Comparing these CD players with my gear...


Hi folks, 

I'm always messing around with CD players. A longtime audio friend of mine says I have a CD fetish... well, he's probably right. In a medium that is slowly dying, I'm still spinning discs more than ever. I stream too, but there still something awesome about taking a CD or LP and placing it in/onto a machine to play the sweet music we all love. 

Anyway, in my latest jaunt for something new, I've put together my latest list of players that have caught my eye for one reason of another. My gear consists of a Creek 4330SE integrated amp and Vandersteen 2C speakers. Cables are DH Labs Q-10's and Air Matrix interconnects. 

So what are your thoughts/impressions/comments on the synergies of the following CD players and how they would sound with my gear. I'm most curious about the Naim, Cambridge Audio and Myryad. 

Naim CD3.5
Cambridge Audio 840c
Myryad MCD600
Cal Audio Labs Icon mkII Power Boss
Marantz CD6006 (or CD6005)
Rotel RCD-1072




jsbach1685

The Naim is over priced. The Cambridge is a solid player. Never heard the Myryad.

The Rotel is the best of the bunch. When I had mine, it was in a Creek/Vandersteen system. The cheapest CD player I have that bettered the Rotel is my Arcam 33.

I have a CD fetish too :)

I owned many CD players in the past and the best sound is with my new CD transport Cambridge Audio CXC connected to my Mcintosh DAC .
It’s better to invest in good DAC and a basic CD transport without inner DAC ,you’ll get the best result.
Keep the cd player you now have, as long as it has a digital out.  Add either the Chord Mojo listed on Agon for 449.00 or the Hugo for 1200.00.  You will not achieve better redbook than the Hugo unless you spring for a Dave.
Hi rhljazz, 

That's the thing... I'm fresh out of CD players right now. What would you recommend from the list, or not on the list? 
jsbach1685-

consider a Creek or NAD BEE cd spinner to massage into your system.

Personally, I have a preference for old Sony ES models from the 90's. They are built like a tank, 40 lbs plus..  Currently using an X779 ES as a transport.  It was purchased over 17 yrs ago for 350.00.  The Sony continues to run long after the Linn Karik bit the dust. 

I use the Hugo as the dac for the Sony with a Tara RSC digital cable  and Morrow Ma 3 interconnects.  This is redbook at its best.  

The Oppo 105D is unlistenable in comparison.  BTW the Sony is a better transport than the Oppo as well. 

You would do well to consider the Marantz SA8005. $1200 new. Great sounding, well-built stock player that can be upgraded by Dan Wright of Modwright Instruments Inc..  Their "Signature Truth" mod is amazing!
Cal Audio Labs Icon mkII Power Boss is about as good as the Oppo 103 -- but does not play SACDs, etc. just HDCD

I would blind test the newest Oppo against a few others in your own system - they will give you 2-5 weeks to do that.

Start working up a CD with your test music
Look for older Sony ES and Pioneer Elite DV series CD/SACD/DVD players. They have excellent transports and optical mechanisms, plus the use the highly regarded Burr-Brown DACs. As mentioned before they are overbuilt, heavy and great looking.

NAIM AUDIO CD3.5  = TDA1305  CDM12.5 / VAM1205


CAMBRIDGE AUDIO azur840c  =   AD1955A  Sanyo SF-P101N


MYRYAD MCD600 = CS4396-KS  KSS-213C


California Audio Labs Icon mk II HDCD = 2 x PCM1702 – PMD100

Panasonic RAE0113Z



MARANTZ CD6005 = CS4398  Sanyo SF-P101N



ROTEL RCD-1072 = PCM1732  KSS-213C / KSS-213CL


Looking at the dac converter chips, and transports/lasers, for Redbook cd replay.

 I'd go for the CAL Icon, it's got a very good Burr Brown PCM1702 Multibit chip, and the HDCD PMD100 filter chip.


Cheers George  


"Looking at the dac converter chips, and transports/lasers, for Redbook cd replay.

 I'd go for the CAL Icon, it's got a very good Burr Brown PCM1702 Multibit chip, and the HDCD PMD100 filter chip."

