The BEST Redbook CD player? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 122 Old 01-29-2006, 11:45 AM - Thread Starter
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Hats off to David Bott for trying out this sub forum!

I am looking for the best CD player I can get. Price is going to play some role in my search: anything over $4,000 is just out. Right now, I am auditioning a Musical Fidelity A5. It is an amazing sounding machine. It reveals sounds and textures on the disk which I didn't even know were there! My current player is an Integra 8.3. The difference betwen it and the MF A5 is stunning. I would keep it, except that I fed it an SACD, and the machine locked up and refused to give the disk back.

Later today, I am going to get a Mc Cormack UDP-1 to audition. There is an upgrade for that player announced at CES, but I want to try the current model anyway. Other players I want to listen to are the Stibbert Bluenote and the Muse.

What else should I listen to? Can the 3910 or 5910 compete in terms of audio quality on redbook CDs?

With my system, In my room, to my ears......
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post #2 of 122 Old 01-29-2006, 01:21 PM
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Try the Linn Ikemi.

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post #3 of 122 Old 01-29-2006, 01:38 PM
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Or Naim 5x.
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post #4 of 122 Old 01-29-2006, 02:56 PM
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If you only want redbook playback, the Granite Audio 657 tube CD player is awesome. www.graniteaudio.com My understanding is its almost or all sold out of its production run.
Retail is $2,900. I had one in my system for some time and it bettered in sonics a $3,000 and modded Sony SACD player.

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post #5 of 122 Old 01-29-2006, 03:30 PM
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dvd players which are optimized for dvds and video so cannot match the SQ from dedicated cd players

my preferred brands are emm labs, weiss, gryphon, audiomeca

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post #6 of 122 Old 01-29-2006, 04:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cpu8088
dvd players which are optimized for dvds and video so cannot match the SQ from dedicated cd players
As a blanket statement, that's just not true at all. You need a price point. Of course the extra video parts will raise the cost. But also, at the higher end, the better universals tack on video as an afterthought. Or at least some perform as video was just "thrown in".

Quote:
my preferred brands are emm labs, weiss, gryphon, audiomeca
Aren't these out of his price range? (at least the Meinter stuff is).

4K and under you have quite a few players. Ayre CX-7e is a great player - abour 3K new, 1500-2K used. The Esoteric DV50 is an excellent player for redbook, DVD-A and SACD - about 3K used. (Wow, I see a used Linn Unidisk 1.1 sold for $5500 on Audiogon - great price).

larry

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post #7 of 122 Old 01-29-2006, 07:20 PM
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look into EAC + flac and bit perfect output from a hard drive.... coupled with a good d/a converter can beat just about any transport.

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post #8 of 122 Old 01-29-2006, 07:37 PM
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try the Rotel RCD 1072. It brought new life to all my CDs, like I heard them all for the first time.
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post #9 of 122 Old 01-29-2006, 08:12 PM
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i really think you should narrow it down first to either tube or solid state, and then what you are really looking for in a cdp. i know everyone says that you want everything in your system to be neutral, but then again, neutral isn't always pleasing to the ears. some like a more detailed presentation, others a very soft and smooth sounding. tube cdp's are my preferance as you can swap different tubes and achieve different levels of resolution and character.

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post #10 of 122 Old 01-29-2006, 08:35 PM
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You definitely have to try the Arcam FMJ CD36 (list $2500). Trust the Arcam reputation in CDP and DAC.
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post #11 of 122 Old 01-29-2006, 09:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vancouver
try the Rotel RCD 1072. It brought new life to all my CDs, like I heard them all for the first time.
Same here. I have been enjoying the RCD 1072 for 3 months now.
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post #12 of 122 Old 01-29-2006, 09:30 PM
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Cary makes some great CD Players, also Just saw and heard the new Droplet CD Player by Consonance, very sweet Redbook Tube player and I was never a big fan of Chinnese built High End until now. Well some of it is decent, not all by any means...
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post #13 of 122 Old 01-29-2006, 09:53 PM
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I would take a serious look at the Meridian G08 player, it should be available right at your price cutoff.

