tube cd player has tube buffer stage that pleasantly colors signal while one without tube buffer sounds newtral and more accurate.
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There are too many variables involved to form any stereotypical opinions. There are "colored" tube players and there are exceptionally honest and pure sounding tube players. SS players can be colored just as much, just in a different direction/characteristics. I've heard excellent examples of both and poor versions of either. I'd focus on quality of analog circuit, power supply and designer talent/ implementation. In my experience tube-transistor differences seem less with digital sources than with amplifying components.
tube cd player has extra tube buffer. the rest of hardware is just like in ordinary cd player. extra buffer implies to extra circuit elements implies to extra stage in the signal path implies extra colorations.
you can make any cd player with tube output stage. just purchase musical fidelity tube buffer and even pocket cd-player can become tube cd-player.
When inexpensive --- say a $1000-$2500 CD players are compared it is likely that, in general, the tube players will be a tad more rich and lush sounding and perhaps a little less strident (though there will be some exceptions). Once you get to the 3K, 4K... 10K range, sonic differences between CD players will exist but not based upon tube vs. SS at that point. The point is cheap SS electronics are a little thinner sounding and maybe a tad rougher edged than cheap tube sound. Once one transcends the "cheap" range, the SS flaws are much reduced and tube vs. SS (on that basis) becomes a non issue.
last point... tube electronics are tremendously less reliable than are SS electronics. Keep that one in mind. I have owned both and over time favor SS --- blown tubes (and circuits that are damaged when tubes blow) are a pain. That said, the tubes in CD players are far more reliable than amplifier tubes --- so that with CD players reliability is much less an issue. Amps... that is a different story.
I agree with comments that a 'tube' CD player simply adds a tubed buffer stage.
Now all the tube parts costs money, the extra parts and a better transformer for the tube B+ voltage etc.
So the tubed CD player should have to cost more money for equal sound (in theory the added tubes stuff should jack up the price by $300 to $1000 for an 'equal' CD player)
I opted for a separate 'tubed' stage and bought a used VAC Standard four tube preamp for $1500 to use as my 'tube buffer'. Worked out great. And I can use it with an assortment of digital gear. Not stuck in just one CD player!
(I tried a cheap tube buffer which was worthless IMO, Where in comparison the VAC is really a great device)
Sunnyjim, it's not the tubes that prevent "glare," it's the design of the master clock to prevent jitter. Poor jitter control is the primary cause of that "glare" sound produced by CDs.
I'd agree with what Charles1dad stated, which includes the quality and design of the DAC circuitry.
There are "colored" tube players and there are exceptionally honest and pure sounding tube players. SS players can be colored just as much, just in a different direction/characteristics. I've heard excellent examples of both and poor versions of either. I'd focus on quality of analog circuit, power supply and designer talent/ implementation.
It is true that some tube CD players just contain a tube buffer stage. A buffer is an additional circuit that the signal passes through that has no gain or amplification. If that is the case, then adding a separate tube buffer will accomplish the same thing, but requires more interconnects which will also affect the end result. IMHO, if adding a tube buffer results in a more pleasing sound, it's just masking a synergy problem somewhere else in the system.
As far as the Ayon CD-07, it appears that this is not a CD player with an added tube buffer. Their description of the player states Class A tube output stage and no buffers are used in the signal path.
I also agree with Charles1dad's comments, and both of these are excellent players. Provided there is good synergy in the rest of the system, either player should sound good, although likely a little different. My experience with another Ayre player and reviews of the CX-7 is that the sound is not anything close to being laid back. So, if your system is somewhat laid back, the Ayre could definitely add more of a lively sound, however, in another system, as in my experience, it may not suit someone's personal preference.
Thanks to all who have responded. Every comments is excellent and informative as to the differences addressed in the thread.
Tls49, your point about that...."there is good synergy in the rest of the system" though true will play havoc with any selection I make. As it stands, my system is Acoustic Zen Adagios, a Rogue "Sphinx integrated amp" which so far has been just short of spectacular, and the old reliable Rega Apollo. I am currently using speaker cable that I have concluded is just OK made by a company called Rogue which has NO connection to the electronics brand
I have decided to try out Grover Huffman speaker cable. Overall, the system, even when I was using separates before the purchase of the Rogue integrated amp,LEANS toward the bright side but not that much.... A consequence I believe of room acoustics, the glared playback of the Rega Apollo and just possibly the AZ's Adagios use of a 1.5 inch Round RIBBON tweeter with a Kapton membrane. The amalgram of these factors may be creating a less than smooth top end. Therefore, that is why I considered a tube CD player to (as a few members have said) may take off or smooth out the top-end brightness( which is not intolerable at all). Overall, I am also searching for much greater musicality....this has been the goal all along
However, I always liked the looks and tank-like construction of the Ayre CX-7e mp2.
