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High End Red Book CD Player Opinions? - Page 13

post #181 of 251
Quote:
Originally Posted by milkpowder
Thank you very much for your quick reply. I'm about to go to a dealer to audition the X-01. The X-01 is a little expensive, but it'll give me some idea about how the X-03 will sound. How much more expensive is the P-03/D-03 combo than the X-01 limited?

Also, I got a chance to listen to the P-01/D-01(x2) combo on Saturday. It was connected to a Chord CPA4000E Pre-amplifier and SPM 6000 Reference Monoblock Power Amplifier. The speakers were Diva Utopia Be. Altogether, the combination sounded absolutely stunning! The synergy was excellent. Replacing the Diva with a pair of Grand Utopias (also in the room, along with Nova and L & R) would've been even nicer! (My dad was only looking at the Divas though)
The P-01/D-01 combo is sick, but at a $50K price tag, more than my conscience will allow me to spend.

The P-03/D-03 combo comes in at approximately $25K, making it twice the price of the X-01. The X-03 Special Edition should sound very similar to the X-01. Make sure you go for the Special Edition, b/c it only costs $500 more.

One thing to keep in mind. The X-01, X-03, UX-1, UX-3 and DV-50 use a DSD -> PCM conversion. Some people have a purist bias against this conversion, but IMO it is unfounded when it comes to sonics.

The newer P-03/D-03 combo and the DV-60 use a PCM-> DSD conversion, and in the case of DSD, does not convert it to PCM.
post #182 of 251
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sleestack
The P-01/D-01 combo is sick, but at a $50K price tag, more than my conscience will allow me to spend.

The P-03/D-03 combo comes in at approximately $25K, making it twice the price of the X-01. The X-03 Special Edition should sound very similar to the X-01. Make sure you go for the Special Edition, b/c it only costs $500 more.

One thing to keep in mind. The X-01, X-03, UX-1, UX-3 and DV-50 use a DSD -> PCM conversion. Some people have a purist bias against this conversion, but IMO it is unfounded when it comes to sonics.

The newer P-03/D-03 combo and the DV-60 use a PCM-> DSD conversion, and in the case of DSD, does not convert it to PCM.
Back from the dealer. What a wonderful afternoon! The salesman did speak of the DV-60 and how it upconverts to DSD. The DV-60 is much cheaper than the X-03 though. I didn't have a chance to listen to the X-03 today because they didn't have stock. I did, however get a chance to listen to the X-01 Limited and boy was it a good player. It has such good resolving power and loyalty to the original recording. I find that no nuance is missed or misrepresented. I listened through the X-01 Limited, Diva Utopia Be, SPM1200E and CPA3200E. Cantate Domino sounded extremely good, with the lows extending truly very low and the soundstage being very vast and realistic. Norah Jone's voice and accompaniment were both detailed and extremely lifelike. There was also no lack in power which resulted in a tremendously good performance of the 1812 Overture. The timbre of the violin was captured almost perfectly in Mutter's recording of the Brahms Violin Concerto. The dynamics were also impressive and the overall sound warm and smooth-sounding. I wouldn't mind taking this set home! However, the X-01 Limited is too expensive and I think my dad will settle for the X-03 (LE or not). The whole set will still cost $33.5k, which is a lot of money.

I took some photos. Here's the best one (although it's still quite bad because I used a very bad image resizer):


Anotated version for those who have to know what everything is!:


EDIT: Sleestack, you have some incredible gear. I really envy you! Is there a reason why you picked up the P-03/D-03? What about your Classe Omega SACD2? I did consider Classe, but the Omega range seemed a bit expensive for their performance. Plus, the new Delta range was expensive and even worse-sounding! Even the salesman advised against buying the new Classe Delta series!
post #183 of 251
Quote:
Originally Posted by milkpowder

