Advice needed on a ca $500 CDP
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Pierre Lambion

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Hi everyone,

-- the context --

I decided (finally) to go for a decent CDP (actually quite high end on my previous standards).

I have an appointment tomorrow to audition some Cambridge 500, Atoll (french manufacturer), Rotel and also an Arcam Diva 72 (second hand but only 6 months old and with 2.5 yrs guarantee left).

I will use them with my AKG240s and Porta Corda II untill I'm able to buy a similarly priced ($500) amp and some small speakers. My final objective is to have a speaker based rig that sounds good at low volume as I live in an apartment and listen late in the evening/night. To me (sorry folks!) headphones are only a temporary solution.

-- the questions --

1/ Any tip to get the most from this auditioning? I will bring my CDs and my headphone + amp of course but I intend to mostly listen with one of their integrated amp and speakers.

2/ Should I consider vinyl? I'm a bit concerned as I spent one hour in their shop on Saturday to listen to HD600+Rega Ear+Arcam Diva 72 and the guy insisted on me testing with recent recordings (like Bjork) rather than old rock (Pink Floyd or Miles Davis) that would not get the most out of the rig. The fact is I mainly listen to 70's rock (Nick Drake, The Who, Dire Straits, Dylan, ...), some jazz and classic. I have around 300CD so a switch would cost me a lot in terms of collecting the music I like. However, I like the vinyl format enough (large pictures!, nice object!) to bear with the associated inconvenients, especially if CD is not optimal for the music I listen. Also, would a $500 turntable deliver more than a $500 CDP?

Thanks for any advice!
Pierre
 
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halcyon

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Hello Pierre!

You have a nice selection already on your list.

Tips for auditioning:

1) Take a CD of material your most familiar with. Listen to that and not some fancy pancy demo disc the retailer may have. Your ears, your music, your taste (I'm sure you knew this, but just in case)

2) If you have a test CD with single tones from 20 Hz to 20 000 Hz, then take it with you. Play the bass and high tones and listen to their characteristics. Some will have undefined bass and some stingy highs even with simple tones. This can get aggrevating on normal music

3) If you're not a die hard vinyl lover and most of your collection is on CD, then I think you'd be better off buying a REALLY GOOD cd player and not rebuying all your vinyls. Of course you will not get the same sound as from vinyl, but not necessarily any worse. $500 USD buys you a good tone arm, but I don't think it buys you a good vinyl player, a good power suppy, a good rack / isolation platform to put the player onto, a good vinyl preamp and a good vinyl cartridge. I think $500 USD is better spent on a decent CD, but this is my preference only. You really need to hear both.

4) Of the players you mention (I hope I won't colour your audition too much):

Cambridge Audio 500SE (I've only heard SE model): very good analogue like filter, no pre-ringing at all!

Atoll (really interesting, haven't heard. look for YBA as well if you can find it used)

Rotel (a bit bright in my opinion, but good for rock according to many)

Arcam Diva CD72 (Arcam is always pleasant, although I found the units that have the Ring DAC and PMD filters to offer the best quality, i.e. CD23 and CD92, to which the CD72 can be upgraded later on).

I have not auditioned the headphone outputs of these models, so my comments regard their line level outputs.

Best of luck with your audition!

cheers,
Halcyon
 
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TimSchirmer

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two words:

Music Hall
 
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Pierre Lambion

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Thanks for the advices. I guess I should go with CDP now. I can still go for vinyl in the following years and complement my cd collection with vinyl in the styles where it fits msot.

Tim,
two words I'm not sure to understand. I see you are a vinyl partisan. Music Hall is a turntable brand?

Cheers,
P.

EDIT: ok, I found music hall, will see ...
 
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radrd

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Quote:

Music Hall is a turntable brand?


He means the Music Hall MMF-CD25, which is supposed to be an outstanding CDP for under $500 that is in the same league as the Arcam CD72T.

I don't know if they have them in France; here they are a rebadge of a Shanling model, so maybe the Shanling model is in France? Unfortunately I can't remember the model number for the Shanling off hand, but if you do a search for Shanling on this forum you should find it easy enough.
 
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halcyon

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RE: Music Hall

Music Hall may be $500 USD is States, but it's c. $1000-1500 USD when it arrives for resale in EUrope.

In general none of the North American brands make any sense for price conscious European buyers due to strong dollar and high import tax + VAT.

I wish it wasn't like that, so I could buy Cary Audio, Infinity, Anthem, Theta and others at a wholesale price, but trust me, the price is 2-3 times the US RRP the time it gets here in Europe.

I wonder if it's the same for European brands that sell in the states? I surely hope not.

regards,
Halcyon
 
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