Upgrade the source - CD Player?

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htsource

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Hi,

I've been trying to find out how much difference would I gain by upgrading my current DVD/CD player - Denon 5900 to a dedicate CD player such as Rega Planet or Primare D30? Or any other ones in that price range.

My system consists:

Speakers - Aeons, Cinema, Scripts, Descent
Power amps - Aragon 8008MKII (fronts only), Aragon 2005 (center and surrounds)
Pre/Pro - Primare SP31.7 Processor

I've been playing music through the computer a lot too although the files are APE format. I also have a M-Audio 24/96 DIO sound card for music playback through computer.

Please let me know what your thoughts are...

Simon
 

Anthony A.

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i personally have the jolida 100 with mod 1 cd player. i really like it and for the price i really don't think it can be beat. i bought it used for a really good price, and i spent the money i saved tube rolling to great success. that and swapping interconnects has made a huge difference. if you want to go tube, this is the best player (imho) for anything up to a grand used price.
 

Robin

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Concidering a SACD player too...

Simon,


Welcome to the ML Cub! :D
I am also concidering a SACD player. I happened on the following thread by Mark (MarkNewbie), a ML Club member:

I did not do, what I would consider numerious comparisons to other SACD players. Also, keep in mind that when I was doing my comparisons, I was listening to a pair of Polk Audio SDA-1s. These speakers are not as revealing as the MLs. A friend brought over his Sony SCD-1 and it was excellent sounding and very (in my mind) expensive. In the $7000.00 area new which should be around half that used. My goal was to stay at $2K or less US. The Sony was very detailed and musical. Keep in mind I was comparing it to my existing 17 year old Denon DCD-800. So there was a difference between SACD vs CD as well. The Sony blew away my Denon but the price scared me. Next up was the Krell KAV 250 which was taken in used by a local dealer. I thought it was a definite improvement over the Denon and I was comparing CD to CD this time. The only downfall was I thought it had a "tinny" sound to it in the high range. Next was the Krell KPS 20 which was another used unit. Big improvement over the Denon and the KAV 250. I thought the Krell sounded better than the Sony when playing a normal CD but I really wanted to get into SACD so the KPS went back. Then I came across the Shanling. It was warm and rich sounding. I listened to it for a couple of weeks and then took it back to the dealer. A week later I called and told him I would take it and was told that someone bought it the day I dropped it off. His price on it was $1800.00 used. A couple of weeks went by and I came across one on eBay that I ended up getting for under $1300.00 and it was new. A dealer had two on there and the other one went for $1600.00. I got it hooked up and everything worked great until it started to develop a problem. It starts up when you close the acrylic lid and it was not starting and I would have to give it a spin by hand and shut the lid to get it to start. I called the dealer and they figured out my problem. I had it sitting directly on top of my Carver Reciever which was putting out too much heat. That was close to a year ago and since moving it (the Carver is no longer part of my system either) I have yet to experience the problem again. I did a direct comparison to my friends Sony SCD-1. I thought the Shanling held it's own but the Sony did sound better. Then I dropped a couple of WE 396a tubes in and WHOA, everything changed! Even my friend agreed that the Shanling was sounding better than his Sony. Amazing when you consider that there is a few thousand dollar difference here. As far as build quality, I would compare it to Krell. It is built like a tank and even the remote is heavier than any other remote I have ever had. My dealer doesn't like the rings that surround the four tubes since they are also acrylic. He says they break easy but I have not had any problems and tend to be very careful with my equipment anyway. I do have to admit that when you see it lit up at night, it is really cool looking. It does bring out the "whoa" in people when they see it. I have had more than one guest look at it and ask me what it was. This pertains to my non-audiophile friends. I love the look on people's faces when they see it lit up for the first time. One of the things that really impressed me was the standard power cord that comes with it. It is not the standard cheapie that comes with most high end equipment! You will not need to make an upgrade there! If you do decide to go the Shanling route, make sure that you drop in a couple of WE 396A's as the difference they made is keeping me from looking at any other SACD players. Just yesterday, I learned that there is another tube that some feel is even better than the Western Electrics and that is the Bendix 6385 Red Banks. They are harder to find but I plan on giving them a test just to see. Of course that is provided I can get my hands on a couple. Hope this helps.
__________________
To err is human, too ear MLs is devine!
I looked into the, Shanling SCD-T200 SACD player, the more I know, the better, I like this SACD player. It looks great too. I plan to try to audition it, soon. Mark, always gives excellent advice. That is the really great thing about belonging, to this forum, our membership cares and they give outstanding information, support and advice. :)

