CD player with the best sound quality under $500 - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 27 Old 01-24-2019, 11:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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CD player with the best sound quality under $500

Looking for a CD player with audiophile sound quality for under $500. Need recommendations. Thank you for your time.
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post #2 of 27 Old 01-25-2019, 03:43 AM
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Originally Posted by RadiantHT View Post
Looking for a CD player with audiophile sound quality for under $500. Need recommendations. Thank you for your time.
I have not tried any of these, I'm just suggesting you may want to read up on these. The Denon DCD-800NE, and the Marantz CD6006. Is SACD something you might want to listen to? If so, I'd give some thought to the Sony UBP-x1000es. It's a universal 4k blu ray player being able to play sacd and dvd-a. It has two channel analog out as well as hdmi out and plays most audio file formats from usb devices with an available app for navigating the device. If it's just cd, the marantz or denon may be your best bet. The marantz has limited file type playback from usb, the denon plays flac, wav, and DSD from usb. The Sony bests them both from usb file playback, but again for disc spinning just CDs the denon or marantz would be your best bet. Head over to crutchfield, all three players as well as others have a multitude of user reviews to read through.
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post #3 of 27 Old 01-25-2019, 07:43 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I will do some research on all of the aforementioned options above. Thank you so much for your recommendations.
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post #4 of 27 Old 01-25-2019, 08:07 AM
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Originally Posted by RadiantHT View Post
Looking for a CD player with audiophile sound quality for under $500. Need recommendations. Thank you for your time.
can't speak for the marantz or Denon but I picked up an Emotive ER-C3 a few months back and its been great so far. Built like a tank with balanced outputs if that important to you. Good DAC if using the analog outputs. It was between this and the CD6006 Marantz for me.
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post #5 of 27 Old 01-25-2019, 12:55 PM
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Here is a link to my in-home tests of several CD players:

https://www.avsforum.com/forum/173-2...l#post55187756

Note that the Tascam CD-200 has had Bluetooth added and is now called the CD-200BT:

https://www.amazon.com/Tascam-CD-200...%2BCD-200&th=1

Also, Yamaha and NAD offer players in your price range. Here is a link to Crutchfield:

https://www.crutchfield.com/g_53100/...ers.html?&pg=2
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post #6 of 27 Old 01-29-2019, 01:19 PM
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The Marantz CD6006 generally gets great reviews for sound quality, though is reported to have some buggy transport issues. I have the SA8005 and many have said that for regular CD playback, the CD6006 is virtually indistinguishable, which is high praise because the SA8005 is an outstanding sounding regular CD player.
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post #7 of 27 Old 01-30-2019, 05:29 AM
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Originally Posted by RWetmore View Post
The Marantz CD6006 generally gets great reviews for sound quality, though is reported to have some buggy transport issues. I have the SA8005 and many have said that for regular CD playback, the CD6006 is virtually indistinguishable, which is high praise because the SA8005 is an outstanding sounding regular CD player.
I have both the CD6006 and the SA8005, in different systems. The SA8005 is outstanding, much better than the Onkyo SACD player it replaced. The CD6006 is nearly as good. Both use Outstanding DACs. The front USB can be connected to an iPhone, and the resulting audio playback quality is very good to my ears.

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post #8 of 27 Old 01-31-2019, 11:52 AM
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Panasonic 4K UHD DMP-UB900. Refurb, used, maybe under your budget now.

Stereo and 7.1-channel analog outputs, with 32-bit/192 kHz DACs.

No SACD, DVD Audio.

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post #9 of 27 Old 02-10-2019, 02:06 PM
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Originally Posted by RadiantHT View Post
Looking for a CD player with audiophile sound quality for under $500. Need recommendations. Thank you for your time.
Any well made modern CD player should be indistinguishable from any other similar modern CD player, irrespective of manufacturer.
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post #10 of 27 Old 02-10-2019, 05:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Graustark View Post
Any well made modern CD player should be indistinguishable from any other similar modern CD player, irrespective of manufacturer.
Do you mean when used as a digital transport or are you saying that the internal DAC doesn’t matter also?
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post #11 of 27 Old 02-10-2019, 06:01 PM
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Do you mean when used as a digital transport or are you saying that the internal DAC doesn’t matter also?