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post #14 of 122 Old 01-29-2006, 10:21 PM
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I am going to through in my vote for a level 1 modified Jolida CD-100a, including the tube roll to Svetlanas from Sovteks as a part of the underwoodhifi.com modification package. It was an easy pick for me over some of the Rotel/Arcam and Musical Fidelity offerings, although its not close to 4000. ( Much less)
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post #15 of 122 Old 01-29-2006, 10:26 PM
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Out of curiousity, what exactly does a 4k$ cd player do that a 29 dollar one doesnt?

Its all digital data, so you either get it off the cd or you don't - its either 100% correct or its 100% incorrect (in the case of a perfect cd). In the case of a scratched, some algorithms to compensate may be better than others, but for sake of argument, lets say its a perfect cd.

So then you're left with the same stream of 1s and 0s out of a cheapy that you're going to get from something expensive.

At that point, you're looking at a D/A converter. Why buy one built into a cd player? Why not buy an external one like a Benchmark DAC or something if you want to go pricey?

Honestly, i'd love to know this.

steve
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post #16 of 122 Old 01-29-2006, 10:38 PM - Thread Starter
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I just finished doing an in home comparison of the Musical Fidelity A5 and the Mc Cormack UDP-1. Audiophiles might object to my "testing" regime, but I at least got some impressions. The A5 had more realistic highs, more natural, and better bass. There was also a bettter sense of separation and more dynamic imaging. The UDP-1 was great too, but it just didn't quite sound as good as the A5.

On DVDs, the UDP-1 really outclassed the A5. The video from the UDP-1 was clean, good color saturation with good black levels. The A5 didn't come close to the UDP-1's video capability. Of course, since it has no video circutry, that isn't surprising.

Tomorrow I will try the Stibbert Bluenote. The search continues, but it sure is fun!

With my system, In my room, to my ears......
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post #17 of 122 Old 01-29-2006, 10:52 PM - Thread Starter
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Steve,

I was skeptical too. I had an Integra 8.3, which was not a cheap player in it's day. I did not expect there to be much of difference either, but there was. And I am not talking about subtle differences, I am talking twilight and darkness. On vocals in particular, you can hear more of the color in the singers voice. Amy Lee, the lead vocalist from Evanesence, has a great voice. On the A5, her voice had more character than I had ever heard. There just seems to be a lot of information on the disks that my player was missing. It propably is not a matter of the laser picking up or missing the 1s and 0s, but more about how that data is converted to the analog signal and how it gets transmitted to the outputs on the player.

With my system, In my room, to my ears......
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post #18 of 122 Old 01-29-2006, 11:19 PM
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Ok, so then really its down to the DAC and supporting circuitry which would make some sence because thats where opinions would be formed. But even then, shouldn't the ultimate goal be the most pure reproduction of the audio out - which is quite measureable. I've often thought, these two stages should just be completely pure - pure digital data going through the best op amps and circuits to get the most exact reproduction of the signal ont he other side. Then, if someone wants to color it somehow there should be some 3rd coloring stage that people should be able to buy separately and they can opine on that all they want. The first two really dont leave much to vary on - they're perfectly measureable.

steve
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post #19 of 122 Old 01-29-2006, 11:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sghoughton
Out of curiousity, what exactly does a 4k$ cd player do that a 29 dollar one doesnt?

Its all digital data, so you either get it off the cd or you don't - its either 100% correct or its 100% incorrect (in the case of a perfect cd). In the case of a scratched, some algorithms to compensate may be better than others, but for sake of argument, lets say its a perfect cd.

So then you're left with the same stream of 1s and 0s out of a cheapy that you're going to get from something expensive.

