Cary 303t Pro or Ayre c5xemp

Want to upgrade my Arcam FMJ cd23 and have narrowed it to the Ayre or Cary. Rest of system is Rowland Concentra integrated and Dynaudio c1 signature.

Prefer a warmer analog type sound without giving up dynamics. Also want a detailed wide 3d soundstage. I listen for hours so don't want something that would be fatiguing.

If anyone has heard both in a similar system would sure appreciate your comments.

Thank you...
Is the Concentra based on the model 2 or 112 amp? I forget.
I have a C5xemp and love it. Works best using balanced connections. Cary is probably warmer if that's your pleasure.
Concentra 2
The 2 is based off the 112. I happen to have one although its not in use right now. The reason I bring it up is that the Rowland is very forgiving and possibly even laid back in the high frequencies. I wouldn't consider either the Ayre all Cary to be all too warm sounding. They are both pretty neutral and much more detailed.

One other thing you mention as important is imaging. The Arcam is good in this regard. The Ayre and Cary are much better, especially the Ayre. The Rowland, however, is not so good. (I'm talking about my 112 which basically has the same power amp that your integrated does.) I really have no idea why but I thought I would mention it because imaging is one of the qualities you point out as important.
I have a Rowland 112 and I've never noticed any deficiencies in imaging. Used with Martin Logan, Monitor Audio, Spendor and Gradient loudspeakers. Directly compared to Pass, Rowland and Roksan amps.

I wasn't trying to put Rowland down, or anything like that, its a great amp. Just to clarify, the side to side imaging is OK, as well as image height. The real problem is with image depth. Its pretty much completely flat; nothing whatsoever. I never considered depth to be that important of an issue for me until I got the 112. When its not there, you really miss it. I thought that there may be an issue with my amp but I've spoken to several people that have exactly the same problem. I don't think all Rowland amps have this issue, just the ones from the 112 era. (112, 12, 10).

If I didn't mention, I still have the amp. The reason I keep it is that it does something better than any amp I've ever heard. High frequencies. When I first got it, I immediately thought it was a very laid back amp. But the more I listened to it, I came to realize that all the information is there, just not the noise. Things like cymbals actually sound like they are supposed to. I do have some other amps that I prefer overall. In my main system I have a pair of Ayre V5's and in another system I have a VAC 30/30. As good as they are, the 112 still does HF's a little better. Thats why I still have it.

Back to the OP's question. The reason I brought up the 112 was that I was a little surprised about him wanting a warm sounding CD player. Both the Rowland and the Arcam are components that are definitely "easy on the ears", for lack of a better description. Maybe even too much of a good thing. I wasn't sure if he wanted to go warmer, or balance it out a little with an Ayre or Cary.

what about stepping up the Arcam's top FMJ cd player?
Zd542- Are you saying both Ayre and Cary would be a good replacement?

Jafant- What do you mean by "stepping up"?

"Zd542- Are you saying both Ayre and Cary would be a good replacement?"

It depends. Personally, I feel that they are both better than the Arcam. That dosen't mean that you will, however. In your OP you say that you like a warm, analog type of sound. I really don't know what to make of that because its a very subjective statement. Of the 3 players, you would probably say that the Arcam is the "warmest" sounding. However, you then go on to say that you want better dynamics and 3D imaging. There's no question that the Ayre and Cary players are better in this regard. The point I'm trying to make is that you will probably give up some things that the Arcam does well in order to gain in other areas. You really need to do some listening.