CD player to compete with my vinyl rig?


I find that I have stopped buying CDs, which I regret because there is so much great new music out there.

My player is a Cambridge 640c and listening to it just doesn't do the 'suspension of disbelief' thing. It has all the right stuff: black backgrounds, dynamics, PRAT, detail, air, frequency extension, but as soon as the orchestral strings well up or the horns start, I want to turn it off. The timbral qualities are weird (especially massed strings, voices) and the sense of real people playing instruments isn't there. There's a sheen and confusion to the soundscape. My vinyl rig offers by far the more realistic experience. I have multiple copies of Mahler's 2nd Symphony on both CD and vinyl, and I never listen to the CDs any more.

I would like to find a CD player that makes me want to listen to CDs as much as vinyl!

I'm looking at reviews of the Rega Apollo R, the Teac PD H600, Audiolab 8200CD and the Decware Zen triode player. (Yes, around $1000 budget).

My rig: Pro-ject 2 Xperience/Shure V15-IV, Jico SAS, Cambridge 640c, Rogue Cronus Magnum/KT120 tubes, LS3/5a speakers, Kimber, Zu cabling.

Music tastes: Sibelius, Mahler, Bruckner, Bach, fifties torch singers.

I would love to hear suggestions from members!
I have an Oppo 95 and similar taste in music the two test this thing had to pass was massed strings and brass, Bruckners 7th and 9th Paavo Jarvi (RCA sacd) and Ivan Fisher's Mahlers 2nd Channel Classics sacd deliver outstanding tonality, rich harmonics and tremendous soundstaging. 30 day trail and for me the $1000 Iv'e ever spent!
I've found that my Project RPM10.1 with the Sumiko Blackbird outperformed even my EMM Labs XDS1.

I'm not sure if you'l be able to find a CDP that competes with yr table unless you are willing to get to quite stratospheric prices.

If your budget extends to it, have a listen to the Ayon range. I have the CD5S which I find is quite musical. Or look for the lower end levels. I really enjoyed the CD2S which I got preowned and liked it so much I ended up selling it to get the CD5S.
I have a highly modded Sony SCD-1 and while it sounds very good it can not compete with my vinyl set-up (VPI Classic/Benz Wood sl & Herron VTPH-2). I think for a $1000 it is going to be difficult. I would look to the modwright sony or oppo units for reasonable money (3K including player).

Thanks, I'm of a mind that down the road a bit, CDs are going to enter the domain of media-of-the-past. Since there are so many years of published titles on regular CD, they are going to be available one way or another for decades, new or used. I thought I would concentrate on finding a CD-only player that would shift the listening of CDs into an enjoyable domain! ('Enjoyable' doesn't necessarily mean the highest resolution or the deepest dynamic range). I find that the cost of SACDs is just too high...I would rather buy pristine vinyl at that price.

Is the Jolida JD100A worth considering?
I liked my Jolida alot. It couldn't compete with my MMF-7/Eroica/Graham Slee though. I think $1000 won't really do it. Another thought is to find a DAC for $1000 fed from your Cambridge CDP. Then you can have streaming and a variety of inputs. Getting a tubed DAC may get you closer to your vinyl. I like the Eastern Electric DAC but there are so many to choose from. I think you will have to spend considerably more than $1000 in a CDP since you are used to vinyl and know what you like.

I think HD downloads are going to become more of the norm for digital music. You could then stream it wirelessly to your main music system and go from there. I currently stream radio swiss classic from my computer through an apple airport express to my stereo system and it sounds suprisingly good and is very inexpensive to do. Streaming cd's can be done just as easily. Happy Listening

no CD Player can not make you want to listen to CDs. If you don't like CDs, why would you want to listen to them? And I will state the obvious, stop listening to components and concentrate on the music.
Rok2id, your response is reasonable. But I would like to enjoy some of the many recent CD issues. I have a dumb faith that there IS a CD player out there I'll enjoy.

Chuck, I think you are right and streaming is a viable way to go for the future.....I'm considering that as my investment, over a CDP.

Goggiehowser, thanks for your perspective. My ambition is not very high....I don't anticipate finding a cheap-ish CDP that rivals a good vinyl rig, I just want to listen to a player that is 'not unpleasant'.
My last digital acquisition is a modded McIntosh MVP 871. Its playback stands on its own, as when listening to it, it makes me not care whether the format is digital or vinyl. It is that good. It was purchased here on Audiogon, modded, and then shipped to me. I am constantly amazed at what I hear from Redbook and multi-channel.

My vinyl rig is in a state of flux, my tonearm should arrive today, from a silver rewire by Jim Howard of Applied Fidelity. I should be able to do some comparisons shortly, but I suspect I will just enjoy both formats, whichever I'm listening to at the time.

