Audio Research Reference CD-7

Audio Research has introduced Reference CD-7 tube cd player($8995). Did somebody had a chance to audition it? Opinions?
No, but way to rip off Marantz whose reference player is the CD-7. AR is a great company but how about some originality.
Um, it's a number. I'm really sure they said, "Hey, what can we do to be more like Marantz?"
I think Jond's response is a bit harsh here. I would not say that "CD-7" is very original whether company A is first to use it or not. I am surprised that ARC did not name this product the CD7 to be more inline with it's CD#, LS#, PH#, D#, V#, VT#, etc., model designations. Other than the MK II or III and Reference designations, the product line has always been straight forward.
I think ARC used Reference CD-7 name because there is seven 6H30 triodes inside( more on ). But, i agree name is not very original...
Since it is using many things from REF3 preamp i am very interested to audition it as soon as it gets in my hands.
I have the ARC Ref3 preamp and IMO it is one of the best preamps available

For this CD7 to have much of the Ref3 technology will stand it in good stead.

I spoke to Marc Mickelson, Editor for and he heard the CD7 at CEDIA with their new Refernce 210T. Marc thought the sound was terrific.

Here is a look at my system with the Ref3
Sorry if I was harsh, I guess 7 is just a number, sorry.
I'v seen pics of the unit and it looks great except the black handles ,it could be with out on my opinion.
ARC literature says:

"The CD7 is a Reference Level model to complement the CD3MKII with an even higher performance. Incorporating the strongest aspects of the CD3MKII - its rugged construction, the Philips Pro2 laser mechanism, the Crystal 24 bit DAC, its user friendly menu of useful features and functions - the Reference CD7 breaks new ground with a gain stage taken directly from the REF3, incorporating the latest proprietary capacitor technology found only in Audio Research Reference components.

Using four 6H30 triodes, the audio stage features high voltage regulation using an additional three 6H30s, coupled to a massive power supply. The extensively ventilated top-load chassis is just slightly deeper front to back than the CD3MKII. Height is unchanged, while a thicker front panel helps identify the CD7 as a Reference product. Inputs, outputs and the accompanying remote are identical to the CD3MKII. The standby function on the CD3MKII is now a power on/off function on the CD7, with an LED indicator on the front panel, since this is a vacuum-tube product.

Is the CD7 really much better than the CD3MKII? Yes, it is in every aspect. The sonic background is quieter and blacker, thanks to noise and distortion figures that are significantly lower than those of the CD3MKII. Musical dynamics and sheer openness of the soundstage are also much improved, in part due to the massive power supply and carefully chosen parts. You will also hear dynamic nuances that render small ensemble recordings much more believable and vivid. Notes and sounds have more individual shape, body and location as they appear and recede. The soundstage expands and breathes as the recording calls for it. Bass response is massive and tuneful. The CD7 simply has a natural speed and ease without coloration and it is truly like the REF3 in this regard. There is a weight and harmonic completeness one expects from a reference level vacuum-tube product.

With thousands of dollars already invested in CDs, and many more yet to be purchased, it makes more sense than ever to show ARC customers how to bring out the best in their collections by investing in a CD Player that performs musically beyond anything they have previously experienced. This is the heart of what the Reference CD7 is all about."

So, it apparently has something in common with REF3...
I had CD3MkII and like it a lot. Of course it is not in the same class as Weiss Medea/Jason combo or Emmlabs combo but i think it is a good player.
I am wondering will REF CD7 be a (small) competition for units mentioned above?
I just bought ARC REF CD7. It is allready sounding very good but, more after 500hours of break-in period.
Full report in few weeks.

Several months have passed. Please share your experience with the Audio Research CD7.

There are a few of us who are looking to maximize our redbook playback quality, while making poorly recorded cd's sound more tolerable/smoother.

How is the CD7?

How does it compare to other players that you have owned/auditioned?