One final, but somewhat off issue point, I have noticed that traditional box speakers which received positive comments about their smooth high end usually incorporate SEAS tweeters,or Spectron tweeters (not sure of this name)which are often modified by the manufacturer.
What makes this brand of tweeter so popular with many high-end box speaker manufacturers in the US and Europe???
sunnyjim, you should also take consideration of what kind of tube you like, I personaly had a Ayon cd-2s player that had four 6h30 tubes in the player, I did not like the 6h30 tubes at all, sounded more like solid state to me, and the sound stage was not deep, or big at all, I Re-purchased another Vincent cd-s7 player for the second time, It is a pure class A out-put player as well, but it is a hybred player consisting two 12ax7 tubes, one 12au7 tube, and one 6z4 tube in the power supply, this player is way better sounding than the Ayon, the sound of real tube magic!, However, The vincent cd-s7 player recently got dis-continued after a 5 year run, Mine is brand new, and I am coming up on 400 hours of burn-in as we speak, 380 currently, the Ayon cd-2s is discontinued now too recently, that player was $6,350.00 retail, The vincent was $2,800. retail, In my opinion, price of a player has little to do with it, It depends on the sound you want, and what's available to tube roll to, If or when you want to roll the tubes, I say this because tube rolling 6h30 tubes does not have as many options to roll to, and if you get the best of 6h30 tubes, for four is like $1,200.00 och!, they still sound like 6h30 tubes!, it's really about preferance, I use a good solid state amp with the tube cd-player to great effect, the question is, do you want emotional musicality, or accuracy etc.., just as charles1dad said, you can get either one of these sounds with tube or solid state players, cheers.
I am in agreement with the comments of Charles and Lowrider above, but Audiolabyrinth has also hit on something very important which is implicit in Charles' comment but should be stated explicitly. It certainly helps to know what you like and dislike in output tubes.
Personally, I have never heard a solid state CD player that presented music with proper sophistication in the upper harmonics. That doesn't mean they don't exist, but it may be easier and cheaper to get this with tube output designs. I've heard SS digital rigs in the 60K price range that could't compete with 4-6 K tube designs in this area. Some may view this upper harmonic sophistication as a euphonic, non-linear, distortion, based on what measurements reveal, but if so, then I am partial to euphonic non-linear live venues. Tubes done well get me that which I seek in live music. Personally, I find it difficult to connect with music on an emotional level without having tubes in play in the system.
I've said this before, but at some point one gets to the level where you can't improve a system by making educated guesses. Generally, you have to bring equipment in and A/B with a variety of music to make the best possible choice.
To Audiolab and Brownsfan, you both make excellent points. BF, what I prefer is as you state so well..... euphonic, or musical. This issue has been bandied about for years, and may have emerged with greater intensity when SS came to dominate the audio market in the late 60's and early 70's. SS was also cheaper to mass produce.
The issue of "euphonic" vs accurate( linear)casts a long shadow on every audio component made, especially speakers. Just because a component measures well, does not mean it should or has to sound good. At the same, what is enjoyable, musical(in the sense of holding the listener's attention) and informative about the music seems to be a reliable, no nonsense means of measuring the quality of the audio experience.
I know you have a hard time where you live an need to make the best choice you can. I may have another option for you. Cary has made some CD players that give you a lot of choices. They have tube CD players that let you select either the tube output section or solid state. Not only that, you can also select if you want to upsample or not; and pick different upsample rates. I think they even give you a volume control to drive a power amp directly. If you can find a good deal on something used, it may be worth looking into. That said, I never recommend things I haven't heard myself. I have listened to several Cary players and I was always impressed with them.
As far as the 2 players you mention, I haven't heard the Ayon, so I can't comment on it. It does look like a great CD player, and I would be surprised if I didn't like it. The Ayre I've heard many times and love it. If I was looking for something in that price range, I would buy it. Ayre is also extremely good about offering upgrades to their current products, as opposed to just coming out with new models. I do own some Ayre gear and its definitely my favorite brand for solid state.
Zd542,, Thank you again for you advice. It always has been helpful. I have considered the Cary CD players. I believe the series are: CD300-200; CD-300-300. I have also e-mailed them about these players, but all have been discontinued. I have read all the reviews on the above two models, and the feature of changing sampling rate seem a bit hokey to me. Though, "some" claim it did make a difference in the sound especially with a variety of CD formats. The upsampling selection can also be made from the remote. However, I will check them out again, but to be honest, I think I am sold on Ayre CX-7emp, but almost none have come up for sale in the last three months. Thanks again, Jim