The much-touted Cambridge Audio 840c has a digital input, I do believe.
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Doug - I am doing that right now. Still dosent compete with very cheap HDDVD player from toshiba running to same benchmark. The nice thing about the benchmark is that it has 2 dig inputs so that I can run the sonos AND the dvd into it.
The problem I am having is that even when I rip CDs to WAV, hardwire the sonos and send the dig out to the benchmark, it still sound flat.
I wish you had saved me $650...
My goal is to keep the sonos for convenience and get a good CD player when I am more concerned with quality. Ideally, I can get my hands on something like the Cambridge unit mentioned above for a demo. If the Cambridge Dac handles the sonos as well as the benchmark, then I can sell the benchmark and get some of the money back.
Really, what I would LOVE to be able to do is demo a modded sonos. I would be happiest if i could find a way to increase the sonos sound quality to that of a decent CDP.
If you have any thoughts, please share them. I dont know many folks in san antonio (where i live) that I can swap ideas and gear with...
From my experience: The Wadia's are pretty good and if you get the i versions (this means they have the inputs) then mission accomplished. They are a bit dryer in my opinion than either of the other two. Audio Aero Capitole, this is a beautiful sounding tubed CD player that costs a lot of money is may be catagorized in the not totally reliable list in terms of longevity. The resolution Audio Opus 21 is good, the GNSC modded version is very, very good. Of these three, this would be my recommendation. I run this with a Cambridge Audio Azur hard drive system this way and it is quite good. I don't know the difference in performance/sound between the Cambridge vs. the Sonos. But like your intent, the Cambridge is used for convenience, background music - certainly not critical listening.
Not sure if anyone is reading this beside me, but...
I just got finished with a stock audio opus. I kept it for 2 weeks and sent it back. I fould no real improvement over the sonos to benchmark dac sound in my system and for $3500, I needed some real improvement.
No real harm doen though. Res Audio in CA was great about sending me a player and taking my return. Paid a 5% restocking fee which also covered round trip shipping.
I wish that I had Wadia money, but I dont. Next I am going to try the Cambridge and will also consider a used simaudio supernova.
I really liked the the esoteric SA-10 that I demo'd, but it didnt have a digital input.
Jimmy, tell me what you liked about the SA-10? I understand you need the digital input so this sort of ruled this player out for you, but you commented that you really liked it. What did you like about it?
FWIW, while I think the B&W speakers you run are excellent speakers, I find that they are somewhat forgiving in the sense that they make other changes in equipment etc. . . less apparent. I used to own B&W speakers and found that they are very good, but did not exhibit as noticeable of a change when I would swap out other components (as compared to other speakers I have owned). Based on this, my feeling is that you must audition any new equipment through B&W speakers (preferably your own system) and decide from there. This "kind" nature of the B&W speakers, in my opinion, negates overspending on other components and cables as improvements by such changes are not as significant.
I am new at this so I am not as articulate as many.
What I noticed with the SA-10 was what I would describe as greater extension and more air in the highs. Cymbals seemed to trail off longer for instance. My best description would be to say that compared to dvd-player to dac1, the SA-10 was like someone had taken their foot off of that second pedal on a piano (the one that muffles everything) or that a guitar player had taken his pick hand off of the strings. It was quickly and unmistakably noticeable and likable. Not one of those things that one is pretty sure they hear after a long listen. I ran generic balanced interconnects from the dac1 and the esoteric into the MA6900, qued up the same song on two burned disks and flipped from one to the other. I am sure that my methods were not scientific, but it seemed clear enough.
By contrast, when I did the same thing with the Resolution Audio player, I could not tell the RA and the DAC1 apart. Not at all.
At the moment, I have a Cambridge 840c on order. What the heck. If it isnt the best choice I can return it. I will also buy a used AYRE C7xe to try. It doesnt have my digital input but it can also be had used for a lot less than the Esoteric or the Resolution Audio. And it looks like 4 or 5 of them sold on this site in the past week so I dont feel like I would be sticking my neck out that far if I didnt like the player.
I had contemplated going to visit the nearest Ayre dealer, but he is 75 mi away and I would have to bring my speakers and the Cambridge player to compare and at the end of the day I wouldnt spend the money on a new one anyway so it all seemed a bit dishonest.