EDIT: Sleestack, you have some incredible gear. I really envy you! Is there a reason why you picked up the P-03/D-03? What about your Classe Omega SACD2? I did consider Classe, but the Omega range seemed a bit expensive for their performance. Plus, the new Delta range was expensive and even worse-sounding! Even the salesman advised against buying the new Classe Delta series!
Thanks for the pics. I picked up the P-03/D-03 because I just got rid of my Meridian G08 and am moving the Classe SACD2 to the headphone setup. It will be used in my 2 channel setup. I really like the SACD2 and the rest of the Omega line. It does use a more basic (than the Esoteric) Sony transport, but is a very solid SACD player and at $8K, isn't really out of line. I looked at their Delta series, but it really wasn't in the range of products I wanted, so I can't comment. The Delta amps, however, are quite impressive.
post #184 of 251
Thread Starter 
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post #185 of 251
Quote:
Originally Posted by Welly Wu
now the midrange is sweeter and the trebles have opened up and are "Ayre-y." I do not believe in burn in, but I have been playing random CDs on repeat mode when I got to work at BN. It is not a night and day difference, but I do hear a not so deniable difference. I still don't believe in burn in no matter what.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Welly Wu
It makes CDs sound better than SA-CDs and DVD-Audios combined...if the CD is well mastered and recorded and the music is great too.
Alright....so really what you're saying is you've completely lost all objectivity?
Not that that makes you a bad person.
post #186 of 251
The redbook player that most intrigues me now is the EERA DL1 from France at 2600 Euros. It's featured on the cover of the current HIFI+. As far as I know there is no North American distributor so I may never hear it.
post #187 of 251
Thread Starter 
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post #188 of 251
Quote:
Originally Posted by Welly Wu
Yes, I am saying that CDs sound better than SA-CDs and DVD-Audio discs now. Did you know that the editor of Hi-Fi+ considers CD playback on top notch Red Book CD players only to be better than SA-CD and DVD-Audio too eyeteeth? Anyway, CDs don't smear accuracy or precision like the 1bit/2.822MHz DSD SA-CD and they are not as forward or uber hi-rez as DVD-Audio which can sound very fatiguing. I also don't believe that upsampling or oversampling is necessary to improve CD playback; careful attention to designing isolated power supplies and the analog stage output really improve sound quality and that is essentially what ModWright and the other mod houses do to existing players. Ayre does the same thing, but they build everything custom in house.
He would be in the vast majority of professional opinion with his opinion there. I'm not sure how many different players you have listened to, but it does make me think your experiences are limited. You are certainly entitled to your opinions, but I would hardly say SACDs smear accuracy or DVD-As are too forward or high-res. I'm not even sure what those descriptions are supposed to mean. I do understand that you are enamored with your new Redbook source, but I'm wondering how you derived your conclusions about SACD and DVD-A. Furthermore while houses like ModWright and Parts Connexion do great work in upgrading sources (as I have had a fully upgraded 3910), IMO, I wouldn't quite compare the end results to the top notch sources available.
post #189 of 251
Quote:
Originally Posted by Welly Wu
I don't believe in burn in because there is really no scientific proof that is widely accepted to prove it does exist. However, I am playing CDs on repeat mode continously through my Sennheiser HD-650 headphones for the next several weeks. There are some sound differences, but they are not "night and day," "completely opened up everything," "awesome," "unbelievable," "enormous," and Moses did not part the Red Sea to let my CD player go either. These are not tiny nuances either. Just little sound differences. That's about it after 10+ days of continous unattended playing.
I'm neither much of a for or against burn-in person. That "there is really no scientific proof" means something but not everything as we're dealing with many different items in the audio chain from the copper which will not change in a cable to teflon which may in a preamp to a bass driver which probably will loosen up in a speaker. I've never experienced any very noticable change, things are good or bad from their installation. That doesn't mean I totally discount others' account of burn-in even if it is a nebulous area that surely deceives some.

