Best 3000-5000 Euro CD/SACD players
Nov 20, 2008 at 7:49 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 13

nae45ro

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jun 29, 2002
Posts
104
Likes
1
I currently have a pretty modest configuration like :

- Source : Cambridge Audio 640C
- Amp : Vincent SV-226
- Speakers : Chario academy millenium 2 bookshelf
- Speaker cables : Supra classic
- Interconnect : MIT Exp2
- Room : 14sqm with minimal damping behind the listening position

Although the setup cannot be classified as a reference at all, the overall sound is very pleasant and the it has a very nice spectral balance. I've heard setups costing tens of times more that didn't sound as good. Still...the sound can be greatly improved I'm sure. Since I feel the speakers are the strongest point in my system and the CD the weakest, I have 2 questions :

1) Do you agree with the fact that the CD is the weakest link ?
2) Can you recommend me the best CD/SACD players in the range 3000-5000E ?

Thanks !
 
Nov 20, 2008 at 8:04 AM Post #2 of 13

El_Doug

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Nov 19, 2008
Posts
3,450
Likes
108
while there are fancier CD players on the market to be sure, you do have another option:

your 640C has an excellent read capability, and the bulk of fancy CD players typically use unnecessarily precise drive mechanisms, and overpriced (albeit nice) analog output stages.

have you considered keeping the 640, and buying an external DAC, connected to your CD player via toslink?
 
Nov 20, 2008 at 8:11 AM Post #3 of 13

Greeni

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Sep 15, 2008
Posts
643
Likes
23
I would include the new McIntosh MCD500 in my short list. I heard the lower model 301 and it is one of the analogue sounding player out there. The 500 is supposed to build on the strength of the 301 and take it much further...
 
Nov 20, 2008 at 9:26 AM Post #6 of 13

xenithon

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Oct 17, 2005
Posts
3,604
Likes
1,807
When you are talking that type of money, there are a number of things to consider before putting together a shortlist. These include:
- what do you like about your system and what do you think can be improved?
- what sound signature do you like?
- similar to the above, what signature of source has synergized well with your system (if you have had experience with other sources)
- do you want to incorporate computer-based playback at some point in the future. That would suggest looking at either an external DAC, or a player with digital input (the new Cary 306 SACD Pro comes immediately to mind).

Cheers,
X
 
Nov 21, 2008 at 1:37 AM Post #7 of 13

nae45ro

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jun 29, 2002
Posts
104
Likes
1
- I do like the overall spectral balance now but there's more to be improved in terms of detail, ambience, refinement
- I do like the sound to be neutral or slightly warm. I do not like the sound that's too much "in your face". I would like to find the best compromise between resolution and liquidity. I like big instruments to sound big, not tiny or thin (I guess this can be assimilated with "air")
- Unfortunately I did not listen to any other source in my system
- I will soon move and I'm already building a 35sqm room for music. There I will keep the system above mentioned in the computer room and will add a dac as soundboard to my bada ph12 and DT-880. In the big room I will have the new cd-player, a good amplifier that I will buy later and some big floorstanders (I'm thinking of Usher BE-10 or Be-20 as I've heard a lot of good things about them and I can get them for a very good price) !
 
Nov 22, 2008 at 11:54 PM Post #8 of 13

nae45ro

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jun 29, 2002
Posts
104
Likes
1
What do you guys think about the Shanling CD-T100 level 1+ at 3690$ on underwood hi-fi site ? I've read a lot of good reviews about this player with the right tubes. The guys from underwood say the level 1+ should get the Shanling close to the best players on earth like EMM labs or DCS !

CDT-100 Level-1 mod - $2,690 + shipping ($1,200 retro-fit)

Our Level-1 mod installs:
Power Supply: 9 Ultra-fast, soft recovery Hexfred (International Rectifier) and Fred (Vishay-Telefunken) diodes

2 Black Gate Standard Grade electrolytic capacitors

4 Auricap Metallized polypropylene "bypass" capacitors

Vacuum Tube Output Stage: 18 Audio Note Tantalum 0.5- & 1-watt resistors in the signal path

4 Black Gate Standard grade electrolytic output coupling capacitors
Auricap metallized polypropylene coupling bypass capacitors
Solid-State (Direct) Stage:14 Japanese Riken Ohm 0.5-watt signal path Carbon resistors with gold-plated leads

4 Black Gate Standard grade electrolytic output coupling capacitors
4 of our new $85.00 custom-made Burr-Brown State of the Art OPA627 op amp boards to replace the stock 2604 dual opamps
Miscellaneous: 4 ft. DH Labs 99.99% pure, long-grain silver, 23 awg solid-core, Teflon "air matrix" dielectric output wire
-2 sheets of Soundcoat damps internal chassis

TRT silver-content Wonder Solder used throughout


Sonic benefits of our Level-1 mod:

Significantly smoother, harmonically more correct solid-state outputs
Improved signal-to-noise ratio on the tube outputs for greater ambient and spatial micro-detail retrieval
More bass weight, impact, definition and control on both outputs
CDT-100 Level-1+ mod - $3,690 + shipping ($2,300 retro-fit on stock machine, $1,100 on Level-1 mod))