Check out the Shanling web site:

http://www.shanling.com/product_e.html

Enjoy

-Robin
 

miljac

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Pure stereo Sony modified

Hi,

I have a Sony SCD-555ES (the European model, not the changer sold in USA under the same name, this one is a 16 kg monster), modified by Vacuum State Electronics, using that on my McIntosh MA-6500 and a pair of Ascents. The performance is nothing short of breathtaking, you can try SCD-1/777ES/555ES second-hand (now the price is low when you can get one of these), let the mod be done by a VSE partner & you'll enjoy the SACD *and* the CD sound beating five-digit priced items.
Try ebay, occasionally worldwide one of these wonderful players can be still obtained.
Even a modded SCD-XB 940 beats quite a number of many-times-the-price models.
Anyway, I was just amazed what are my Ascents (not the i ) are capable of. I think that you can easily spend 3x the price of the Ascents on a decent source and still have the speakers quite capable of following it and revealing so much of the music. Simply amazing. I love Ascents. My wife too :). With each upgrade level (3 so far) of my Sony player I cannot but wonder what these sepakers are *really* capable of. Mr. Sanders, my respect.

Nedeljko
 

DTB300

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miljac said:
I have a Sony SCD-555ES (the European model, not the changer sold in USA under the same name, this one is a 16 kg monster), modified by Vacuum State Electronics,
VSE has received some nice comments on their mods. Can you elaborate more on the sound before and after the mods?

Dan
 

Craig

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Over the last 2 years I've upgraded my CD players and each one has been a significant improvement over the previous one. I occasionally buy/play SACDs but decided there are some CD players out there that do redbook extremely well and almost everything is available on redbook CD. Therefore I decided to invest in a redbook player rather than SACD. The following is my CD player upgrade path.

Starting point: a Denon 6 disc changer bought in '94
Sony 222ES SACD player ( I still use it for SACDs)
Classe CDP .3 (bought new,very detailed, decent bass, very good build quality)
Cary 302/200 (a fuller sound and bigger soundstage than the Classe but maybe not as detailed. the internal volume control was a bit cumbersome to use)
Electrocompaniet ECP-1 Up (absolutely love it, I'll have this player for a long while)

My system consist of:
Electrocompaniet EC 4.7 preamp
Electrocompaniet ECP-1 Upgraded
Electrocompaniet AW-220 pair of mono-amps
VPI Scout Turntable w/clearaudio cart
Mini-Phono tube phono amp
Harmonic Tech Magic XLRs and audioquest copperhead RCAs
I ocassionally swap speakers between Sonus Faber Cremonas or Aeons
(both are great just different characteristics)

A good front-end component is a good starting point.
 

tonyc

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I have both a Sony SCD777ES and a Lexicon RT-10. Both sound great and both are available used on Audiogon for less than $1500. Both can be modded fairly reasonably. The Lexicon is only slightly less good than the Sony on RBCD or SACD and will play everything except records, including video. It also will do surround which the Sony will not. I have been listening to alot of digital front ends recently and have discovered that to beat these pieces I am going to need to spend around 6K and at this price point I might (depending on the particular model) get only RBCD. I am seriously considering a leap of faith and getting either the VSE Level 5 for the Sony or the mod for the Lexicon from the Upgrade Company. You may find it cheaper to buy used, then mod than to buy new, given the ever escalating price of new equipment. Enjoy the hunt!
 

amey01

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You will definantly hear changes, but whether you will think they are an improvement or not is another story! I run a Marantz 8300 SACD player and although redbook is not as good as the dedicated redbook CD Players I listened to at the same price it is so darn close I don't worry. It is worth it for the SACD thrill!
 