I only pointed it out because it was funny the way you had it described. I wasn't mocking or anything. I was amused by - 'I don't believe in it but I'm doing it but I don't believe in it.' I sometimes have to go through the same exercise in order to satisfy others that I have the fully mature item. They'll think that if I don't like something it's because it wasn't fully burned-in.

Besides, the type of listening required to hear something as sly as burn-in isn't the type of listening I do. It isn't natural or comfortable and I think it is antithetical (unequivocal opposition) to enjoying music. The wrong foot is put forward first. If something naturally occurs in time, well OK. Sorry I don't mean to lecture but just explain my bias. I don't work hard, leaning in, intent.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Welly Wu
Yes, I am saying that CDs sound better than SA-CDs and DVD-Audio discs now. Did you know that the editor of Hi-Fi+ considers CD playback on top notch Red Book CD players only to be better than SA-CD and DVD-Audio too eyeteeth? Anyway, CDs don't smear accuracy or precision like the 1bit/2.822MHz DSD SA-CD and they are not as forward or uber hi-rez as DVD-Audio which can sound very fatiguing. I also don't believe that upsampling or oversampling is necessary to improve CD playback; careful attention to designing isolated power supplies and the analog stage output really improve sound quality and that is essentially what ModWright and the other mod houses do to existing players. Ayre does the same thing, but they build everything custom in house.
Well, Roy Gregory is a very particular listener. He is very skillful and a very good writer who I enjoy reading very much but he does have his distinct priorities and there needs to be some flexibility or understanding in interpreting his analysis. You need to know him in order to know his findings. I can't say how well I know him.

As for redbook sounding twice as good as SACD and DVD-A combined surely you mean in the narrow confines of certain specific discs on the specific machines you've owned. Very roughly technically, I don't see how 16 bits of information can be twice as good as 48 bits (24 bits SACD + 24 bits DVD-A). Bits aside, it's the implementation of the technology that has a disc sound good or bad. Is the mastertape good? Is the analog to digital mastering good? Is the listeners DSD playback gear of equal sophistication as their PCM? Or is this particular DSD SACD title derived from a poor multi-generation PCM digital copy of a poor multi-generational analog copy? The best examples of redbook versus the best DVD-A or pure DSD from the start of the recording process (a rare item I believe) should leave little doubt. Everyone knows this right?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Welly Wu
I have today off from work at BN so I will be listening very intently to all different types of music. I am still happy that I got my Ayre Acoustics CX-7 Evolution, Sennheiser HD-650 headphones, and the aftermarket cables. I have carefully researched and achieved an awesome matched set of listening tools for reference purposes. No regrets.
I don't like my Sennheisers very much and use them to smooth over bad sounding CDs...I like them then. I'd also like to place a tax on use of the word "reference" to discourage abuse by manufacturers and others.
And you need to add your daily diet to your signature as that may have an affect on your abilities to observe and transcribe and we need to know these things.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Welly Wu
The EERA DL1 is mighty interesting, but I doubt that it will be available for sale in the US. That's the one thing that I don't like about Hi-Fi+: they sometimes review products "for them, not us."
"them" as in the British writing for the British? I like their mag. For my taste, they are much better writers on an absolute scale and have musical priorities closer to mine. I understand a component much better when described by HIFI+ than by any of the American writers in TAS or Stereophile.

Why can't the EERA DL1 make it across the mighty Atlantic?
post #190 of 251
Welly are you basing your insight on SACD and DVD-A on your personal experiences?

Was that the Pioneer player you had before?

Did you get the pioneer with the understanding that the mod was to get the most out of its performance over stock rather than be a DCS/Meitner Killer?

Or did you expect it to be be as good as them?
post #191 of 251
Quote:
Originally Posted by eyeteeth
I don't like my Sennheisers very much and use them to smooth over bad sounding CDs...I like them then.
This is how I feel as well. If I want a truely clinical look into a recording I feel the SR-404 does a much better job than the HD650.
post #192 of 251
Quote:
Originally Posted by J-Pak
This is how I feel as well. If I want a truely clinical look into a recording I feel the SR-404 does a much better job than the HD650.
Clinical...you're wearing a surgical mask!
I don't want clinical either.
80% of my listening is with speakers. They have more resolution and dynamics than the Senns but walk that line between forward and laidback, neutrality, yadda, yadda. They're more informative but that's not really what I'm after. I just want joy, thrills and chills, emotion not information.

