Cary CD303/200 or CD306/200?


I'm trying to decide which player I should go for and am having a tough time as there doesn't appear to be much info on these players. I've read all posts here on Audiogon and still feel as if I need more info. Has anyone tried these players? How about the older CD303 v. the CD306?

Specific questions:

What sonic differences should I expect to hear?

What functional differences exist between the units?

Would I be able to use either player as a DAC for my DVD Player (Sony DVP S7700)?

Cary's site lists the CD306/200 as a Transport/Processor and the CD303/200 as a CD Player - what exactly is it that constitutes a Transport? I don't see anything that would stop me from using the CD303/200 as a Transport. Then again, I'm pretty new to this stuff.

I realize the CD306/200 is better, but am trying to justify the additional cost. Please help.

Thanks in advance.


My equipment list:

CD Player: ?
Interconnect: Home Grown Audio Silver Lace
Pre-Amp: AES (Cary) AE-3 DJH
Interconnect: Home Grown Audio Silver Lace
Amp: AES (Cary) SuperAmp DJH
Speaker Cable: Kimber 8TC
Speakers: Vandersteen 2Ce Signature
Try at www.audioasylum and use the search engine and type Cary 303 and 306 and also more specifically:
303 can be used as transport using its digital outs. but the 306 has digital inputs so it can be a processor too for external sources.

what you are paying for in the difference between these 2 units are the dacs and audio output section on the 306, really (plus the 306 inputs i guess).

the 306 offers upsampling dacs that are burr brown 1704s which are 24 bit dacs.

the 303 also uses the 1704s (one per channel whereas the 306 uses 4 per channel). Both are using the PMD 200 filter.

Personally, I have preferred the 303/200 cd player to the more expensive 306 player. I thought it had more life to it. I'm not convinced that multi-dacs in parallel improves things at all... its all a bit of a hack. Certainly upsampling is a good thing, but the latest 303 has the same PMD 200 which I think does the upsampling as well as the HDCD decoding.

I've really enjoyed the 303 and not loved the 306 as much.

Talking to Dennis Had, owner of Cary, he outsources the design of both components to a group in Japan. I was wondering how he could be both an expert in analog tube amp design and digital cd design. he is not.

My recommendation is to listen to both in your system. I liked the 303 better, but that's just me I guess...

Ensure you get the metal remote control. The guy who makes the cool metal remote is retiring and they are replacing with a crap-plastic remote....
Additionally, the 306/200 upsamples to 24/192 kHz which is very effective.
I understand that the 303/200 is not shipping yet. Is this not true? Do some of you have it now or are you refering to the old 303? Thanks
Stereodad, the CD303/200 is shipping in two weeks. My guess is that some people have heard the CD303/200 at a dealer.
I have not listened to the 303/200 because that model wasn't available when I bought the 306/200. The 306/200 upsamples to 192KHz while the 303/200 does 96KHz. For me, one of the deciding factors was the ability to use the 306/200 as a DAC because it has Optical, Coaxial, and AES/EBU digital inputs. I route my 5-disc changer digital output through the 306/200 to take advantage of its DACs. Sounds great! There are several posts up on about the Cary CD players.

Here are some photos and my comments on the 306/200: