Arcam fmj cd23 vs cd33

Which do you prefer? Why?
CD23 with ring DAC with HDCD
CD33 with WM8740 stereo DAC without HDCD

Assume that the price and condition is about the same (for used).
Well lets see here never had the 23,BUT did have the 33 and before that had a cd92 and a cd 92T for me i liked the 92's better i thought they just had that something extra,but the 33 wasnt bad,there was just something about the 92 that i liked.I dont think you can go wrong with any of them,i'm pretty amazed for what all of those players sell for, bargains without a doubt,but at this point the 92 and those 92T are getting a bit old,so the newer you can find probably the better,I would think that the 23T is the latest of all that were made by Arcam.Also i will say thee 33 had a bit of a skipping problem which was probably one reason i got rid of it, i couldnt stand listening to discs and going ocd on when the hell it would skip,it was random which drove me crazy,the 92 92T never skipped whatsoever on anything i played.
never owned the cd33 but have owned the cd23 twice. missed it so bad after a supposed upgrade, I bought another & it shall remain until it croaks at which time I'll locate another. i have owned players in the $3K to $5K range in the past & it hangs right in there with them.
I have not heard the 33 but I still say go for the 23 for the HDCD. It is exceptional with HDCD. If you have never had an HDCD capable player you probably have more HDCDs than you think.
I think I sold Pehare his second CD-23.
yesiree, thanks TIM. happy listening
I am also leaning to cd23.
BTW, what's wrong with Arcam CD players? Their used price is far lower than their competitors.
It would work for me though since I am not going to spend $2000+ for a new CD player. However, if they were good at their price point (over $2000) and still used ones can be purchased at under $600, it would be hard to beat.
Ihcho - I've never listen to CD23 but I know that they stopped making it because of yield problems in production of ring DACs. Arcam bought license for Ring DACs from DCS.

Idea behind Ring DAC is that at certain point you cannot cross resolution of 18-20 bits because of component tolerance (in sigma-delta you can but timing will eventually give same restriction). Ring DAC shuffles randomly bunch (I think 5) resistors of the same value (in each position of the ladder) to get much better tolerance and increased resolution. Effect of this shows as "dithering" on the output but after filter provides for extra bits of resolution. At least that's what I heard.

I think that they stopped making FMJ-cd23 only because of production yield problems.
It probably became to expensive to license it anymore from DCS
I own the cd23, an Alpha 9, and auditioned the cd33 when it came out. I liked the 23 and Alpha 9 better and still have them. The HDCD is handy also.

But beware, if the 23's DAC goes out, you may not be able to get a replacement. You can e-mail Arcam support to verify. They are really good about answering.

Jim S.
Many thanks.
if the 23's DAC goes out, you may not be able to get a replacement.
I wonder how many people would care about fixing a DAC when it goes wrong in a CD player, Or, even how often a DAC would go wrong. Has anybody heard of a ring DAC went wrong?

No, I haven't heard of a ring DAC going bad, but I don't personally know a lot of people with that player.

"I wonder how many people would care about fixing a DAC when it goes wrong in a CD player".

Good point. I like the cd23 and alpha9 players well enough that I would certainly look into it if something went wrong.

Good luck on whichever your choice is.

Jim S.
I love my Cd23. I can listen for hours on end without a hint of fatigue. Haven't spent time with the 33. I think the Ring DAC-derivative chipset in the 23 is very hard to top for overall refinement to the sound. I hope my DAC board never fails.. ever! I'm pretty sure Arcam no longer stocks replacement parts for their older stuff.

I noticed on their website that they are no longer supporting/servicing/upgrading the older Alpha/FMJ pieces. Kind of a sad change for them since they built their brand around the concept of longevity/modular design and solid upgrade paths for many of their components in the past.

Now they just say some remark like "see your Arcam dealer for a demonstration of the latest model".

"see your Arcam dealer for a demonstration of the latest model".

The change is sad. I have had the little Alpha 10 amps and an Alpha 10 integrated, along with the players, for almost ten years. Arcam and the local dealer have supported them well, when needed, during that period. For the money I think the equipment is pretty sound. I would hope that they never stop supporting their older gear.