H

htsource

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Hi guys,

I thought I would get notifcations for replies, didn't realize I have some replies already!

I was at the local shop where I bought my stereo from, they got rid of all Primare players, and now they have Meridian CD players and soon McIntosh! Oh, this may not be good :) I mean my wallet!

This is the first time I ever saw the real Meridian and boy, they look very unqiue. The good thing is I can probably take one home to try out. They have 2 there, one is going for $4000 and other is $6000 retail I think. I'm referring to Canadian $$. They showed me the McIntosh they're getting, they look nice too. I think the McIntosh are a bit cheaper though.

I almost got myself an used Sony SCD-1, but I guess my asking price wasn't high enough (private sale, but the seller was asking best offer) :(

I've seen some great looking pictures of the Shanling, not sure where I can demo them in Canada though. I also wonder about Rega, as the shop has them. They're much cheaper than the Meridian but the top loading mechanism is no good for me (in a rack with limited headroom).

If I have some time, I'll see if I can get my hands with a Meridian to try out. Should I just get the high end Meridian for the heck of it to check it out? Even though it's really out of my price range. Even the lower end is still stretching but maybe doable! I'll also look around for any used as I have no hurry for a player - just sort of gathering opinions at the moment.

Thanks,

Simon
 

MarkNewbie

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Simon,

I would demo the Meridian and the Mac and if you like one of them, start looking on the used market on Audiogon.com. A dealer where I live carries the Macs and they are very good. I did not see the justification in price difference so I went with the Shanling. Plus, I wanted tube and SACD. The other thing to keep in mind is if you do buy something used at a good price and don't like it, you can always turn around and sell it on Audiogon or eBay (normally ebay fetches 10-30% more than audiogon) and most likely not lose any money. In my case, I could easily make money on my Shanling as they seem to have gone up some in price. Some people have mentioned getting mods done to whatever you get and that is another great route. Buy something used, have it modified and if you like it, keep it and if not, it should be easy to turn with the mods done. As I read this post, there are some great players people have pointed out. And the tube rolling is a blast. In the thread posted by Robin she quoted my sentiments on the WE 396a's in my Shanling and my desire to find the Bendix Red Banks for it. The Red Banks are in it now and the "WOW" factor more than doubled! I wish I could say that I let my ears totally decide but with the Shanling, the visual impact is almost as fantastic as the sonic impact! Good luck in your search and have fun with it.
 

miljac

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VSE mods

DTB300 said:
VSE has received some nice comments on their mods. Can you elaborate more on the sound before and after the mods?

Dan
Hi Dan,

this is going to be a long post ....

I first bought a SCD-XB 940 going for SACD. It was nice but somewhere I read that the Sonys can deliver much more and make an excellent modding platform, so started looking for the mods for the 940. This is how I met Allen Wright, borrowed a modded 940 from him and decided to go for the mod after listening to it for a week in my system, it was so much better.
Allen brought his modded SCD-555 ES whith him and it was definitely playing in another class. He talked me into buying a 555 while there were still some left in Germany. So I bought it. Compared stock 555 with 940 - most certainly a better player but still plagued with certain harshness, lack of dynamics even on SACD (my analog was still better). After the mod .... soundstage *much* wider, deeper, better separation between instruments, much improved detail, I could definitely hear things that were simply not there on the stock player. Although somewhat blurred on complex material (symphonic orchestra in very loud passages, still the sound was not worse than a *really expensive* CD player used at the Ascent auditioning when I decided to buy them.... The mod was Level 2 then and it clearly outperformed many much more expensive CD players. Very transparent on Red Book CDs, with SACD it was equal to my analog setup.

Then came the Level 4, which brought a significant improvement again, this time more in direction of precision and transparence, improved soundstage, even better separation between instruments. CDs execellent, SACD already clearly outperforming my analog. Improved macro/microdynamics. Voices were what I thought being perfect, but read on ...