At that point, you're looking at a D/A converter. Why buy one built into a cd player? Why not buy an external one like a Benchmark DAC or something if you want to go pricey?

Honestly, i'd love to know this.

steve
This type of response comes up once in awhile. If its ones and zeros what difference does it make? type stuff. I have never actually counted, but I must have 10-12 CD playing devices in my house. First off, I have a CD player with a tube output stage and analog interconnects thats a bit differnt than ones and zeros. By simply going from the analog outs to the digital output ON THE SAME PLAYER (the diggie output eliminates the tube stage) the difference becomes obvious. All of the players and transports are differnt. The signal path is affected by parts along the way. The better the parts and design, the beter the sound. Sometimes it almost approaches LPs and reel to reel even!!!
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post #20 of 122 Old 01-30-2006, 02:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PooperScooper
As a blanket statement, that's just not true at all. You need a price point. Of course the extra video parts will raise the cost. But also, at the higher end, the better universals tack on video as an afterthought. Or at least some perform as video was just "thrown in".

Aren't these out of his price range? (at least the Meinter stuff is).

4K and under you have quite a few players. Ayre CX-7e is a great player - abour 3K new, 1500-2K used. The Esoteric DV50 is an excellent player for redbook, DVD-A and SACD - about 3K used. (Wow, I see a used Linn Unidisk 1.1 sold for $5500 on Audiogon - great price).

larry
a dvd player which can play cds is not the same as a universal player

the subject asks for the best cd player while op's budget can revise upword not limited to $4000 if he wants the best

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post #21 of 122 Old 01-30-2006, 02:33 AM
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Consider the used market for a host of excellent CDP's below 4K

Meridian G08 - had one briefly - a bit too relaxed but if your system is forward this might be the ticket

Wadia - never had one but I have listened and they are quite nice...

Arcam CD 192 and FMJ-36 - nice, worth a listen. Had one briefly, nice but can sound dry.

Cary - all of their CDPs are excellent. I currently own a 308T - I picked this over the Meridian, but others will think I was crazy :)

Sonic Frontiers - now defunct but their CDP's are still great. Owned one for 1+ years

Jolida - nice, not quite the equal of the above but it is very warm sounding. For 900.00 it is a good buy. I purchased one but sold it.
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post #22 of 122 Old 01-30-2006, 06:14 AM
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Cap: Musical Fidelity fan here, A5 is sweet. I had a A308 Int Amp and CD Player, sold it off do to job situation, which has changed. Ironically start new job today and I have a Musical Fidelity KW 500 Int Amp, there CD Player is awesome, but I found a diamond in the rough with the Droplet CD Player for about half the price. Meridian fan also use to have there famous 20 bit.

Bob53: all excellent players.

Capf: Underwood HiFi does some damn good mods, problem I have is if you don't like it resale on the items can be sometimes hard. At least they give you sometime to listen to it before it is actually yours. Walt is a good guy and has a good ear...
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post #23 of 122 Old 01-30-2006, 06:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sghoughton
Out of curiousity, what exactly does a 4k$ cd player do that a 29 dollar one doesnt?

Its all digital data, so you either get it off the cd or you don't - its either 100% correct or its 100% incorrect (in the case of a perfect cd). In the case of a scratched, some algorithms to compensate may be better than others, but for sake of argument, lets say its a perfect cd.

So then you're left with the same stream of 1s and 0s out of a cheapy that you're going to get from something expensive.

At that point, you're looking at a D/A converter. Why buy one built into a cd player? Why not buy an external one like a Benchmark DAC or something if you want to go pricey?