Jim S.
Hi Jim,

I agree their equipment is very sound and good value for money. I have a 10-year-old Alpha 10P x 3-channel amp in my system (it's a brick!) driving my front L/C/R and it still sounds great!

My only (mild) beef with Arcam is their shift from producing really good integrateds for stereo music that could be transformed into Home Theater/Surround units (remember the optional "DAVE" (digital audio/video entertainment) plug-in board for your Alpha 10? But something happened in the early 2000's where their integrateds went pure stereo in favor of producing receivers for HT.

I know they build a very nice receiver, but there are still compromises that must be made to fit it all in one box. If Arcam had stayed with the DAVE concept and you wanted to upgrade your system after all these years, instead of ponying up $5,000 for their new A600 or buying brand X, can you imagine just upgrading your Alpha 10 with an updated version of the DAVE home theater board to support HDMI and the latest codecs? Probably could have been done for much less $ than buying a new comparable receiver and you could still enjoy your Alpha 10 and separate amps for years to come in your system and it would still hold it's own or sound better than their Diva receiver line.

Points well made. I don't have a great interest in true HT (yet) and didn't consider it in that context.

I wonder if Arcam was having a hard time getting "mainstream" HT folks to buy into the more complex multi box set-up? I remember reading a review of the P1's when they first came out and it was promoting a 7.1 system with 7 mono amps. Might have scared some customers off.

Jim S.
Ihcho - Sorry for hijacking your thread.. -jz
No problem.
I've enjoyed the thread.
I finally got a used Arcam cd23. I was a little bit suspicious of its performance, but I needed only a couple of seconds to realize the difference. I have not tried many other high end CD players, and I cannot say how cd23 stands out amongst others, but clearly it is better than what I have had/tried -- NAC C541i, Rega Apollo, Marantz DR700, and Jolida 602.
It also beats Rega Apollo/Music Hall DAC 25.2.
More details and dynamics in full orchestration and more lively in acoustic jazz.

Hope it lasts forever!
And also remember that while there are differences between players they just arent as great as some would lead you to believe,yes differences, but nothing like amps and pre amps,the thing is now you can really focus on the music because you landed one of the all time greats in cd.
2nd the apology for the hijack.

Glad you are enjoying your "new" player.

Jim S.
For me, among many upgrades done over 6 years, the biggest difference was from Yaqin MC10L (Chinese 55WPC int tube amp) to Linn SS power amp/Rogue tube pre amp -- $550 vs $4800 if new.
The second, from B&W 603 S3 to Tyler Taylo 7U -- $1000 vs $3500 if new.
Third, from $100~$250 MM cartridges to AT150mlx.
Fourth, from NAD C541i to Arcam CD23 -- $500 vs $2000 if new.
... including speaker wires, interconnects, power cable, turntable upgrades, ...

As seen, the CD player upgrade was not as big improvement as with others mentioned, but still big enough to readily notice, and bigger than many other upgrades I've done.

