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NAD C515BEE or Onkyo DX-7555?

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
I’m in the market for a CD player to play Redbook and CD-Rs exclusively. My absolute high is $450 total. I’m also not comfortable buying a used CD player. So this rules out a lot of players. I’ve narrowed my choices to two – The NAD C515BEE and the Onkyo DX-7555. There are no stores near me that have either one out to hear. I’ve read a huge amount of mostly positive pro and user reviews for both players and I can’t decide which way to go. The list price on the NAD is $300 U.S. I can get it new for a total cost of $270. The Onkyo has a list price of $700. I can get it new for a total cost of $435, from two very reputable dealers.

There’s a part of me that’s drawn to the Onkyo simply because it has an original list price that more than doubles the list price of the NAD. Selling at $600 The Absolute Sound felt that it was “a great bargain.” And at $700 Stereophile felt that it was “an excellent value.” So at $400, it seems like a steal. I’ve read that Onkyo is introducing a new CD player in June and I’m guessing that I’m seeing a price drop based on the fact that it’s being replaced. Considering the huge difference between the list prices of these two units I can’t help but feel that the Onkyo is in a different class. But I really don’t know if that’s the case -- prices come down for various reasons. As far as the NAD is concerned, What Hi-Fi? gave the C515BEE a very good review, and The Absolute Sound gave it a Product of the Year award in 2008.

User reviews are generally good for both of them. But of course there are upsides and downsides to both of these players, as there are for all CD players. Does anyone have an opinion between these two?

My amp is an NAD C-340 integrated which I bought in 2000. I listen exclusively through my Grado SR-225 headphones through the phone input of the amp. I don’t even own speakers.
post #2 of 19
Well, I have never heard the C515BEE. I do have the C521BEE though (in my closet). I upgraded from that to the Onkyo, so of those two, it should tell you which I prefer. I don't know how the 515 compares to the 521 though. Although it has a lower number, the 515 is a later model.
post #3 of 19
You can't go wrong with the C515BEE, it provides an amazing sound and you can use the extra bucks for an emergency pair of headphones around the $180 usd. Or you

Now, if you want to talk about a 5 stars player check the NAD C545BEE that is something around the $450 usd:

NAD Electronics :: WHF 5 star review C545BEE CD Player

I know we're talking about a different application but, I use an Onkyo receiver and an Onkyo DVD player as a source (My Home Theater setup) to play music, and it's not that impressive.

Let us know what you chose...actually what I would do is to use $150 usd for a round trip flight to a city where any dealer (perhaps two) had both cd players so I can really hear their sound signature. Good luck
post #4 of 19
Thread Starter 
The ridiculous thing is that I'm not in the middle of nowhere. It's a half hour drive to NY City. But not one authorized NAD dealer has a C515BEE on dispay or in stock. They'd have to order one for me. I'm not sure if that's the case with the C545BEE. There are two stores in the city that carry the Onkyo DX-7555, but I doubt very much they have one out for demo. I should call and find out though.

I did consider the C545BEE, but perhaps wrongly took it out of the running. Based on what I've read I was actually afraid of finding the sound too detailed. The What Hi-Fi? review referred to it as “unbelievably detailed.” And one user who owns it said that it’s very revealing of any faults in recordings (or words to that effect). I listen with headphones which are pretty forward (Grado SR-225s), and I didn’t want a player that was incredibly unforgiving. I listen to some rock and jazz CDs (mostly from the 60s and 70s). But the majority of my CDs are classical. And the recordings run from great to a lot less than great. I love a great recording, but performance is always my first priority.
post #5 of 19
NAD C515BEE is a very very good CD player for the money. Very dynamic and punchy with great detail and soundstage. And unlike most NAD components, it's not ugly.
post #6 of 19
I own the Onkyo, a highly modified Denon 2900, and a MHDT Para with many tubes. However, I have found that I seem to prefer the Onkyo by itself.
Therefore, I would recommend the Onkyo to you.
post #7 of 19
Quote:
There are two stores in the city that carry the Onkyo DX-7555, but I doubt very much they have one out for demo. I should call and find out though.
Check J&R. When I was shopping for the Onkyo they had one out on display. That was almost two years ago though.
post #8 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by zotjen View Post
Check J&R. When I was shopping for the Onkyo they had one out on display. That was almost two years ago though.
The two stores I mentioned that carry it are J&R and B&H. I just called. B&H doesn't have one out for demo but J&R does. Funny, it's probably the same one from two years ago. Well I hope it is anyway. That would say something about its reliability.
post #9 of 19
I've been pondering about a DAC vs New CDP for a while now and the NAD515 seems like a good chance to take for 300 bucks, also makes sense in a way that I can get a really good DAC later on instead of settling for a budget DAC now for the Sony CE595.

The 7555 is no longer 400 bucks as far as I can find. Amazon is back up to 600 bucks.
post #10 of 19
Thread Starter 
I think I'd buy the C515BEE right now if not for one thing. In doing a proposterous amount of research into cd players (people buy cars and houses with less laboring than I'm doing), I've come across a lot of users who feel that NAD CD players have real reliability issues. Major problems with the drawer, the display, excessive noise from the disc spinning in the tray, skipping, can get finicky with CDRs... And of course for every person who posts this opinion, someone else will post the opposite.