Yesterday have finished the Level 5 upgrade (ordered the Lev 5 kit, I can still wield the soldering iron!) and it's still breaking in but even after a couple of hours of break-in curiosity won and I tried some of my favourite CDs .... sheer amazement. Allen was right saying that the change is as drastic as after the first mod compared to the stock Sony. Soundstage, clarity, smoothness, bass incredibly improved, voices have the amazing authority and after a long time I got shivers from listening to my own hi-fi again. All that on Red Book CD. Did not listen to my SACDs yet. Will keep you updated if you want.

Anyone with the opportunity to go to Rocky Mountain Audiofest in Denver, CO can hear a live demo of the VSE modded SCD-777 ES. Visit http://www.vacuumstate.com for details.

And I can say that the VSE Level 5 (if you are lucky to own one of the pure stereo Sony SACD players) is the best investment in your hi-fi (provided you already have the ML's) you could ever make. You have to hear to believe what these players are really capable of. Nice thing is that the VSE mods do not replace the stock analog outputs so that you can compare the two [ and see/hear how excellent engineering beats good engineering :) ]. And (at least in my experience) made a wonderful front end for the ML's. Maybe it's the speakers that can reveal such big differences - and every mod was a definitive step forward.

Try to contact VSE, you might even get one modded player to try at home, who knows; I don't know if they still do that.

One more thing: my hi-fi has disappeared. What's left is only music. I wonder if that can go any better at all (although I thought the same after Lev 4 mod).

Current system:

Thorens 126Mk III (modded by myself) with a WTA clone + Ortofon Vero with pure silver inner wiring
Sony SCD-555ES VSE Lev 5
Oehlbach Heavenly Sound pure silver interconnects
McIntosh MA-6500 AC (modded by German importer)
biwired Monitor Black & White LS-1202 speaker cables
ML Ascent

Hope this helps.

Regards,

Nedeljko
 

DTB300

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miljac said:
Yesterday have finished the Level 5 upgrade (ordered the Lev 5 kit, I can still wield the soldering iron!) and it's still breaking in but even after a couple of hours of break-in curiosity won and I tried some of my favourite CDs .... sheer amazement. Allen was right saying that the change is as drastic as after the first mod compared to the stock Sony. Soundstage, clarity, smoothness, bass incredibly improved, voices have the amazing authority and after a long time I got shivers from listening to my own hi-fi again. All that on Red Book CD. Did not listen to my SACDs yet. Will keep you updated if you want.
The Level 5 Mod has been getting some good talk around the 'net. I had been thinking of having my player modded, as one of his US representatives is right in my neighborhood. But the big problem is the Sony player that I have (999ES), VSE does not mod . I may have to drop Allen an email just to make sure.

Thanks for all the info on the mods, and when you get a chance to listen to some SACD's keep us informed on what you think.

Dan
 

kach22i

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How often should you upgrade your CD processor or Cd player?

Mine is six or seven years old - a McIntosh with the Pioneer transport and Wadia electronics. Suggestions?

My turntable is 20 years old and getting long in the tooth despite massive tweaking and mods. Getting to be a little noisy when I spin it by hand with my ear next to it.
 

miljac

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Modding

kach22i said:
How often should you upgrade your CD processor or Cd player?

Mine is six or seven years old - a McIntosh with the Pioneer transport and Wadia electronics. Suggestions?

My turntable is 20 years old and getting long in the tooth despite massive tweaking and mods. Getting to be a little noisy when I spin it by hand with my ear next to it.
My Thorens is 26 now (bought back in 1979). Still an amazing player after all tweaks & mods. Try filtered motor oil for the bearing if there is a problem. I had a similar problem with my bearing but with a little SAE-40 motor oil cannot hear anything even with stetoscope on the subchassis. The alternative would be lower viscosity silicon oil like the one for Well Tempered bearing. Or try to find a replacement.
 

