Hoopla over the Toshiba SD-3950
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insomniac

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I was all set to purchase the NAD C521BEE when I read all this hype about the Toshiba SD-3950.

The Toshiba is about $60 or less at most places. The NAD runs close to $300 including shipping.

Am I making a bad decision here? Should I be going for the Toshiba?
 
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TMC

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I haven't heard the Toshiba but I've read quite a few comments about it being soft in bass. The 521BEE on the other hand is in my experience not even slightly weak when it comes to bass.
 
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rsaavedra

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Whether it's a better value than the NAD, or which one sounds better, no idea, have heard neither of them.

But check out the digital gear forum in Audioasylum, it's full of postings about the Toshiba, there's an ongoing hype for sure. There is a well documented mod for it already, Swenson posted it on AA, here's the pages with info about his mods:

http://johnswenson1.home.comcast.net...3960_mods.html
 
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LeasingGuy

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A very wise man once told me, "buy the very best that you can afford and you'll never go wrong.

You gotta remember, You get what you pay for....

$0.02
 
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princeclassic

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or...buy the best value and spend the rest on more music!

i'm quite a fan of my 3950.
 
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gort

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Think of 3950 as Koss 35/50 of the source world. Is a good cheap starter source but there are better ones out there. 3950 sounds better than my: ipod, 2 year old $200 pana DVD player, and dreamcast.

IMO 3950 sounds better than most consumer CDPs in the market. All that for $60 isn't that bad. And is also risk free. Return it (to Bestbuy) if you don't love it.

You should read up on some negative stuff about 3950s also. Greatest annoyance for me is the "click" sound of the transport spinning the CD.
 
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Murdoch

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I was considering between (almost) the same two choices, and although I didn't actually audition the 3950, I read TONS of the reviews on Audio Asylum about it and the word there seems to be that if you want it to really sound great you'll need to do a heap of mods to the unit. Unmodded it is described as being weak on bass, and has had some concerning reliability issues.

I second Leasingguy's opinion that you get what you pay for.

I ended up purchasing a reconditioned 521i, which is the model which preceded the 521bee.

You can get one for $209 from Spearit Sound, an authorized NAD dealer. (They are a brick and mortar audio store that does lots of internet orders.) The unit comes with a 1 year NAD factory warranty. Here's the link:

http://www.northamptonaudio.com/specials.htm

You gotta scroll down to "CD players & Casette Decks"

I think for 2/3 of the price of a new 521bee this is a good value.

Good luck!
 
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Hirsch

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In the 70's and 80's, Grado always had a $20 cartridge on the market (analog was the only game in town). There was general agreement that it was a great bargain at the price. The highs and lows were rolled off, but it got the midrange right, and was a great starter cartridge. Audiophiles tended to have a few extra on hand, just in case. They made great gifts to friends starting out.

Think of the 3950/3960 as the introductory Grado cartridge of digital. No, it's not a high-end deck. But it gets the critical midrange better than many, and isn't offensively digital sounding as many more. For $60, you can't beat it as an introductory front end. The $20 Grado cartridge of the new millenium, as it were.
 
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insomniac

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Thanks for all the interesting perspectives.

Gosh, I'm pretty torn right now.

From what I've read, I've concluded that the NAD will sound better than the Toshiba. But the $60 price and no hassle return is so attractive.

If it makes any difference, this source will be hooked up to a Meier HA-1 and Senn HD580.
 
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I'm sorry, using the words "auditioned" and "toshiba 3950" in the same paragraph threw me, I thought you were being serious.

I have a 3950, I think it sounds very good. I use it in the garage as a test source. It works well, has very good sonics throughout with my PPA/HD497 combo in the shop. I haven't listened to it through the DT880's yet, so I don't have a really good set of cans on it yet. I'll probably take the 880's home for work this weekend and give it a listen again.

Yes, the clicking sound is pretty annoying when you don't have the headphones on -- I'm going to open it up and see what "makes it tick" and hopefully deaded it somewhat.

I bought a full set of caps to modify the board, but will stop short of bypassing the analog output stage. For that, I'm going to custom mount (using a BrownDog adapter) a pair of OPA627U's instead of the stock op-amp on the analog filter. Hopefully that will wake up the bass that so many say is weak. With that said, a cascode class A current source may be close behind as well.