Yes, I gotta dig in CDs to enjoy music again.
I would have to agree that the FMJ 23 is an exceptional player. What is has, that many other (current and otherwise) players do not is the "breath of life."
What I mean by this is that it sounds as though a real human being is playing the instrument, not just the sound of the instrument. This may be related to microdynamics: the sense that each note played is different in intensity and duration than the one before it. I bought it twice and have listened to many players since then, yet it is still the player I compare others to. I wouldn't call it the highest resolution player, but to me, the point of music is to FEEL it, and in this, the Arcam trumps other players in spades. In fact, I was looking at a used one right before this thread and thought I might sell my Rega Apollo to get it. It (the FMJ) has airiness, musicality, drive, rhythm, feeling and emotion. What it does NOT have is the lowest octave (but I don't listen to much organ music, nor the lowest notes of the piano). I NEVER felt it lack propulsion: the first time I heard it with the ASL Hurricanes, my jaw dropped. As a former reviewer, that's happened only 3 or 4 times in my existence: When I heard the Jadis Defy 7 matched to Avalon Eclipse speakers (well, I DID have a Versa Dynamics turntable at the time (1991), but that's beside the point; The Avalons themselves which are so grainless that only the Sound Dynamics RTS 3s match them (and those are killer speakers, but people don't seem to understand that lack of grain = live mike feed, a la live broadcasts from the Metropolitan Opera); the Hurricanes and the Arcam. Oh, yes, the Manger speakers, which I was going to review for Ultra Audio, but UPS had clearly dropped the box. The speaker worked until I moved it downstairs at which time something came loose and one speaker died, but they are dazzling. I have not heard Magicos, but I would think Manger can match them. My brother, no audiophile, said the Mangers were the first speakers he heard that he could believe a live person was playing them. A shame they are A) expensive and B) rare.
Back to the Arcam. It still haunts me, even though I have the Cambridge Audio 840C. In fact, I may just get the Arcam again. There's little to complain about, other than the bass. It does soundstaging extremely well, has super image focus and specificity, you'll hear air expand around a piccolo -- in the BACK of the orchestra, and a sense of continuousness alien to many other players.
Ihcho is right: it surpasses the Rega in the sense of sounding more like the live mike feed from the Met I'm in Connecticut, only 90 miles away, and the signal from the Met is quite "alive" sounding.
Some people have complained that the Arcam is "forward" sounding, which means nothing more than the standup bass on a jazz recording sounds 4 feet away from you rather than 8, but the Arcam changes perspective according to the recording, a sign of a LACK of artificial perspective. Close recordings sound a tad closer (doesn't bother me), but distant ones sound distant as well. Havin glived in San Francisco prior to this and having heard recording of the San Frnancisco Symphony Orchestra (in Davies Hall), I can attest that they sound very distant, which, as I recall seeing microphone placement there, correct. The mics are at balcony level and it sounds as though you are hearing DOWN into the orchestra, which is exactly right.
I never understood why it was not more popular. Oh, and it reveals both the texture of an instrument (wood instruments sound like wood) and the tracks shifts in human emotion (meaning, if a singer sounds angry, you hear it: if he/she is playful, the player reveals that as well). I heard, while reviewing the Tetra 405s, a song, from a test CD, where the singer was clearly depressed. I haven't yet heard another player make the guy sound that depressed and I've gone through the Meridian 508.24, Consonance Droplet 5.0, the Rega, the Cambridge and a few others. The only player that came close was, given how cheap it was, was the JVC line: XL Z-1010TN,and the 1050 players.
The Arcam is an outstanding player.
I agree that Arcam cd23 is a bit forwarding and shy of base. But those are not much of concern when I can feel superb quality of music it produces.
I have Tyler Taylo 7U speakers. One of my friends asked to have them for a while and now I have my systems with Klipsh KLF-20s which are used in HT setup.
What a disappointment on KLF-20. With KLF-20, Arcam cd23 does not sound much different than NAD C541i or Marantz DR700. Just louder, but that's it.
With Arcam cd23, I can tell that KLF-20 is much lesser speaker than Taylo 7U. With NAD or Marantz, I did not notice such huge difference between KLF-20 and Taylo 7U, which tells a potential CD23 has.
I will have my Taylo 7U back soon.
Gbmcleod, you were waxing very enthusiastic when you first got a Cambridge 840C. How did that turn out, and how would you compare it to the Arcam?
Drubin, I still enjoy the Cambridge, but I have to say that its slight reticence of power in the bass is one of its few flaws. It needs a bit more power to it.
I have to say that I like Arcam's sound. Some people have pointed out that it's "forward"- sounding, which hardly disqualifies it for me. I find that type of sound to simply make the performance seem more immediate. Also, unless I'm wrong, the Arcam's images are more solid and layered in a continuous arc.
They're both great players, but it's funny how, years later, after several highly touted players, I would enjoy having an Arcam among my group of players.
Incidentally, the Arcam's midbass is fine, just the low bass is a bit cut off. It has plenty of midbass power and dynamics, from my memory of it.