The internal DAC should not sound different. (The transport shouldn't sound different either, with a buffer downstream.)
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post #12 of 27 Old 02-10-2019, 06:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Graustark View Post
The internal DAC should not sound different. (The transport shouldn't sound different either, with a buffer downstream.)
Oh, I didn’t know that. I am also in the market so that is good info to know because there are a lot of confusing options with a lot of focus on DAC marketing.
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post #13 of 27 Old 02-10-2019, 06:36 PM
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Oh, I didn’t know that. I am also in the market so that is good info to know because there are a lot of confusing options with a lot of focus on DAC marketing.
DACs certainly can measure differently, but the differences are nearly always way below the threshold of your hearing. Standalone DACs may have different features you want (e.g., types of inputs, types of outputs).
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post #14 of 27 Old 02-10-2019, 06:50 PM
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Oh, I didn’t know that. I am also in the market so that is good info to know because there are a lot of confusing options with a lot of focus on DAC marketing.
Please take a look at my tests linked in Post 5.

Music room: Cary SLI-80 tube integrated amplifier, McIntosh MA6500 integrated amplifier, Quad 99 preamp, Quad 909 power amp, Acoustic Research AR9 loudspeakers, Yamaha CD-N500 CD player, Teac UD-503 DSD DAC, Phase Linear 8000II linear-tracking turntable.
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post #15 of 27 Old 02-12-2019, 01:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Graustark View Post
Any well made modern CD player should be indistinguishable from any other similar modern CD player, irrespective of manufacturer.

This has not been the case in my experience. Of course, they sound far more alike than different. What a better player and DAC generally provides is better, richer tone quality and usually smoother, less harsh high frequencies (and often supposedly lower jitter). How sensitive one is to these differences (if at all sensitive) varies from person to person.
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post #16 of 27 Old 02-12-2019, 02:54 PM
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Originally Posted by RWetmore View Post
This has not been the case in my experience. Of course, they sound far more alike than different. What a better player and DAC generally provides is better, richer tone quality and usually smoother, less harsh high frequencies (and often supposedly lower jitter). How sensitive one is to these differences (if at all sensitive) varies from person to person.
There's one way to prove that. For now, it's just a claim.
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post #17 of 27 Old 02-12-2019, 03:37 PM
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There's one way to prove that. For now, it's just a claim.
For the record, another claim here.

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post #18 of 27 Old 02-12-2019, 04:14 PM
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For the record, another claim here.
Okay. Two claims, no proof.


Look, audioland has always been populated by many who claim to hear differences. I used to be one. But there's one way to actually prove differences.
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post #19 of 27 Old 02-12-2019, 11:01 PM
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Originally Posted by RWetmore View Post
This has not been the case in my experience. Of course, they sound far more alike than different. What a better player and DAC generally provides is better, richer tone quality and usually smoother, less harsh high frequencies (and often supposedly lower jitter). How sensitive one is to these differences (if at all sensitive) varies from person to person.
How can this possibly be true? Do some CD players make the ones more one-ish, and the zeros more zero-ish?
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post #20 of 27 Old 02-12-2019, 11:13 PM
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Please take a look at my tests linked in Post 5.
I looked at your "tests". As near as I can tell, they were not done blinded, let alone double-blinded. Nor do you appear to have level-matched the DUTs. From all I can tell, you listened to different CD players, and decided certain ones had better sound than others. If I am wrong, post your methodology and testing protocol. Otherwise, all you've done is give an opinion, unsupported by evidence.



Would you take a drug this way? "I tried Placebenol, and noticed my cancer seemed to gain a certain piquancy. But those orange pills I used in a subsequent test gave a real sense of 'oomph', meaning they were hitting the cancer harder"? Seriously?



Audio is science and engineering. In science, only double-blind testing is called "the gold standard". This is why drug companies and virtually every other field of scientific endeavor requires DBT.



I'm only saying all this because you invited it. I am not trying to be smarmy or pompous. But there is a way to determine audible differences, and sitting around conducting sighted listening "tests" isn't it. By all means, buy or listen to whatever you want. But if you are going to claim one CD player sounds "better" than another, expect that claim to be challenged because you have failed to support it with valid evidence.
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post #21 of 27 Old 02-13-2019, 05:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Graustark View Post
I looked at your "tests". As near as I can tell, they were not done blinded, let alone double-blinded. Nor do you appear to have level-matched the DUTs. From all I can tell, you listened to different CD players, and decided certain ones had better sound than others. If I am wrong, post your methodology and testing protocol. Otherwise, all you've done is give an opinion, unsupported by evidence.

