Buy a hi-end CD player/transport now?

Thinking about buying a hi-end CD player/transport such as CARY 306 or the like. I'm wondering about waiting for some hi-end CD/DVD players that will support SACD/DVD-audio as well. One of those formats will eventually win out. The mass merchandise guys already have these all-purpose players so it's only a matter of time for Meridian, Cary...etc, right?

I'm concerend about spending $$$ now for a CD player only to find the other formats come to be and then having to buy another unit.

What do you think?
I kept waiting . . . and waiting . . . and waiting. I felt like Ralph Kramden putting of buying a television because he was waiting for 3D-TV.
I finally decided to get something as a stopgap. The Sony DVP-9000ES plays DVD, CD, and SACD and the redbook CD sound is absolutely amazing, especially considering it's a multi-player. Don't take my word for it . . . search the reviews on-line. List is down to $1200 from $1500, but you can buy it for less than $900 at some of the discount places on-line.
Now I'll wait for something really special that will play SACD, DVD-A, CDR, and all in multi-channel. (BTW, the Sony doesn't play CDR, if that's something important to you.)
Buy something that will offer you the most bang for the buck. This will hold you over while waiting and give you something enjoyable to listen to in the meantime.

As have many of the magazine reviewers, i would suggest something that upsamples. This really DOES make a difference if done properly. If you already have a transport / dac combo, you might want to check into the G & W upsampler. Martin DeWulf of Bound For Sound reviewed this a few months back and said that it was great. I think that Stereophile just had something on it ( maybe it was a quick "blurb" or just a mention ) and i think it was positive also. This add-on box sells for about $400. They are supposedly coming out with an upsampler DAC with tube outputs sometime shortly, so that might be VERY interesting.

Personally, i'm not putting too much faith in SACD regardless of who is backing it up. Sony "supported" Beta and it WAS better than VHS ( just like SACD is better than DVD-A ). Do you see how far that got them ? Besides, it seems as if larger "commercial" artists prefer DVD-A for the video potential. Besides that, i just read somewhere that some of the major record chains and on-line dealers are slowing down on how much SACD material they are carrying, if at all. Sean
The "blurb" in Stereophile was a small review in Sam Tellig's February column if you want to check it out. Sean
Ncarv and Sean give good advice. But I think that regular ol' CDs are going to be THE dominent music format for years to come. Cheers. Craig
I took the plunge and purchased a Cary 303/200 player with some of the same concerns that you seem to have. I listened to a few Sony SACD players and, IMHO, they did not come near the sonics of the Cary on standard red book CD's. There are many companies, Meridian, Krell, Accuphase, and Levinson come to mind, that are producing amazing CD players that compete in the Cary price range.

What I know is that I have over 1,000 CD's and expect to purchase and burn many more because of my love for music and the components that make it happen. Despite our obsession with the hardware and software involved in the music delivery process the majority of people could care less and go with what they know. If I am correct it was only recently that CD sales surpassed prerecorded tape sales in the United States. It will take quite a while before another medium becomes popular. I would place my bet on DVD because I know many more regular consumers that own a DVD player already and the DVD-A medium has that base of potential clientle that do not need to purchase additional hardware to use the product.

I am not sure I follow Drewfidelity's comment. Do all DVD players play DVD-A?
From my experiences and some good friends experiences SACD and DVDa doesn't have much to offer on a high end set up over redbook cd's so who cares??? If SACD catching on means that people will dump there collection on the used marker I will jump on the savings and enjoy my regular CD's. YMMV.
My experiences with SACD is the same as that young upstart Tireguy. Jcbtubes and I spent an entire evening comparing SACD to redbook CDs. We were using the top of the line Marantz vs the EMC-1. In both our opinions, the EMC-1 sounded better. Only those recordings in SACD sounded OK. IMO, buy the best CDP in your price range. Read sean's last paragraph. Hey Tireguy, for a youngin, ya sure know your stuff.
If you wait for SACD or DVD audio to take off before purchasing your next player take the money & invest it in a stock or stocks that will give you a good long term return. In the near term I don't see either format doing much. I have players that play both formats. I have not heard anything in either format that beats the sound I get from my Krell player. If you really must purchase a player now go to a good dealer & see what they have that you can take out & try at home. Compare them to what you already have. If you have to strain to notice any difference, take it back. If you do find something you like find what the retailers trade-up policy is. The better Hi-End shops will give you 100% trade up for up to a year from your purchase date. Good Luck; Larry W's my 2 cents...I got all excited over SACD and two years ago, or whatever, popped for a SCD-1. O.K., so I overlooked that it took the better part of an evening to cue up a CD, I wanted that SACD sound I had read about.A year later I sold it due to total lack of software, unless you are totally into classical and remakes of the bangles. Now another year later and still squat for software, plus now you have multichannel SACD and DVD-A and even less than squat for music to play on that hardware. Soooo what to about I bought an EMC-1 with MK 11 upgrade and holy mackeral andy, I can play the software I already own and it sounds great. Get the point? I hope someday when the electronics industry apologizes to us ,the consumer, that they don't wreck a good apology with a poor excuse.
I agree with those who have commented above re SACD and DVD-A. I recently heard SACD in a friends new Sony 777ES SACD player w/3.6 Maggies. Nice sound, but VERY limited software, and quite frankly I prefer music through my own Levinson M37 transport and M360S DAC that just plays regular ol' redbook CDs-- but I have 1000+. Well recorded CDs these days are very good, and I wanted the best front-end I could afford-- no regrets with the Levinson gear. Cheers. Craig.
I debated this issue myself last summer and went with a quality redbook-only CD player. I can play all of my existing titles and have thousands more to choose from. And the sound is outstanding! I found that many people who have high-end SACD players also use an OUTBOARD DAC to get better redbook performance out of their players so I wasn't convinced that there were any SACD players that also had redbook playback on par with the best redbook-only players. I don't see regular CD's going away anytime soon and I'm happy with my decision. Good luck!
the $3k resolution audio cd-50 & its replacement, the $3.5k cd-55 are well-respected single-box units. i wouldn't trade my modded art di/o for one of 'em, tho. if you can diy, it'll cost ~$200-$250; otherwise, get one already modded, for $300-$350. if ya got money to burn, sure, go ahead & spend more... ;~)

doug s.
Regarding the modded ART DI/O...From what I've been lead to believe over at the AudioAsylum forums is that the modded DI/O is an absolute STEAL for the money invested, but it's no giant killer. I've never seem anyone stack it up against digital front ends above $2k, for example. Do you have evidence to the contrary?

