Pick up a used Sonic Frontiers
30 responses Add your response
This new Audiolab got a great review recently. I think I'd be inclined to favor it over the CXC, given that I saw more reliability complaints than expected, back when I was exploring the CXC option.
To be clear, I have no personal experience with either. Just letting you know about an option that may be new to you.
As far as performance for dollar, I would recommend the CXC. You can buy one inexpensively and “refurbished” that I suspect is actually new, on eBay. Plus you can modify it with additional dampening with Noico or Dynamat as per one of Steve Guttenberg’s videos. That’s a fun project. I did it with my Lumin U1 Mini and it worked out well. This way you can swap in and out the DACs of your choosing.
List of transports:
CD JVC XL-Z1050TN $275 used Top line player in 1990
CD Emotiva CD-100 $299 CD Player so-so, as a transport great - Positive Feedback Julies 1st sytem, Don Lindich says great sound and as transport
CD Pioneer DV-09 $450 used
CD Pioneer BDP-09FD $450 used
CD Marantz CD6006 $499 new
CD Cambridge Audio CXC $500 2015 What HiFi awards
CD Audiolab 8200CD $500 used 2014 What HiFi awards
CD Audiolab 6000CD $549 new HiFiChoice 2019
SACD Oppo UDP-203 $549 new
SACD Lexicon RT-20 $650 used
SACD Arcam UDP411 $650 used
SACD Marantz SA14S1 $650 used Reference
CD Sony XA7ES $700 used Best Sony in 09 $3k new
SACD Oppo BDP-105 $725 used
CD Audio Academy DDS Pro CD $800 used
SACD Arcam DV139 $800 used Best Arcam made, was $3500 new, converts DSD to PSM
CD Cyrus CD t $900 2015 What HiFi awards
CD/DVD PS Audio PerfectWave Transport PWT $1-2k refurb/used
SACD Marantz SA8005 $1,199 new
SACD Esoteric DV-50 $1,200 used great build, $5.5k new, bargain used
SACD Oppo UDP-205 $1,299 new
CD Simaudio Moon 260D $1,999 new optional DAC +$1000, TAS recommended
SACD Ayre C-5xeMP $2,000 used JA reference. Almost as good as $23,500 dCS Rossini Transport
CD CEC TL3N Mutine Edition $2,000
CD CEC TL3N $2,000 new https://positive-feedback.com/Issue75/cec_tl3n.htm PositiveFeedback
CD Cyrus CD Xt SE2 $2,375 2015 What HiFi awards, terrific buy
SACD Marantz SA14S1 $2,499 new Reference
CD CEC TL5N $3,400 new Hifi Pig - overwhelmed, extremely good value
CD Ayon CD-3sx $8,100 CD Player/DAC/Preamplifier - tube sounds great, no SACD
SACD T + A PDP3000HV + DAC $22,500 CD/SACD/DAC , TAS recommended
Don't ask - I've got a 100+ tab spreadsheet of audiophile components I've discovered while researching my bucket list first high-end system purchase
A couple of other things to consider which may, or may not matter to you but should be taken into account.
1) A remote. Does it have one? is it a flimsy, plastically, cluttered, poorly laid out affair or something that has been well designed in a solid, metal case with useful, but uncluttered features?
2) The display. Is it legible at your listening position? Does it contain the information you feel is important or is it cluttered with too much unimportant data? Is it dimmable or can it be turned off? Does it clash with the displays on your other components?
3) The case. Is it a weighty, all metal case that "feels" like a quality piece our is it a plastic lightweight? Does it have an appearance that is pleasing and compatible with your other components.
Again, if sound quality and reliability are all that you care about, then these things don't matter. However, not giving such things consideration could detract from what would otherwise be a satisfactory purchase.
The Audiolab did get a great online review. I picked up one of the CXCs on Ebay for about $300. I see the have the new V2s for $350. I think the Audiolab is $550. Unless you compare back to back you can never know which is better, but if you're a bit on the neurotic side and the $200 doesn't bother you, just get the Audiolab and forget it. That aside, I have no issues with the CXC.
Now that the list was expanded, take a ponder at the new Denafrips Avatar:https://www.vinshineaudio.com/product-page/denafrips-avatar
The price shown is in Singapore dollars and works out to just under $1200.00. And you won't have to worry about the Philips CDM4/19 sled as they have 3,000 of them in stock should something go wrong.