Jeff Zaret

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miljac,

I have a Thorens that is from I think 1972 or 1973 and still running strong. I just had it serviced, basically cleaned and oiled and the arm adjusted with a new cartridge. :D

I also have a Marantz Console amp from I think 1971 that is still running great that I use to power my center channel. :eek:

Jeff :cool:
 

Sky Saw

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htsource said:
This is the first time I ever saw the real Meridian and boy, they look very unqiue. The good thing is I can probably take one home to try out. They have 2 there, one is going for $4000 and other is $6000 retail I think.
If I have some time, I'll see if I can get my hands with a Meridian to try out. Should I just get the high end Meridian for the heck of it to check it out?
Hi Simon, I hope you realize that it is a slippery slope once you start bringing home pricey gear to 'try-out just for fun' :) .

Are you referring to the Meridian G07 and G08? All the Meridian CD players I have heard have been outstanding with MLs (I have a 508, and a family member has a G08). The primary difference between the G07 and G08 is that the G08 is single-ended. If your system is single-ended from source to preamp to amp, then you should audition the G08. If not, then don't bother with it - take the G07 home, as it will probably sound better than the G08.

Your system will sound fantastic with a really nice CD player (Aeons really reward a good source).
 

kach22i

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miljac said:
Try filtered motor oil for the bearing if there is a problem.
Thanks for the tips Jeff and Miljac.

I'm still saving for a new turntable - it will be an art/woodworking project using Teres mechanical parts.

Back to topic, CD players; read once don't spend a lot on them because they go obsolete so quickly - don't really buy into that myself (within reason).
 

Spike

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Lots of options for digital source

If you're looking for SACD capability, you should try the "modded" players from APL, ModWright or VSE, etc... which are outstanding in SACD as well as red-book performance. There's also a new Cary SACD (statement) player hovering around the corner but it's pricey.
For CD performance, Meridian 508.24 can be had used for about $1500 if you can find one and it's an excellent CD player. Cary and ARC have reputable players on the CD front as well.
For the "ultimate" bang-for-the-buck digital front-end, you should look into the hard-disk based server. There are a couple of high-end models which don't behave like a computer (although they are PC based) which are said to have much better performance than the best CD player. Ti48 from ZeroOne Audio (http://www.zerooneaudio.com) and Musica (or Symphony) from Olive (http://www.olive.us)

Best of luck with your search
Spike
 

taylode

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MarkNewbie said:
Simon,

I would demo the Meridian and the Mac and if you like one of them, start looking on the used market on Audiogon.com. A dealer where I live carries the Macs and they are very good. I did not see the justification in price difference so I went with the Shanling. Plus, I wanted tube and SACD. The other thing to keep in mind is if you do buy something used at a good price and don't like it, you can always turn around and sell it on Audiogon or eBay (normally ebay fetches 10-30% more than audiogon) and most likely not lose any money. In my case, I could easily make money on my Shanling as they seem to have gone up some in price. Some people have mentioned getting mods done to whatever you get and that is another great route. Buy something used, have it modified and if you like it, keep it and if not, it should be easy to turn with the mods done. As I read this post, there are some great players people have pointed out. And the tube rolling is a blast. In the thread posted by Robin she quoted my sentiments on the WE 396a's in my Shanling and my desire to find the Bendix Red Banks for it. The Red Banks are in it now and the "WOW" factor more than doubled! I wish I could say that I let my ears totally decide but with the Shanling, the visual impact is almost as fantastic as the sonic impact! Good luck in your search and have fun with it.
Mark: All of you comments about Shanling has got me really considering adding it to the mix; however, I can't find any dealers. I tried their website but it doesn't have a dealer directory. Do you know how to find out who caries Shanling?

Thanks,
 

amey01

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htsource said:
Hi guys,


I was at the local shop where I bought my stereo from, they got rid of all Primare players, and now they have Meridian CD players and soon McIntosh! Oh, this may not be good :) I mean my wallet!

Hi....

Don't let what the shop has let you decide what you get in your system! The Primare stuff is really great - about as neutral as you can get for the price. Meridian is great too, but there is so much great equipment out there that it pays to seek out what is right for you and what will form a synergestic match with your system - not what the shop has at this point in time!!

Adam.
 
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