EDIT:just listening again and the Senns are smoothed over but also thin sounding, anemic and bloodless.
post #193 of 251
Welly, I've been thinking about the original Ayre CX-7 since it was introduced. The review descriptions made it sound like it would be right up my alley. It's good to see your positive response to the CX-7e as well, I'll be looking forward to your final write-up.

I have a question, though. Do you know if the output stage uses op-amps or if it's discrete?

You also mentioned earlier some reviews that said it was tooo bright and overly bassy. Do you have links to those reviews? Everything I've seen has been positive. Thanks.
post #194 of 251
Thread Starter 
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post #195 of 251
Quote:
Originally Posted by Welly Wu
All of the negative reivews that point to those (unfounded) criticisms of the Ayre Acoustics CX-7 Evolution were gleaned from AudioAsylum, Audigon, and the AudioCircles; they did not come from professional reviewers.

Now, I am listening to Bach for Book Lovers and it sounds so airy and light just like the CD.
So the CD sounds just like the CD?

An upgrade is in my future (nothing urgent) and the Ayre is a contender but I can't find these negative user reviews you refer to. Do you have any links? All I can find are user praises. Any info good or bad is useful in my book. I forget entirely about some forums such as Audio Circle from which I found an interesting post. 8th Nerve is a manufacturer of room treatments. The power cord efforts are interesting.

http://www.audiocircle.com/circles/i...76574#msg76574

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"A lot of people have been enquiring as to the differences between some of these players, so here is a quick review of how they perform given a particular scenario on a challenging track.

The track used is from Martin Topley-Bird's "Quixotic" CD. The song is "Stevie's", track number 13.

All CD Players are connected to the following system:

Chord Cobra RCA to DIN interconnect ->
Naim NAC 112 ->
Naim Flatcap 2 ->
Naim NAP 200 ->
Naim NACA Speaker Wire->
Von Schweikert VR-2

All interconnects are standard Naim and power cords are stock Naim as well.

The three players were tested using the Audience Power Chord (our long-time reference) and the new Eighth Nerve Spinal Cord (which is still experimental, but may be released soon) with the exception of the Naim player. The Naim player was tested with the stock cord and the Eighth Nerve cord. On all Naim gear I have tested, any power cord replacement has resulted in loss of rythym, impact, definition and overall musicality. I didn't feel like wasting the time with the Audience cord as I have tried it with Naim gear before. In this specific instance, the stock cord is far superior in every way, so it was used as the reference with the EN cord as the test piece.

The three players in order of play are:

Ayre CX-7 (Retail $3000)
Eastern Electric MiniMax CDP (Retail $1350) - Stock tubes...
Naim CD-5i (Retail $1650)


AYRE CX-7 w/ Audience Power Chord
The Ayre always has and still does excell at ultimate inner-resolution and "air" throughout the recording, and bests the other players in this regard to a small degree. There are two points in the track where sounds are phase shifted to appear behind the listening position, first with vocals, and second with other ambient effects. This combo, much to my surprise, created the least convincing layout of that effect, portraying an image that was certainly not from the front of the stage, but was not defined in placement at all, it simply came from an indistinguishable place in the room. This player, as usual, was very clean, articulate, and defined.

AYRE CX-7 w/ EN Spinal Cord X
This power cord made the spatial effects more convincing, giving them a bit more placement to the rear of the listening position, but still a bit ghostly and hazy compared to some of the other combos. The bass was also a bit leaner, but much more textured. I wonder if the bass with the Audience cord was not a bit exaggerated. The difference was slight, but noticeable. Overall I also felt the musicality and rythym was improved as well. The differences in power cords on this player was less significant than on the other players, perhaps due to the "Ayre Power Filter" which apparently is Patent pending for whatever that is worth.