It could be that with the large amount of NAD sales your bound to come across more people who have had problems. Or it could just be that I've searched more forums and looked at more comments for this player than any other. If I searched for other brands I might find just as many complaints for them. But for whatever its worth, I have seen a lot of complaints about their players. And the C515BEE comes up quite a bit in those complaints (although many are not from first hand experience). So, even though it may be completely unjustified in reality, I'm afraid of buying an NAD CD player. Which is a real shame because I thing this model is something I'd probably be very happy with.

I haven't seen nearly as much user feedback on the Onkyo DX-7555. But I've probably read around 30 user reviews from various sites on this unit. Some quite extensive. And I've only come across one person complaining of something defective. But factoring in tax on the Onkyo and no tax on the NAD, the Onkyo would end up costing me $165 US dollars more. If I felt that the sound of the Onkyo would be that much better than the NAD, or better at all, I'd spring for the extra money and get it. But from the descriptions of both players, in some ways I think the NAD might actually sound better to my ears.

It's a tough call. The question really is, how much strength should I put on this idea that NAD CD players have reliability issues? In plain English, that the thing is likely going to break on me -- possibly repeatedly.
post #11 of 19
Thread Starter 
Right or wrong, all the talk of NAD unreliability on the internet scared me off of NAD. So I ordered the Onkyo DX-7555 from J&R for $400. No shipping charge. And no tax unless you live in NY where they have their store. Unfortunately (at least as it applies to this purchase), I live in NY. So I got hit with the tax. But I think it's a good deal. And I should be happy with it. If not, I can return it within 30 days for a full refund. But I don't think it'll come to that.
post #12 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by BSong View Post
Right or wrong, all the talk of NAD unreliability on the internet scared me off of NAD. So I ordered the Onkyo DX-7555 from J&R for $400. No shipping charge. And no tax unless you live in NY where they have their store. Unfortunately (at least as it applies to this purchase), I live in NY. So I got hit with the tax. But I think it's a good deal. And I should be happy with it. If not, I can return it within 30 days for a full refund. But I don't think it'll come to that.
I think you will like, but make sure to post your thoughts on it.
post #13 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by jilgiljongiljing View Post
The 7555 is no longer 400 bucks as far as I can find. Amazon is back up to 600 bucks.
It was $400.00 shipped @ J&R about 2 weeks when it e-mailed me that it was back in stock. I am thinking of getting this as my last/ultimate CD player.
post #14 of 19
Thread Starter 
Amazon did go back up to $599. But J&R is charging $399. When you go onto their page for the DX-7555, right underneath the $594 price (in smaller print) is a paragraph that tells you to call their 1-800 number for the absolute latest pricing. Ordering it over the phone the price is $399. And B&H also has it for $399 (currently back ordered). In their case you have to click on the $594 price to see their actual $399 price.

Anyway, I’ve been listening to the DX-7555 for about a week now and I really like it. I don’t know how it compares to any of the current crop of players though. This is replacing a Sony X222ES that I purchased in 1991 and finally broke. I haven't gone out to listen to any players. So the only thing I have to compare it to is my recent memory of that pretty old Sony.

The difference certainly is night and day. That Sony was a decent player in 1991. I paid $320 for it back then. But the technology has grown, and this Onkyo is in another sonic world. Being a person who’s played an instrument for most of his life (guitar and cello) I think I have a pretty good ear for instrumental sound. While I can't compare the Onkyo to a current Rotel, I can judge it on that basis.

I listen with Grado SR-225s which are often described as being forward and on the bright side compared to say, Sennheisers. I think this combination is probably a very good match. The Onkyo has a full, rich sound. Everything sounds extremely natural and realistic to me. The instruments have great detail, presence and separation. The sound is generally smooth, but not overly so. I find the high frequencies very pleasing. It’s very clear but not overly bright. For me it just sounds natural, and excuse the cliché, not “fatiguing.”

I think this player does a very good job of accurately reproducing what has been recorded, both the good and the bad. When I put on Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus (I hope I haven’t left out a Mingus) and heard the opening bass solo on the first track, I was astounded by the realism, presence and beauty of the sound of his bass.

Mostly I listen to classical. But also jazz and rock. It sounds great for all of it. Orchestral, a Tortelier cello concerto, string quartets, solo violin, choral, Bill Bruford’s snare drum, John Entwistle’s bass, Lennon’s voice, Beatles harmonies...

I just want to say something about a few of the variable settings. I couldn’t hear any difference when changing the Phase Polarity or the Clock Frequency. But to my ears the difference between the Sharp and Slow filter settings is significant. I find that Slow sounds much better with everything I play. This setting reproduces subtleties in dynamic fluctuations, attack, and transients in a more realistic way than the Sharp setting. The detail is better. Nuances come through better.

It’s a little deep at 15-3/4 inches, which isn't very space friendly, or aesthetically pleasing for my tastes. But that really isn’t much of a complaint. I’m no audiophile. I just know what I think sounds good. And I have to say that I’m very happy with this purchase.

Now I’m wondering if a better interconnect ($40 max) would make it sound even better.
post #15 of 19
BSong, glad to hear you're enjoying the Onkyo. It really is a great player. With regard to the settings, I'm pretty much in agreement with you that there isn't much of a difference, however I do prefer the Sharp setting over Slow.

As to whether or not better interconnects will make a difference is something you need to decide for yourself.
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