Best regards,
Tgrisham, you say you liked your Jolida tubed CDP......I assume you moved onwards from there. Did you compare it to other players, and can you talk about its sound?
Your system is probably set up to sound its best playing vinyl. It may take more than popping a cd player in to get digital sound that is satisfying to you.

Some cd players that many people find musical are:
Oppo BDP-95
Sony XA5400ES
Marantz 8004
These players are $1000 new and also play SACD.

Used for around $1000 are:
Ayre CX-7e MP
Marantz SA-11S2

I'm sure there are many others.
The Resolution Audio CD50 convinced me to stop listening to vinyl and go strictly digital seven or eight years ago. I did extensive comparisons at the time and what I decided was well mastered cds beat vinyl for me. Poorly mastered cds sounded better on vinyl but not enough for me to keep it.
I have owned 10 or 15 cdps trying to beat the CD50, including the Jolida mentioned above, none of them came close. One of these days I may break down and purchase the Resolution Audio Opus 21 as from what I've read, and through discussion with Opus 21 owners, it has the same characteristics as the CD50 only better.
The other option is to find a dac you like and rip your cds to a hard drive and work from there. It's where things are going.
I'm using a Jolida 100a with NOS Amperex tubes with a rogue perseus pre (all NOS tubes). I'm now enjoying my Mahler, Bruckner, Prokofiev on cd. Strings and horns sound very natural (a close second to my vinyl).
I found that a tube CDP was much more suited to Orchestral music than the Cambridge CDP.
Try a LINN Akurate DS w/ 24/96 or 24/192 WAV and FLAC - there is not a CD player made on this earth that will compete with it under $15,000.
Lowrider57, I'm really glad to hear of your experiences with the same music that I play! This gives me confidence to look in the Jolida direction, thanks a lot.
The tube CDP option is why I also wondered about the Decware player. It seems to have good build quality. I have not heard any personal reports about it though.

Tomcy6, you are right, the CD was never the heart of my system, analogue is. But I'll be happy just to be able to treat both media with the same enthusiasm, even if they sound different.
My Jolida was a wonderful player, but early in my quest. It was pleasant, musical, forgiving and easy to listen to. I have gone through the phases of wanting articulation/precision to musical/romantic. It lies more to the romantic side. These days I prefer to let the analog signal from the LP play or try to make the digital signal sound as close to analog as I can. That led me to find a DAC that transforms the digital signal from the HD into a sound that mimics my LP version. I'm still looking. It is sort of a Don Quixote quest. It is a case of trial and error until you find the sound you like. Buy used and sell and buy until you are content.
the original cdx (naim, citca 1992), would compete with anything out there.

of course its all opinion.

with respect to analogue, there are many cartridges that have such an imbalanced frequency response, especially a peaky lower treble), that most well constructed cd components are preferable.

it is fruitless to compare "analog to digital".

it makes more sense to compare a specific turntable, arm and cartridge with a cd source.

the original tempest would be a worthy competitor to many analog setups.
Let us know what u decide. I was in the same position...looking for a CDP that would reproduce classical as close as possible to vinyl. (and with the $1000 budget).
So far, I like the idea of a CDR with a tube output stage. From comments here and elsewhere, it seems that it might shift the listening experience closer to the joy I get from vinyl. I'm pondering the options, but the Jolida sounds compelling.

I want to be able to surf the thrift stores in ten years time, cruising for CDs like I now cruise for vinyl! Maybe the Jolida will still be working for me then. I'll let you know what gets my money....thanks people.
I troll for used cds now and will in future but as soon as I get them home I rip them into a NAS drive and listen through a Linn DS unit. The ability to keep track of my extensive library easily and to surf my collection has made listening to music much more engaging by finding gems I had forgotten about or simply had not thought of forever. SUPERB sound, I am talking about competing with ARC's (and others) best cd players. Really.

PS. This is coming from a die hard vinyl junkie.
PPS. I couldn't agree more with your assessment of the Cambridge. Not sure why it got so popular.
Thanks Realhifi. The Linn DS unit is out of my reach. Perhaps this kind of unit will enter mainstream mid-fi in the future. I hope so.

Do you think the Cambridge 640c kind of presentation is last-generation technology which is now clearly eclipsed by the latest $1000 CDR? I'm wondering if (for example) the Rega Apollo R represents a generational shift in CDR sound, or are the differences minor?
I meant CDP!
I think you are looking at this the wrong way. My experience tells me the sound/flavor/character of a cdp is in the design/implementation of the analog output section much more than in the data conversion section. Not saying the conversion is unimportant but you can find three cdps using the same dac chipset with totally different sounds. Where does the difference come from? I say the analog output stage.
As stated above, I have used several different cdps, many of them were well reviewed, high quality players but they did not meet my criteria for smooth, listenable, non-fatiguing sound.
A used Neko Audio D100.
a Neko Audio D100 might be very attractive, paired with my 640c. I wonder how it might compare to the Rega DAC, which is described as having a similar soundscape?

