposure 2010 Titanium. Try a Naim CD5 or secondhand CDX.

    These are real rythmn machines with a hard hitting bass, the exposure is more detailed, both would make interesting comparisons with the other players in your shortlist.
     
  3. Gambit

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    If you can find one (they are still out there) the A3 CD is a good one to go with your amp. The A3.2 has a upsampling DAC, so is better but looks different to the A3 kit.
    Personally, from your list, I'd go for the Cyrus CD7Q (the Q board adds £300, but is well worth it).
     
  4. buns

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    I would agree to try the matching MF amp if possible. The suggestion of naim is indeed a very lively one, but im sure that karkus would agree naim is very very hit or miss........ personally i wouldnt touch the stuff with a 40 foot barge pole! Exposure is similar but i dont mind them so much. Some of the older micromega players are pretty good.......

    ad
     
  5. Iancity

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    Personally I have the MFA3 amp and the matching A3 cdp. I think the sounds great, really enjoy it. Have'nt heard many other cdp so not really much to offer as in terms of comparison. One other thought may be to add a DAC onto whatever your existing cdp is (the MF one has an excellent write up). Sorry to add more confusion:rolleyes:
    Best of luck


    Ian
     
  6. Gambit

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    See the sticky in this section for more info on DACs. BTW, MF now make an 24Kup-sampling DAC which would go nicely with your amp if you decide to go down that route- an save you a few bob.
     
  7. karkus30

    karkus30
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    mmm interesting comment. Funny how Naim seems to get very polarised opinions. Cant say I agree with the hit or miss statement, a lot of people say this having heard a shop demo and quite right too. Naims need to be left on at all time, never ever switch one off, they require 10 hours minimum before they start to sing, otherwise you get very poor sound. Its all to do wth the caps in the power supply.

    On the other hand imaging isnt the best and they cut top and bottom response, however, for those that like the rythmic nature of music with a dry taught, hard hitting bass.....magic.:D

    Its a bit like Linn turntables, are they brilliant ?.........well I have heard some fully serviced.....Valhalla , circus etc...... sound complete rubbish, but one in every 50......brilliant, why I have no idea.

    In essence, still have a dem of the Naim, you might just like it
     
  8. fastedd

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    Excellent a few more ideas is always good esp since it will be about a month before I can afford it, plenty of time to demo etc.

    My old CD player is a Marantz CD65II. This cost me £250 about 11years ago. I never new how bad it was until I bought my Tosh 220 DVD player which sounds loads better :) .

    However the tosh really irritates me as a CDP, even if it sounded great, (which it doesn't) the time it takes to recognise a CD and the poor display would rule it out as a CD transport. (Plays great DVDs through component leads to my Tosh 42" widescreen RPTV- thats why I bought it.) I suppose I could use my marantz as a transport however I can tell its getting old as it squeaks and rattles a bit so I don't know how long it would last, plenty of stirling service given throughout my teen and student years :) All this kind of rules out the use of a DAC at the moment. Are DACs only good value if you already have a transport. Whats the balance between CDP and DAC with cheap transport? would I be better served buying a £150 player that looks good with a nice remote and splurging on a DAC than buying an expensive CDP? not seen any comments on this point :)

    Decisions, desicions, BTW whats Q board in the Cyrus CD7Q, I'm familiar with Cyrus adding outboard power supplies but have never heard of a Q board.

    Naim, I was under the impression (probably wrong) that I would need a Naim amp to match a Naim CD player because they use esoteric interconnects that don't fit anything else and interconnects adapted to fit sound terrible with a Naim?

    and finally... Karkus, is your sig related to that film with Bruce Willis and the bird with a bandage for a dress? :)

    thanks for the help,
    Edd
     
  9. karkus30

    karkus30
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    Another bit of Naim legend methinks. Nope you dont need special interconnects, although my amp has the obligatory 5 pin high quality DINs, I just use HQ din to phono adaptors. Just to make this worse, I have a PSU, built by a local chap that sounds as good, if not better than a HICap. This is connected with custom leads.

    You mean Milla Jovovich, just possibly.
     
  10. CJROSS

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    Hey FastEdd, I have to say your are at the point a lot of people are at when they first consider adding a DAC, they generally feel that their current transport wont be good enough. Before I suggest getting a DAC (which is where Im going bro !!) lets us look at what you actually have and what you will be buying if you get a DAC or a Int. CDP. First off when you buy a Int. CDP your are buying a transport + DAC, if you have a current transport (Tosh or CD65) why buy again? So the best performance for your money is buying a DAC this will give you most Sound Per Pound you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see that, so for example you are looking at CDPs in the £1000 mark one way to look at it is this way :

    If your thinking of how to comapre a DAC to relatively priced CDP look at what CDP (or 2 box combo) the DAC comes from, Ie the £800 MF A3.24 = £3000 Nuvista 3D CD, the DAC 20 £1250 = DAC 20+CD20T £2700 comparing these to players in the £1200 area is an easy way to see which way to go IMHO, now both of these DACs have large attention paid to jitter reducing circuitry & reclocking so they are not as dependant on transport quality as other DAC designs.

