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What's the best sounding portable CD player?

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 
Ok, what do you guys think is the best sounding portable CD player that is currently produced? Since I spend about 3 hours a day listening to my portable CD player I was thinking of upgrading to the best that is currently on the market.
post #2 of 36

Re: What's the best sounding portable CD player?

Quote:
Originally posted by acidtripwow
Ok, what do you guys think is the best sounding portable CD player that is currently produced?
"that is currently produced" is the tricky part. It's very debateable. Do you mean from the headphone jack? Or the line out?

I like the Panasonic 570 quite a bit. It has a decent headphone jack if your cans aren't really hard to drive, and the line out is very good if you have a portable amp. Plus it has a 10 second non-compressed antishock mode -- good for walking around with.

However, the best headphone jack on a portable that I've found is the Sony D-25S, which is a model that hasn't been sold since 1992. It also has a very clean line out. You can find "new" old stock on eBay if you're adventurous. Proprietary battery, no anti-shock mode, and no accessories included are three disadvantages, amongst many. But if you just want something that can sit on a desk, powered by AC adapter, and drive almost any cans you plug into it cleanly, it's a great choice IMO. As I mentioned on another thread, I will be writing a full review of the D-25S very soon.
post #3 of 36
onecall.com has the ct-570 for 78 clams. Just a headsup if anyone is interested. I got one for me and one to give as a present.
post #4 of 36
Thread Starter 
I was thinking something more high end.
post #5 of 36
I was looking at the 780 but I haven't heard it yet.
post #6 of 36
Quote:
Originally posted by acidtripwow
I was thinking something more high end.
? What do you mean by "more high end?" It's not like you're going to be able to buy a NAD or Mark Levinson portable. If you really want high-end, get a portable with a digital output and an outboard DAC. Not too portable though.

The Sony D-25S I mentioned was the highest-end portable player you could get in the years it was made, I believe. It cost well over $300. The Panasonic 570 has an aluminum cover, which makes it sort of "high end" compared with the plastic crap you find nowadays. The Sony D-EJ01 is Sony's top model right now, with a magnesium shell and wired remote/display. I don't know how it sounds, but I would assume it's pretty good. Still, there's no way it would be able to play for dozens and dozens of hours without a battery charge with a headphone amp as hefty as that on the D-25S, so I'm forced to assume you'll need a portable headphone amp. I've actually been very pleasantly surprised at how well the D-25S drives my Sennheiser HD580s without an external amp.

Good luck.
post #7 of 36
I say go for the Panasonic 790 from hyperjack. It's got all the features of the 780 I believe (which sounds wonderful out of the lineout) and looks alot cooler.
post #8 of 36
The Panasonic 570 *is* high end. It was Panasonic's flagship CDP about a year ago. Not too hard to tell if you look at its features list...it totes stuff that you don't find in some of today's players up until the 780.

I would avoid Sony PCDPs like the plague nowdays. They totally screwed things over with their horrid new equalization for their bass boosts (if this sounds like an atrocity, well about 5 years ago Sony PCDPs had really good bass boosts, and it was actually usable), and their default equalization is pretty bad as well.
post #9 of 36
Quote:
The Sony D-25S I mentioned was the highest-end portable player you could get in the years it was made, I believe.
Or the Optimus 3400, which many claim was the best portable ever
post #10 of 36
I'll be getting my new D-EJ01 early next week. I don't have any other portable players, but I'll try to find one to compare to with the Porta Corda and ER-4S.
post #11 of 36
Quote:
Originally posted by MacDEF
Or the Optimus 3400, which many claim was the best portable ever
Yeah, I always thought that was kind of funny. Radio Shack never set out to make the 'best' portable player. The story goes like this:

Someone made mention that the Optimus 3400 offered high-end sound, and Stereophile Magazine picked up the debate. They declared that the hype was valid, and that the 3400 offered truly high-end sound in a portable package. Many users at the time reported that the polarity of the line out jack was reversed, but apparently this only applied to a certain lot number. Seemed odd to me that such a highly-touted player would get the left and right channels reversed.

I checked one out -- bought used. I found it passable, but nothing special. The build quality was pretty bad, actually -- it was a flimsy player. With so many high-end afficianados talking about the importance of an extremely stable transport, how could they be recommending the 3400? Some people suggested sticking them in large books while playing for stability -- Bibles, phone books, world atlases. It seemed stable enough just sitting on a shelf, IMO. It also seemed vaguely ridiculous to have to pull it out of a big book, eject the CD, load a new one, start the player, and stick it back in the book.

Besides, I didn't think it offered anything terribly wonderful. It was a neutral player, but nothing special. There were then and are now portable players that are just as good, IMO.