In a DAC-CDP configuration, how important is the mechanical player in contributing to the overall sound, compared with the contribution from the DAC?
There is a comparison between the Rega DAC and the Neko over at the Neko forums.

Transports shouldn't be a problem with the Neko as it has excellent jitter reduction via the Wolfson receiver. I have tried a few with mine and prefer a Sony DVP-S999ES as the transport. It just sounded the best to my ears; I think Sony makes solidly built transports. I also own the 640C and it's very flimsy, I'd avoid using it as a transport if you can.
I dont think a US$1,000 cd player can compete with a similarly priced decent vinyl set up unfortunately.
You can get fairly close with today's digital but not with a player, let alone a player at your budget.

I'm an analog snob and your description of what your current CDP setup sounds like is all to familiar. I finally managed to put together a computer audio setup that kills my tubed CDP and provides a great deal of the lushness and ease of analog. It's also much simpler to find a title and play it.

Many of the under 2K DAC's aren't that much better, so beware.
I just bought a Jolida JD100A and even with the supplied Tung Sol tubes it sounds very good. Warm and musical with nice detail, not dry sounding at all. Build quality is outstanding for the price.
Regards, Sam
Rega Saturn. Buy used and it will fit your budget and your needs.
Another vote for Resolution Audio opus 21. I owned one for several years. I once heard it against a more expensive Esoteric unit, I forget which one and the contrast was really dramatic. The Esoteric, harder edged, very neutral, but harsh to my ears. The Resolution Audio, more lush or fuller toned, less detailed, but analogue like, as I would understand the term. everyone in the room remarked on the difference and preferring the Opus
With $1,000... you are not going to find even a used CD player that will compete.
Consider some Italian made players. A used Audia Flight Three and Northstar Sapphire can be found for $1k. Audio Analogue has the Crescendo for $895 new and several used models that would be around your price point.
05-08-12: Audiofreak32
" ...With $1,000... you are not going to find even a used CD player that will compete...."

Audiofreak32 nailed it.

If you move up the food chain to a better CDP kit into 5 figures pricewise (new) then CD will not only compete but also exceed.
Eastern Electric Minimax DAC-
Pick any half way decent transport or older cd player with a digital out and connect it up and enjoy. Some really prefer the SS output on it but I find that I like the tube output utilizing and RCA Cleartop.
I have an Ayon CD2s which im impressed with. maybe not as good as vinyl, but its very good.
Jolida 100a. The above posters are correct about price vs. quality, but obviously cost is a concern to you without having to sacrifice good sound. The Jolida is forgiving, musical, easy to upgrade, a pleasure to listen to.
Picked it up used, of course--they come up every so often on Audiogon. I first swapped out tubes with some old Telefunken's, hoping to capitalize on that famous tone--a horrible mix. Then got a set of the new Sovtek LPS's--nice improvement. Swapped out the stock PC for a DIY cord I had laying around--another nice improvement. Bought a Black Mountain PC that come up for auction here, and muttered my disappointment upon un-boxing it; the cable is a frail, feathery thing, so unlike the massive hoses we have become used to. I replaced the stock PC with the Black Mountain, put on Morphine's last recording, was smacked in the face with awe. My wife was called into the room by this change, and at the end of the album, said only, "Wow." We went into some serious listening, making sure to include much orchestral work. The difference from the stock PC is not subtle--improvement across the board: dynamics, depth, soundstage, articulation, clarity, etc. And just when I thought it couldn't get any better, I replaced the Sovtek's with a set of NOS Ei's. Damn. The Jolida is even more resolving, quicker, and the very breadth of sound is inspiring.
With a few minor changes, you would be hard-pressed to find something as terrific in this price range. The Jolida is a thoughfully engineered machine that allows you to enjoy the music, rather than looking about your gear, worrying over improvements.
If the price/musicality question requires even more savings, consider the early PlayStationOne. The DAC chipset on the 1001 and 5500 models is unique, delivering warm, rich, detailed tone. Either jack one through an exterior DAC unit or right into your rig, and you'll be pleasantly surprised. The 1001 already has a set of RCA jacks in it, although the tracking is better on the 5500. They are easily modified, plenty of information on the Web, and if you don't care for it, you can be proud of your donation to Goodwill (and, really, they aren't that expensive, even here, so you can afford to hear what the buzz was all about)...I don't have much money to throw around, myself, so I use PS1's in both my office and studio systems, and I am not unhappy. I might even have one tucked away, if you want to listen to it...
My two cents. Hope your quest goes well. Let us know how you make out. Cheers from Montana...