Any advice on CD player upgrade?

I am looking to upgrade my CD player. My system is as follows: Bryston 3b-St Power Amp, Bryston BP20 Preamp, B&W Nautilus 805 Speakers, Arcam Alpha 7 CD Player. Cables are Kimber KCAG Balaned Interconnect (preamp-poweramp), Kimber PJB (CD to Pre), and Stealth PC Premier speaker cables. I think the CD Player is clearly the weak component, but would also consider getting a second 3b-st for bi-amping. I'm looking at the following contenders (used if I can :-)): Linn Ikemi, BAT, Sonic Frontiers SFCD, Meridian 508-24, Naim CDX, Wadia 830 or 850. Let me know if any of you have recommendations here. Thanks!! John.
Take a look at a YBA CD player. They use a patented Blue Laser technology that is getting really good reveiws.
Have you considered upgrading your player to an Arcam 9? It includes the Ring DAC, and is regarded to be stellar. As the cost to you would be only the difference between the two players, cost would be MUCH less than anything else you would consider. I have heard an Arcam 9, and thought it to be very good.
something must have drawn you to the Arcam 7 in the first place??? Another 2 choices might be the Arcam Alpha 9 or upgrade yours to the 9 or for around $500 more than a new 9 you could look at the FMJ-23 which has been getting good reviews.
I have the a Classe CDP.5 that is really nice with my Bryston 3B ST's. I have bridged two of the 3B's and wow what a huge improvement in soundstage width, depth and you name it. The performance has never been reviewed that I can find but I was VERY impressed and made the purchase. I found the Kimber cable to be too forward and bright however and fell in love with the way MIT cables sounded. I have a CJ preamp and Proac speakers and after two years, still get chill bumps on a regular basis . . .especially when my loving wife is participating. Nuff said.
I realize this was not in your list of choices, but you might want to look at the Rega Planet. I borrowed one once (one of the old ones, mind you), and now I must have it. If you've already ruled this out for other reasons, I apologize...
Sell the pre amp. Buy a Resolution Audio CD 55 and run it direct into the power amp. You will experience a new level. Check out the reviews and the other threads on Audiogon concerning Resolution Audio. $3k retail less the preamp for a digital front end that is better than the Accuphase DP 75 or the Wadia 860. You owe it to your self to check em out
I think that you are on the right track with the Meridian 508.24. It is very musical and gets all diffrent kinds of music right. Wadia is also a good bet, a little more expensive than Meridian, but you can run it direct to the amp and sell your preamp if you don't have any other sources than CD. I have owned Rega Planet, Meridian 508.24, Wadia 860x, and Resolution Audio CD50. In my opinion the Meridian is the most well rounded player of the bunch. I stuck with the 860 (as I wanted to go without a preamp) which I though bettered the Resolution Audio player. I saw one (Meridian 508.24) for sale today on Audiogon for a good deal. Good luck.
It's hard to beat Meridian, the 508.24 is excellent, so is the 566 DAC which I have coupled with the 200 transport (same as the 508 just 2 boxes instead of 1). I still have the discontinued 263 bitstream DAC and it is outstanding also. I will say this both DAC's IMO sound better with a Meridian transport which would now be the 500 as the 200 has been discontinued. Good luck in your choice.
save your money for a better preamp (or speakers, or *whatever*). dollar for dollar, you will get better sound substantially upgrading your preamp w/your same cd player, than the other way around. the law of diminishing returns is more applicable to cd hardware than to any other equipment, imho. also, lots folks report getting better sound w/res-audio cd players run thru good preamps, instead of being run straight into their amps, so why bother w/a unit that devotes so much of its cost to its volume control circuitry? one person's opinion... doug
I'm in the same boat as Outlier, and have a new system that's WAY too resolving for my old CDP (Rotel 855). I tried the ARCAM 9, and although I found the midrange very well fleshed out, I'm afraid I have to agree with other posters who found the ARCAM rhythmic prowess wanting...the old Rotel simply keeps my foot tapping! Nonetheless, its top octave is rough as hell, so my search includes the Res Audio CD55 (Sedlund: it's just an op amp, and, although a good one, not expensive enough to sway a decision; even RA suggests using a GREAT preamp instead if you already have one.), the Wadia 850 (not 830!), or the Bel Canto DAC1/PioneerDVD, or the new Perpetual Tech stuff. Anybody heard these? I want a finely resolved top octave and reasonable bass weight, and NO compromises in the midband. Thanks.