Honestly, i'd love to know this.

steve
Filtering and re-construction of the original waveform. Not all DACs do it the same way. Hence you hear the difference between CD players. And ofcourse there comes into play the quality of the drive transport, clock jitter, clean power supply, to name a few, which cannot be taken care of in a $29 player.
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post #24 of 122 Old 01-30-2006, 07:30 AM
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So would it be correct to assume that anyone appreciating a high cost cd player would be bypassing any digital outs on them? Why would a 2900 dollar (taking the granite for example) have a digital out?

steve
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post #25 of 122 Old 01-30-2006, 08:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sghoughton
So would it be correct to assume that anyone appreciating a high cost cd player would be bypassing any digital outs on them? Why would a 2900 dollar (taking the granite for example) have a digital out?

steve
The Granite Audio 650 CD player initially was a redbook CD player, non-tube, with
analog stereo and toslink outputs retailing at $1,500. As a transport alone is sounded as good as the way more expensive Theta Voyager in my system for redbook CD, and better than the Sony SCD-777ES as a transport. Sounded great analog stereo outputs, too, in my system using the Theta CB2 the 650 analog stereo outputs sounded about the same as the toslink.

But Don Hoglund, President of Granite Audio, designed the 650 with enough room internally to be upgraded with a tube mod for stereo analog output.
And back in 2001 Granite Audio came out with the tube mod, which added another set of tube stereo analog outputs, to the existing non-tube stereo analog and the toslink outputs.

Now that answers your question.

Now here's what you also don't know. The Granite Audio tube CD player, with its model number changed from 650 for non-tube to 657 to tube, heralded and started (along with my help) a lotta new redbook and SACD tube mods that you have read about these past few years.

I did a Tweaks forum review here at AVS (back when I moderated Tweaks) of the Granite Audio tube CD comparing it in my then Theta CB2 system to a Bybee modded Sony SCD 777-ES SACD/CD stereo player ($3,000 retail plus mods).
Previously, I had luved the SACD in my system vs redbook CD. But to my surprise, after several listening sessions to ensure I was hearing correctly, there was no doubt about it, tube redbook CD from the 657 bested the Sony SACD across the board by maybe a 20% margin on average!!!! (that review is available in the Tweaks forum archives)

Next, I had a few folks as Special Guests at the now defunct (again, I quit the free moderating gig to have a life) AVS Special Guests forum discussing tube mods for redbook and SACD, which led to - new SACD tube mods being offered.
(If you go to the forum archives you can find these threads, too.)

In my opinion the Granite Audio 657 tube CD player remains an excellent performer for the buck.

"Doug Winsor" used to troll at some AV Forums as "Steve Bruzonsky"! My home theater at:
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1158431
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post #26 of 122 Old 01-30-2006, 08:47 AM
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So basically though, its the post DAC processing where you'll find any difference at all. Assuming you're good with the coloration of the selected DAC (burr brown, wolfson etc and various versions of whichever brand). I would imagine theres som potential for matching the circuitry to the output of the DAC but in an ideal world what should come out of the DAC should be exactly what goes in to the ADC process and without any coloration at all.

I guess what i'm getting down to is why bother worrying about that side of the equation in a CD unit at all - why not make just a decent CD reader, then worry about the quality/coloration side in a whole separate unit. That unit could then handle the digital output from all things like SACD, DVD Audio (if there wasnt the DRM issue), CD, DVD (AC3/DTS), MP3 etc - then you've basically got them all colored in the same way that you prefer.

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post #27 of 122 Old 01-30-2006, 09:35 AM
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I have the Linn Ikemi. Bought it 5 years ago. MSRP $3595 (shop around, have recently seen several instances of this 6+ year old model selling for over half that price used --> very telling of its reputation).

Will NEVER use another player for redbook. I'll have something for SaCD, but unless the Ikemi breaks and Linn either can't or won't support it, then the Ikemi's is the only sound for me (yep, they sure got me hook, line, and sinker). At first I bought the lower priced Linn Genki, but then the dealer loaned me an Ikemi, and after listening to it for a week (using mostly Sennheiser HD600 headphones), I just had to dig around for the extra $$$ for the Ikemi. Extra resolved bass (though a tad lean compared to some), ultra smooth yet detailed highs, incredibly natural acoustic instrument timbres. Below are a few links, just in case you end up considering one (possibly a used one from a place like audiogon.c0m?)