Anyway, as everyone here knows, if Stereophile likes something suddenly the whole world likes it. It got hard to find 3400s for a while and prices on the used market got kind of ridiculous. I sold mine to a friend who used it for a year or two until it literally fell apart.

Anyway, I thought then that the Sony D-25 was a much better player (my college roommate owned one). Unfortunately I couldn't afford one, so I stuck with some lower-end Sony player (a D-9, I think). The D-25, unlike the Optimus 3400, felt solid, like a brick. I didn't have really good headphones at the time, but my roommate's D-25 served as the primary CD source in the dorm room stereo, and didn't fall apart despite heavy use. My old roommate tells me now that his D-25 worked perfectly for about 10 years, at which point it started skipping. He replaced it rather than getting it cleaned and lubed, which is probably all it needed.

Anyway, yeah -- if you can find an Optimus 3400 that hasn't fallen apart, you may find you like it. I'd still recommend the D-25 or D-25S over it, unless you absolutely need an optical digital output, which the D-25 doesn't offer.
post #12 of 36
Quote:
Originally posted by DanG
I'll be getting my new D-EJ01 early next week. I don't have any other portable players, but I'll try to find one to compare to with the Porta Corda and ER-4S.
Dan, through a stroke of luck I've managed to get my hands on a second D-25S. If you want, I can lend it to you temporarily so you can make a comparison with the D-EJ01. Let me know if you're interested. I can probably get it out to you in a week or two.
post #13 of 36
Russ,

Thanks for the offer! Unfortunately, I'll be going away to Europe in two weeks and won't be able to listen to the unit until sometime in January (I'll be back here January 3rd). PM or e-mail me around then if you'd like to send the unit then. I may even be able to send you my CD player so you can listen to it as well.

However, I was thinking of just going into an electronics store and telling them I'm considering getting a CD player for my little brother (which I actually am -- well, kind of ) and trying out all the models compared to my D-EJ01 using the Porta Corda or JMT-built CMoy/Apheared 47 and Ety ER-4S.

Anyway, we'll have to see. But the 25S may be interesting to compare to.
post #14 of 36
Russ, I'm actually pretty surprised by your opinion of the 3400. Was it tainted by anti-Stereophile-bandwagon skepticism? j/k -- I've both been on that bandwagon and tried to run it off the road...

I owned two 3400s. Both lasted years without problems. In fact, the only problem I ever had was... dirt. One of them wasn't working right earlier this year, and I thought it was broken, so I took it in to get it fixed. Turns out it just needed a lube-job and cleaning Other than that, they both worked great until I sold them this year (I use MD for portable use, and have a good CD setup at home, so I didn't need them).

In terms of performance, I thought the 3400 was a great unit. I've compared it to a number of portable PCDs over the years, and it always came out ahead. And while the headphone jack was good, where it really shined was the line-out (actually, Stereophile didn't really rave about the headphone jack, but the line-out). IMO, there's no current PCD can match it in a portable rig with an amp.

I never heard the Sony model you mentioned, though, so I wasn't trying to say the 3400 was better

Now, back to the original topic... I've heard good things about the Panasonic 780. Was this based on the headphone jack or the line-out? Is there anything better out there right now?
post #15 of 36
Quote:
Originally posted by MacDEF
Russ, I'm actually pretty surprised by your opinion of the 3400. Was it tainted by anti-Stereophile-bandwagon skepticism? j/k -- I've both been on that bandwagon and tried to run it off the road...
No, I really have nothing against Stereophile per se. I find some of their articles informative and useful, and some of them totally ridiculous. I point friends and family to their recommended components list frequently. I do wish they'd at least consider trying double-blind tests with some of their more exotic recommendations, but I won't get into that now.

Maybe I wasn't really clear, but I don't dislike the 3400. If you held a D-25 in your hands, you'd know what I mean about the 3400 being flimsy. My disagreement about its sound isn't that I think it sounds bad; I just didn't think it sounded much different than many other portable players. Making most portable players sound as neutral as the 3400 just involved turning off the bass boost circuits. Maybe the 3400 was cleaner than most others, but since I didn't really have high-end headphones or even a mid-fi stereo at the time, I couldn't hear it. I was the prototypical poor college student.

I've been listening to the D-25S pretty steadily over the past few days, and am liking it more and more. Both the line out and the headphone jack impress me, though I'm sure the headphone jack is no match for a Max

Quote:
I owned two 3400s. Both lasted years without problems.
Well, the one I owned did indeed fall apart after I sold it. But I suspect my friend was a little rougher on gear than you are.

Quote:
I never heard the Sony model you mentioned, though, so I wasn't trying to say the 3400 was better
Well, given that Dan can't make use of it until he returns from his trip, would you want me to lend the spare D-25S to you instead? I could ship it out within a week or two at the most.
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