I would expect a Kern or Ric Schultz modded SACD player to "hand the DI/O it's arse" for $1-2k invested, no?
Aroc - as a follow-up, my "Kerned" 333ES did in fact walk all over my stock DI/O. I never got a chance to have the DI/O modded so I can't compare but given that I did compare the 2 units there was a huge difference in presentation. I'm not convinced that a modded DI/O would even be close but thats just my opinion using my system as a benchmark...

I don't think you can buy any new DAC for the cost of a modded DI/O that will perform as well and thus it does deserve its praise for a great return on such a small investment!
Sure the modded DI/O owns its price point. It's probably good for someone who wants something better (outboard D/A) but doesn't want to shell out too much for it at this time. So it is a viable solution.
no, i have *not* had intimate experience w/all (or even with many?) hi-dollar cd-rigs. all i know, is the experience i *have* had: my modded di/o, fed from a modest nad 5-disc cd-changer, smokes the well-respected $1.8k alchemist nexus, & the $3k+ resolution audio gear. there are others, tho, w/hi-dollar cd experience, that think the di/o *does* hold its own, in comparison. i 1st heard about them here:


doug s., don't have $4k+ to spend on digital hardware, even if the format wars *were* decided! ;~)
Look, folks, this alleged format war is getting tiresome. I agree with most everyone's comments regarding the lack of titles, etc. Bottom line is that HDCD is on a par with SACD/DVD-A, you don't need to buy an expensive new player geared towards a questionable format, you won't have to chuck existing CDs to replace 'em with a new format, and there are tons of HDCD titles available NOW. Also, with the backing of Microsoft (which bought Pacific Microsonics - the patent holder of HDCD), you can be certain that Mr. Gates and Co. will do what it takes to make HDCD THE format of choice.

My advice is to get the BEST redbook player you can (preferably with a HDCD chip) and let 'er rip! I just ought a Cary 303/200 and it sounds awesome. Everything is sounding wonderful and I'm not losing any sleep over the format war. Let 'em kill each other. I can listen and rest easy knowing that I'm a non-combatant.
rlb61, i pretty-much agree w/what you're saying, tho i don't have 1st-hand experience w/hdcd. only thing i have a small disagreement about, is how much money is needed to spend to get the most out of a basically flawed format... ;~)

doug s., happily on the sidelines, too! :>)

It will be the machine to go for many many years!
Yes. After much trepidation, I can't imagine NOT having my EMC-1 MkII! Cheap? No, but it'll be a long-term friend.
Subaruguru, finaly had Jcbtubes put in the new mod. Have only listened to it for 10 or 12 hours. I have so much going on in my system, I don't no whats doing what. With all the new stuff I am breaking in, Can't tell what the improvements are. I can say this, It obliterated the Res Audio CD-50.
Sedond my ol' friend, I can't blame you a bit for your opinions on the Res-50 vs the Art di/o. I also agree.

Rlb61, I agree with much you have said. But HDCD doesn't alway's sound as good as one of my middle of the road CDs. Just because it says SACD, don't mean it is anything special.

Sedond, your opinions on digital shouldn't count, your a vinyl man. Sedond the vinyl man, I bet, has the best sound on this thread. Except for maybe a few other TT guys on this thread. If I owned Sedond's TT setup, I wouldn't put much $$$ into digital either. Sedond, do you ever get so angry with all the tweaking on the TT, that you just want to throw it in the gabage? The TT nearly sent me to the nut house. Always adjusting azmuth, VTA, wondering if my belt was too tight or too lose. Started adjusting VTA for every album. I really miss the old TT, but I think if I gave it another try, it would send me to a rubber room in a straight jacket. If I remember right, you have the Oracle. What arm, cartridge, phono amp, and what is it sitting on? I have a bunch of new Dylan albums I am dying to hear.

thanks for the comments re: my analog set-up. dunno if it's as good as ya make it, but i do know that, barring any unforeseen lottery windfall or something, i'm set on the vinyl front! ;~) i'm not much of a tweeker w/it, tho - yust set it & forget it. so, no, i have never had any frustration w/tweeking it. the oracle suspension seems pretty constant - i check its level once in a while, but it's usually spot-on. for system specifics, i have it listed on the audio asylum if yure really interested (search doug s.)

re: digital, tho, i can honestly say that my modded di/o really *does* get me better sound than i ever thought i'd hear from my set-up. and, it's good enuff so that i could live w/it as a main source. no, it's not vinyl, but it's really close in ways where vinyl always has reigned supreme - the liquidity, soundstage depth, & lack of harshenss. it's also wery strong in areas that digital is expected to be strong - the dynamics, the detail, & the blackness between notes is superb. it's an absolute no-brainer for anyone looking to improve their digital playback w/o breaking the bank. and again, while i don't have the "mega-buck" rig experience, there *are* those who have ditched their multi-thousand-dollar digital rigs in favor of this little thing... (at ~5.5"x5.5"x1.5", the art di/o really *is* a little thing!)

doug s.