CDP home shootout Rotel vs. Arcam vs. Marantz


Hello,

I am puting together a system and have bought the following CDPlayers:

Marantz CD 67SE
Rotel 971 (awaiting arrival)
Arcam 7SE (awaiting arrival)

Throw in an MSB Link DAC 3 with upsampling board upgrade

Add one Creek 4330R Amplifier

Digital IC is custom Canare (True 75ohm + L-5CFB)
Audio IC's are custom:
http://signalcable.com/analog_interconnects.html

I am also awaiting the arrival of a Rotel RT-990BX Tuner :)
(having bought 3 other real cheapies, the best by a long way so far is Sony ST-JX661 (high bid $17.50!), comfortably beats the Yamaha TX-492!)

OK what CD player in your opinion will win this home shootout? I listen to a broad range of music from ACDC to Ray Charles.

My speakers are currently a temporary solution (due to room and space limitations) Blueroom Minipods http://www.minipod.com/html/images/front_black.jpg (B&W kevlar drivers) hooked up with homemade Cat5 - solid copper AWG: 11.08, -

I beleive in neutral AMP first, then source, and speakers last, garbage in garbage out!

I am hoping to like the Rotel 971 on it's own best and sell all the rest including the MSB :)

Any ideas what is the best combination here?

Thx,
Josh
joshcloud9
Those three CD players are good choices, however you are probably not going to notice much of a difference between them, running them through the Minipods.

You could also just keep the MSB Link 3 and go to eBay and look for an Aiwa XC-37M (or XC-35M) 5 Disc CD changer and use it as a transport to feed the Link DAC. It will cost you around $50 to $75, plus the toslink cable. This combination will very likely outperform the stand alone players as is.

If you send the Aiwa and Link DAC to Stan Warren in Oregon for upgrading, that combo will kill those stand alone CD players.

But then again, if it were me, I would not bother to do the upgrade until you get better speakers and maybe even upgrade the Creek (which is a fine amp for what it costs).
Hi Sugarbrie,

If the Rotel RT-990BX doesn't significantly outperform the amazing and cheap Sony, I'll resell it and buy a better Amp!

I wonder what is significantly better than the Creek 4330R?

What else is there out there, integrated, neutral, and well balanced, ...and no more than $500-600 used?

Speakers will need to wait until February when I move and have decent space - hopefully...

Buy then I'll be totally ready :)

I prefer the MSB with upsampling off and wonder if the claimed jitter reduction that accompanies the upsampling board is really that noticable?

Other than that wil need to wait for Arcam/Rotel CDP's to arrive.

Will advise...
Hi Sugarbrie,

If the Rotel RT-990BX doesn't significantly outperform the amazing and cheap Sony, I'll resell it and buy a better Amp!

I wonder what is significantly better than the Creek 4330R?

What else is there out there, integrated, neutral, and well balanced, ...and no more than $500-600 used?

Speakers will need to wait until February when I move and have decent space - hopefully...

By then I'll be totally ready :)

I prefer the MSB with upsampling off and wonder if the claimed jitter reduction that accompanies the upsampling board is really that noticable?

Other than that wil need to wait for Arcam/Rotel CDP's to arrive.

Will advise...

Oops, double post -
Did you like the spelling correction!
I would expect the arcam to win. I have a 67se and it's just too warm and fuzzy sounding. Let us know which prevails.
I predict the sound to be indistinguishable between the 3 when fed through the MSB, and the sound superior to any stand alone with the MSB in place. I auditioned various audiophile brand CDPs only to end up with a 100 disc Pioneer Elite changer feeding a MSB Nelson Dac, which I wouldn't trade for anything short of $3K I've tried. With your budget, an external DAC is going to be your best bet. In my system, the upsampling is a small but significant advantage over regular sampling, greatly smoothing the sound while still allowing astonishing amounts of detail to be dug up. The top end is further extended, images better placed and more solid in the soundstage, a nice improvement. The Nelson upgrade puts the MSB in a new league, well worth the upgrade cost, and may be a better place to put your $$$ other then in the transport....
If I keep the Dac, my transport of choice would be a Pioneer stable platter - of which I am particulary fond!

Maybe I should get one aswell to compare!

Updates coming soon :)

Josh
Any update?
About the creek amp alternative, check out the Audio Analogue Puccini used, and the Audio Refinement Complete used. Both are under or around $500 used and both get excellent reviews.
Still waiting on the Rotel CDP, the guy sent it USPS regular parcel post!
Hoping to get by Christmas, the Arcam will be here tomorrow :)

The Rotel tuner arrived and although the sound was obviously very good (I listen to just regular compressed FM stations so it really doesn't warrant such a good tuner), the sensitivity and seperation actually seemed better on the $17.50 Sony, so I sold the Rotel tuner!

Back asap!

Josh
My first impression of the Rotel RCD 971 is that I love it, just the balanced neutral sound that I'm after.

The Arcam 7SE is really enjoyable but it leaves you wanting the 8SE...I cannot quite explain why, it may be my personal preference which is for ruthlesly revealing balanced sound over warm "friendly" sound. Much depends on the partnering equipment too.

One thing that I found interesting was that the Arcam seemed much more revealing than the Marantz as a Transport?

Oh and just to prove that I mean what I say about "ruthlesly revealing" sound I've got an Audiolab 8000LX arriving in the new year! Got a great deal on it at $200 :)

Should be interesting comparing to the Creek 4330R, which I am completely happy with except that I need a headphone jack

One other comment I would recommend trying a jitter device (like the Audio Alchemy DTI) before getting an upsampling upgrade for the MSB Link Dac 3, which I prefered with upsampling off. Voices sound more natural that way. The DTI made an immediate and big improvement infront of the MSB.

Enough of my rambling here...

Ciao,
Josh
Thx for that recommendation Bundee1:

The looks Audio Analogue Puccini interesting and as for the Audio Refinement Complete, well...err it's French and I'm a Brit. So my preference would be the Italian one!

I'll keep an eye out for one...

J~
Josh ... I have used the marantz as a transport ... it's my theory that it has high levels of jitter on the digital out (and internally) which is what gives it its warm fuzzy sound. If you like it analytical you need to kill the jitter, as you have found with the DTI. I use a Monarchy DIP to great effect.
Thanks for reporting back.