Would you take a drug this way? "I tried Placebenol, and noticed my cancer seemed to gain a certain piquancy. But those orange pills I used in a subsequent test gave a real sense of 'oomph', meaning they were hitting the cancer harder"? Seriously?

Audio is science and engineering. In science, only double-blind testing is called "the gold standard". This is why drug companies and virtually every other field of scientific endeavor requires DBT.

I'm only saying all this because you invited it. I am not trying to be smarmy or pompous. But there is a way to determine audible differences, and sitting around conducting sighted listening "tests" isn't it. By all means, buy or listen to whatever you want. But if you are going to claim one CD player sounds "better" than another, expect that claim to be challenged because you have failed to support it with valid evidence.

You obviously are unfamiliar with my many posts on AVS advocating DBTs for comparing audio components and my experience in such testing, which goes back to the early 1980s. I am also quite familiar with the value and limits of blind testing. But I do not have the time to fill you in on years of posts.

I also do not appreciate your lecturing me on science. I am a career university science editor and have edited and published more scientific studies than I can remember, including many with medical DBT language development, usage, and findings.

You are extremely late to a discussion that has been beaten to death on this website. No, you did not need to "challenge" me. My descriptions of sonic performance were very specific and not pulled out of thin air. I gave my opinions. The stated opinions were based on thorough and careful listening using the same recordings multiple times for every player. There is no requirement for me or anyone else here to provide proof. Audiophiles and hobbyists in general come here to share their experiences with products without your requirement that stringent DBTs be conducted prior to posting. Your "challenge" is ludicrous and annoying. I will assume you do not conduct rigorous DBTs at home every time you purchase an audio component. Nobody else here does either. Please drop the "challenge" nonsense.
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post #22 of 27 Old 02-13-2019, 06:14 PM
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You obviously are unfamiliar with my many posts on AVS advocating DBTs for comparing audio components and my experience in such testing, which goes back to the early 1980s. I am also quite familiar with the value and limits of blind testing. But I do not have the time to fill you in on years of posts.

I also do not appreciate your lecturing me on science. I am a career university science editor and have edited and published more scientific studies than I can remember, including many with medical DBT language development, usage, and findings.

You are extremely late to a discussion that has been beaten to death on this website. No, you did not need to "challenge" me. My descriptions of sonic performance were very specific and not pulled out of thin air. I gave my opinions. The stated opinions were based on thorough and careful listening using the same recordings multiple times for every player. There is no requirement for me or anyone else here to provide proof. Audiophiles and hobbyists in general come here to share their experiences with products without your requirement that stringent DBTs be conducted prior to posting. Your "challenge" is ludicrous and annoying. I will assume you do not conduct rigorous DBTs at home every time you purchase an audio component. Nobody else here does either. Please drop the "challenge" nonsense.
So sorry to offend you. I will take your word for your knowledge and background. (I do not have the time to go back through all those posts either.)


But what is more mystifying is your claim that, being as well-trained and educated in science as you are (and which I have no reason to doubt) that you would post something that involved your opinions after sighted testing. And that you claim to be able to detect sonic differences after such sighted testing.


Frankly, I've never read anyone who has such a background as yours express such abilities through sighted testing. However, as a scientist, you should also know that your post invited my response.


Nor am I impressed with your huffy response. You kinda asked for it, dude.
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post #23 of 27 Old 02-13-2019, 06:46 PM
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So sorry to offend you. I will take your word for your knowledge and background. (I do not have the time to go back through all those posts either.)

But what is more mystifying is your claim that, being as well-trained and educated in science as you are (and which I have no reason to doubt) that you would post something that involved your opinions after sighted testing. And that you claim to be able to detect sonic differences after such sighted testing.

Frankly, I've never read anyone who has such a background as yours express such abilities through sighted testing. However, as a scientist, you should also know that your post invited my response.

Nor am I impressed with your huffy response. You kinda asked for it, dude.
I did not ask for it, dude. Stop the trolling.

I will respond briefly: DBTs are utilized to determine if one can find an audible sonic difference between components. Long-term sighted testing is used to obtain the many sonic characteristics of a component. The latter is the only way fully flesh out what a component sounds like.