    So a £1000 CDP (although it will sound good dude) will be a world away from a well designed £1000 DAC IMHO, then you have your DAC in place for future upgrades, ie when your transport dies - another reason to avoid Int CDPs IMHO – when it does you have to rebuy the DAC section again – remember Sound Per Pound dude I mentioned earlier it works in exactly the opposite fashion when you have to buy a transport again with the DAC onboard, you are only buying another spinner (be it CDT or DVDT) once these 2 are split into 2 you get a better return for your money in the long run IMHO.

    FWIW I think a £450 Tag DAC 20 will blow away (if not match for less money) every CDP mentioned up to now, in tandem with your Toshiba or CD 65 (Im sure that has a coaxial output IIRC). Why not try out the DAC first without buying a cheap £150 CDT with your existing kit, then if the Tosh is a royal pain in the ars* then look at getting a CDP with a coxial output to replace it. FWIW the DAC 20 is also awesome at decoding 48Khz pcm/bitstream signals from DVD IMO, so I would still keep the Tosh as a transport if it were me (I use a Pioneer DVD Transport for my DAC) read more about this here :

    http://www.avforums.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=44418


    HTHs
     
  11. Jeff

    Jeff
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    I'm not convinced, I believe there is more too it, what evidence is there to suggest that a cheap DVD transport and DAC like the Tag one would outperform a good mid range CD player like the Arcam CD82?
     
  12. fastedd

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    CJ,

    I think you've made some valid points and I think it would be well worth my while to demo my Tosh DVD with say the Tag or MF DAC against the iCDPs however , similar to jeff, I have my doubts. There may be (I'm not sure hence maybe) one flaw in your argument and that is all transports are the same or that the DAC is so important that the differences in transports have a minimal effect on the music.

    If this is the case then how come the transport only devices , sold to match the respective DACS are almost or match the cost of the DACs. If digital were digital (as some people claim) then all the transports would be around £100 matched with £1000 DACs which the're not. Although my Tosh 220 DVD player sounds better than my ancient Marantz CD65 I do notice that the Tosh skips and sticks on a lot of my more worn discs and my marantz has no trouble at all. The DVD player transport is obviously optimised for DVDs and the error checking on the CD side is probably a bit lacking. I wonder how many other errors it generates in the digital out stream that are not bad enough for me to notice (like skipping) but may affect the music?

    I'll def try out the DAC and will keep an open mind but I think you have to a have a minimum quality of transport, not just any spinner, because garbage in = garbage out. I'm still of the opinion that I'm better spending more on the CD, less on the amp and least on the speakers (but not by a large margin) because once you've lost the quality you can never get it back further down the line.

    Thanks for all the advice guys, its really helpfull.

    cheers
    Edd
     
  13. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    Jeff

    Well lets look at that seprarating out the power supplies and keeping the DAC circuitry away from the transport gubbins improves the sound in 2 box scenarios (however cheap the transport BTW IMO) as long as attention is paid in getting a decent feed (ie coaxial) from the Tosh to the DAC 20 then it will be fine, OK not up to dedicated CD tranports at 5 times the cost (or with better jitter reducing socketry) but more than adequately IMO for giving a slice of hi end audio (& being in place for future transport upgrades BTW).

    I can only talk about my (& others reaction on the HFC forum) about the Dac 20 and its wonderful ability with various transports, from £150 DVDs up to £1500 CDP transports. Now back to the CD82 or any other £700 CDP FTM, well I used to run a £300 MF X-24K DAC (The same section as the £800 MF Xray) off my £500 DVD Transport and for the same money the 2 box DAC combo was much better, I demo’d the Xray and preffered the DVD-DAC combo, so using the same vibes lets see what we could do with the same money of the CD82, £250 for a transport (especially when you see what you can get these days for£250) & a DAC 20 would still IMO blow away the CD82. Are we really saying that the DAC technology in the TAG DAC is inferior to the Arcams? Remember a lot of attention has been paid to the design of this product so that it can handle lesser quality transports with high jitter levels, so don’t lose sight of that. You cant even compare the DAC section in price terms of these 2 items. A huge dollop of that £700 price is going on the transport dude, now lets give it the benefit of the doubt & assume if it would be sold on its own (Which the Ring DAC should BTW John D if your reading) what would it sell for ? £300 ish now that wont happen as many CDP manufaccers make huge mark ups selling Int CDPs, but a £300 DAC up against a £1250 DAC then that’s how I would lay out my stall.