Ok, how about feedback from anyone else who owns or has demo'd this player???
Barrelchief, here is small review of CD7.
Biggest suprise for me was REF CD7 bass! It is very deep and nicely defined for tube unit! This player has very good PRAT, which is good for tube based unit. Whole presentation is powerful but, not with forward soundstage.
Midrange is creamy, with excellent definition, specially on male vocals. Highs are extended but, not as some of the competitors(Esoteric X-01). Highs are without any trace of edge or grain, this player is excellent for very long listening sessions. No listening fatigue at all, IMO.
On some music(jazz) REF CD7 is more emotionaly involving them my Weiss combo. Actually, I think CD7 is emotional champ!
Break-in period is about 500hours and do not judge its sound until that time mark. REF CD7 runs quite warm(7 tubes inside!) so, it need to be put on the top of your equipment stand. It also benefites from after market power cords... With Acrolink power cord it gained up to 15% better sound. Build quality is very good but, not as good as Esoteric X-01. Value for money is excellent IMO. Even the "Digital kings" like EMMLabs, Esoteric etc. will not put CD7 to shame! In fact emotionally CD7 will better them all, IMO.
If you need excellent RBCD player for up to $10K go and audition ARC REF CD7 for yourself. Also this player is very good with bad recordings which is not always the case with top class digital players...
If you need any aditional info about REF CD7 just post it here. This player deserves thread about itself.
**Also this player is very good with bad recordings which is not always the case with top class digital players...***

However, it is always the case with colored sounding cd players. This one sentence tells me everything I need to know about the CD7. No thanks. I'll take accuracy over euphony any day.
Kevinkwann: Accuracy with digital? Don't we all wish. Digital has a long way still to go to just render the decay of notes in a natural way. For me, who cares about all else that you might classify as accurate. Don't be so quick to slam a product before you give it a listen.
Kevinkwann, all your CD's are perfectly recorded? I doubt that. Do you still want accuracy? Well, good luck. I'd rather have a cd player that plays music than the one that renders 1/3 of my cd collection unlistenable. Just curious, what cd player do you own?
Stanhifi the cd-7 is Branimir's second cdplayer so there is no matter about money.

(his first is Weiss Medea/Jason combo)

As for lower category Esoteric X03 outperformed by the Cary 306 sacd, so maybe the X01 (which is better than X03 of course) is a bit overpriced?
accuracy VS. euphony.... does it matter ? i'll take system synergy anyday of the week.
best thing about CD7
those CD3's will come down in price
I doubt it Audiotomb. CD7 was not meant to be a replacement of CD3. But, I would like to see that you are right about this though.
Branimir how does the cd7 sound compare to Meridian 808 Signature?
Branimir; also, can you post comparison details with the Lindemann 820 (on redbook) that you mentioned in another post?
I will audition Meridian 808 in mid January next year. More in-depth info and impression then...
Info about Lindemann in Reference DACs thread.
Last month I decided to buy a US$6.000,00 (Red Book) CD PLAYER to replace my GAMUT CD-1. This was my $$$ limit. Nevertheless, it took no longer then a 15 minutes audition to the REF-CD7 to make me double the investment... and i bougth it. Am i happy? You can bet. Regrets? None.
Last month I decided to buy a US$6.000,00 (RB) CD PLAYER to replace my GAMUT CD-1. This was my $$$ limit. Nevertheless, it took me a 15 minutes audition to the REF-CD7 to make me double the investment... and i bougth it. Am i happy? You can bet. Regrets? None.
Good Luck!
João - Brazil
I have about 300 hours on my CD-7 now. To me, it sounds like listening to an ultra high end turntable and cartridge. This was a wonderful upgrade from my CD3 MK 2. Voice, piano, strings, guitar, horns all sound very natural and involving. Quite honestly, I would never have believed that digital could sound so natural. I'm still not ready to dump my several thousand record collection yet though. The CD-7 has proven to me that BOTH mediums can be truely great.
This is a bit off topic, but I feel I have to comment on the following: I think the looks of the CD-7 is boring, cheapish, in short: it sucks. It doesn't have the looks of a CDP but one of an traditional ARC preamp or poweramp. Why didn't ARC design a CDP which doesn't share the similar looks of their pre- and poweramps? This is design for the sake of design itself and not in service of functionality.

