"...what I can expect by upgrading [my CD player]?"
Like all audio upgrades, you can expect to feel happy with the improvement, or to feel you have spent too much, or to vacillate between the two perpetually. Most dangerously, you can feel your audio appetite only stimulated by the upgrade, not at all sated. You may find yourself wanting more, and more, and
well, it can get silly pretty quickly.
Seriously, as a general rule, I have found that if done wisely, upgrading your source will always make you happy if you love music. There is no substitute for getting more musical information in the audio chain, which is what a good source does. And of course, what constitutes upgrading wisely is auditioning as much equipment as possible before you buy.
how much you lookin to spend (give us both the $$ you're going to tell your wife you spent, as well as the ACTUAL amount you'd be willing to spend. There is a LOT of relly good used digital gear out there.....
i am hardly in the leages of some,went from rotel 971 to quad 99cdp,to sim equinox,sim does represent to my ears a real upgrade.i am constantly looking,as previous newmanoc said their is a danger to this.know what your really looking for,so many choices are the main obstacle imho!
I made a similar move way back when from a decent Rotel player, such as yours, to a Cary 306-200, then to an Ayre CX-7. I also thought the Rotel player was fine, but I can assure you, you'll be amazed and very suprised with the sonic differences of a well regarded player. My suggestion is for you is to do some reading here for popular players and try to find a hi-end audio store in town to "demo" the equipment.
Ask your wife to join you in demoing. Your living room will never have sounded so good and that will go a long way with her. At least it did with my wife. Good luck!
IMO buy a dac, it will be cheaper and sound better even using your Rotel as a transport. There are plenty of really good DACs for sale under $1500 used on Agon.
Well, I told my wife that the Cary was about $2500, so I guess that's my limit. But I'd prefer to spend less. Used would be okay.
For $2500, be sure you hear the Arcam FMJ CD 33 or 36. This is my personal favorite in the price range.
If it were ME with those parameters, I would unhesitatingly pick up a used Ayre CX7e, they are going for $2200-$2300, and since its a recent model, they can't be too old. You will not be dissapointed! Others worth considering (also used): Naim, Meridian, BAT. I personally am not familiar with the Cary you are thinking of, but am sure its also quite good.
Do consider a DAC as you may be able to get more great sound for your money that way.
Your Cary thought might be a good idea as Cary has recently come out with new models and thus the older ones can now be had for quite an attractive price.
I'm looking for that analog-like, digititus free sound. But without the hassles of vinyl. Warm and smooth, glare free with silent backrounds and no sibilance. That's why I'm thinking of the Cary players, tube output stages should eliminate these issues, I'm told.
I listen to modern and classic rock, but most of my listening is to jazz.
Have you checked out the TRL Marantz SA-14 thread out? I believe this CDP does exactly what you describe you needs are. With mods it will cost about $1800 total.
I do not have the TRL Marantz SA-14, but TRL has modified my transport and DAC and I can tell you it is very close to analog reproduction and certainly free of digititis. They modify other players as well so their experience is very broad as it relates to digital equipment.
I am following this thread with some interest as I, too, have the Rotel RCD-1072 and hope to upgrade it to ??? before too long.
As much as I would like to try out separates (DAC + transport) I really don't have room to add yet another component, so am looking for an all-in-one CD player.
Have you made any decisions, Hammergjh? I am looking for the same sort of sound you are, so your choice/s may help to steer me in a similar direction!
Well, I'm intrigued by the Cary 303/300. Stereophile just did a write up. They liked it, pretty much. Very flexible, tube or SS output stages, plus multiple upsampling combinations.
I might just plunge in for a used one. A little risky. I'm waiting for my yearly bonus to come through (next couple of weeks).
I think the 308 and 308T are now discontinued. Some dealers may have them still, but the used prices are very good $900-1300, SS vs. T.
I have the 308 and love it. I like it better than the 308T, better resolution. The T is musical but I felt it screened out too much info., as did the Jolida tube cdp. The 308 has a very nice soundstage and top end, with great bass.
I felt the same with the 306/300. The SS output into Cary tube amps sounded better than the tube output into SS gear to my ears. It was more involving with better resolution and PRAT.
I like a well designed SS cdp vs. a tube unit. Once the info in the source is lost through tubes softening, it can't be regained. Now other top flight tube cdp's might be different, but the Cary 306/300 sounded better with SS output.
This is my opinion and others will argue differently.
This could be a good subject for a discussion.
