Choosing CD player - NAD, Denon, Sony

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Dr.EM

Guest
Hi. I have recently got a pair of B&W DM602s, which are very nice, but the rest of my old hi-fi really needs upgrading. The old pioneer amp will get changed, but more importantly I think I need to change my CD player. Its a nasty Kenwood 5-disc player. I'm looking to spend £200 maximum really (though I can go higher, I wouldn't like to). I have found 3 players that seem good:

Denon DCD685
Sony CDP-XE570
NAD C521

I originally was looking at the Denon, and found the others later. I can't find a lot of information about the Denon online though, other than technical specs. It has all the features I want (I would like, but not vital, optical out and CDRW compatability, optical out priority), but i'd like to know about the sound quality, and any known flaws with it.

The Sony is good i've read, its certainly good value, and has those features. I'm not totally convined about it though, and i'm not too keen on the cosmetic. Any views/known flaws on this player?

The NAD player I know is highly reccomended. It does miss the optical out and CDRW compatablility, but I may be able to get a MD deck with coaxial connectivity, so i'm not saying no on it. Again, i'm not too keen on the cosmetic, but I won't let that be a big factor here.

I'm just looking for any advice, particularly about the Denon player which still seems like my best option. I'm quite willing to look at any other reccomended players below the £200, or mabye a bit over if its going to be worthwhile. I'm trying to buy in the UK if thats relevant, and I need it to be in black. Thanks for any advice :thumbsup:
 

jon_mendel

Active Member
I've got a lower model in the Sony range - the se370 - very robust transport (plays most any CD) and great sound for the price. The main flaw is that the bass isn't quite as deep as you might want, though a nice tight sound; also, it's very detailed and can therefore sound a little clinical on occasion. tbh, you might like to compare the 370 to the 570 if you're thinking of buying the Sony - not sure if the difference justifies a higher price, in terms of sound quality at least I couldn't hear anything obvious when I was thinking of upgrading.

btw, if your kenwood has a digital output you could also look at buying a separate dac?

Jon
 

dynamic turtle

Active Member
Hi. I have recently got a pair of B&W DM602s
,

Yep, very nice speakers for the money.

I'm looking to spend £200 maximum really
Don't worry, that's plenty of money. You can get some very nice sounding spinners for that money!

I'm quite willing to look at any other reccomended players below the £200, or mabye a bit over if its going to be worthwhile. I'm trying to buy in the UK if thats relevant, and I need it to be in black. Thanks for any advice :thumbsup:
OK, you must first realise that there is no such thing as a night & day difference between CD sources. Don't expect your new spinner and the Kenwood to sound a world apart!

You have several options:

1) Use your Kenwood CDP as a "transport" and pipe its digital output to an offboard digital-to-analogue converter (DAC). This doesn't always lead to an improvement, depending on the age of the dac's processors, the quality of its output stage and its ability to reduce "jitter". The digital SPDIF cable you use can also play a factor in determining sound quality (but this is a touchy subject ;) ).

2) You could buy a NEW cdp outright, but your £200 notes won't go very far. Difficult to recommend stuff in this category, but I guess the Cambridge 540 would be a good bet.

3) buy a NEARLY new or used spinner. I'd be looking at either the Rotel RCD-02, NAD 541i or Cambridge Azur 640. Personally I'd trawl through the classifieds or eBay for something slightly older, like this interesting modified Marantz: http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Heart-Marantz-CD6000-Tubed-CD-Player_W0QQitemZ5823963524QQcategoryZ3272QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

4) Shock horror, use a DVD player instead! Seriously, a lot of us use dvdp's for CD playback. I'm particularly guilty of promoting this practise. The two players I use (Sony DV-NS900V & Philips DVD 963SA) can be had for well under £200 now. Both machines are highly competent CD players, but have the added benefit of being excellent dvd & sacd players too. Best value option overall and highly recommended.

I see you're currently using a pioneer amp. What amp are you planning to use and what is your budget?

Rgds,
DT
 
D

Dr.EM

Guest
Thanks for the replies,

The DAC idea is an interesting one, but I really do want to change the player, its a big 5 disc thing, its slow, its poorly built and not very reliable (has difficulty playing a lot of CDs that look fine). Quite odd, the built in DAC is a 1Bit one, which isn't quite as terrible as it might sound at first. the 1Bit system is a seldom used one, can't remember exactly how it works, but its quite unusual.

I'm still planning on getting a new player, though i'm not totally opposed to buying one from ebay.

Is £200 really not a big budget for a CD player? Like you say, theres no huge difference in sound quality (which is why i'm trying to keep the budget around that), so what extra do you get for your cash? I see most the reviewed ones on hi-fi choice are rather more expensive, but other than appearance? I'll check out the rotel. Is the NAD541 much different to the 521?

