Arcam FMJ CD33 vs Cary 306/200

Does anyone have an opinion of the sound of the Arcam FMJ CD33 vs Cary 306/200? My system is ever-evolving, much like many of yours, so going through the list of my current equipment may not be relevant.
However, my taste in music and preference for type of sound I look for does not change. I am a Jazz and Rock aficionado. I tend to value equipment that excels in imaging and soundstaging, while retaining the ability to deliver seemingly endless dynamics and tons of slam.
Given a budget of approximately $2,000, I am also not limiting myself to the two players in question. Perhaps a CD player with an exceptional volume control, negating the need for a preamp, may also be considered - an alternative most appealing. All opinions are welcome and will be respected, of course.
Have heard Cary players at Deja Vu audio with sweet results; and Arcam at Sound Images with equal sweetness! Very tough decision! For me the nod would go to the Arcam! I purchased the CD73 which is upgradeable to the 82 and 92 models - and really does a great job on the entire frequency spectrum! The FMJ is the upper end model that will do the finesse thing better as well as add more weight to the presentation. To me - there is more imaging with the Arcam, but a tad bit more palpability with the Cary.

Hope this helps
Try a used Linn Ikemi!

Good Luck*>)
I purchased a Camelot Uther IV DAC with analog volume control several year ago and haven't looked back. I have used it direct (no pre amp) into a pass labs ALEPH 5 and Rogue Audio M150 with great success. I highly recommend the IV which uses the anagram chip for upsampling. I have seen them used on audiogon for around $1,400. The Uther III was reviewed in Stereophile several years ago and was rate class A.

Good luck
I second the suggestion of a used Ikemi. I have heard the FMJ CD33 and like it very much at its price point. But for my ears at least, the Ikemi is in a different league entirely. I will say the Ikemi is significantly more laid back than the Arcam, if that is an issue for you.
Kw6 / Newmanoc,
If the Linn Ikemi's sound would be described as being laid back, than it doesn't seem to fit my criteria for dynamics and slam. I am looking for a CD player with these particular qualities.
I have recently heard the FMJ33 in my home via a friend's unit and it produced an immediate focused soundstage with tight bass notes, its highs were well defined and had a nice sparkle to them with plenty of air around the instruments.
I have not heard the 306/200, but did hear the new 300/300
with it capability of switching on the fly from SS to Tube output.
I would pick the Arcam for Jazz and especially for rock.
I've never heard the Cary, but I can comment on the Linn and Arcam players. The Linn would be very good for jazz and exceptional for classical music, but it has an almost hypnotizing sound and would not deliver the slam you're looking for. The Arcam is a great player. Very smooth. I also listen to mainly jazz and rock.

But the player I'd recommend is the Ayre CX-7, especially if you can get the "e" verson. I never thought I'd hear a CD player in that price range that would beat the Arcam, but the Ayre cleanly did. It has much more weight than the Arcam. So you'll get more bottom end and slam. Plus it's soundstage is wider and deeper. Something the Arcam is noted for. The individual instruments seem to stand out better. It is better than the Arcam in single-ended mode, but it is significantly better if you can run balanced. In fact, the Ayre running Kimber Heros balanced, sounded better than the Arcam did with the twice as expensive Kimber Select 1011s. Good luck on your search!
I recently auditioned the FMJ CD33 and Cary 303/300 at Sound by Singer both on the same system. CD33 would not do for rock music, sorry to disagree with previous posts. Cary player has better bass and smoother highs with delicious midrange. Arcam is a little on the bright side of things with much more gentle bass than Cary. I'd say it is a little bass shy compared to the Cary player. This was apparent to me. After about 20-30 minutesof switching back and forth and listening to same cds. However, one unit that did take me by surprise was Musical Fidelity A5 cd player. This one, 1t $2500, was so close to Cary 303/300, that it would be very difficult to distiguish between the 2 in the blind test. $1500 difference is a nice chunk of change, that could be spent on something else that needs upgrading in your system. One thing the sales person mentioned to me about the A5 player is that it does not play SACDs. Besides, he said he would discourage you from even puttin a hybrid SACD in there. They had a customer who brought the A5 into the store after he tried to play a hybrid SACD and the thing jsut kept spinning the disc, trying to read it, but the tray wouldn't open to take the disc out. Musical Fidelity is aware and is working on the fix, according to the sales guy at Singer.....for what it's worth.
There's also a lot of buzz over the Benchmark DAC / Bel Canto DAC. A friend suggested I should go that route, by coupling the Benchmark with my Sony NS-999ES universal player. I am not too thrilled to use the universal as a transport. I would rather get a kick-ass Redbook CD Player. Any thoughts on the Benchmark or Bel Canto over the Cary, etc.?
I'd say your feelings about using the Sony as a transport are right on. I wasn't blown away by the Sony on CD playback. SACD was pretty good however. I've heard good things about both the Benchmark and Bel Canot DACs, but haven't heard them in person. Good luck.
I compared Bel Canto and Benchmark at home in my system.
Liked the Bel Canto much better - much more involving, smoother, deeper soundstage, much more relaxed sounding throughout the entire spectrum, deeper bass. Benchmark kind of upset me a little, because I liked the features and the overall look of it better than Bel Canto, however, I care more about the sound, which in my system it was clear - Bel Canto came out as a winner. Both dacs were used with same transport, same digital cable. Differences between these 2 are very obvious in my system.
Benchmark sounded very much like what it is, a professional tool for recording studios. It did not have that kind of involvement Bel Canto offers. As far as comparing either of these dacs to Cary player, I can't say anything about that, sorry had never a chance to compare, but my assumption would be that if you like the way Cary sounds, chances are you won't like Benchmark DAC-1. Just my opinion. See the advantage with either of the dacs is that you can try 'em out if you order from audio advisor. Cary is the opposite, most likely it will not be possible to have a home audition of the player. It's all subjective as far as what you are looking for in sound. Just putting my $.02 in....

