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

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by CMT, Sep 14, 2020.

  1. misterdecibel

    misterdecibel Bulbous Also Tapered

    I have this combination and I'm very pleased. It's like a big, effortless, open window.
     
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  2. The Pinhead

    The Pinhead SUDACA ROƑOSO

    Can you still get NOS Oppos ? We do down here and that's what I did; I've been in digital heaven for the last 15 months now
     
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  3. displayname

    displayname Forum Resident

    Location:
    Dallas
    So here's the thing, you can't do a straight monetary inflation conversion.

    - You said you wanted "modern features" and that equates to either streaming, SACD, or a multi input DAC to allow for other digital transports like streamers and computers to run through the system. Those are pretty high ticket items to add as well.
    - There are also fewer people buying these types of units now, making them more niche. That translates into companies needing to build in bigger margins to recoup design, engineering, and tooling cost. Plus with less competition in the market, companies can charge a little more for their efforts.

    So as we've exposed on this thread, you can either spend a little more to start to reach companies statement pieces, or stay in budget, and likely get extra features you won't use, because companies need to include those to stay competitive.

    You could also explore the used market, which I think will lead you to exactly what you're looking for, within your budget. It will likely require more effort and patience though.
     
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  4. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hong Kong
    Exactly - With a DAC like the Audio Note 0.1X which is a NOS DAC (Audio Note was first to this a good decade before everyone else decided this sounded the best and began copying) is around $1700 - I used one and it is not terribly technology advanced - it is their least expensive model and the only one with USB input so you can connect your computer and your CD player/transport and there is one switch on the front for selecting USB and Coax. It uses the TDA 1543. This is designed mainly for people who listen to CD with a passing interest in playing computer audio - though interestingly it sounds considerably better than my Line Magnetic 502CA DAC with a more modern ESS Sabre chip. And the 502CA sounded much better than most 24/192 DACs out there!!

    Anyway - The dedicated Transports are generally cheap - including the ones who claim to make their own - and the retail price will bear it out. The Pro2LF as a transport mechanism to buy (just the mechanism) is $500 so when they are used by a manufacturer the CD player will be 10 times that or more because the player is more than just the mechanism.

    All other mechanisms are under $20. So that is a pretty big divide. It was no so in the 1980s and 90s but here we are. A dedicated transport does have the advantage of isolation and better power supplies though so they can still sound better - the CXC for $350 has been fine for me. But I bought with the hope that it would last 5 years - if it gives me more than that I am okay with it Combined price with the DAC is $2000. Then maybe have a cheap back-up CD player from a second and store to fall back on just in case.
     
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  5. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hong Kong
    Exactly - there is no economy of scale where once they sold 1000 CD players they now sell 50. S0 they have to recoup the margin. And so many makers have shifted to selling online or direct - bypassing an importer.

    The other bigger problem is that most people's salaries have not remotely kept up with inflation so whenever we do not get a yearly pay increase at inflation we effectively take a pay cut.

    As a teacher in BC Canada - we would see the government roll out those 0-0-0 for three years because they had to "tighten their belts" but here in Hong Kong as a teacher I was getting an average of 3.5% each year. So in three years I get 10.5% increase to the big fat zero in Canada. And my friends wonder why I stay here.

    The companies try and combat the fact that wages suck so they build cost to the bottom rubbish. They try and pass off computer audio as superior but really it's just much CHEAPER to sell someone a download than print physical materials and ship them all around the world. So they put lipstick on a pig and with enough hype they convince you that a streamer sounds good.
     
  6. displayname

    displayname Forum Resident

    Location:
    Dallas
    Glad to hear that those pair well!
    Did you get a chance to listen to other DACs in that price range, or did you just dive in with the Denafrips?
     
  7. misterdecibel

    misterdecibel Bulbous Also Tapered

    I had no chance to evaluate the competition. I'd have to drive at least five hours to find anyplace that still demonstrates 2-channel audio for music reproduction. I took a punt.
     
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  8. displayname

    displayname Forum Resident

    Location:
    Dallas
    Totally understandable. Unfortunately that's how most people need to audio shop these days. But glad to hear it's paid off!
     
