Add a DAC or buy a new CD player?

I currently have a Rotel 855 and am looking to upgrade. I plan to spend less than $1500. Am I better off adding a DAC or buying a new one-box player?
You should wait until digital war is over, if you can't wait to improve you system till then you should try some good 24/96 dac like MSB latest version or the more exp like Bel Canto or just go ahead get those DVD player. That's just my op.
upgrade your preamp by $1500 - it will give ewe the best overall sonic improvement, imho. go w/a tubed unit. it will also have the added benefits of improving any other sources you may be using. going from a linn kairn to a melos music director mad a *big* improvement to all my sources, especially cd. w/this unit, i could discern no differences between my $500 nad cd-changer, & a $1700 alchemist cd player. my brother-in-law noticed only miniscule changes when going from the alchemist cd player to a resolution audio cd-50, but *huge* changes when going from his alchemist preamp to an a-r ls-16. doug
Hi Kadlec, I agree with Sedond. A good pre is a must if you want to get the most out of your digital. If you are going to use a pre-amp everything is going thru it so it only makes since to use a good one. Right on Sedond.
I left out two bits of info in my original question. I have a pretty good preamp (classe 6) and a large collection of 16-bit cds.
Get a MSB Link DAC. The new version III can be upgraded with a simple add on board later to future standards. Or pick up the original Link I cheaper. The Link II I beleve can be upgraded, but only by the company?? There is also a Cambridge Audio S700 DAC for auction on this site by some dealer. It has a DAC-7 converter and HDCD. Is also its own issolation platform. Don't know his reserve, list is $600.
hi kadlec, i also had a *pretty good* preamp - the linn kairn, w/its latest iteration of the switchmode power-supply, is no slouch. but, it *is* solid-state. i think digital needs tubes. rogue audio 99 preamp (if your amps' input impedence is high enuff), cary slp98, melos ma-333/music director, or melos sha gold/reference/maestro, would *all* give ya better sound/dollar than your classe w/upgraded cd, imho. (these are yust the ones *i've* personally heard). all the above can be had for less than $2k, the sha gold, for less than $1k. all are also f/s here, & on other classified audio sites, btw... doug
Idisagree about the preamp. if your source is not as good or better than the preamp you may feel the CD is letting you down with it's then more noticable grainyness/artifacts. I WOULD get a new CD PLAYER as the "jitter" issue in separates makes them a much more expensive proposition for the same quality of a current CD player. The Stereophile rec the Adcom 750 at (new price increase) $1400 or the Rotel at $1300. (The Rotel is soon to be discontinued, and the Adcom has a RCA digital input) I personally find digital sources need to be of a higher standard than the rest of the system to be listenable. A cheaper CD in a killer system is worse than death... it's torture.
I'd pick up a used Sonic Frontiers TranDac, I got one for $100. Then, go tubes in the pre
I agree on the cd player. Whenever I put my cheap cd player into a system, it ruins it. You can just hear it's signature digital harshness through the whole system. I have owned the adcom 750, and I think it's a good player. You can get one for $750 ish. A better player is the Sony XA7ES which has high quality variable outs thus bypassing the need (and versatility) of a preamp. You can find these for $1300 or so. I think you have to get into the $2000+ dac territory to beat it. A third approach would to buy an older, high quality DAC such as the meridian 203 (seen for $195). These had 1991 era digital circuits, but very good analog outputs. My baseless personal opinion is that a high quality analog section is worth more than the latest digital circuitry. Has anyone compared the new msb's with an older, high end dac ?
i guess ewe yust have to try for yourself - my experience, & that of my brother-in-law, are prety much opposite that of john & elizabeth. w/a nice tube preamp, the difference between $500 cd-changers up to $3500 cd players are nominal, & the $500 cd player w/toob preamp is much nicer than the $3500 cd-player & nice solid-state preamp. oh well... ;~) doug
Is Rotel replace their cd player with new model ?? Elizabeth ?? I am on going to buy one, please e-mail me !!
