Help me make my last move (in market for CD player or DAC/transport)

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by CMT, Sep 14, 2020 at 11:19 PM.

  1. CMT

    CMT Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Generally, I'm now very happy with my main system, that I use downstairs. Rega Planar 6, Ortophon Bronze 2M, Graham Slee Accession MM phono stage, Pioneer PD-HS7 CD player (early 1990s), Outlaw Audio rr2160 integrated amp, KEF R3s on Target Audio HR Series stands, Wire World Equinox interconnects, Straightwire Super Quad speaker wire.

    Secondary upstairs system (for casual listening in bed while reading before sleep): Thorens TD190-2, Ortofon OM10, Sony D-5 CD player, Harmon Kardon AVR 1510 amp, NAD PP2e phono stage, Wire World interconnects.

    I'm very happy with the main system. The secondary system is good enough for my purposes but it relies on my ancient 1984 Sony D-5 (the Japanese original version) CD player, which usually works just fine and sounds fine for this application, but it's old and sometimes has trouble reading certain discs, while the Pioneer player is rock solid and I suspect that modern players/DACs would be better than either.

    The Question: If I'm going to get a new CD player for the secondary system, it really makes more sense to get a good one for the MAIN system--good enough that I'll not need to upgrade again probably in my lifetime (I'm 60). The Pioneer deck has performed perfectly for going on 30 years. I want today's equivalent with more modern features. I can then rotate the Pioneer deck to the secondary system to replace the Sony D-5.

    So, assuming an absolute upper end budget of $2,500, shipping and tax included, and preferring a new product with a warranty (the longer the better) and with good sound, of course, important, but reliability also very important, what do people suggest? I'm open to either a DAC and transport or a standalone player, but would prefer the latter for space considerations. Still, sound quality is the primary issue.

    Any help would be much appreciated. I'm very grateful to everyone here who has helped to get me where I am so far. One more major decision to go! Then I'm done.
     
  2. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Personal Survival Daily Record-Breaker

    Location:
    Toronto
  3. CMT

    CMT Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Hey, you have to have goals, at least, right?

    And, for what it's worth, from about 1992 to 2019, I didn't upgrade anything. So, I'm clearly capable of leaving things alone once I'm satisfied :)
     
  4. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Personal Survival Daily Record-Breaker

    Location:
    Toronto
    [​IMG]
     
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  5. Uglyversal

    Uglyversal Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sydney
    Is there a non Japanese version of the D5? I have the D50 which is the same but sold in the rest of the world but it is Japanese too.
     
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  6. CMT

    CMT Forum Resident Thread Starter

    It's the same machine, I think. It was called the D-5 in Japan, the D-50 elsewhere--or that's my understanding. Mine runs on 100V, so needs a transformer here in the US, but it's the same machine. Sounds good, actually, I'd like to retire it while it still works. If it works, it's a curiosity. If it doesn't work, it's trash, more or less.
     
  7. Swann36

    Swann36 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Lincoln, UK
    CMT ..... i will watch this thread with interest .

    ..i think its great what your planning and yes rotating out the Pioneer from main to bedroom system is the way to go ....as far as new kit suggestions i can't help as i've recently got a Marantz 6000 OSE Ki cdp which is from 2000 and my other cdp is a Musical Fidelity A5 from 2005 ..i do like the sound these older players give plus i can and do play around with external DACs with them such as JDS Labs EL Dac (which i think is my newest piece of kit) and BenchMark DAC1 HDR ...

    So good luck and here's to many good suggestions rolling in ...:)
     
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  8. Oatp1b1

    Oatp1b1 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sweden
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  9. anorak2

    anorak2 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Berlin, Germany
    Maybe an unconventional suggestion: Have you considered a bluray player? They all play DVDs and conventional audio CDs as well, plus often a number of file formats and streaming , and some come with audiophile features such as audio processing. Not all players these days come with analogue out, so a DAC of some sort might be needed.
     
  10. CMT

    CMT Forum Resident Thread Starter

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  11. Oatp1b1

    Oatp1b1 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sweden
    Not in that price range sadly, but the new Marantz Model 30 should fit the bill as well. No XLR out but from what I read in your post it wasn't necessary. The Marantz reference player I had prior to the Pioneer was really nice.

    Marantz - SACD 30n SACD/CD Player
     
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  12. james

    james Forum Resident

    Location:
    Annapolis
    You say that reliability is a main concern (always high on the list for me too). If that’s the case, I think separating the transport and DAC is smart. If the transport fails (more likely), you’re not out much. You can also upgrade for less down the road if you change your mind on being “done”.

