Best sounding CD Players with Variable Outputs to use Direct into Power Amp?


Looking for the best sounding CD players with variable outputs to use direct into my power amp. My amp is an Odyssey Stratos with Vandersteen 2c speakers. My budget is between $300-$400. Seems the most prominent brand to offer variable outputs on a lot of their players is Sony, particularly their ES stuff. One particular model I am considering is the CDP-X555ES. Does anyone have any experience with this player when using direct into a power amp? Another option is to use an Emotiva Control Freak (balanced XLR) with an Adcom GCD-750 I can pick up locally.   
jsbach1685

Most digital domain volume controls " bitstrip" if not used in their top 70% of full volume. "Bitstripping is taking 16bit down to 14bit and also 12bit if the volume is too low. Thorsten Losech (Kuei Yang Wang) of AMR believes any attenuation in the digital domain DSD(rubbish) or Redbook strips bits, I think not, only below 70% is my experience.

http://www.diyhifi.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=2921

All is not lost though if you get a cdp that you can set the max output IE 4v 2v or 1v there are a few dac’s or cdp’s that can do this, you should do some reading of reviews to find out which ones.

The Cary 303/200 can be set for 2v or 4v with a link inside and has a digital domain vc.

Also some older Wadia’s with digital domain vc can also be set for max output for 6 different levels with links.

http://www.diyaudio.com/forums/attachments/digital-source/531571d1455620405-digital-domain-volume-control-wadia-25-dac-volume-settings.pdf

You may have to join to see this PDF.


Cheers George



I've run several cdp direct over the last couple of decades, almost always with excellent results (the only one that benefited from a volume control upstream was the Consonance SACD 2.0).  Your price point could be a bit tricky though.  You might find a Theta Miles or a Resolution Audio CD50 for that price but such an older player may likely need a new laser or transport soon.  I would be hesitant to purchase without replacement parts available so that's something to consider.  For a little more money, you may be able to pick up a modded Oppo BDP-83SE.  These are quite a bit newer and parts were still available last I heard.  I have a couple of these modded players, one from Modwright with the outboard tube power supply, and another from the Upgrade Company and either will stomp the Miles in terms of resolution/detail though the Theta has better dynamics and bass weight/slam.  I think I paid about $650-700 for the Oppos (each).  Do keep in mind that the BDP-83 (non SE) doesn't have the Sabre DAC like the SE version.