hi soobie-guru, my point is that if ya inwest another $3k into yer preamp, you will get better results w/yer current cd player than investing $3k into another cd player, w/yer current preamp. yust my opinion of course. (i *am* biased towards vinyl, if ya haven't figured it out!) doug
Hi Doug (Sedlund). I indeed get your point, and wholeheartedly agree: I only became wildly dssatisfied with my Rotel AFTER getting an Aleph P to drive my Aleph 2s; only then did a great preamp lay bare the inadequacies of my CDP! My last post's comment re Res Audio was only to illustrate that RA agrees with this strategy: a great preamp is better than their internal analog stage (which is, according to them, although a fine op amp, NOT a high percentage of the cost of their CDP, and therefore one reason why I bought the Aleph P). Back to the thread's intent: assuming one has a fine, revealing preamp, can we hear from people's successes with digital front ends? (Anyone heard the JOB DAC?...especially compared to BelCanto or Perpetual Tech?) Thanks. Ernie
hey subaruguru, here's the only info i can give ewe, it only reinforces the importance of having a good preamp: my brother-in-law compared a resolution-audio cd-55 (retail $3500), w/an alchemist nexus (retail ~$1700). preamp used was the alchemist kraken (retail $1080). 1st he tried 'em straight-in to his a-r 100.2 amp, driving his proac 2.5's. the r/a was definitely better. then he ran 'em thru the preamp. the r/a was better in this fashion than run straight-in, but, when now comparing it to the kraken thru the preamp, he said it was splitting hairs to detect any difference. and this was w/a relatively inexpensive preamp. i a-b'd the alchemist cd player w/my cheap nad cd *changer*, and there was absolutely *no* difference, when they were run thru a cary slp98 preamp. draw your own conclusions... doug
Audio Research CD-2 is a great cd player. Excellent musical resolution and tonal balance. I have both the Meridian 508.24 and the Audio Research CD-2. The CD-2 is a very sweet and detailed player. Not as "in your face" as the Meridian.
If you can find a good price on Audio Research CDT-1 and DAC III Mark II, you will be pleased with the sound.
Get rid of the BP20! Put in a CJ10 preamp or YBA 3, you won't beleive the improvement. I just listened to it today. Speakers were JM Labs Cobalt 815's. We were using an Arcam 8se & 9. The CJ was by far a greater improvement than going from 8se to 9.
John, if Arcam A7 has digital output you may want to consider using A7 as transport and buying used Dac here. Bel Canto, Birdland, Millenium etc 24/96 that produce sound you have to pay $2000+ in new player to get
Thanks to everyone for their expert advice - really apprecaited. I ended up getting a Bel Canto DAC 1 to partner with my Arcam 7. To be honest, I have been a little disappointed with the improvement. The combo is perhaps producing a less fatiguing sound over long listening, but when I test it back to back with the Arcam's analog outputs, I cannot for the life of me notice any quality difference. I've tried partnering the DAC with my Pioneer DV525 DVD player as well - I found the Arcam worked better as a transport (even though I set the Pioneer to output at 96khz). Again, I found little/no improvement against the DVD player by itself. I tested as stringently as I could - on my main system (Bryston amplification and B&W Nautilus 805), and on a Musical Fidelity xCans V2 & Sennheiser 600 headphone combo through the tape output of the preamp (back to back seamless comparison of cd player compared to cd player plus DAC). One could argue that my ears are simply not refined enough to notice the improvement, and yet I found all my other audio upgrades dramatic improvements over their predessors. Oh well, I guess my search for digital front-end excellence will continue - the journey is part of the fun :-)
hi outlier, shoulda taken my adwice & gotten a better preamp! ;~) see my previous comments about this from another thread (vinyl vs cd): <<<<<<>>>>> going to better preamps have made *big* improvements to all my sources - cd, vinyl, tuner. regards, doug
sorry, dunno why this dint print the last post - here's my experience regarding cd players: w/my ~$500 nad cd changer, my digital is far from state of the art. but, i a-b'd my nad w/a $1700 alchemist nexus cd player, on *my* system, and there was *no* difference between the two. my brother-in-law a-b'd this same alchemist on *his* system w/a $3500 resolution audio cd-55, & he said there were "miniscule" differences between the two, only noticed, & yust "barely", when run in a direct a-b comparison. i can see no reason to upgrade my nad cd player - i wonder how much $$$ i'd really have to spend, if i wanted cd to come close to analog on my system. i agree that cd is way-convenient, but i'm waiting until the 24-192 format (or whatever) is commercially awailable before spending any more $$$ on cd-playback. doug
Outlier, have you tried a toslink connection between your 525 and the DAC1? If not, please give it a try. There is a mention in the new ST review Hope this helps. Charlie
Danvetc, thanks for the advice. Believe it or not, I did just that a few days ago and ordered a 2M Toslink as per Wes' advice at I haven't received the toslink yet, but after burn-in I'll post whether I found an improvement. Thanks.
Outlier...see my comments on my BelCanto demo on the "Job, BelCanto, Perpetual Tech DAC" thread. Whereas my time with the BelCanto wasn't all that satisfying, it's clear that it imparted significant changes in upper frequency info, and that these were easily perceived through my Aleph P. Perchance you could swap in a more resolving preamp, as suggested before? I'm glad you're having fun...I'm getting frustrated!
I really like the new Naim CD5. The CDX is even better but not as great a value at twice the price. The CDX/XPS combo is staggering, but the >$8k price tag is really hard to swallow.