Hope this helps...
The Cary 306/200 or the Ayre CX7.
As far as I know, the Ayre is supposed to be smooth, yet a little bass-shy. If that is the case, it wouldn't do it for me. I have never heard it, though. Someone offline had also recommended the Consonance 2.2 (I believe it's Chinese made). I have never heard their stuff, so don't know the sound. Anyone on the Consonance 2.2?
The last think I'd call the Ayre is bass-shy. That is 1 of the things that impressed me the most with the Ayre is how well it fills the room with bass. In fact, I don't even run my Maggie 1.6s with a sub right now, I'm so happy with the Ayre for bass and dynamics.

If bass and slam are what your looking for, I suggest you look at a Krell player. I've never cared for their sound myself. But, their products consistently have the most bass I've ever heard. Not the best on imaging, soundstage and overrall quality of sound, IMO. But plenty of bass.
I have been hearing more and more positive comments on the Ayre CX-7e CD player. Supposedly, it is one of the smoothest CDPs out these. Is that true? I am told that if you were to pair it up with some quality tubed amps / preamps, it should blend right in. Any experiences with Ayre? Thanks.
I had the exact same experience at Sound by Singer as Audphile1. Came out LOVING the A5, and intend to purchase it as soon as I can.

The Arcam has a very forward presentation that I agree might be too much for rock and jazz, better for classical, although that's more a function of taste-- I prefer my soundstage against and behind the back wall rather than in front of the speakers.
dkidknow, cool.... be sure though before you buy the A5 that MF worked out the problem with hybrid SACD playback... just check out my post in this thread earlier...
I think the CX-7e would meet your needs for imaging, soundstage and slam. It has a very clean sound, more so than smooth I'd say. Very nice, full bass. A Soundstage that goes outside the speakers, and most of all, great front to back depth.

I must stress the true value of the Ayre CDP is if you can run it balanced, since it has a true differential balanced circuit design. It's a very good player ran single-ended, IMO it becomes a great player when ran balanced. Good luck.
I got my hands on an Arcam CD33. Now that it is in my system, I know exactly what it sounds like. In my given system and room, the presentation of this player is not forward, as in "in your face". However, it is certainly not laid back either. I prefer a slightly more forward presentation, anyway. It is extremely competent on all genres of music, with quite an impressive bass performance.
To my ears, it is reminiscent of a tubed CDP. I still would love to compare it to the Ayre CX-7e, though. At least cosmetically, in comparison to the Ayre, the Arcam will always be just a plain black box.
Does anyone know whether I can switch the black faceplate on the Arcam 33 for a silver one, or would I need to buy a silver-faced Arcam unit from the start? Thanks.
A little bit off here but let me know what you think ,I sold my sono sc 26 pre amp and bought a Atoll pre amp now if you want to talk slam and bottom end,wow,plus all around very very good sound.
Just my opin on the cd 33 ,no problem with rock music or any other type of music,if it doesnt play all types of music in the first place,why would you buy it.
As far as bass and that ,when i switched pre amps it was night and day.I went from a cj sono sc26 pre amp to a Atoll pre amp,The Atoll has a huge power supply any way it brought out the bass and dynamics like never before.