Why not look at the analog section of the dac as well? It accounts for half of the component and has just as big of an effect on SQ as the digital half. Also, listing individual parts like the dac chip and filter shouldn't be relied on too heavily. The overall design is far more important. There's plenty of CD players that share the same parts, but sound completely different. 

+1 on the Marantz SA8005.
The Cambridge Audio Azur 851C is superior CDP with DAC and pre amplifer capabilities, Really great contender to your list.

http://www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/cambridge-audio-azur-851c-cd-playerdac/
Hi Mgreen27,
Your comments/observations are true. Placing emphasis on the particular digital chip is short sighted. 10 CD players or DACs could use identical chip sets and sound completely different from each other . I’d pay more attention to the "quality" of the analog output stage and the power supply. These 2 factors in my experience are more influential and impactful in the overall sound quality.
Charles
@charles1dad   +1   You are right on it.  The power supply and analog output stage is where it's really at as regards quality digital sound reproduction.  Modwright Instruments Inc. places the emphasis of their modifications right there.  The only enhancements to the DAC side of the player is enhancing the power supply to the DAC.  The results speak for themselves.
Why not look at the analog section of the dac as well?
I think you’ll find all the players mentioned use dac data textbook I/V stage and output stages, which are just opamps.
Yes power supplies are, important and they all have very capable multi well regulated power supplies, the Cal has a beefier one than the rest, having what they call the Power Boss.


Cheers George
What do you guys think of the Theta Miles? I used to have one (and loved it) but I different gear at the time. Any comments on how a Miles would sound with the rest of my gear? I have the opportunity to buyback the one I sold another audio friend a while back. He wanted a black one (mine was silver). 

As for the Naim, there is a guy selling a CD3 or CD3.5 (he cannot confirm). It's listed here and it titled: "The Naim Label CD 3.0" If you look at the pics of the rear, it states 3-5, which confirms a 3.5, as well as Aux DIN, but the serial number to the right, matches the box, which states CD3. I've talked to the seller and he cannot confirm... only saying the original had it upgraded, or perhaps upgraded to the 3.5? So what do you guys think? 
Theta Miles
The Theta was designed by Mike Moffat who now owns Schiit Audio along with Jason Stodard the Forumula One entrepreneur. You should look look also at these Schiit dacs. As  Moffat is a lover of Multibit conversion and what it does for CD (redbook) replay.

  Gungnir with Multibit  option
http://schiit.com/products/gungnir

Yggrasill Multibit
http://schiit.com/products/yggdrasil .

Cheers George

Those all look nice, but I guess I should've given my budget... max is $500. 
For that budget, check out NAD.  A lot of bang for the buck.

jsbach1685 OPThose all look nice, but I guess I should’ve given my budget... max is $500.


What I’m trying to get across is the Gungnir Yggrasill and the California Audio Labs Icon. Are all Multibit and designed by Mike Moffatt

You can’t go passed Multibit for CD (redbook) replay, as you said you have a cd fetish. So go the Cal Icon

Cheers George
The Naim for sale is an excellent spinner at a great price. If you Google Naim 3.5 images you will see all the units say NACD 3-5. The unit for sale matches the 3.5 model exactly, so IMO it is not an upgraded 3.0. If it is, then it has the upgraded power supply.

https://forum.audiogon.com/discussions/review-naim-audio-cd-3-5-cd-player
Two totally different dac converters in these Naim players

Naim 3 has a dac that uses the classic very sought after TDA1541-S1 Crown Multibit converter, a great redbook/cd converter.

Naim 3.5 uses a TDA1305 1 bit (bit stream) converter chip, which for redbook/cd replay is inferior to the Naim 3’s TDA1541-S1 Crown

Cheers George

"What do you guys think of the Theta Miles? I used to have one (and loved it) but I different gear at the time. Any comments on how a Miles would sound with the rest of my gear? I have the opportunity to buyback the one I sold another audio friend a while back. He wanted a black one (mine was silver)."

I had one. The build quality was fine buy I didn't care for the sound quality. It just had no life to it. Very boring player to listen to. Some of it, I believe, had to do with Pioneer transport they used. The Wadia 830 and 301 were the only players I've heard that sounded really good with that transport.