I agree with you to some degree...
But, ARC REF CD7 is together with REF3 the best ARC component in last ten years IMHO. REF CD7 is wonderfully music Cd player and is a natural choice is all ARC system.
BTW, I changed my REF210 to HD220. To my ears HD220 is better... But, this is topic for another thread.
I just received my Audio Research CD7. Out of the box it sounded already fantastic but now after 2 days of playing the sound even improved more. So holographic, musical and fun to listen. The details are also very good on this player.

I compared side by side with the Wadia 581 and I prefererred the CD7. Two of my friends prefer also the CD7 and another one prefers the Wadia.

Try before you buy. It must match the set. But in my set the matching is wonderful and I am a very happy owner now.

In this price range I think the ARC is the best. If cost is no object than the DCS Scarlati is still better. I heard this one besides the Wadia and it totaly smashed the Wadia.

I'm resurrecting this thread because I am curious to know how many people who owned this player two years ago still own it today?? I read some of Branimir's post, looks like he'd moved on to Esoteric.

I recently took home the CD7 for a quick audition, I thought what it does best is to put the listener in a 'relax' mood. The trade-off is, it's not as 'aggresive' and 'tight' and 'high resolution' than a typical Esoteric house sound. But I can live with such 'trade-off'. The only problem with CD7 is that it generates big hum that can be heard through my speakers. I tried lifting the ground, changing interconnect, rearranging the placement of the gears but couldn't cure the hum. My preamp accept only single ended RCA so I can't try the balanced connection which was a pity.

The next CD player I want to audition is a Marantz SA-7S1, from what I read, it's more musical than Esoteric, but perhaps still not as 'relaxing' as the ARC CD7.
Viper_z - Branimir always have had CD-7 in his second (all ARC) system. He has Esoteric in his main rig.

I have bought CD-7 myself, after auditioning a dosen of different players in the 8-20k range. IMO this player is a gem. Requires an awful lot of break in time to sound its best though (ca. 400h).
I heard the Marantz SA-7S1 for the first time a few days ago. It was very detailed, but did not seem to strip anything away in the process. Yes, it was musical, very impressive w/ vocals. I am using the EAR Acute, which also has IMO a tonality that is right to my ears. The SA-7S1 is now clearly one that I would seek out to try in my system next. The AMR CD-77 is also on my hit list. Well, now we have covered most of the CDP's that use the # 7.
Fjn04, have you ever listened to the ARC CD7??
About your preferences about the looks of the ARC CD7, just goes to show how different we all are. I really like it. I like it by itself, and I'd like it next to my new LS-26 (I would - but haven't decided about soending the money). As to the comment about "design for the sake of design" - the answer is, of course it is! They all are. Why wouldn't you try to make your product look nice and well as functional?
BTW guys - I just got a few dosens of NOS 6N6P tubes, directly from Ukraine ($2 a pop ... you can also have them for $25 from ebay).

That tube is a direct replacemnt to 6H30 tube used in CD-7. That was even confirmed by "the 6H30 man" (Viktor Khomenko from BAT) himself in his post on Audio Asylum. Supposedly, they sound much better than 6H30 ones. We will see. I will report back.
i was considering the arc, having heard it several times at ces, in the audio research room. i also auditioned it at the home of the analysis audio importer.

i have not observed any special attribute regarding bass response and its reliance on one 6 volt tube, is a real turn off when you want to tube roll.

the amr 77 has three different tubes and 4 sampling rate settings. the amr is more flexible. it will be my player of choice.