The Sony player, yeah, that sounds good. I like the fact it has the detail. Is that lack of deep bass too big an issue? If the SE370 is going to sound as good as the others i've listed, then I will definately consider it (more to go on the amp, which will be more used)

The amp I intend to replace my pioneer with is a Rotel. I like the look of the RA-03 2x70W intergrated (does it actually come in black?)
 

dynamic turtle

Active Member
the built in DAC is a 1Bit one, which isn't quite as terrible as it might sound at first. the 1Bit system is a seldom used one, can't remember exactly how it works, but its quite unusual.
Trust me, unless the Kenwood has a DSD DAC, it isn't true 1-bit (and even DSD DACs are really 6-bit PWM devices). Although CD is supposed to be encoded in "16-bit" depth, in reality its nearer 8-bit.

And when you hear a manufacturer says their DAC is "24-bit 192khz", they mean the standard "16-bit" data stream is upsampled (a type of digital "magnification", for want of a better word). It is NOT true 24-bit depth! It just makes filtering easier, and usually results in a smoother sound.

Is £200 really not a big budget for a CD player?
Christ, not by the standards of some of the folks on this forum!!

so what extra do you get for your cash?
Generally speaking, some or all of the following: better build quality (which does not necessarily equate to better reliability), improved vibration damping, improved power supply section, thicker PCB's, higher quality capacitors & diodes, high accuracy clocks, better DAC section, better analogue output section, improved electromagnetic shielding etc. etc.

The amp I intend to replace my pioneer with is a Rotel. I like the look of the RA-03 2x70W intergrated
Good choice. Rotel amps sound excellent IMO. Very well screwed together too. I might be tempted to go for the 1062 though, which has slightly better components, looks nicer and is 30wpc more powerful.....

DT
 
D

Dr.EM

Guest
Ok, most of the features listed for what you should get on a higher priced CD player seem to equate to lower noise. Even my current CD player makes no noticeable noise level in relation to the everyday noises of the house (not on my own here, plus central heating etc). I'd like the most tonaly flat and detailed sound I can afford if that helps. Any information on that Denon one? Although the NAD seems a more popular choice, and still the Sony has its merits. Think I may have to try and listen to these, but theres no Richer sounds around here any more, and I doubt Audio T will have the Denon or Sony to demo, they tend to be higher priced gear.

The amp, yeah, the 1062 might be better for me. Its spec says its 2x60w though, but it does look more powerful (although 2x60w RMS is always going to be a lot for home use). I have heard though that Rotel amps are quite sensitive? I can't imagine how exactly, but mine will be used for studio type work too Though I never play it very loud, occasional loud sounds will probably find thier way to the amp input, and will thus clip. I use my broken MD deck as a sort of limiter at the moment (only the optics are damaged).
 

jon_mendel

Active Member
My Sony XE370 has a pretty quiet mechanism, it wirs a bit when it starts on a disc, but I can't hear it when it's playing (unless you sit close to the player, in a pretty quiet room, it's too quiet for me to hear - so not a problem :) ) The lack of deep bass is only really noticable with some electronic stuff (dizzee rascal etc.) which has some very deep bass programmed on it, and with the odd rock record with what sounds like a hum coming out the bass guitar; the bass still sounds good on drum n' bass etc, but not *quite* as deep as it could be. One thing to bear in mind - since I bought, I think sony upped the price slightly (not sure if they changed anything, or just thought they could sell it for more ;) ). The player's plastic, so no 'battleship' build, but it's cheap-ish and actually seems fairly well put together even if it is plastic...

There's an optical out on the sony so you could add a dac if you ever want to upgrade (I now run mine through a Meridian DAC). No coaxial output, sadly. When I was thinking of upgrading, I listened to the XE570, but couldn't hear a difference that'd persuade me to spend money ;)

Jon
 
D

Dr.EM

Guest
Cool, thanks for your help. I'm seriously thinking this Sony player might fit the bill, and for less than I expected. I'll try and hear one.
 

Nimby

Well-known Member
I hope the 63KI is a lot better than the 63SE. :)

My humble NAD T533 DVD/CDP makes my old 63SE sound like a chinese tranny to my ears. IMO of course. I only bought the NAD for films but quickly discovered it was better at music than my old 63SE. Can't get rid of the Marantz because my wife still prefers it for her rock music. Says the NAD is too polite. Though (confidentially) she's not actually that polite about it (or my music). :devil:

How would you describe the advantages of the KI over the 63SE before our friend rushes off in search of one? Or I do. ;)

Thanks
Nimby
 

nsherin

Active Member
I've got the NAD C521BEE player myself and really like the sound of it. It certainly seems to sound good with any music I play on it - from electronic, through to rock, classical or jazz, but then again, the sound of hifi components is very much down to personal preference. Best thing to do is audition them and decide with your ears. I've owned two Sony CD players in the past (CDP-XE370 and RCD-W3). The RCD-W3 was better than the CDP-XE370, but I've found the NAD has more warmth and detail than either of the Sonys. Again, it's down to what you prefer really.
 

