I'd go current or 1-2 yrs old.
You might also want to consider going to computer audio with something like a Mac Mini as a transport to a newish DAC...
Current $2k player will come with a warranty, and 99.9% of all listeners won't be able to hear a difference between the "expensive and new" player and the "absurdly expensive and used" player.
The other .1% are reviewers, delusional, or more likely both. ;)
I would and did go with an older more expensive CD player. After much research I decided to go with an Audio Research CD3 MKII and I am very pleased with the sound and build quality.
Regarding PS Audio Perfect Wave, I have no experience with the DAC. The PWT I own and know well. There are several past threads where PWT users compared them to their older expensive/highly rated transports, most found the PWT a definite step above once broken-in.
The PWT has been sincerely wonderful in my experience.
Everyone will have their opinion, but mine is that many recent DACs and CD players, especially the more entry level ones, have become more and more lean and detailed whereas many older ones are often richer and more "musical". The technology has changed but so has the desired sound. So, I would think about what sound you want and then go from there.
Get the sony 5400, new, and you are set for another five years.
I completely agree w/ Dtc. My experience is that the newer players (and DACs) are more revealing and offer "features" which accommodate computer inputs. However, from a listening "experience" standpoint, many 5 yr old (or even older) digital sources sound better to my ears. For example, I owned a Berkeley DAC a few months ago (also a W4S DAC 2). It was very good but I prefer such older classics as the Museatex Bidat, Camelot Uther, Audiomeca Enkianthus, Audio Aero Capitole, Accuphase DP75V. To me, the older units are more enjoyable (musical) -- the midrange is simply more fleshed out and solid - top end is less bright. Again, this is simply my experience.
Jeffga and Dtc I hear you both. Although I can't comment so much on older units I can equate this to some of the newer ones I have listened to lately including the Oppo 95, W4S2 and MHDT Havana with a Eastern Electric Minimax DAC Plus on the way. Both the Oppo and Wired for Sound are more similar than different but both are very good and you have to look at these in the context of their price and the ESS Saber 9018 chip they both use which provides the extra detail that is quite notable compared to the Havana. The NOS Havana DOES have the richness, timbre and musical involvement than either the W4S or Oppo but LACKS the detail and frequency extension. My preference for any of the three is dependent on the music. The SACD presentation of the Oppo is astounding for orchestral and piano music at this price point along with everything else it offers and I would say it is an amazing value HOWEVER it does sound somewhat lean with small ensemble and vocal music which I am currently trying to ameliorate with cabling and tweeking with varying success. BTW, it is still breaking in. The reason I ordered the Eastern Electric, which also uses the 9018 chip is that it has both the tube and op-amp output with separate power supplies. The S/N ratio has been improved dramatically which should bring its performance up a notch or two, I haven't heard the original but it seems to be widely regarded at the lower end of the spectrum. I'm hoping the plus will provide the richness of the Havana, another great bargain in my estimation, and the resolution and frequency extension of the others = "musicality", we shall see. What I do find exciting is that low cost digital is closing the gap and I expect within a very short time this will become less an issue.
You may want to research the Metrum Octave DAC as an example of a very modern NOS DAC that seemingly combines organic/natural sound with high resolution and superior frequency extention.
Thanks for the info Charles1dad. Have you listened to the Metrum or is your interest based on the reviews or what you might have heard through the grapevine? It sounds quite interesting.
I have`nt heard it, I ordered one based on 6 moons.com review and the multiple mentions/comparisions in other reviews on that site.My track record with highly impressive reviews per Srajan are spot on so far. In this case there`s no where to hear the Metrum that I`m aware of.
I purchased my Yamamoto DAC the same way and it`s absolutely fine.It seems the Metrum Octave is an improvement over the yammy.
Please keep us posted Charles1dad, I am interested in your impressions. At these price points and the lack of ability to audition all the inexpensive DACs it seems there is little recourse than going the "buy and listen" route.
Looks like the Metrum Octave does not do 24/192, which is disappointing. 24/176 is not a generally available resolution. Sounds like it could be a great piece, but it would be nice if it did 24/192, as more and more downloads are available at that resolution. Just a minor nit.
There are always exceptions but in general with anything digital/computer based, you are almost always better of going with more recent technology than old at any particular price point.
Why? Because digital computer technology continues to improve all the time and will continue to do so for the indefinite future. Just look around you at most any consumer electronic device today and that much is apparent.