    Edit: I’d look at the Cambridge transport and, if possible, order a few DACs to see what works in your system? Maybe a cheap Chinese unit like a SMSL or Topping as a control...maybe a Mytek Libety as a modern sound option and a BorderPatrol as something a little different?
     
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  13. Noel Patterson

    Noel Patterson Resident Scatterbrain

    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    Cambridge CXC or the Audiolab 6000cdt transport and a good dac?
     
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  14. CMT

    CMT Forum Resident Thread Starter

    a FEW DACs? Why would I want any more than one, the best I can afford?
     
  15. CMT

    CMT Forum Resident Thread Starter

    What do people call a "good DAC", I wonder. I see the Cambridge transport alone in $600--effectively $660 with tax, that would leave me with $1,900. Tthe Audiolab 6000cdt is about $50 less.

    My local dealer (who has been wonderfully helpful and from whom I bought my KEF LS50s, my KEF R3s, my speaker stands, my Rega Planar 6 turntable, my interconnects and my cartridge) has only a very small selection of CD players, but has a better selection of DACs.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2020 at 8:32 PM
  16. james

    james Forum Resident

    Location:
    Annapolis
    you wouldn’t. I’m suggesting that you try a few DACs that are relatively inexpensive relative to your budget and keep the winner/return the losers. You’ll still be under budget if you settle on any of my suggestions.
     
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  17. Noel Patterson

    Noel Patterson Resident Scatterbrain

    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    Well I'm a huge fan of Rega and love my Dac-r. But with your budget I'm sure there are many better, I wouldn't know specifically what though. But the Audiolab/ Dac-R would sound awesome, and save you some money for music :agree:
     
  18. displayname

    displayname Forum Resident

    Location:
    Dallas
    This is the route I took. I currently have the CXC running into a CXN v2, coming to $1,700+ taxes (retail) and that bring streaming into the system.
    Well within your budget, and I'm very satisfied for the price. If you want to bring streaming into the mix, this is a really great option and the savings can justify a few years of Tidal or Qobuz. Or could justify some upgrades in cables if you have interest in that. Not saying it's the end all, be all, but I love the combo for the money. They have shown no major signs of weakness with a recent significant speaker upgrade.

    I will be looking at DACs and separate streamers down the road. My budget would be right around your DAC budget if you go with the CXC as your transport.

    DACs I would have on my shortlist if I was buying today:
    • LKS MH-DA004 with upgraded USB - $1600 + tax.
    • Musical Paradise MP-D2 MK3 with all upgrades - $1827. Not sure if taxes apply.
    • Denafrips Pontus - $1,700. Also not sure about taxes, import on this one.
    • Consider something used that would be higher end, but within budget. Downside is it would technically also be dated potentially.
     
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  19. CMT

    CMT Forum Resident Thread Starter

    For what it's worth, I have no interest in streaming. To me, the physical object--the artifact and the art--is an important part of the fun.

    Thanks, I'll read up on some of these. I still don't know if a single box or the transport/DAC idea is best. Aesthetically, I'd prefer a single box. Also, I don't have much room in my rack and I think I have only one plug left, so a single box would be better from that perspective too. I really like the idea of that Pioneer player...... But, again, thanks. I should say, though, that because I'm not interested in streaming, I'd rather put money into sound quality than into availability of additional formats--given the choice.

    I see that the Musical Paradise MP-D2 MK3 uses tubes. Still not sure how I feel about tubes. I've been happy with solid state equipment all my life. That said, I've never really had a chance to listen and compare tube components. I have heard the Prima Luna EVO 400, though, which I liked, although nothing about it sounded to me especially different from a solid state amp. Hmmm....
     
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  20. CMT

    CMT Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I kind of liked the idea of the Cambridge transport, but, if you look on line there are a fair number of unhappy reviewers complaining of problems reading discs, poor build quality, thunking noises when opening and closing the tray, etc. I HATE things that break, are unreliable, or finicky. So that turns me off of that one immediately. I want something to replace my Pioneer deck, which has performed flawlessly since the day I bought it around 1992 or so and that continues to perform flawlessly to this day. It's never met a disc it didn't like.
     
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  21. Benzion

    Benzion "Cogito, ergo sum" Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    Budget?