"I've talked to the seller and he cannot confirm... only saying the original had it upgraded, or perhaps upgraded to the 3.5? So what do you guys think?"

Call Naim and give them the serial number. I think the US importer is somewhere in NY.

Post removed 

"Why not look at the analog section of the dac as well? I think you’ll find all the players mentioned use dac data textbook I/V stage and output stages, which are just opamps."

I've owned 3 of the players on the OP's list and I have a fair amount of time with 2 others. They all sound different. Audio is hands on. If you want good sound you have to be proactive. That means listening to as much gear as you can. If you make buying decisions based on spec sheets, that's what your system will sound like. A spec sheet.

An Eastern Electric Minimax is within your price range if bought used. It is tube based and is as close to analog sounding as any single unit I have heard. Good luck on your search. 

mgreen27

"Why not look at the analog section of the dac as well? I think you’ll find all the players mentioned use dac data textbook I/V stage and output stages, which are just opamps."

I’ve owned 3 of the players on the OP’s list and I have a fair amount of time with 2 others. They all sound different. Audio is hands on. If you want good sound you have to be proactive. That means listening to as much gear as you can. If you make buying decisions based on spec sheets, that’s what your system will sound like. A spec sheet.

This is why most of the one mentioned have text book I/V and analogue stages, nothing special.

But if you really want to be hands on and have the ability, you can do a far better feedback free I/V stage and better output buffer than these text book ones that OP is choosing between.
Here is a link I started over at DiyAudio on a better I/V stage for dacs and cdp's which gives a far better sound than the text book stuff.

http://www.diyaudio.com/forums/digital-line-level/227677-using-ad844-i-v.html

Cheers George
@mgreen   In a world with loads of brick and mortar come listen to it establishments what you said would be THE way to go, however in my "neck of the woods" (literally) there are NO audio shops to listen to gear.  My last major purchase, Vandersteen Treo CTs involved a 6-7 hour round trip to make the purchase.  In that particular instance I was buying speakers from a manufacturer whose speakers I have owned for the last 30 years.  I knew pretty much what I was getting without first hearing them as available reviews and discussions with owners confirmed what my relationship with Vandersteen Audio had me believing.  Fortunately all is well as they have turned out exceeding my expectations.  I do envy those of you fortunate enough to have audio emporiums in close proximity.

Thanks to everyone and all your comments/suggestions. Based on what I read (both here and in magazine & online reviews), as well as comparing the other players listed to my previous players; and considering my budget, availability and personal curiosity, the two finalists are:

Naim CD3.5
-or-
Theta Miles

*Cast your Vote!*

Some prior player background:
My most recent player was a Rega Apollo. Before that, it was a Micromega Stage 3. The Stage 3 was a fantastic sounding player, but those old units are plagued with issues--everything from display to output sound. It was a very smooth and refined player. The Apollo was great too, but not as refined as the Stage 3. What I noticed on the Apollo was the ever so slight upper treble pronunciation. What the Rega had over the Stage 3 that I liked was the sense of rhythm and beat. I found myself foot-tapping more when playing the Apollo. Both players were great with imaging & soundstage. The Apollo R is out of my price range, as it the Micromega. As for music, I listed to pop, rock, metal, ambient, classical. Though most of the time it’s pop, rock, ambient/atmospheric and some metal. I know I indicated I used to have a Miles previously (two in fact). However, I never used it with a dedicated preamp; therefore never heard it with the volume control function deactivated. They were always used being connected directly to a amp. I've since come to learn how important a good preamp is to the sound of a stereo system, and now a wonder what the Miles would sound like on the Creek? But, at the same time, I've never owned a Naim and have heard, and read some wonderful things about all of their players. I do love the british-sound.   

*Cast your Vote!*

Naim CD3.5
-or-
Theta Miles

*Cast your Vote!*
For me neither as these are both "Delta Sigma" (bitsteam) based converters.

I love the sound of "Multibit" converters when converting CD (RedBook) 16/44 or 24/96. They have better jump factor, which gives more involvement to CD, and are bit perfect. Delta Sigma converts Redbook as a facsimile of the real thing.

