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Looking for a smooth sounding amp/cdp combo

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
I am looking for a setup that will not be fatiguing or harsh, which, in my experience, is common in high end audio. I think I made the right choice in headphones with the Sennheiser hd600. My budget is small (<$1000, or so) and I am set on an SACD player. How is the Sony scd-333es model in this regard and how does it compare to the newer 555, in cd and sacd playback. What amp would go well with these components, keeping with a smoother sound. Any suggestions for cd/amp combos are appreciated.
Thanks,
Ryan
post #2 of 8
The 333ES and 555ES aren't necessarily the smoothest CD players, at least with redbook playback. I'd look elsewhere. Someone mentioned a good Philips model being on clearance and the 9000ES (DVD player) is showing up used now for a good price now that the new model is announced. Smoothness with redbook just isn't had commonly in cheaper players. Spend half your budget here and spend it on a used, clearance or demo model.

With the other half... consider trying to find a Melos SHA-1 but only if it's from someone reputable as they're no longer made or warrantied. This is a smooth sounding amp in your budget that won't sacrifice as much as most will. If you strongly prefer a nice liquidy midrange and can live without good high and low end extension, look into the MG Head OTL and retube it with something like the Raytheon 5751. This will only cost you $329 + $25 + shipping so that'll be in your range (and a lot of people like it even more than the Melos because of that killer midrange).
post #3 of 8
Quote:
Originally posted by kelly
[B]The 333ES and 555ES aren't necessarily the smoothest CD players, at least with redbook playback. I'd look elsewhere.
Kelly, I'd have to disagree very strongly with this -- the 333ES has five filters that let you tailor the sound quite a bit in Redbook, including two that "smooth" the sound. And unlike cheap "EQ" settings, the 333ES filters have gotten very good reviews, both here on Head-Fi and from online and print publications.
post #4 of 8
Macdef
I expected you to disagree. I've heard the filters and consider them worthless even on the XA777ES. They come at a cost.

I disagree heavily with some of the one-size-fits-all recommendations here at Head-Fi and think if smooth redbook is a priority for you, this is the wrong player to get. Remember that there are more options available today for SACD than when you first purchased your 333.
post #5 of 8
I don't know if I would want a super smooth CD player with a Headroom amp, and the HD-600s anyway.
Also, don't forget about interconnects, and different headphone cables for the HD-600s. They can make a big difference.
The HD-600s with the right tube amp can be magically smooth.
post #6 of 8
hook up any decent transport with the art DI/O and combine it with meta42/HD600's.
post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the advice. Any opinions on the marantz sacd players? Is the MG Head sluggish at all due to the tubes? It does look like a good deal. In addition to a smooth sound I need good rythym. A tall order, I know. Sorry about all the questions. I am just ready to get something good to listen to. Right now I've got my headphones coming out of a TDK CD-R .
Thanks again,
Ryan
post #8 of 8
Smooth sound and speed are indeed hard to come by in the same amplifier on the cheap. My best advice there would probably be staying solid state and going with a META42. If your budget gets bigger, you could get a modified Corda HA-1 or Sugden Headmaster. A Gilmore amp may be in your budget too, but I haven't heard one yet and no one is yet building them for people (sounds like soon, though).

MG Head's strength is certainly not speed. I'm told the microZOTL's speed is nice but I haven't heard it. I have heard the EAR HP4 and can confirm that it's both quick and smooth, but that's well outside of your budget.

I'm not a fan of Marantz CD players in general. I'm told their top of the line SACD player is one of the best SACD players there is but it's very expensive. I've not heard much about their lower end SACD players and haven't heard one myself. From what I've heard/read/been told alone, I would probably look for a clearance Philips or a used Sony 9000ES.
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