I really like my Bel Canto DAC1. Check out these reviews, I think they might answer your questions. Good Luck,Charlie
My situation mirrors yours, and the advice of Elizabeth et al is pertinent. MY Rotel 855 sounds wonderfully rhythmic and taut with my new high-rez (Pass Aleph P) preamp, but woefully grainy and etched on top. My first demo of the BelCanto w/DVD was better, but ultimately flawed by a perceived upward spectral tilt and "whitishness". So I'm chasing a more highly-resolved CDP that doesn't lack pace (like the ARCAM), nor sounds uptilted. My rack (nor wallet) can't support the Electrocompaniet, so.... Philc: dealer told me the Rotel 991 (adjustable dither, $1300) is discontinued, NOT the whole line. I'm on the waiting list for the new Millenium DAC2, but my patience is waning.... (Oh...Kadlec: several years ago my 855's motor failed. Factory-rep service here in MA (EQUITY) replaced analog op-amp with one from the current series, a cap, AND the motor for $90 total. The top end and was clearly more resolved...but, again, consequently grainier. It was an easy mod, and satisfactory until this recent system upgrade.) I found the YBA-designed ARC CDP to be a smooth compromise for $700--not reference quality, but especially good at taming bright commercial CDs while retaining musicality. Good Luck! Ernie
hey, soobieguru, there's a melos maestro reference preamp f/s by melos audio restorations (the *new* melos company) on audioreview for $1k - i bet it'll tame the digital-nasties of yer rotel better than yer pass aleph p does, and no resolution/detail penalty... doug
Although a good pre amp would be nice, the biggest improvement for your $1500 budget would be to buy one of the many excellent dacs for $1000 or less, such as EVS Millenium, Birdland Odeon Lite, Bel Canto Dac1 (used), or even modified MSB Link Dac. One of these dacs is far superior to any Rotel CDP dac. Preamp cannot "improve" the signal it is fed, the quality and design of your dac to accurately read and remove distortion from the digital signal is what makes the best CDPs sound more natural, this is where you should concentrate, Sam
hi megasam, i don't disagree w/your opinion, but i guess i tink that w/a $500 cd-player, ya got about 95% of what cd has to offer - that last 5% is *way* too expensive, until ya get closer to 95% w/a preamp - ymmv. regards, doug
Thanks for the tip, Doug, but I'm way too concerned about compromising the Aleph's superb synergy with my Aleph 2s to try that Muse. I tend to agree with Sam that I (and the thread-head) should concentrate on cleaning up the front end; I'm about to try one of Caterham's Neuance isolation platforms to see if I can clean up the top octaves a bit. (The guy who is Virtual Mode uses a damped Rotel as his reference front end for passive pre development...sheesh!'s hard to know who to believe. I'll let you know what the platform does compared to an air bladder I'm currently using. Cheers.
Sounds like this guy needs a Res.Audio 50, 1500 used and skip the preamp.Sell the old unit;still close to budget.
If the money is burning a hole in your pocket you can get the Sony SACD 777 for about $1600, but you probably already know this. You can get some $$ for your Rotel and save on digital cable. I own it and it is good. But if the curiosity of SACD has not affected you (software selection sucks)save your money. Ric's new EVS DAC is about $800 and will likely be the one to beat, but there is a waiting list. There is no need to spend more. Had the MSB ($300!) and i was extremely pleased with it. Don't buy that highly modified MSB for over $1200! If I was to do it over I would still have my basic MSB and then get the DAC from Ric when it is available.
Keep things simple...since you already are familiar with Rotel find a new or used Rotel RCD is very overlooked player! Try and invest the majority of your budget towards your source....most people like me find this out the hard way. The 991 is way better than the similarily priced Adcom and is on par with the Arcam 9 and Cal players (at a much cheaper price). No pre-amp = less dynamics/less low level resolution in my experience, but it is a matter of taste, budget, and opinion. Good luck!
E-mail me, and I will provide you with information that will get you a digital front end that will out perform anything under $5000.00...for less than $1500.00...really!