    The guy above has 2 transports in place, and you would have him buy another one, which might possibly stuff up in future so he would have to buy another CDP with a new DAC section, in this case it is clearly safe to see what the best route for the money available is IMHO. For the record guys Im sure there are plenty of very good sounding sub £1000 CDPs on the market but are they valuie for money when you see what can be achieved adding DACs to your system ?


    Edd

    I hope from the reply above to Jeff that you can see I am inn fact a subscriber to transport quality, I for example would always opt for a 24/96 DVD transports of very good build qulaity - Pioneer 737 or Denon 2800 (it might not make much difference to jitter levels but I personally feel these are good criteria in a transport for me) So I would not say all transports are the same, in fact If I could afford a Theta David or Tag 32R these would be my spinners of choice. But the truth is that a product like the DAC 20 can deal with lesser quality transports.

    Your point about why dedicated transport costing as much if not more than the DAC section, there are many reasons : power supplies, more circuitry for better signal reclocking to hinder jitter, same case work, better connection types than standard spinners. They are not in lot of cases just knocked up CD players, you should check out Creeks latest £1100 CDP to see what I mean (the additions over a standard CDP), they have optimised it with proper attention to XLR socketry & jitter reduction on the digital output for use as a CD Transport at a later date with an offboard DAC. I cant comment on the Tosh (I know some cant read CDRs for example) but most DVDs have dual optical pickups (one for DVD & one for CD) for reading so Ive never encountered much problems with my Pioneer. If your DVD is skipping with CDs then it has problems IMO.

    Finally dude If you have any doubts about what someone is suggesting always go with you gut instinct you will be happier with that in the long run. Im only suggesting why a DAC is the best suggestion in financial terms from where I stand, you have to consider all apsects. Oh your spending break down is spot on IMO the classic source/amp/spkr 3:2:1 scenario, the best way to get a system off the ground then upgrade later to get all comps at the same level.
     
  14. marck

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    Currently, the best cd player on the market sub £2.5k is the new Copland 822A - it retails for £1500. I know that is slighlty over your budget, but it is an amzing player. Try and get an audition booked and you will see what I mean!:eek:
     
  15. Charlie Whitehouse

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    Whew ! That was a bold statement! Hope you've got your flameproof undies on!! :eek:

    Jeff,

    In the final analysis, the only evidence that counts is that of your own ears and taste. Anyone contemplating spending these sorts of sums would be very brave to do it on the say so of someone else, however respected round here. ;)
     
  16. marck

    marck
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    ... that I was amazed by the sound. This player also comes into its own if you are using an amp with a balanced input....

    Most cd players that have a balanced output are a considerable amount mor eexpensive.

    But as Charlie quite rightly pointed out, the only way to determine what 'is best' is to listen for yourself - everyone has there idea of what is 'the best'!;)
     
  17. fastedd

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    Dead right Charlie :). I would never buy a anything like £1k without trying out. My original post was a request for likely candidates for demo based on the amp and speakers I already have ,so I had a head start and didn't have to listen to every player on the market costing more than £600. I've certainly got a few more ideas now and will deff demo DACS (something I hadn't considered before) esp the MF A3.24 as it has some interseting early reviews.

    Mind you demos are free so I have no problem with trying out the Copland. (fingers crossed that I don't notice the difference else I'll have to buy :) )

    cheers
    Edd
     
  18. John Dawson

    John Dawson
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    Well everyone is having a lot of fun here discussing the options, which is a good thing in my book.

    I am happy to inform people that we have now started shipping the new CD82s to Arcam dealers in the UK. Overseas dealers get them about a month later. I wouldn't normally do a plug in a NG (forgive me please guys) but this is a very decent player indeed for £600 and will turn a lot of heads, so if you get a chance fastedd please do try it out. The usual caveats about making sure its been warmed up apply, as do they to the other products mentioned earlier; unfortunately not all dealers do this routinely.

    When we've caught up with the initial demand we plan to make the DAC module from the CD82 available as an upgrade for owners of, for example, CD72s. Projected price £200 including fitting; it also means if you are someone who is a bit strapped for cash and who still wants top quality audio that you can buy a CD72 in the safe knowledge it can be made quite a bit better later for only a relatively modest extra outlay.

    HTH.

    John Dawson (Arcam)
     
  19. Charlie Whitehouse

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    It never ceases to amaze me how different peoples' perception of what sounds good is. I mean, I read the reviews of Naim, Wilson, Chord gear, for example, and then I go and listen to a demo, and I go 'WHAT!?! - You CANNOT be serious!!!'. And I'm sure other people's reaction to my own chosen system is much the same! Still, if we all liked the same things it would be a really boring world.

    Good thinking. Use magazine reviews and these forums to form a shortlist, that's fine. Beware of 'rogue' reviews though. Sometimes a really bad review is published of a product that wins accolades everywhere else. Just treat these with a large pinch of salt, and listen for yourself.