I'm curious what Hammergjh ended up with. Did you get the Cary 303/300 and how are you feeling about it? I myself looked at it and the Cary 308T, as I've decided tubed CDPs for my own system, including the BAT VT5/VT5SE and a few others--Lector 0.6T, Audio Aero Prima Mk II, Unison Research Unico CD, and Blue Note Koala. I've been identifying units with balanced outputs to match up with my Electrocompaniet ECI 3 integrated amp.
i just went from cambridge audio 640c to the cairn fog v2
with upsampling to 192, it sounds fantastic but must say the controls are quirky and not that user friendly. but the sound makes you forget any ergonomic shortfalls.
Mjcmt--How muct detail did you feel was lost with the Cary 308T? I'm very interested in your post a few months ago regarding the Cary 308T v. 303/300. I'm considering the 308T, as my system can be harsh and glarey, even glassy in massed trebles with orchestral and choral music. I'm now looking closely at the 308T and 306/200 (solid state) as potential choices. It seems I cannot get detail and dynamics without sacrificing warmth and getting an edginess in the top end. For detail and dynamics, the Simaudio 5.3 and Equinox were most impressive, but they can be edgy in the trebles. What's your opinion of the 306/200?
I haven't bought anything yet. I was listening to a McCormack universal player the other day that was intriguing. My dealer dropped the Cary line. I was hoping to hear the new models. I guess they were problematic from a business and customer support perspective. The products were good, but the dealer had problems with the company.
The 308-T is not in the same league as the 306/200. at it's present used prices these days it's a steal.
Hammer, I also upgraded from a Rotel player. I suggest you up your budget a bit more and try the Ayre CX-7e or Resolution Audio Opus 21. You'll be amazed at the difference. And, so will your wife. So much so, she'll over look the price change. At least that's how it played out in my house.
Unless, you have some reason to get into SACD's (you're really rich or just masochistic), I would suggest staying away from the universal players. You'll get more bang for the buck for with a simple redbook player.
Since you can spring for up to $2,500 I'd go for the Ayre as well. The Ayre warranty is tranferrable and you will not find better customer service. Besides all this the unit sounds phenomenal. If you get one for $2,200 -$2,300 you can audition for a month and if you don't love it probably recoup 100% of you investment, (assuming you get one in 9+ condition). You can't go wrong with many of the selections notated earlier but my two cents would say to track down an Ayre player and give it a shot.
Hammergjh - You certainly have more patience than I do; once I have "upgraditis" I can't wait for months to buy! Good for you - you are taking the time to audition all comers and buy the one that pleases your ears the most.
Just to throw some more choices in the ring, I ended up buying a Audio Aero Prima CD-player. I really like its sound - and its looks - and am quite pleased with my purchase.
I am now using my Rotel CDP for my modest computer room music system. It works well for that, but the Prima is a keeper for my main system.
I just picked up a Bel Canto DAC2, used, from here. I'll be getting it within a week or so, as it's coming from California.
I've heard nothing but great things about the Bel Canto. I'll post my impressions when it arrives.
I also had the Rotel 1072 and then moved up to other players. I went through Marantz SA-14 and then had it modified by TRL. I then bought a Marantz Sa-1 which is a nice player but it was ultimately replaced by the TRL modified DVP NS900V. This player is really good. I know two people who have replaced over $10,000 units with this player. You can buy the player for about $350.00 and then the mod is $750. They also have a battery powered mod for an additional $750 that is supposed to be incredible. I plan to have my unit upgraded to battery status in the next few weeks. I cannot think of a better player within thousands of dollars than this player. Best of luck on the adventure.
I installed Bel Canto DAC2 using a Blue Jeans Cable, which is a Belden coax cable with Canare RCA jacks. Hmm...
The verdict. Better. But, not earth shattering. Subtle improvements in glare, smoothness, smearing and noise floor. Yeah, the differences are there, all right. But you don't drop your jaw and say "wow!". I'll let it settle in and see how it goes.
Both my wife and I heard the difference. So, this is a positive step. A subtle one, however.
Can I expect big differences in digital sources?
As Baranyi said
"but it was ultimately replaced by the TRL modified DVP NS900V. This player is really good. I know two people who have replaced over $10,000 units with this player."
The Sony/TRL is amazing!
I also had a Rotel 1072, then I went to a Marantz 8260. The Marantz was a step up but still a sub $1k digital player. Someone told me to check out getting it modded. That led me to TRL. Paul (at TRL) said if you want something truly special find a Sony DVP NS900V and send it to us.
Well...best money I've EVER spent on audio. I haven't owned a turntable for years but the Sony/TRL sounds like analog to me.
Bring the wife along and include her in the process. Years ago I had a Parasound 100 player and auditioned Mark Levinson, Classe, Krell and Meridian and, with her feddback, we decided on the Meridian 508.24. There has been CDP satisfaction and spousal approval since.
I have not heard the 308T but I agree with Pehare that the 306/200 is a marvelous player and can be had now for in the $1800 to $2000 range if you are patient enough.