  9. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hong Kong
    Unfortunately - now it mostly left to big cities or audio shows to be able to audition stuff. Audio Shows are a bit useless because you are not hearing a CD player or amplifier against any competition. You can't judge a CD player in one room with YG Acoustis speakers and a different CD player in a room with KEF LS-50s - so Audio shows are fun but little can be determined.

    And Audio dealers sadly are going the way of the dodo - the ones that are still going tend to be either big box chains like Best Buy or boutique outlets that sell more expensive gear - and usually only in major cities where there are actual people.

    I will miss Hong Kong. I think of going back to Vancouver Island - there is one audio dealer worth going to - and the owner and one of their long time sales guys have passed away - so how long will they last? It's getting tough.
     
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  10. Benzion

    Benzion "Cogito, ergo sum" Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    From what I've seen at NY shows, most exhibitors play files, a few dabble in vinyl, almost no-one plays CDs.
     
  11. CMT

    CMT Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I may have said I'd be happy to get something more modern, but I only have about 20 hybrid CDs among about 1000 CDs, so, being able to read SACDs isn't necessary, nor is all the networking and streaming compatibility, but I don't mind if that stuff is there, if all else is the same. I really just want to be able to listen to my CD collection in the highest quality sound I can afford.
     
  12. CMT

    CMT Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Call me old-fashioned, but when I buy a high-end appliance, I expect it to last not five years but 25 years or 30 years. I use a toaster made in 1957 :)
     
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  13. CMT

    CMT Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I lived in Tokyo for 20 years. I miss all the shops in Akihabara that had just about anything. That said, we have one very helpful real live dealer here where I live now, in addition to Best Buy, which isn't much help generally.
     
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  14. Benzion

    Benzion "Cogito, ergo sum" Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    Good luck with that. Of the stuff made today, I would expect only Esoteric to last 25 years, and even that is a big maybe. Regrettably, their prices are way beyond your budget, unless you find a good deal on something used, which will obviously not last 25 years either. I think the CXC V2 for $600 (yes, not $350), even if it lasts only 5 years, comes out to 120 bucks a year - $10 per month - cheaper than streaming. But I honestly expect it to last longer than five years - at least the average seven.

    Incidentally, my first "hi-fi" CDP, a NAD 300-series model bought in 2003 lasted exactly the average 7 years - then it developed brutal skipping, and, after an unsuccessful attempt at fixing it, had to be discarded.
     
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  15. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hong Kong
    And that is sad - covering the California Audio Show 2017 and 2019 - 3 of the best 4 rooms used CD players or CD transports and Non Oversampling CD players - the other room I "projected" would be a lot better had they used a better source - and then 3-4 other runner up rooms I also projected would be better with a better source. In 2019 - it was the turntables that sounded best. But shows are so hit and miss anyway - the dealers have various issues - a tube blows and you're basically screwed - stands that don't show up to the even - power issues - rooms with crappy walls - people blabbing - different volume levels - listener fatigue - rooms like Zu Audio and Audio Note play all kinds of music - not just music that is recorded well to show off their stereo which baffles people. Why aren't you playing the same 9 tracks over and over for 3 days. "Keith Don't Go" 47 times a day? You want to show of your stereo with classical but it's 19 minutes long - no one can sit for more than a 4 minute rock/pop song.

    The other problem is I bring a CD case or two to these shows - and I want to play X song by X singer - no CD player - okay says I - can you play this song via your fancy streamer? Umm no sorry - we don't have that - - I request half a dozen artists - and not exactly hard to find or unknown - but pretty mainstream - nope we don't have that but we do have Diana Krall and the Hotel California and Nora Jones and Patricia Barber. Groan.

    Is it really that hard to bring a $350 Cambridge Audio CXC transport? Are they worried it will thump their computer? I mean this thing is a more than respectable transport - you can lift it up with one hand - bring one!!

    In 2019 I even went to the trouble of copying a bunch of music over to my flash drive - oh we can't connect that! Huh? Groan.
     
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  16. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hong Kong
    I went to Tokyo in late January for my Chinese New Year holiday for the first time and I had an absolute blast there. I had been to Fukuoka in 2007 or so but if I could get a teaching job in Tokyo at 70% of what I make in Hong Kong - I would be on a plane tomorrow. But sadly the pay is atrocious and the cost of living is high enough to hurt even more. The Women, The food, The Women, The Audio, "The Women," the Cleanliness, The Women, The Sites. Oh and The Women! Can't forget to mention The Women!!

