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I have an older Cambridge Audio D500, and am very pleased with it. The sound is very clear, detailed and natural. I haven't heard the Arcam CD72, so can't comment on how the two units would compare, but Arcam CD players seem to be well reviewed by the audio press and commented on favorably by users on Audiogon and other sites. Using good interconnect cables and a replacement power cord with the D500 improves the sound. I am using MAS Grey interconnects with mine, which offer excellent sound at a reasonable price; see "Interconnects at modest cost" discussion on Audiogon's cable forum for more on these.
I would go with the Arcam CD72. Better build quality and
a more refined sound.
I was also looking in the same price range as the D500SE
and wound up buying the new Music Hall MMF-25 CD Player.
I thought the D500SE sounded fairly decent, but thought
the CD tray and mechanism left a lot to be desired. You
might want to give it a look!
I guess it really does come down to how much you want to spend. The Arcam is more refined and should be considering price. For under $500 brand new, the Cambridge is hard to beat. For used do not forsake the original D500. It has a slightly older delta-sigma 20bit DAC, but it is actually a higher spec DAC than the 24bit/192 DAC in the D500SE.
I also recommend the power cord upgrade for the Cambridge. The stock cord they give you is pretty cheap. It does not even fit well in the IEC socket. Even a $7 Black 14AWG computer type cord is a good upgrade. I highly recommend the Blue Circle BC61 or the Vansevers 202. The D500 should go well with your Cambridge Amp (which amp?).
The Cambridge D500SE gives up nothing to the Arcam CD72.
They do, however, sound different. The Arcam is a leaner, faster, more detailed sound. The Cambridge is warmer, rounder, and richer. This comparison is most apparent in the midrange. The Arcam is more extended in the treble, the Cambridge features deeper, more powerful bass response. Do you prefer vanilla or chocolate?
My opinion is that the D500SE is a definite step forward in sound from the D500. The music seems less digital, and more natural. I don't find it subtle. Another layer of detail emerges at the same time. Bass is also more powerful; this player's being almost nonexistent in under $800 machines. The statement about the power cord upgrade is quite correct. Blue Circle would a fine choice, especially considering its price.
All in all, my feelings about the sonics of the Cambridge is that it competes with any player under $1000. I did own three, though. And, THAT is a problem. The build quality of the Cambridge was where they definitely cut corners; my hope was that it was only in the cosmetics/case. I was wrong, they are lousy. After the third, I bowed out.
British made(I presume the Arcam is) components normally feature excellent build quality and reliability. That would put the Arcam ahead of the Cambridge without question.
I would like to say that Avideo is right on about the Music Hall MMF CD25. I just bought one a few weeks ago. Wonderful player. Incredible. How Roy Hall has found a player like this at this price point I do not know. I find it superior to the Cambridge, Rega Planet 2000, and even the Musical Fidelity A3(which is about to be upgraded). It's a more detailed, fast, musical player, while giving up none of the dynamics or impact. I do think the Arcam FMJ23 might sound a touch more detailed and analytical(how I describe Arcam players), but not as musical.
Musical is the word I use incessantly(my apologies) when describing the Music Hall. It just sounds musical. Slick and slippery, the notes just fly out of this player. The way I often feel when I am listening to digital is analogous to the way I react to a 1970's "paint by numbers" painting. Yes, all looks great from a distance, but when I really look at it, the blending and intermixing of colors is just not natural. Stark, rather than smooth. I don't get this sensation at all with the Music Hall.
Build quality, heft, operation, sound, and cosmetics would have most people guess this player would retail for $1500 - $2200.
I could find fault in the leisurely transport, disk initialization(a high end malady), and the awful(really awful) remote. Sonically, the bass could be more powerful, although I find that with the great majority of CD players I come across.
In these days of cheap and good DACs, who wants to spend a lot of money on a CDP?
I have a Cambridge D300SE hooked to a Soundstream DAC-1. The CDP is plugged to the digital outlet of my Tice A/V Solo with an Absolute Power Cord and the DAC's to a Power Var isolation transformer.
My suggestion is get the 300 and a good, inexpensive power cord. Then get a modded ART DI/O DAC.
I tried plugging the DAC to the Tice and the Cambridge to the transformer, but I got *much* better results the other way. This shows how important it is for every digital component to be properly isolated...
What I found a couple of weeks ago was that my DAC is the limiting factor in my digital setup--not the Cambridge. I was brought two clasic Marantz MA24 class A monoblocks and two pairs of Rhapsody II interconnects by Straightwire. When this was hooked it was evident the DAC was not keeping up with the rest of the gear...
Ever wonder why Frank Van Alstine demos his awesome DAC with an old and inexpensive CDP?