We will have to see. The Cambridge gets here next week. I figure I will give it another week to run in a bit and by then there should have been some more of the Ayre players listed for sale.
If the Esoteric turns out to be the best choice for CDs, I will most likely go find one. It just seems like a big decision to me and I want to hear a few others before I settle.
Jimmy, thanks very much for your reply, especially your comments on the Esoteric. The ayre players are very good from everything that I can tell and the minimul amount I have been able to auditon at a dealers (though not in a system very similar to mine). Ayre makes great products but I feel the hurt for not having a digital input. I have not had a chance to listen to the Cambridge 840C, many that have compared this to previous Cambridge CD players have reported that it is "much better". I have a Cambridge 640H (I think that is the model) that is their hard drive based system and I really like this, but only when I use the digital outputs (the analog is fine for background, but to really compare and get something close the digital to a better DAC or CD within inputs is very noticeable). I have been informed that the 840C is a big audible improvement of a CD played from this device (which has the 640C CD player and DACs built in). Best of luck and I am sure you can turn the Ayre quickly if you need to and can let it go. I would love to hear your comments on the 7Xe if you do bring one in.
Thanks to everyone who has responded. I tried to find a supernova in my town (because they just look so cool...) but failed.
In the end, I ordered the cambridge (becaue it was a mailorder) and bought the ayre on this site even though it didnt have the input because i figured that if I liked it enough i would just keep my dac1. I will let everyone know what I think about the ayre when it gets here next week. But as far as the cambridge goes, I really like it so far. both as as player and as a dac for my sonos. Need to play with cables and make sure that is not the reason but so far I like it better than my benchmark as a DAC. More in the next week.
I found a used Ayre cx7e on this site and ordered it to compare to the cambridge. I am new at this and not a reviewer but here are my thoughts:
Non - sound related: Not as important and easier to sum up. The Cambridge has a higher quality remote from a "percieved build quality" standpoint. Metal vs plastic. I use an old harmony remote but would consider keeping the Cambridge out to use. Not the ayre.
The cambridge reads disks faster. Cambridge display is LCD. To me, it looks like a high quality, mass produced item. The ayre looks more industrial but less common.
In my room, I sit about 12ft from the speakers and equipment. At that distance, the ayre screen can be read but I couldnt make out the cambridge display.
Sound - I ended up keeping the ayre and sending the cambridge back. Even though the cambridge would have been cheaper and allowed me to sell my DAC1.
In my room, the cambridge seemed too refined to me when compared to the ayre. The Cambridge smoothed out rought edges that in my room are better left rough.
In a smaller room, in closer proximity to the speakers I might have preferred the cambridge.
I changed my mind a couple of times during the month long demo of the cambridge. At one point, I decided that I preferred the ayre but that I ouwld rather have the extra money for something else. In the end, I decided that if I sold off the ayre and the dac1, it would bug me.
The esoteric was a very "different" sounding player (I could see someone calling it brittle but I liked it) and if I ever saw that model used I might pick it up but I cant bring myself to pay retail for it.
I will be putting together a small system in a study later in the year and want to try the cary and might even come back to the cambridge.
By the way, I had no problem at all returning the cambridge to audio advisors.
Jimmy, thanks for the follow up comments on the Ayre unit. When you get around to adding that second system, another consideration you may want to pursue is the Resolution Audio Opus 21 with GNSC reference mods. Used you can currently get these for about $3,100. The benefit being the acceptance of digital inputs and also an analog volume control. For a second system, you can get a decent, moderately powered two channel amp, the Opus 21 and a Slim Devices Duet and have a pretty encompassing system. Of course, you could also go with an Audio Aero Capitole, but that will be a lot more money.
I use the CA 840c in a similar fashion.
The balanced outs of the CA are just icing on the cake!
The CA also has not 1 BUT 2 channels of Digital input......
and BOTH have both Optical and Coax!
Current or planned connections:
OPPO universal:: HDMI video to TV / Digital to CA for sound
Confuser:: Burn all CD's to FLAC (lossless) and use as a
server to stereo, again thru the CA.
Even internet radio would be available to my stereo in that manner.
You have some listening / planning to do!