    Dear scientists of the world - Get this stupid Vaccine ready so I can be first in line for it so I can get back to Japan. My Australian friend - who speakers fluent Japanese - always told me that the Japanese do things just that bit better. It is tough for me to argue - granted I am a tourist with tourist glasses on but still. I'll be going back. Singapore I also liked - but it is more western so it's sort of like the west - you never get a fish out of water experience. In Japan - getting off the plane and figuring out the trains would be overwhelming for a lot of people. I have lived in South Korea and Hong Kong and Mainland China - and Tokyo just felt massive and hugely complicated. I loved it. Figuring out what card I needed for which train and which station - now that is traveling.
     
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  17. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hong Kong
    Yes back when things were made with quality materials - but a toaster is far less complex than CD players. A DAC should last 25 years - a Solid State power amplifier should last 25 years - but the moment something has moving parts then it's a crap shoot.

    Consider the Cambridge Audio CXC (I have the first version which was $350 and may still be if they are on closeout replaced by a V2) - but $350 in 2020 money is the same $175 in 1990 money - Very few companies are making serious CD players these days. And the CXC really isn't - they are filling a market void because hey if 30 companies stop making CD players - yes CD buyers have dropped 90% but the 10% remaining will have to go somewhere. The problem is all the cheapish transport use cheap mechanisms whether they make it in house or not. The Philips Pro is a professional grade mechanism that was used in professional settings with guaranteed half lives like 25000 hours or something like that so in theory if you buy one of these it should last because studios can't afford downtime. So, in theory if you buy a CD player with this mechanism - it should last you far far longer than any other mechanism. But there is theory and reality and it's not like the car industry where we can get access to number of failures per car company over a period of time.
     
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  18. misterdecibel

    misterdecibel Bulbous Also Tapered

    I got 21 years out of my last CD transport, made by a company that folded shortly after I bought it.
     
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  19. Shangri-La

    Shangri-La Active Member

    Location:
    CA
    Just saw this: Rotel launches special edition A11 Tribute integrated amplifier and CD11 Tribute CD player

    CD11 Tribute CD Player (available September 2020): $599 USD

    A 2500-dollar CD player or transport + DAC may be overkill in OP's system. I'd say around 1k for the CD player. At least a modern well-recevied DAC that costs over 1k IMO is probably not justified. For example the Denafrips ARES II is good enough, dont think the next model up the $1700 Pontus is needed unless you have future upgrade plans.
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2020 at 4:10 AM
  20. CMT

    CMT Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Thanks to everyone. I've been thinking about this and talking with my dealer here in town today. Based on all the inputs, I'm leaning in the direction of separates.

    I think the best idea might be the Cambridge Audio CXC as a transport and the Chord Cutest DAC. Yes? No?

    I looked at the Rega Apollo today, which my dealer suggested I consider, too, but, I'm sorry, while sound is important, it's just such an unattractive-looking box, I don't think I could live with it happily. It reminds me of the heavy plastic reinforced guitar cases you can abuse in an airplane hold without damaging the instrument....
     
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  21. LakeMountain

    LakeMountain Vinyl surfer

    Location:
    Netherlands
    The Chord Qutest is a good choice! It is in the same league as the Vincent DAC7. The reason I mentioned the Vincent over the Qutest is that the Vincent also had a headphone amp and a volume control.

    But sound-wise I am sure you will be very happy with the Chord!
     
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  22. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    Location:
    East TN
    Big issue today. CD transports often use cheapie, short lived laser units. I see many so called professional players today which don't last 19 months of light broadcast use, then die. The last CD laser unit I was ever impressed with was the Philips CD-PRO2 mechanism.
     
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  23. CMT

    CMT Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Then, not an issue. I'm staunchly anti-headphone. :)
     
  24. CMT

    CMT Forum Resident Thread Starter

    You refer to a $350 Cambridge CXC but the ones I see are $599.
     
  25. CMT

    CMT Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I still don't understand why CD laser units seem to be impossible to replace. When the laser dies, everything just goes to landfill? Why are they not easily repairable? Just swap out the laser. I imagine I'm missing something, but it makes no sense to me, never has.
     

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