One thing that all these dac's should have but don't is a phase inversion option. It is also a reason I was attracted to the Minidac Plus. The W4S 2 has this as well.
I am in total agreement with Jeffga and Dtc. Based on many comments in the past that a new unit will blow away an old unit , I have tried several new units in the past two years and such is not the case. I think the power supply is a key element to the sound quality and newer chips are more detailed and less musical. I recently ordered the Sony xa5400 which is rated A+ in stereophile. My Anthem CD changer is getting old in the tooth and I use it as a transport to a modified Lite Dac60. The Anthem/Lite combo is more musical, more fleshed out and more dynamic. Even using the Sony as a transport, I still prefer the sound of the Anthem as a transport. Hard to believe but true. I am very dissapointed with the outcome as I like the smooth silent operation of the Sony + the 5 year warranty versus the clunky audible operation of the Anthem. PS, for the Sony lovers I have over 400 hours on it and the clouds have not parted yet. Maybe the latest batch is missing the magic?
There's as many answers as there are combinations. My old Theta David transport completely shamed my current OPPO BDP-83. If it didn't burn through laser transports every few years at a very high price, I would still have it.
for me...newer stuff. mainly due to changes in hi-res playback as well as pc audio.
btw....the psa pwt/pwd (and bridge) rock!
tubegroover...the psa pwd has phase inversion adjustment. as a side note, also has some interesting (to me at least) filters as well.
Tubegroover and others who might be interested in the Octave (as I am): There has been quite some talk about it over at computeraudiophile.com DACs forum. Member bhobba has one (as well as several other well regarded DACs). There are several mentions to it too on other threads in that forum. Seems very interesting.
I am looking forward to Charles1dad views too.
I have been doing a bit of research on this DAC. Yesterday I e-mailed Cees Ruijtenberg the designer. Lead time is 8-10 weeks. The review in 6 moons conveys a real sense of the characteristics of this DAC which in many ways seems similar to the Havana, reading between the lines. I do expect however that it may be a bit more resolving but I'm not sure of Sarajan's experience with NOS dacs as the unfatiguing nature of this 16-24 bit approach without the upsampling/oversampling seems intrinsic. The problem with the Oppo and W4S is precisely the fact that at times they DO bring attention to what they ARE and NOT doing rather than keeping me relaxed and simply enjoying the music as the Havana is so completely able to do. There is a softer texture without leading edges becoming overemphasised yet it IS resolving, a simple design approach, less is more. The differences at times are subtle but over time they affect the overall listening experience and enjoyment factor. Having said that, I do recognize the things that the ESS Saber chip is bringing to the table, the ambient information and low level detail in particular and it sure would be nice to find a budget product that does both which it seems the Metrum might be the one. Preferences for any of these budget DACs/CD players are going to be contingent on system balance and listening preferences more than any one being a standout performer across the board at this price point. I am going to hold back a bit on the Metrum until I get further impressions from other opinions I respect including Charles1dad but I sure am tempted! I am hoping the Eastern Electric, expected this coming week, will fill in the gap and maybe even "blow me away". In the meantime I am quite happy with the Havana as it is the first digital device I have ever owned that I can listen to and relax in the same manner as vinyl yet clearly recognizing the differences.
I hear you. Moreover, I'm basically on your same camp. I figure from your user name you are a tube person, and I also have a tube pre and amp.
Also waiting for further user impressions. One thing to note is that it has been noted this DAC needs high rez data be fed to it to sound best and be able to output both smoothness and detail. That means it would unlikely be a good partner with a CD transport, unless one likes the typical NOS DAC sound signature.
BTW, the EE Plus is also intriguing to me, so please post your impressions when it suits.
My impression of the Metrum per Srajan`s review and comparision with the APL NWO-M,TotalDAC etc. was based on redbook 16/44.1 playback(CD disc). He certainly did approved of it`s Hi-RES performance with the April Music U3 also.In his 2nd opinion article on the TotalDAC with it`s multiple DAC comparisons, I believe these were conducted in redbook native rate format,
I asked Srajan his opinion regarding Metrum`s performance with standard redbook CD.I received an email from Srajan this morning. He`s aware of the internet "buzz" saying the Metrum is only good with up sampled rate/high RES files. He completely disagrees and said it`s just fine with 16/44.1 signal. Traditional CD transports will be fine.