HMHB

Distinguished Member
I'm looking for a warm sounding CD player, is the NAD reckoned to be the choice for a warm sound ? I noticed that What HiFi was recommending a Cambridge player in it's awards issue, any thought about that player ?
 

nsherin

Active Member
Haven't heard the Cambridge personally, so can't comment on that. However, when I carried out an A vs B audition about 2 years ago between a Marantz CD5400 and a NAD C521BEE, the NAD was most definately the warmer player and was what I was looking for.
 

MagicBoy

Active Member
You could try looking at an older higher end Sony CD player, which have now been replaced with SACD or DVD players in the last couple of years. I picked up a mint CDP-XB930 secondhand for £80. Excellent build quality, solid aluminium fascia and fixed platter mech.
 

PaulBoy

Active Member
Dr.EM - I wonder if this might be of interest?
http://www.hificonfidential.co.uk/detail.asp/sku=CD5400OSE
Allegedly "half original price" & an award winner in 2004
Its £125! Despite what the web page says (In Store Only) I rang them on Friday and they offered to post (I'm in the UK) for £12.99 (next day delivery)
Only available in Black
FWIW ... Paul ;)
 

PaulBoy

Active Member
Dr.EM Hopefully someone will give you their opinion on that (?) But I suppose without listening to both that'd be a difficult one to call ... Paul ;)
 
D

Dr.EM

Guest
Yeah, mabye someone on here will of had experience with both. The Marantz even at this price is still quite a bit more than the Sony, just got to decide if its worth it. I assume your after one yourself as you phoned up?
 

nsherin

Active Member
I had the CDP-XE370. Haven't heard your Marantz in question, but I will say that the NAD C521BEE absolutely leaves it for dust in the sound quality department. Much better detail, warmth and bass punch than the Sony.

I would think the Marantz would be quite a bit better than the Sony you are looking at.
 

PaulBoy

Active Member
Dr.EM said:
Yeah, mabye someone on here will of had experience with both. The Marantz even at this price is still quite a bit more than the Sony, just got to decide if its worth it. I assume your after one yourself as you phoned up?
Yup - waiting for the right moment to break the news to the missus :suicide:
Paul
 
D

Dr.EM

Guest
Damn, seems they're out of them now. I've looked through every retailer listed on hi-fi choice and can't find any CD5400, or OSE versions that will deliver. Also tried ebay and a few sites I know. Hi-fi bitz looked good, but for some reason thats one of the few that they won't deliver. You got yours yet Paul?
 

PaulBoy

Active Member
Dr.EM said:
Damn, seems they're out of them now. I've looked through every retailer listed on hi-fi choice and can't find any CD5400, or OSE versions that will deliver. Also tried ebay and a few sites I know. Hi-fi bitz looked good, but for some reason thats one of the few that they won't deliver. You got yours yet Paul?
... yeah had mine since Tuesday & its so much better than my old one! - you are right that they are scarce on ebay but also look out for other highly rated models like the 63KI or 6000 OSE which seem to appear more frequently - Audio-T do a healthy trade in s/hand stuff too ... Paul ;)
 
L

lisa burrell

Guest
Hello Have you considered adding the Cambridge to your list?

My nad 521bee died.. so after a lot of thinking and posting a quick note on hear went out today Sunday to richer sounds and bought a Cambridge 640c was very impressed. Right from opening the box, you find the cd not in the normal plastic bag. But in a special blue sack made of cloth. So is the remote. When i plugged it in I found the remote control worked my musical fidelity x-80 amp from the volume to the switching of inputs and more. The Cd player sounds lovely with the Music fidelity
 

nsherin

Active Member
I've not heard a NAD/B&W combination, but I can say that the C521BEE CD player and C320BEE amp sound excellent as a combination. Might also be worth looking at either Monitor Audio or Accoustic Energy, as they are supposed to have good synergy with NAD gear.
 

pwood

Well-known Member
You need to hear your choice of player with your system . Buying blind is risky. Dont forget to budget for a decent set of interconnects.
 
D

Dr.EM

Guest
Thanks people. I've managed to hear the Rotel RA-02 and NADC320BEE today with the C321BEE and DM601s. I decided that the Rotel sounds that bit better than the NAD, I prefer the tighter bass it had, it'll be the RA-01 i'd buy though, supposed to sound very similar to the 02. If anyones wondering, B&W and NAD amplifier do sound good together. The detail is good, but I wasn't personally so keen on the slightly loose bass and there was a bit of a resonating effect going on with vocal sibalances.
 

tom_nieto

Standard Member
I had the Sony '570 player and it was really very very good for the cash. Saying that, I would try looking round for some 3-5 year old models second hand.
 

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