    Actually, I'm getting an idea for another thread....

    John, I don't think any of us mind a plug here. So long as it's open and clear that that is what it is, no problem. It's just a pity that more manufacturers don't engage with their potential customer base here on a regular basis! :D
     
  20. mjn

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    yep, deffo go with the MF a3 player!
     
  21. Guest

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    Charlie.
    Are you referring to the Theta Dreadnaught?
    :)

    Adam
     
  22. sceptic

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    I'm sorry if I've missed something from these DAC discussions but...
    Will a DAC improve DVD sountracks in 5.1 or DTS?
    OR is it just CD playback on DVD players that's improved?
     
  23. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    Hey Sceptic :

    I only have a 2 channel hifi amp, so I am only commenting above about Linear PCM 16/48khz tracks on DVD-V, every Dolby Digital 2.0 DVD soundtrack Ive listened to on a DVD-V disc sounds absolutely dire – muffled & shut in with no bass, on the same disc Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack downmixed on my DAC 20 into 48Khz stereo is astounding. So my point is that a lot of the time an offboard DAC does a better job (even a stereo one) of decoding 5.1 than a DVD player on its own, this to me (if you don’t own a 5.1 DD AV amp) is another good reason to add one to a DVD Video players, especially if you like music, DVD-V 5.1 tracks sound excellent on my stereo DAC set up without the need to go surround sound daft and bringing in an AV amp/reciever which is widely felt to be lacking in the stereo dept by most here.

    So to cut a long story short I think it is possible to get the best from DVD-V 5.1 tracks if you are a 2 channel lover (like me) by adding a good DAC that can decode (or downmix) 48Khz pcm. Without the need for adding a AV amp that is a fudge at stereo playback. IMHO of course.

    You cant send a DTS signal through a PCM DAC, the resulting white noise will fry your tweeters (I happened to have had this misfortune once although my tweets survvied, well & truly run in though I would say – think of frying an egg on a red hot skillet), the only thing that accepts a pure DTS signal is a AV Amp/Processor AFAIK.
     
  24. fastedd

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    Thanks for all the input, and advice. I'm going to have some fun trying out all that kit. Unfortunatly its going to have to wait for a couple of weeks as I've just started decorating the lounge and will be fitting a new floor. Plenty of conduit under the floor for the cables. (You wouldn't believe how hard it is to pull QED SA biwire through conduit- awkward bloody stuff!)

    One point for John if he's reading:

    I always remember this appeal about the arcams how you could upgrade the 7s to 8s to 9s etc and it was something that helped you get started rather than wait until you could afford the kit you really wanted :) Howver, when I was demoing my speakers, my local Hi-Fi dealer mentioned that this was very expensive and arcam plan on abandoning the ability to upgrade from their future equipment. Personally, I think this would be a shame as it certainly distinguishes arcam from most other makes at that price and gives a benefit normally reserved for high end gear. Mind you thats economics for you :rolleyes:
     
  25. browellm

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    I agree. One of the most fun things about playing with more expensive components is that the manufacturer has much more opportunity to express themselves. I find a great deal of divergence in the sound quality and "character" of equipment at the £1000+ level. Compare this to the "15 £200 CD player What HiFi supertest" where they really are trying to dredge up minute differences to support their prose.
     
  26. Charlie Whitehouse

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  27. Nic Rhodes

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    You are not still smarting over that pile of ****** ;)

    Nice to see it was replaced.:devil:
     
  28. Charlie Whitehouse

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    Shhhhhhhhh!!! There are still some lurkers around here that might take *real* offence! :rolleyes:

    Not me though, I'm far too easy going... ;)
     
  29. Guest

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    I do remember that thread Charlie / Nic....
    I remember it being entertaining & one of the 1st posts that really
    caught my eye in here.......

    Adzman
     
  30. John Dawson

    John Dawson
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    "I always remember this appeal about the arcams how you could upgrade the 7s to 8s to 9s etc and it was something that helped you get started rather than wait until you could afford the kit you really wanted However, when I was demoing my speakers, my local Hi-Fi dealer mentioned that this was very expensive and arcam plan on abandoning the ability to upgrade from their future equipment. Personally, I think this would be a shame as it certainly distinguishes arcam from most other makes at that price and gives a benefit normally reserved for high end gear. Mind you that's economics for you"

    Er....which local dealer would that be then fastedd? We don't have any plans on abandoning the CD upgrade path. Where do these guys get it from (mutter, mutter)?

    In fact the board that goes in the CD82 will be made available in the next few months as an upgrade not only for CD72s but also for Alpha 7, 7SE, 8 and 8SE CD players too - that's units that go back up to six years.

    John Dawson (Arcam)
     

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