Originally Posted by Scotth3886
I had similar surprise. As a new subscriber to Tidal I of course wanted to be able to use MQA so I bought a Dragonfly Red for my laptop. Things were fine at first, but as time wore on it started to annoy me a bit. I had an over etched or hard quality on transients of certain instruments. Since I have three USB ports on the laptop I ran another USB cable to also use the DAC in the Hegel, which is known to be an excellent one. That made it real easy to compare back and forth between the two DACS and yep, they sound different using Tidal HiFi version of the same material with the advantage going to the Hegel. So I have a choice of the Hegel DAC using HiFi or the Dragonfly Red using MQA (when available). The HiFi using the Hegel DAC sounds better. I guess this means an external pricey DAC to decode MQA that's better than the Dragonfly Red, which I didn't really want to do. Probably should wait to see if MQA lasts more than a few months.
I had a busy summer trying to improve CD playback in my music room. I purchased four CD players (Marantz SA8005 and CD6006, Tascam CD-200, and Yamaha CD-N500) and one transport (Cambridge CXC). All had distinctive sonic personalities.
The most costly unit, the Marantz SA8005 SACD/CD player ($1199), was a big disappointment via its analog outputs (harsh and edgy in the upper midrange). But the same region was nice and smooth from its digital outputs when fed to the Teac UD-503. The Marantz CD6006 sounded identical to the Marantz SA8005 on CDs played from the analog outputs, but was still harsh and edgy when used with the Teac DAC. A Marantz tech told me the two players utilized different transports.
The Cambridge transport ($450), used with the Teac DAC, was the worst of the bunch overall. Very bright and too edgy on brass and strings.
The Tascam sounded excellent via its analog and digital outputs. Smooth, clean, and neutral, and a steal at $250.
The best of all is the Yamaha ($479 from Fry's), which is more detailed than any of the other units, is neutral, provides a big soundstage and separates instruments in their own space like the Marantz players, and is very smooth via both analog and digital outputs. I returned all the other units and kept the Yamaha.
It was a lot of work testing all the players and it cost quite a bit in UPS shipping charges, but was worth the effort.
Time to go--everyone says Thanksgiving dinner is ready.
PS: At another time I will write about my search for better amplification just prior to the CD testing. I auditioned at home three integrated amps and two preamps. The winner by a mile was the Cary SLI-80. It was the only unit that outperformed my McIntosh integrated amp.