Best CD Player available - AVS | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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Topanga's Avatar Topanga 08:03 PM 08-08-2002
I looking for opinions on high end 2 channel CD players. I'm not interested in DVD audio and slightly interested in 2 channel SACD. With most of the software still standard CD, with not much change in sight, the sound quality for standard CD is my main concern. I have a 2 channel system in addition to my home theater, so surround sound isn't important.

Current CD setup: Audio Research CDT-1
Audio Research DAC-3 MK II

Your feedback is appreciated!

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DaveN's Avatar DaveN 08:27 PM 08-08-2002
Check Steve Bruzonsky's Granite Audio review in the Tweaks section.
Mike Matheson's Avatar Mike Matheson 12:41 AM 08-09-2002

Along with Dave's (and Steve's suggestion) for the Granite Audio #657 (which is OUTSTANDING, based on my personal experience) I would look into the Musical Fidelity Nu-Vista 3D CD Player (if you can find one).

Neither however is SACD compatible.

BTW, you didn't indicate a price range. In case you're looking for really high-end, Linn (CD12, $20K), Burmeister, and Accuphase make CDPs that are often held up as reference quality. (BTW, in that list, the Linn is the cheapest model).
beun's Avatar beun 11:21 AM 08-09-2002
When you truly don't care about price a Wadia is a very good choice.
Patrick C's Avatar Patrick C 11:38 AM 08-09-2002
I'll throw in my 2 cents for the budget champion players:

Rega Planet
and the tjoeb! modified Marantz 56SE

both are outstanding for $500.00 +/-

We are also all assuming you want an all in one and not just a transport???
dpippel's Avatar dpippel 11:51 AM 08-09-2002
Another great "budget" player:

Cambridge Audio D500 SE

Runs around $400 street. Very sweet sound.
1kevinm's Avatar 1kevinm 12:08 PM 08-09-2002
If you are looking for the "best", I would highly recommend the Linn CD12. I've had one since they were introduced, and I love it.
Jerry Pease's Avatar Jerry Pease 12:51 PM 08-09-2002
Originally posted by Topanga
I looking for opinions on high end 2 channel CD players. I'm not interested in DVD audio and slightly interested in 2 channel SACD. With most of the software still standard CD, with not much change in sight, the sound quality for standard CD is my main concern. I have a 2 channel system in addition to my home theater, so surround sound isn't important.

Current CD setup: Audio Research CDT-1
Audio Research DAC-3 MK II

Your feedback is appreciated!

another vote for Linn CD12
faziod's Avatar faziod 01:46 PM 08-09-2002
I will cast a vote for the Carin Fog 2, 24/192 upsampling cd player. at around $1499 us dollars this is one sweet sounding cd player. Best sounding top end i ever heard.
Rackon's Avatar Rackon 03:03 AM 08-10-2002
I think what you already have is better sounding than the budget suggestions.

In the "moderate" range $3-5K:

I have a Cary 303, and I would highly recommend a listen to either the Cary 303/200 or (better yet) the Cary 306/200. Check out reviews at Wonderful, musical players, tremendous soundstage, transparency, tonal color, bass and dynamics while remaining essentially neutral. HDCD and upsampling if you want it. These players are frequently discounted, BTW.

The new Ayre CX-7 may be very interesting. I have a friend who's in love with this player. There's always Wadia - 861 0r 301. Many folks swear by their Electrocompaniet ECM-1 MkIIs. There's quite a bit of buzz about the new Gamut player (rave in TAS), but this CDP may be lacking in LFs.

Above 6K...theres always the CD12. Still gorgeous after all these years. Burmeister has a new "budget" one box player for only 13K list. I love my Accuphase T109 tuner, and their expensive SACD/CD unit has many followers, but frankly, I think other players sound better.

There's been a lot of buzz about the French players: Audio Aero Capitole, Audio Mecca Mephisto, and the Metronome (forget which model). The Capitole was much in evidence at CES and Stereophile show. While the sound may be ravishing, there have also been some reliability issues with the first two players.

Head over to audioasylum or audiogon for more input. I personally don't like SACD very much, and since I own over 700 CDs, Redbook playback is my first priority.

Happy hunting.
Bubun's Avatar Bubun 08:19 AM 08-10-2002
Try ELECTROCOMPANIET, it have a lot of good reviews.
This is maybe not the best but definetly one good sounding CD player.
Topanga's Avatar Topanga 10:21 AM 08-10-2002
The Cary players sound interesting, I've always liked tubes. I'll be doing a demo with Audio Research CD 3 , Oracle and Ayre CX 7 next week.

Any one heard the Oracle or Classe Omega?


Rackon's Avatar Rackon 02:09 PM 08-10-2002
Yes, I've heard the Classe. I love their amps but the Omega l didn't care for. Much preferred my Cary 303.