Linn product page:
http://www.linn.co.uk/spec_sound/pro...bNavBar=Source

Linn page with review links:
http://www.linn.co.uk/news/reviews.c...466B0BF67B765D

The system I use it in consists of a VPI turntable (Benz glider cartridge), Lehman Blackcube phono preamp, Bryston B60 integrated, Cardas Cross interconnects, and B&W speakers (also used to listen to it on a Headroom Max headphone amp).

Within months of buying this magnificent player, I pretty much stopped being an techno-audiophile in the sense that this player made me stop thinking about new purchases, tweaking, etc, and just listen to the music. My previous player was a Rega Planet, but the Ikemi just blew my mind, even stood up well against a couple players at the dealer costing a couple grand more.

Sound is deceptively laid back: I do not hear an overly detailed, in your face presentation (unless the CD is badly mixed, but even then this player will slightly flatter such disks, manage to highlight their underlying musicality without harping on their flaws) but then I'm amazed at how well I can hear some of the nuances while taking a shower (?!) The sound seems to draw you in, but then doesn't intrude when you want to hear yourself think! Sort of of flows...Especially excels in acoustic instrumentals and vocals, small chamber ensembles, classical guitar (I'm a classical guitarist), and piano. Also in large scale orchestral and jazz with lots of percussion and upright bass (i.le. Giant Steps and Three Blind Mice label jazz). I also listen to a little bit of trance and techno such as Aphex Twin, and the player does a fine job as well with all that high-frequency magic. I give you my unrestained giddy enthusiasm, just to clue you in to the kinds of magazines I used to read...while hunting for the be all, end all of sounds...

BTW- HDCD on this thing is incredible. I only have a handful of HDCD encoded discs, but each one is presented on this player with a tremendous balance of weightiness and transparency (probably the one phrase I didn't absent mindedly steal from some review read years ago). One example is Mahler's 'Das Lied von der Erde', conducted by Eije Oue, on reference recordings.

Thus ends my first and only (hopefully) online effervescing over a CD player.
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post #28 of 122 Old 01-30-2006, 09:36 AM
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Steve, say what you want about "coloring" the sounds - but I was shocked when Don Hoglund added the tube output to the pre-existing analog output signal path, just how much better it was. Before that, I really liked the Sony SACD in my system so much that I hardly listened to redbook CD. After that, I just wanted to listen to the Granite 657 tube CD player and I sold my modded SACD player faster than you can say "jack flash"! And since then, several companies have been tube modding SACD with excellent reviews,
and I did demo the original Consonance tube SACD player in my system a few years back and it was darn nice!!!

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http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1158431
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post #29 of 122 Old 01-30-2006, 10:07 AM
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Oh, i'm not saying anything for or against it - just noticing that thats pretty much the differentiating factor. And if thats the case, wouldn't it be nice to have a fully separate set of gear just for that alone - so you buy one of those and not have to fork out for every digital data reading device that exists (or doesnt yet exist). So in your case, you'd be gettting one for redbook, and another for sacd - be nice to have the same for each and only have to buy a unit like that once and just plug in your digital output devices to that one.

steve
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post #30 of 122 Old 01-30-2006, 10:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bob53
Consider the used market for a host of excellent CDP's below 4K

Meridian G08 -

Wadia -

Arcam CD 192 and FMJ-36 -

Cary -

Sonic Frontiers -

Jolida - nice, not quite the equal of the above but it is very warm sounding. For 900.00 it is a good buy. I purchased one but sold it.
The modifications in the Jolida put it in a different class. That said, I wouldnt disagree with you given the listed company in your post, except the modded Jolida would go above the Arcam in my book.
Rysa4 is offline  
Closed Thread CD Players & Dedicated Music Transports



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