    Cambridge CXC is something I can vouch for as a good and affordable transport. Mine suffered from reliability issues initially, but it was fixed 3.5 years ago, and has been flawless since. The Mk2 version is out now, and is supposedly an improved one, having improved reliability and God knows what else. I would definitely choose that over the Audiolab one, mainly due to Audiolab's slot drive - something I loathe. If you want to go higher than that on the transport front - Pro-Ject CD Box RS or RS2 T (that one is quite expensive) - both top-loaded, which is a big plus. I would have loved to suggest the Woo Audio transport (I still kick myself for not getting one), but they sadly have been discontinued.

    Choosing a DAC now is the more challenging proposition - there are just too many to chose from, and everyone's got praise for the ones they own, so there is no objective truth, just subjective opinions.

    I guess you need to figure what sound profile you're shooting for, and the types of music you will be playing. IF you like a more "analog" sounding DAC - you may consider one with a non-oversampling DAC chip. Border Patrol DAC sports a Philips 1543 NOS chip (IIRC the model number). Those chips are famous and regular talk of the town among audiophiles, so even if I'm forgetting the model number I'm sure you know or can find out which one I'm talking about. I have not heard that particular DAC, but the reviews are stellar, and I do own a CDP with that chip: a Sparkler Audio of Japan unit - it does sound as close to vinyl as I've ever heard a CDP do. Great with Jazz and acoustic music.
     
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  22. displayname

    displayname Forum Resident

    Location:
    Dallas
    I totally get not wanting to get into streaming, and it's a fairly expensive feature if you're not going to use it.

    The Musical Paradise is a tinker's dream DAC. If you like tubes, it brings that sound, but it's also very modular and most people that get them are swapping tubes, swapping dac chips, swapping USB boards, swapping capacitors. The upsides are that you can tailor your sound and and pretty easily fix or upgrade any part of it if you run into an issue. BUT the reality of tubes are they do require maintenance and can be finicky. They last longer than many people think, and can last years. But that unit won't be set it and forget it for 28 years.

    So having said that, I think the LKS or the Denafrips would be great solutions for you if you go the route of separates.

    On the CXC reliability, I see what you're saying about reviews. I personally haven't had any issues, but that doesn't mean it can't happen. I haven't heard that Pioneer, so I can't speak to it, but it visually looks very nice and the feature set seems perfect for your uses.

    There are other transports out there, but they tend to get expensive quickly. The Denafrips Avatar is a newer option that fit in a nice price point, but still higher than you are looking and they stopped taking orders due to demand.

    If you're willing to go a little above your budget, or wait for a good condition used unit, I think it opens up a lot of options. The Marantz Ruby DAC/SACD player comes up on the used market for $2500-3000 from time to time. I've heard really good things about that unit, and it seems like a true lifetime statement piece.
     
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  23. Benzion

    Benzion "Cogito, ergo sum" Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    If, however, I were looking for an integrated CD player - I'd be partial to Rotel RCD 1572. I've heard it at a friend's house (a member here and my esteemed TT tech), and it sounded very good. Granted, the rest of his system is exquisite as well, but we all know good sources matter - this one was good.

    Audio Advisor has become a Rotel dealer, and the 1572 retails for $999.
     
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  24. CMT

    CMT Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I listen almost entirely to classical music and more to chamber music than big orchestral music, although I listen to both and sometimes I listen to jazz and blues and once in a while the rock music of my teenage years--what nowadays they call classic rock.

    As for taste in sound, while I may be wrong, I think that most of my equipment is noted for being quite neutral and, philosophically, I like the idea of the equipment presenting the recording without coloring it. So, I'd say I'd tend to shy away from a player that was notably "warm" or anything else. Clarity and fidelity are what I'm after.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2020 at 1:10 AM
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  25. tumpux

    tumpux Active Member

    Location:
    doha
    Just want to share my opinion on the replacement CD player. Coming from your PD-HS7, anything on the market right now, within your budget, would be a let down.

    Forget about Cambridge or Audiolab transports. They do work.. but compared to your current player they would feel cheap. Lets face it, the golden age of CD is already passed. No company will invest in developing high end boxes like they do in the late 80s and early 90s. I also don’t have enough confidence in the products from Jay’s or Woo.

    I tried Cambridge and Audiolab transports and now they are back in their boxes. I am back to using my CDP-555ESD. It doesnt bring me joy operating them. Probably you would find it same.
    Maybe consider to use your current CDP to the ground and worry about the replacement player when it gives up..
    Who knows maybe the Pioneer will outlives you.

    Oh, and streaming if done correctly is also a joy. It’s different but it brings its own advantages too. Give it a try..
     
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