How do you evaluate components at home? Do you conduct rigorous DBTs for every purchase? Which specific brands and models have you tested via DBT at home?
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Theater room: Panasonic 65S60 plasma television; Yamaha RX-A2020 (preamp section); Adcom GFA-5503 and GFA-5400 amplifiers; Polk LSi25, LSiC, and LSiF/X loudspeaker system; Velodyne FSR-18 servo-subwoofer.
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post #24 of 27 Old 02-13-2019, 06:51 PM
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I did not ask for it, dude. Stop the trolling.

I will respond briefly: DBTs are utilized to determine if one can find an audible sonic difference between components. Long-term sighted testing is used to obtain the many sonic characteristics of a component. The latter is the only way fully flesh out what a component sounds like.

How do you evaluate components at home? Do you conduct rigorous DBTs for every purchase? Which specific brands and models have you tested via DBT at home?
Don't sonic characteristics contribute to "differences"?


You appear to like science when it suits you, but to rely on your golden ears to confirm your prejudices and preconceptions.


Anyway, we're done here. Life's too short. And I wasn't trolling you. Life's much too short for that.
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Originally Posted by Graustark View Post
Don't sonic characteristics contribute to "differences"?

You appear to like science when it suits you, but to rely on your golden ears to confirm your prejudices and preconceptions.

Anyway, we're done here. Life's too short. And I wasn't trolling you. Life's much too short for that.
Your first sentence above makes it obvious you do not know the basics of a DBT's usefulness and its limitations.

I do not like science only when it suits me, nor do I have prejudices and preconceptions.

It is noted that you prefer to not answer my questions about how you evaluate components at home.

I am done here as well.

Music room: Cary SLI-80 tube integrated amplifier, McIntosh MA6500 integrated amplifier, Quad 99 preamp, Quad 909 power amp, Acoustic Research AR9 loudspeakers, Yamaha CD-N500 CD player, Teac UD-503 DSD DAC, Phase Linear 8000II linear-tracking turntable.
Theater room: Panasonic 65S60 plasma television; Yamaha RX-A2020 (preamp section); Adcom GFA-5503 and GFA-5400 amplifiers; Polk LSi25, LSiC, and LSiF/X loudspeaker system; Velodyne FSR-18 servo-subwoofer.

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post #26 of 27 Old 02-15-2019, 05:26 PM
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I've recently kind of fallen down the DAC hole. I'm by no means an audiophile. I just like playing with the toys, but I prucheased some, what were $1,000+ universal players when they came out, used off of eBay to mess around with, a Denon 2900 (which is nice, but I don't think ever considered a super good player) and a Pioneer DV-79avi (which has or had quite the following) and I can't tell the difference between them going into my integrated stereo amp (or older Sony STR DA 777 ES receiver for that matter) via optical (using the amps DAC) or analog (using the players DAC). It is nice being able to use the treble/bass/balance/loudness dials on the integrated stereo amp, though. I also recently bought an external DAC to use with a headphone amp, but hooked it up to the integrated stereo amp via both universal players, toggled back an forth between every listening option possible (analog, digital, 'pure direct' mode on amp on then off, etc. etc.) and did not notice any differences. The external DAC is a $100 Topping D30 which is pretty popular for offerings in its price range. I read somewhere that whatever chip is in it is also used by Marantz in an $800 CD player. The only real difference in sound I noticed was on the actual CDs. Some SACD songs sounded better than others. Some well recorded CD albums sound better than others. I tried comparing Pink Floyd's DSOTM 2011 Discovery Remaster CD against the original master recording gold CD and possibly noticed some differences. I also tried listening to Pink Floyds Wish You Were Here album that was recorded from Vinyl in high-res vs. standard CD and there was a difference, but I don't if it was for better or worse. Who knows! The general consensus that I've been told (and don't hold me to this ..I'm actually interested in what others have to say about this) is to use the most modern DAC in your setup. I'm actually listening to Pink Floyd now from Spotify on an Xbox via optical cable into integrated stereo amp and I can't say that I'd be able to tell the difference in sound vs. a CD if I just walked into the room and didn't know what source it was coming from.
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post #27 of 27 Old 02-22-2019, 01:35 PM
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I have a Cambridge Audio CD10. It retails for about $399 in Canada so I am sure it is cheaper in the U.S. It is a really high quality CD player but does not have a USB drive input and it won't play SACD. But for CD's it sounds great. It has a high quality wolfson DAC and is a very sold player with metal housing. Not much plastic on it.
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