Never heard the Sony but 840C is the very definition of that nebulous term " musical".
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All three sound great, all three are very musical, all three sound very different.Interesting comment, reminds me of a review some years ago comparing 3 CD players, describing one as like Madonna, one as like Diana Krall, and the last one like Julie London.
Having owned a Sony XA9000ES, and after doing some reading about the other two, I'd also choose the 840C, but that's just because of the way it's sound is described in reviews.
TO ZD542, Why those three because Sony and Cambridge Audio are on sale on AG. The Arcam is another issue; I believe it is $2200; I have never seen one used on AG, at least not recently. Some members claim the previous FMJ CD-33 player is the most musical, but I have seen reviews that claim the new Arcam is better.
Lastly, the freakin Ayre CX-7emp2 is too expensive even used. An older version of this model can be upgraded for about $500-900 by Ayre. If I could find the original CX-7 for $1000-1100, I would "probably" go for it. But, so far I not seen one at that price on AG, and probably never will.
I fear that the CA 840C will be only marginally better than the Rega Apollo which I currently own; and, I only have the weight of Kal Rudman's review in Stereophile which elevated it into the A category as possible proof that the Sony is much better than the Apollo. I never really associated Sony as a maker of high-end audio. Thank you to all who responded so far.
I've owned both the Arcam CD-33 and Ayre CX-7e MP. Both are quality, highly musical sources, but the Ayre is in a different league. If you have an extensive SACD collection, I would suggest the Arcam CD-37 that now supports SACD, or the Sony. Otherwise, esp. if you can exploit balanced output, buy a used Ayre at around $2k And don't look back. Used prices have likely stabilized, so your investment should hold its value for a while. Also, you'll have access to world-class product support should you ever need it.
Good luck in your search.
Sunnyjim, I just came back from listening to a Marantz SA-15S (just minutes ago) and was sorely tempted to lay down the cash for it. It was a demo and had the champagne finish (which you can't find anywhere new) and had they come down to match some online demo prices, I would have bought it.
It is a very musical player and lacked none of the detail I look for. I made sure to bring my own CDs and listened for close to an hour and despite having to listen through their equipment, after a while it became apparent, to me, that this unit is what I want.
Some say that the Marantz lacks detail or smooths things over but I beg to differ. At most, it gives the music a burnished imaged, albeit slight, and much less the effect of a tube device. It's just not solid state sounding and I could listen to it all day long. It's that it sounds like music would, to my ears, especially female vocals (sublime).
I'm sorely tempted to drive back over the hill and just get it but I've learned to wait and see if I can get a better price, which I can if I want to buy it online but it would be in black and I wouldn't get to see if there are any marks on it while this one is pristine.
Oh, the agony.
Good luck in your search,
Audiojan, not to hijack this thread more than I have but if your question is to me, I can get a demo for $1500 with free shipping and the one I like for $1700, locally. I have to admit that the champagne finish is to die for but I could easily live with the black one.
In fact, I may just wait until the next Black Friday to see what I can get one for brand new. Now that I know what it sounds like and that I really like it, the trick is to not be my usual impulsive self. It's eating at me.
And if the other question re: OPPO 105 is directed at me as well, my TEAC PD-H600 sounds better than my OPPO 103. Better enough to not even be close, to my ears. I know the 105 is supposed to be the end all to end all, but I really don't see it competing with the Marantz but I could be wrong.
All the best,
Overall, I agree with Sandstone. I have an Arcam 33 myself. I don't use it as my main player, but I like it very much. Its one of those CD players that you can listen to all day. As far as the Ayre goes, I think its much better than the Arcam. But that doesn't mean you will like it better. Thats a personal choice that you have to make based on your taste in equipment. They sound very different from each other.
Also, I don't really want to tell you what to do, but I would recommend that you don't rely so much on equipment reviews. Its very easy to get caught up in them. I know its a lot more work, but you will get far better results if you make the decision and not the magazine. Eventually you'll find that you don't really need them at all.