If you like tubed sound, audition Cary, Electrocompaniet and Ayre - all solid state but all much beloved by for their musicality and "undigital" sound. If you haevn't listened to high end digital in a while, you're in for a pleasant surprise.
Dennis B's Avatar Dennis B 03:24 PM 08-10-2002
I second Bubun and Rackon's words, and highly recommend an audition of the Electrocompaniet ECM-1 mkII. I also liked the Wadia 830 some time ago when I heard it, but haven't heard the new 301/861 yet.
Designer's Avatar Designer 03:46 AM 08-11-2002
Did anyone has experience w/. both the EMC-1 & Meridian 588 CD player?
How would you comment them?
JMC's Avatar JMC 06:40 AM 08-11-2002

Since you're looking for high-end, two-channel audio, it may be heresy for me to suggest a DVD player, but if you're considering the Ayre CX-7 CD player, you should check out this thread in the DVD Hardware section of this forum: http://

In this thread Charles Hansen of Ayre Acoustics says that the DX-1 DVD player is still better sonically than the new CX-7. The DX-1 is modular, so it can be set-up in various configurations. A unit with analog audio outputs, digital audio out, and interlaced video runs $8,750. Of course, this price is signigificantly higher than that of the CX-7, which I think is around $3,000.

Here is the salient quote from that thread from Mr. Hansen:

While our new CX-7 CD player is a great-sounding piece and an outstanding bargain, the D-1x is still king of the hill from a sonic standpoint. They are both very musical, continuous, and resolved, but the D-1x is a bit more refined sounding with a touch more "air".

Michael7272's Avatar Michael7272 10:59 AM 08-12-2002
Has anyone auditioned the TAG DVD32R? I have only read reviews in British magazines and they love it? I have audition the Meridian 598 DVD/CD using Aragon 28K pre-amp and 8008ST amp & Revel speakers and as of today it is the next DVD/CD player I get. I truely loved it.
Andy Lammer's Avatar Andy Lammer 05:47 PM 08-12-2002
Some others to add to your list:

Linn CD12
DCS Purcell + Elgar
Audio Aero Capitle MKII
Electrocompanient EMC-1 MKII

I use an Altis CDT-3 -> DCS Purcell upsampler -> Wadia 27ix DAC and am exceptionally happy with this mixture of gear.
Also, try and give the Chord DAC-64 a listen.

- Andy
Martin Butler's Avatar Martin Butler 06:15 PM 08-12-2002
Currently the best I have heard is the Verdi by DCS, coupled with their upsampler and DAC. Most of the suggestions here are good ones.
clau's Avatar clau 07:01 PM 08-12-2002
I read that the Sony DVP-NS900V is an excellent CD player, as well as a DVD and an SACD player. Don't let the low price ($600) scare you. Sony makes some of the best transports in the world.

Topanga's Avatar Topanga 09:40 PM 08-12-2002
I had an A/B today with Audio Research CD 3 and the Ayre CX 7. I thought the Ayre was the better of the two. The Ayre was tighter in the bass and very clean and detailed in the upper frequencies. The Audio Research had a good soundstage and very strong in the bass. The image was good on both but more forward on the ARC, I like a deeper image. Overall both are good units but the Ayre had more definition and realism.

Kris Keen's Avatar Kris Keen 07:31 PM 09-19-2002
What are the thoughts on a Meridan 506 18bit machine? As apposed to say a Rega Planet & Arcam CD72?
Joel Blom's Avatar Joel Blom 09:08 PM 09-21-2002
If you like the Ayre, you owe it to yourself to listen to the Muse machine. It too, is based on a DVD player and is highly configurable. Kevin Halverson (en?) is heavily involved in the recording industry and does demos with Chesky. His players are excellent and less costly than Ayre.

Happy hunting.

blw's Avatar blw 04:33 AM 09-22-2002
I have heard the Oracle, and it sounds nice, but in this league it is nothing special. Frankly, the Arcam FMJ23 sounded at least as good to me, and for about half the price. And come to think of it, I have heard your AR unit - the Arcam had a better image, and probably was a bit more detailed. However, before you take that to the bank, I'll note that the rest of the configurations were nothing alike, so it's possible that it wasn't the CDP at all. (AR: MartinLogan Prodigy, AR Ref-2 preamp, some big Krell power amp. The Arcam had Magnepan 3.6Rs, CJ LS16 line stage and CJ MV60 power.)

Incidently, I don't own any of these units.
hificanuck's Avatar hificanuck 11:59 AM 09-22-2002
Rick, I would definately add the Sonic Frontiers line to your list of auditions. Although they are not made anymore the parent company is still alive and well (Anthem products) and they do support the Sonic line.
These are tubed peices and can be had for a fraction of what they sold for new.
I've owned a Line 1 pre, best peice of audio gear I've had and regretted selling it ever since.
I've heard the Transport 3(Iris) and matching processor 3 and have wanted one ever since. They are still way out of my league though.
As far as the Classe Omega is concerned I just had a demo the other day and was BLOWN away. If coin was no object I'd definately give this an audition...
My thoughts
Rachael Bellomy's Avatar Rachael Bellomy 02:57 PM 09-22-2002
I'd get the Sony 777ES so you can embrace SACD software too. It's an awesome CD player too. I have the 555ES SACD player and it's really good, but I know somebody who has the 777, it is the thing to get. I wish I had one!
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