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I'm looking for recommendations to improve the quality of my CD sound.


I have a Proceed PMDT with PVP connected via BNC cable to a Proceed AVP for single CD play and the sound is very good. I could swap the BNC cable to a Balanced cable...would that provide much of an improvement in sound quality?


For my CD collection and jukebox play I have 2 Sony CDP-CX555 ES 300 CD changers controlled by an Escient Pro MK-1. A Toslink output from each changer goes to 2 Toslink inputs on an MSB Digital Director. The MSB provides switching of whichever toslink is scanned as "active" and outputs to a single Coaxial digital output which connects to my AVP digital input 4. So far so good. When I want to listen to a CD, I select input 4 and it doesn't matter which changer is playing. The sound is decent but I'd like to improve it if possible.


I've been researching DAC's that would take the Coaxial Digital output from the MSB, upsample it and then output Analog to the AVP. I've checked out the MSB Platinum Link DAC and the Musical Fidelity A324. The MSB would take Coax Digital input and output upsampled 24/176.4 through Balanced Analog into the AVP. The MF A324 would take Coax digital input and output upsampled 24/96 or 192 (they recommend 96 for Sony transports) Coax Analog into the AVP.


Do you think this would provide a major positive impact on sound quality? Which of these 2 DAC's would provide the biggest improvement? Is the MSB Platinum worth the extra $2,500? Is there some other way to improve the sound of CD's in my system?


I also received a recommendation to check out the Tact RCS 2.2X, but better DAC and room correction for $5k seems a little daunting to be honest.


Also, could I improve the CD sound out of the PMDT by running it through the Digital Director and an upsampling DAC too? I guess I'd have to keep a direct digital connection from the PMDT to the AVP for DVD's and surround, but I could adjust my Crestron to select the appropriate AVP input.


Thanks in advance for your thoughts.
 

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It's too bad Matt Nalbandian ( aka mzn50 ) is off vactioning as he could fill you in on his experiences with the PMDT and AVP. But I will fill you in in his absence as I am very familiar with his upgrade trials & tribulations :)


Matt has long ago passed-up using his AVP as a 2-channel pre.

He has been very very happily using a Mark Levinson 380S pre for his 2-channel needs, and using the 380S HT pass-thru feature for his AVP HT needs. I also have a 380S and it is indeed a very fine pre. Matt also recently traded in his AVP for a Lexicon MC-12, which he says is head & shoulders above the AVP, and a Lexicon MC-1 he once had at home for a few weeks. I happen to own an MC-1 and think it is still a very fine HT processor.


Matt is definitely on the DAC or CDP hunt and is considering the new Audio Aero Capitole MK-II and Electrocompanient EMC-1 MK-II CDPs, and/or a Mark Levinson 360S DAC. He currently has the ML 36S DAC.


On the DAC front, I have listened to many of the popular ones at my home recently. I own a Wadia 27ix mated with a DCS Purcell upsampler, but have also had these at home: Chord DAC-64, MSB Platinum Plus, Cary 306/200, Apogee PSX-100, Bel Canto DAC-2. Aside from my Wadia, I liked the Chord DAC-64 easily the best. The MSB is also stellar, but may be a bit "edgy" if the rest of your system is on the "sharp" side. A local friend brought over his new Bel Canto DAC-2, and for the money it is also very very good, and much better than the original DAC-1, which I owned at one point too.


So in a nutshell, the DAC section of your AVP can be easily bested, as can its 2-channel pre section. My guess is that a DAC will yield more bang than a 2 channel pre. At the price level you are considering, a home audition is mandatory, as all this stuff has a different sonic flavour. FWIW, I also have an "inexpensive" Placette passive pre and prefer it over my coslty ML 380S, so you may want to considersomethign along those lines too.


Keep in mind that you can get a used MSB Platinum Plus for under $2500 at used buy & sell sites like http://www.audiogon.com

I also find that digital gear responds very very well to better power cords. My favourite is the Virtual Dynamics Signature power cords, which do great improvements to digital gear. ( My friend was shocked at how much better his Bel Canto DAC-2 improved )


... Lots of upgrade choices out there -> good luck !


- Andy
 
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