EASTERN ELECTRIC MINIMAX CDP w/ Audience Power Cord
As many have noted, this is a surprising performer, providing a big, gorgeous soundstage with a glorious sound that belies its size and price. It manages to do this however without a sacrifice of detail, inner or outer. Not quite as detailed and airy as the Ayre, but with more musicality and life, perhaps with a bit of interpretation, but it's really good interpretation, so don't be so damn picky. The spatial effects were well defined, but placed just slightly forward of the listening position. It did not get the information behind the listener, but it did place the image with solidity and body. A good trade-off. An excellent performer at this price, and for many, maybe most, perhaps a better choice than the Ayre, regardless of price.

EASTERN ELECTRIC MINIMAX CDP w/ EN Spinal Cord X
The differences in power cords were most apparent with this CD player. More definition, musicality, and tidyness were apparent with this setup, again with a hint of a reduction in bass quantity, but more texture. Don't over analyze here though, there is still TONS of bass as these three CD players are some of the best at bass in my opinion. The bass is still deep and forceful, well down in the mid 20s, with no hint of roll-off. The nicest difference was in the spatial effects. The effects were now placed with the same weight and accuracy, but now just slighty behind the listener, providing the second best results of this test in this regard. Yummy.


NAIM CD-5i w/ Stock Power Cord
______________
Just to clarify, this CD Player was attached using the same Cobra RCA to DIN interconnect to compare it evenly with the rest of the group, and to use the outputs that you would use unless hooking it up to a Naim preamp or integrated. Performance is improved using the DIN outputs, but all comments here are based on its performance using its RCA outputs. Now back to our regularly scheduled program...
______________

As you may expect, the Naim player simply defines musicality, portraying a rythym and pace that is simply as close to real music as I have ever heard. It has a big, defined sound that is rich with texture and layered with musical interplay. It competes with the level of detail of the Ayre, the size of the MiniMax, but with a character all its own. It is hard to specify, as listening to anything but the music with the Naim on is an exersize in extreme focus. Even the slightest wondering of your mind will disturb your concentration enough to be sucked back into the black hole sized vacuum of the Naim musicality. Then the music stops and you realize you have no idea what it sounded like. With all these CD Players, I skipped the 2 minutes in the middle of the track to speed things up. With this player, BOTH times I listened to the whole track. The spatial effects, surprisingly (to me at least), were the best of the group. The Naim produced a well defined image well behind the listener on both sets of effects. Perhaps it makes sense as the phase relationships are responsible for the illusion of the sound behind you and the Naim excells at timing, perhaps the most important characteristic for phase accuracy.

NAIM CD-5i w/ EN Spinal Cord X
First, every other power cord I have tried with any Naim gear other than the stock cord sounds worse. Much worse. Rythym, definition, everything goes out the window. They say this is so, and I believe them, as it has proven true to me. Even so, I wanted to try the new cord on it to see how it fared. I was pleasantly surprised, only because it didn't get worse. Honestly, I had a very hard time determining what the differences were. It was apparent that there were some slight changes, but I was unable to tell which was better. It sounds like more testing on that is in order.


SUMMARY
These three CD Players define the state of the art in the price vs performance category. I have heard almost no other players at any price that shame any of these units. Any one would be an excellent, no-compromise source component for your reference system for a long time to come.

So where does all this leave us? The Ayre dancing about in ultra-defined high res with moves embodying precision, perfection, and balance. The MiniMax with its beautiful costume, seductive glance and rhapsodic flow. And the Naim transfixing us with a performance that drains our mind of anything else in our senses. The only question is which dance would YOU like to experience?"

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That's a suprisingly positive take on the CD5i. It would be good to be able to compare the Ayre to other players in it's class. That would be a more valuable report. I feel a need for dynamics more than detail.
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