Over the Level-1 mod, our Level-1+ mod adds

Audiocom Superclock II
Our proprietary power supply for the Superclock
Comprehensive Bybee Filter treatment
Solid-silver ultra-pure output terminals
Sonic benefits of our Level-1+ over the Level-1 mod:

Further gains in analogue-like smoothness, dynamics and that uncanny elegance only the very best machines from Audio Research, BAT, dCS, Linn, Musical Fidelity and Zanden have. With this mod, the Shanling is truly competitive with the very best, cost no object
 
Nov 23, 2008 at 5:26 AM Post #9 of 13

xenithon

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Oct 17, 2005
Posts
3,604
Likes
1,807
To be honest, $3690 is a lot of money to be spending, and the source is such a critical (likely the most critical) part of the chain, that I'd stear clear of either:
a) ordering from overseas without being able to hear it first hand. An in-house demo might be the best option if viable in Romania
b) buying a hot-rodded player.

The above is just my personal opinion and YMMV; I'd feel far more comfortable with an item I could see, touch feel, play with whether it be in my own system or at least at a shop near me.
 
Nov 23, 2008 at 1:57 PM Post #10 of 13

Lornecherry

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Apr 12, 2008
Posts
393
Likes
24
The new Chord QBD76 DAC is not cheap @ $6K US, but supposedly improves on the older DAC 64, which I own and love. Very "sweet" and able to handle bad recordings while bringing then close to analogue. Dynamics with a no harshness whatsoever.

A good used Chord DAC 64 is around $2-$2.5K US, but they rarely come up for sale. (Chord also has great resale value, so if it's not your cup of tea, you can easily sell it.).

I've tried many CD players/DACs in your price range and the standouts for me (beside the Chord) were: Electrocompanient, Audio Aero Capitole and some of the Merdian players. I have not spent enough time with either Meitner or DCS to pass judgement; both brands of these have their followings for good reasons.

Besides the obligatory audition, the acid test of a good DAC is its resale value -- it's tough for even the best brands to hold their value in the digital realm, given the advances in digital technology, so only the better sounding digital equipment does. A Meridian 508.24 is still considered a very good player, despite its age and some like it better then more recent models. Same holds true for the Levinson 360s DAC, Sony SCD-1, Marantz SACD players and my beloved Chord. You may have noticed that I don't jump on the "newer is better" till my old ears suggest otherwise.

And I do agree with the transport--->DAC solution vs. one-box, as you have more flexibility, unless you want SACD. And if your DAC reclocks, then a cheaper transport will do just fine. (My Pioneer/Chord combos outperforms [by a wide margin] my former modded SCD-1 in Redbook; and 96/192 DVD-A through the Chord betters SACD on many recordings.)

That said, there are the usual suspects: a used/demo Meridian, Audio Aero, Linn, Wadia or a DCS stack might all be in your price range. And don't over look Electrocompaniet (fine Norwegian brand). Each of these players (or DACs) have a : "house sound" that you may or may not like, so I would certainly want to audition before taking the plunge. I also find that the Meridian players and DACs have a wide range of sound signatures within their various iterations and model lines.

I'm rambling; get some Stax, grab your favorite CD ....and go audition
wink.gif
 
Nov 27, 2008 at 3:30 PM Post #11 of 13

nae45ro

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jun 29, 2002
Posts
104
Likes
1
Hmm, browsed through Audiogon gear these days and some very reputable players are indeed in my range :

- EMM Labs CDSA > 5500$
- Marantz SA-7 > 3300$
- Electrocompaniet 1UP > 2000$ ?!?!
- Musical Fidelity trivista > 2500$
- Audio research CD7 > 5200$
- Krell 505 > 5500$
- Moon supernova > 3400$
- AMR CD-77 > 5000$

Wadia, Esoteric, Burmester or DCS are out of my price range. What stroke me the most was the prices for Electrocompaniet CD wich are all between 1800 and 2300$ knowing this unit has a msrp of 7000$. Is there something wrong with this player regarding reliability ? Is it worth to pay 5000$ for an EMM labs, Audioresearch, Krell...or should I stick with the Electrocompaniet or Marantz for about half the price ?

PS : I would be the first to audition them but unfortunately in my contry there are not too many !
 
Nov 27, 2008 at 8:26 PM Post #12 of 13

Mister Crash

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Sep 8, 2006
Posts
255
Likes
12
Well, I think the prices on the Electrocompaniet are relatively low because the current model has been around for quite some time now. On the Electrocompaniet site, there is a review of that CD player from July 2001. Over time, as more used players enter the secondary market, the prices are going to drop. It probably doesn't help that they also sell a stand-alone DAC that is derived from the EMC-1 for considerably lower cost.
 
Nov 27, 2008 at 8:30 PM Post #13 of 13

nae45ro

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jun 29, 2002
Posts
104
Likes
1
Ok, thanks, it's all clear now. What about sound ? How's the Electrocompaniet compared to EMM Labs, Audioresearch, Krell...wich go for around 5000$ used or even with SA-7 wich is somewhere between regarding the price?
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top