If it were me I would get the Ayre. You might want to list the rest of your system. There will be better suggests if you do so.
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Being as I have owned both players, I can say that the Ayre is a better machine(but not with a better transport.) However, and you'll love this, I liked the Arcam better! The Ayre has excellent resolution and all the good hifi stuff people talk about BUT the Arcam is warmer and more analoque like. It's just one of those players you can get hooked on. It makes bad CD's (which they're a lot of)more listenable. Its sound is very similiar to the old Sony XA7ES player. A very good sounding player and betters the Arcam somewhat. Both are very "Undigital."
The Ayre is a little lighter in its overall sound which I think leads to the slightly better resolution. It also probably has better low register bass. But here again, I'd rather listen to the Arcam!
Don't get me wrong, the Ayre is a good player and if you want EVERY detail on the disk, it's wonderful. It's well built (except I do question their choice of transports which both the Arcam and especially the Sony top hands down.)
My all time preference for just listening to music is the Sony XA7ES. No, it's not perfect but what it does do is some kind of fine. Very analogue like but maintains its resolution, etc.
In the Arcam's corner is it does HDCD which to me, with the appropriate discs, sounds pretty dang good!
Thanks for your insight, one the reasons I was considering the Ayre was for the balanced outputs as well.
You're also right about listing the rest of my system. I didn't even think about it. Being in a hurry I guess.
For the record my system: Preamp, Audio Research LS-25 mk II
Amp, " " D-150.2
Speakers, Triangle Naia's
I keep looking around but have seen nothing in the approx. $2,000 price range (used) that would be an apparent improvement over my Muse Model 10. The Model 9 Signature is generally about $1K used, and has a similar sound. You can find Models 10 and 11 in the ballpark of $2k used. All of them are balanced players, and Muse has maintained a very proactive upgrade policy so you can always upgrade to the current top models.
Thanks for the subwoofer suggestion, I had thought about that at one time. However, because I'm somewhat of a tweak freak, I've done some other things to improve bass response as well as overall sound. Things such as maple platforms and brass cones under source components and brass cones under speakers,after market powercords(audio metallurgy)and a really great tweak stillpoints ERS cloth in strategic places ie; over CD transport,around speaker cables at terminal binding post an around interconnect rca jacks and powercords. This stuff is phenomenal it cleans up EMI/RFI and digital glare as wellas significantly reduces the noise floor.
These tweaks cumitively have greatly improved my system. So much so that I recently listened to an audio research 26k system playing the same Cd's an my system 15k (overall) actually sounded better and that shouldn't be!
I used to own Arcam CD33 , not CD23 , now Ayre CX-7e. Arcam is warmer and it's excellent when listening to vocal. However, Ayre is natural and balanced. Its built quality is excellent as well.
Another great feature is that it has true balance output. If your pre-amp also has true balanced input, this cdp is perfect.
I also plan to have a second system in my bedroom and i think i will go with Arcam CD33 again or even CD36.
I also own the CX-7e, and while I find it of similar quality to my previous Muse 10 I discussed in this post last July, it is different sounding in a good way. I would say the Ayre has better resolution and definitely deeper bass. The only thing I have been trying to work with is the highish output of the Ayre - 4.5 V. This has made matching with my Atma-Sphere to be somewhat problematic since the system is too loud for really low level listening. I have built some in-line voltage dividers to solve the problems.
Eee3, with you ARC gear, why nor go for ARC CD3 MkII? You can then run your entire system fully balanced, which makes a nice difference with ARC gear. Really good player, the CD3 MkII. I don't know about FMJ23, but CD3 MkII is easily better than FMJ33. Haven't heard the Ayre, but read many times that it's on the light, thin side. ARC player is full sounding with very good bass impact. Depends on what kind of sound you are looking for of course.