OH, and $40 after rebate at Amazon.com -- I've got cables more expensive than that.

 
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rsaavedra

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Yet another listed set of mods for the 3950:

http://home.nc.rr.com/keihin/toshiba3950/vinniemods.htm

In Ausioasylum, and for redbook CD playback, some people are preferring a stock 3950 to a stock Sony 222ES, and even a stock Philips SACD1000! :

http://www.audioasylum.com/scripts/t...igital&m=84681

Whether it's just hype, hey it's just $60. I'm thinking if they still have some in the local BestBuy I'll get one today, and will try to reawaken my long-hybernating electronics-DIY skills with one of these mods
 
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sbulack

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There's a middle ground in this discussion: the Pioneer DV-563A, for $160 at CircuitCity. I've got one, I think it sounds great, it's got a full, balanced bass, and I haven't noticed any annoying sounds coming from it. In fact, I like the sound of it so much, I bought the AOS Piccolo DAC because it's DAC chip has the same sound. Like the 3950, it's a low risk trial because, since it's available at mass electronic outlets, if you don't like it enough to keep it, it's an easy return. Mine's not going anywhere.
 
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Earwax

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Quote:

Originally posted by ITZBITZ

Yes, the clicking sound is pretty annoying when you don't have the headphones on -- I'm going to open it up and see what "makes it tick" and hopefully deaded it somewhat.


If you come up with anything, please let us know.

I guess some tick and some don't, mine does. I could return it for a refund, but there's no more available for an exchange, so I'm keeping it. It's in a stereo cabinet and if I close the glass door I can't hear the ticking, even sitting close by.

Outside of the ticking, the worst I can think to say about it is that it feels and looks flimsy if you pick it up or look at it too closely.

It operates quite smoothly and there were very few failures reported on AA outside of a couple of DOAs. Not bad, considering how many of us lemmings have jumped on this one.
 
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rsaavedra

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Got the 3950 and listening to it already. Out of the box impression, using the Silver Sonic BL1 interconnects, and comparing to the Marantz's decoding. Both using my Titan speakers, and HD650+Zu connected to the Marantz's headphone output.

My Marantz SR4000 receiver's DACs have always been warm sounding, at least in particular compared to my stock NS500V. The 3950 does have a very smooth sound, in particular very smooth top end, and this is plain out of the box. It is very easy to notice this smoothness, and that's why I'm writing an out-of-box, pre-break-in comment, which I have avoided on most other things I've tried lately. The Marantz sounds a bit harsh, maybe I should say a bit more digital, in comparison. In particular voices, they bite in your ear a bit harder from the Marantz, from the Toshiba they sound more pleasing and smooth. Remember I say this when I have never regarded my Marantz receiver as harsh, rather certainly warmer than my stock NS500V.

Bass in the Toshiba, at least out of the box, is not impressively strong compared to the Marantz, but it is decent. Not long ago I also tried a Pioneer 563AS. Remembering how the Pioneer compared to the Marantz, and comparing now the Toshiba to my Marantz, this out-of-box Toshiba to me sounds a bit smoother than a well broken-in 563AS, but the Toshiba has a bit weaker bass though. The bass in the Toshiba seems similar but a bit better than my stock NS500V, not as strong as the 563 which was marginally better than the Sony's for me. The comparison of my Sony with the Pioneer and the Azur 640C was the reason I sent my Sony to SACDmods, its bass can certainly be improved. I would say the same about the Toshiba's, at least from this out-of-box, and very quick impression.

Ah forgot to mention, the Toshiba has some transport noise, but it is not near as noisy as the Azur. If the Sony was 1 in a self-made scale of noise (my Sony NS500V is impressively quiet when playing CD's, playing SACD's paradoxically is a bit noisier), I would say the Pioneer was 1.5, this Toshiba is probably 2.5. In that same scale the Azur I tried was maybe 4 or 5, which is why I eventually didn't keep it.
 
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rsaavedra

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Here a couple of pics. The ICBM is not connected btw, just sitting on top of the Toshiba for dampening/immovilizing it.


A close-up
 
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