And, it's about $500 cheaper than the Jay's CDT2 Mk2.
All the best,
Thanks so much for all the advice. The Cambridge Audio still looks good but there seem to be reliability issues. If I get a refurbished one possibly it had its problems and is fixed. I am leaning to the Audiolab and the Marantz HD cd1 so things are narrowed down. Kennyc, that was quite a fine list of alternatives! Jchiappinelli, all of your points are well taken and those are all important considerations; I have zero toleration for flimsy and poorly laid out stuff. I should have said from the outset that I have been delighted with the Rega Apollo R. You guys are great.
Having heard most of these in my own system, the lower priced units perform as that, they are not giant killers if that is what you are looking for. My friend has the CEC TL5 that he is selling that was converted from a Japan model to now able to use in the US. I think he has it listed on US Audio Mart. Anyway I heard that compared to the CEC TL-3N, an older high end Metronome CDP/transport, and Jays Audio. Alos compared these lower priced units Rega (I do like the Saturn as a transport for the money), CXC, Sim Audio (don't remember the model #), NuForce transport, Nano transport, etc. There is nothing bad about any of these used as a transport. Even the Electrocompaniet is a very good option. TO me the CEC TL5 was the best especially for the price and conversion. Followed by the older Metronome with separate matching power supply (may be a CA-1 model?), then the TL-3N, then the Electro 1 Up, then the Nano with a better power supply. The Jays Audio is a nice player but when we compared that to the Metronome, it lacked the depth of sound stage and it was not anywhere near as musical. This may be a preference thing but that was the groups decision.
I was lucky enough to pick up a very old WADIA WT3200 in excellent condition for the right the right price some years ago. According to the Lampizator site this is just a Marantz CD(95 in a fancy case.(very fancy and robust I may add(). This thing has been a revelation. It immediately kicked out my expensive Meridian 508.24 transport to go into my main system.
When Philips made the CDM1 transport they committed the cardinal sin of consumer manufacturing;: they left inbuilt obsolescence out of the equation. Being a new medium and not knowing how long transports would last, they took a punt and basically built the best one they could. As it turns out, not only do they sound truly excellent, they basically never wear out, which in today’s era of planned obsolescence is commercial suicide. They learned their lesson, and have never committed the same error with their subsequent designs. So if you ever get a chance to pick up any unit in good condition with a digital out using a CDM1 leap in with both feet.
What amazes me is that something so old can still hold its own sonically agains much more recent offerings, and will probably outlast them all. It is one of those rare pieces of equipment that I never feel the need or urge to upgrade because it sounds so ‘right’. It has seen off or equalled everything people have brought round to my place (leaving some jaws on the ground), although by now I am sure better sounding transports must exist.
I too, have the Audiolab 6000 CDT(silver of course). I'm running it through two optional DACs. My onboard DAC in my P6 preamp which sounds very good(IMO) and a separate Schiit Gungnir MB. I've had the Transport for about a year and it's been excellent so far. I passed on the CXC because of several reviewers that had problems with component reliability and less than good support from Cambridge Audio.
I got the chance to listen to an Audiolab 6000CDT in my system yesterday and was rather impressed. While it it didn’t have the resolving power or authority of the Wadia it did most things right musically, and from memory certainty struck me as being sonically superior to the CXC.
Most importantly, if I didn’t have the Wadia it provided a sound I could live with. So generally a big thumbs up.
I have had the Audiolab CDT for several months. Can't recommend it enough. One of the best audio purchases I've made.
A friend of mine has the Cambridge CXC. He is considering replacing it with the Audiolab and moving the CXC to another setup.
No issues with it; mainly aesthetics are at play as much as anything .
Audiolab CDT it is. The Marantz HD was tempting but why get the DAC when I'm fine with the Exogal Comet? The CXC is probably fine but too many issues for some. I like the idea that the CDT is simple, stripped down to basics and apparently sounds great.
For the record the Sherwood didn't work out for my second system so I ended up with Adcom GFA 545 II amp and GFP 565 preamp, for which I will use the Rega Apollo R. It wasn't worth having the tuner because I can't get the single jazz/classical station in my rural area without some big antenna. To me streaming kills FM but those old receivers are very cool.
Thanks all! rt