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Upgrade / Downgrade Dilema (Long)

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by Hugo Skeeter, May 21, 2003.

  1. Hugo Skeeter

    Hugo Skeeter
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    Stereo Set-up

    Sony TAF-B 940R Amplifier
    Sony SACDX-940 SACD Player
    Sony MDS-JB940 MD Recorder

    AV Set-up

    Sony STR-DB 1070 AV Amplifier
    Sony DVP-NS 900 DVD Player
    Sony SLV-9X Video

    Speakers

    Mission 773e Fronts
    Mission 77c1 Centre
    Mission 77ds Rear
    Gale Sub

    Firstly, I know I'm likely to be thrown into the burning fires of
    Hi-Fi hell (fuelled by 1970's "Music Centres"), when I say that the 'look' of my equipment is important. Not to the detriment of sound quality, but it does have a bearing on things. My Sony kit is all silver and it looks bloody marvellous in my rack :)

    Ok, I currently have the Stereo amp driving the front speakers and the AV amp driving the centre and rear surrounds. I'm happy with the sound from the system in both stereo and AV, but I am thinking about changing the CD player. The SACD performance from the DVD player has impressed me in Multi-Channel (Dark Side Of The Moon is awesome). As the SACD player only does stereo SACD, I'm looking to replace the SACD player with a dedicated CD player, leaving all SACD duties to the DVD player.

    As the next step up the Sony range (CDXA333ESB) is out of my price range (and not silver), I started looking elsewhere. Having read a number of reviews, two players have been shortlisted. The NAD 541i (yes,i know it's black) and, on the recommendation of a local dealer, the Arcam CD72 (mmmm, silver).

    My concern is this. The Sony SACD player was originally £550 list
    price, which is considerably more than the NAD or Arcam players. Would either of these CD players be a step down from what I have already, or was the original cost of the Sony SACD inflated by the inclusion of the SACD capability. Will I notice a significant improvement by changing to the NAD or Arcam ? Should I stick with the Sony SACD and drool over it's silvery lovely-ness !!

    Your thoughts please.
     
  2. MikeK

    MikeK
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    No reason anyone should flame you for wanting your kit to look nice - it's often in the living room, which many people don't want looking like an old electronics lab :)

    As for drooling over it's silvery loveliness........ :) :) - never really thought of it that way before!!! ;)


    If you are happy with the sound, why bother getting on that endless treadmill of upgraditis at all?
    Just sit back and enjoy it's "loveliness".


    I really wouldn't pay "that" much attention to original RRPs.
    Many companies over-inflate these for marketing purposes!
    As to whether a CD72 or c541i will sound any better in your system, head to head with your 940, I really couldn't say. I'd speculate that they'd likely offer subtle improvements, but if it's a night and day difference you are looking for, you may be disappointed.

    Looking at your system, and assuming you have some money and an itchy wallet hand, I'd probably be more inclined to use the money to replace the subwoofer - while I'm not saying that the one you have is no good (I don't even know the model number), Gale are not exactly renowned subwoofer manufacturers.
    Perhaps add another rear speaker too for EX/ES (unless you already have that) - same model if at all possible!


    You could try getting a demo of the Arcam/NAD players.
    A home one if possible, but if not, take your 940 along to the shop demo, and judge for yourself whether you feel the change would be worthwhile.
    If it's a shop demo, try to avoid a Saturday - too busy!
    A nice quiet Monday or Tuesday morning for example, so you have a bit of time to play!
    Try to keep an open mind though - it's all too easy to convince yourself that the nice shiny new one does sound better, even if sometimes it doesn't!
     
  3. sounddog

    sounddog
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    Following Mike's comments ... you might also find that it's not the CD player thats holding your system back. It might be preferable to replace the stereo amp instead. Something like the Rotel RA02 or the Arcam A75+ **MAY** make a bigger difference ... or you may find to make a reasonable difference you might want to look to be changing both the Amp and CD player in the near future.

    A NAD C541i or CD72 won't be a downgrade at all from the Sony SACD player ... which was built to showcase SACD more than to be the best possible CD player. One advantage of the CD72 is that it can be later upgraded to CD82 / CD92 spec or (one assumes later) the rumoured CD93.

    BTW ... I totally agree with you about looks of HiFi kit ... yes (to me) sound is the primary consideration, but I do think looks are also very important - even to the point that I won't buy some manufacturer's kit (HK is the prime examople) because of their looks. I don't mind mixing and matching ... but I do prefer silver kit ... but then I'm just a girl - what do I know :p
     
  4. jhjerpe

    jhjerpe
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    I added a Arcam CD72 to my system and compared to my Sony XE670 it is significantly better for 'normal' CDs.... But I couldn't comment against the 940....

    My understanding is that the 72 can be upgraded to the rumoured 93 spec...

    But once you start upgrading you can't stop... a nice shiny silver Arcam A85 soon joined the CD72. Combined they sound awsome.. (a look realy cool as well - in silver)

    Now about those speakers, sub ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh it never stops!
     
  5. gringottsdirect

    gringottsdirect
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    Keep what you have and enjoy it, buy SACDs as they come along and forget about upgrading.
    I've spent lots on a 2-channel system that hardly gets used now, I prefer SACDs and DVD-As instead. :)
     
  6. 337GUS

    337GUS
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    Hi

    HiFi World Sep 200 rather liked your Sony:

    "At the moment, a great buy. Plays CDs with refinement and control and SACDs with a clarity and openess not found at this price before."

    If you're happy with the sound don't do a thing.

    If you have the urge to blow some cash then I suggest you visit a couple of local dealers and have a listen to a few amp/cd combos with your speakers, even if you have to take them along. Arcam A75+/CD82T, Rega Planet/Brio, Roksan Kandy, Rotel RA/RCD to name a few. A good dealer will show you what is possible and then you can decide if it's worth the cash outlay. Take 2 or 3 favourite cd's and use the same tracks to get an idea of differences, listen to them before you leave on your own stuff and as soon as poss when you get home. Home dems are the best but you usually need to build up a rapor with a dealer first and spend a bit with them.

    In all honesty I don't think you will see a lot of improvement from the Nad or Arcam.

    Another option is a DAC, Sony's are well put together and have good mechanisms so you could add a DAC. You can hide it so it doesn't spoil the look of your existing kit (nothing wrong with a matching stack of toys!).

    Tag do the DAC20 from their refurb factory outlet with 1 year warranty for £470 delivered, RRP was £1250, add £40 for a good cable and you should have a big improvement. You can also route the MD through it.

    Another thought - a lot of people use a DVD as a transport for a DAC so you could sell the SACD (£150 - 200 seems going rate, 7oaks have a new one for £320) and put the proceeds to the DAC.

    If you want to stay with Sony a second hand ES cd player from a few years ago goes for around £450 (RRP £1000 - 1500) superb build and good sound quality, I still have one going strong purchased about 10 years ago (in black :)) .

    There are lots of bargains around if you do a bit of googling!

    Upgrade from CD92-93 is £550 so I expect 72 - 93 will not be cost effective.

    Regards

    Gus
     

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