Quote from MoJo Music:
" When a PCM (CD) file is played on a Delta Sigma or Bit Stream converter, the DAC chip has to convert the PCM to DSD in real time. This is one of the major reasons people claim DSD sounds better than PCM, when in fact, it is just that the chip in most modern single-bit DACs do a poor job of decoding PCM." 

Cheers George
Hi George, 
I think the Miles has both. In fact, I've read the advantages of using 1-bit, multi-bit and DSP. It's all prefence I guess--as well as how well designed the analog stage is. I've had great sounding players that have used each type.

Here is what the Miles has:

2 x PCM67P-J - Motorola DSP

From what I read, the PCM67 is a hybrid 1-bit COSM and 18-bit multibit DAC. Then add Theta's DSP and the Miles has it all. :)
Two things:
 I think the Naim has a DIN output and not standard RCA connectors, can you accommodate that?
Also pretty sure I've read that the Miles sounds far better using the balanced outputs, does your amp have a balanced input?
 
The Naim comes with a chord din to rca cable.

No, the Miles is non-xlr.

georgelofi

I was responding to this statement.

"I think you’ll find all the players mentioned use dac data textbook I/V stage and output stages, which are just opamps.I think you’ll find all the players mentioned use dac data textbook I/V stage and output stages, which are just opamps."

Just because the players use the same types of parts doesn't mean the analog sections will all sound the same. Different brands, different design, build quality, etc... It all makes a difference.

Just because the players use the same types of parts doesn’t mean the analog sections will all sound the same. Different brands, different design, build quality, etc... It all makes a difference.
To a small point, if you’ve work on and modded as many as I have they are very similar, only when you get into the esoteric stuff (non data sheet) like what I and others do with feedback free inplementation stacked AD844/discrete/transformer based I/V stages can you hear a real difference, as for the output buffers again very similar opamps used.

To give an example, even the mighty $20k Linn CD12 that I have here at the moment, just has PCM1704 data sheet text book opa627 as the I/V stage and again a opa627 as the output buffer. Just classic dac text book stuff.

Cheers george

"To a small point, if you’ve work on and modded as many as I have they are very similar, only when you get into the esoteric stuff (non data sheet) like what I and others do with feedback free inplementation stacked AD844/discrete/transformer based I/V stages can you hear a real difference, as for the output buffers again very similar opamps used."

I really don't believe in modding audio components unless there's a really good reason to. My personal opinion is to just buy the right component first. If you make a good choice, there's no reason to fool with it. As far as zero feedback designs that don't use opamps, there's really no need to debate the matter. Of course its a better way to go. Both my Wadia's, Ayre and Resolution Opus are all made this way. Players like that are clearly out of the OP's price range, so I didn't see the need to mention those types of designs.

"To give an example, even the mighty $20k Linn CD12 that I have here at the moment, just has PCM1704 data sheet text book opa627 as the I/V stage and again a opa627 as the output buffer. Just classic dac text book stuff."

From that point of view, maybe. But, as I've stated above, I think it better to look at a component in its entirety, and not just single out pieces. I can also use the Linn CD12 as an example. Its an extremely unique piece because the transport is made by Linn in house. If I remember correctly, its the only CD transport ever made outside an Asian country. I'm also pretty sure the CD12 was the only cd player that transport was ever used. So its really a one of a kind piece, which makes it difficult to compare with other players.    

Its an extremely unique piece because the transport is made by Linn in house.
See that where your wrong, just because they've glitzed it up and called it a poopoo engine while under those glitzy covers is a standard Philips unit. And to further this we a/b it at an audio society meeting of 30 members and used it's transport only into the dac section of my Cary 303/200 (that has my tripple stack AD844 I/V stage), and no one could tell the difference between the Linn transport and the Cary's own Matsushita transport.
 
To me the biggest differences between dac and cdp players comes down to which type of conversion process has been used, and the type of filtering used.

Cheers George
Keep me posted- jsbach1685
Will do jafant... I chose the Naim. Never had one before, so I gotta check it off the list. :) 

"To me the biggest differences between dac and cdp players comes down to which type of conversion process has been used, and the type of filtering used.

Cheers George"

We can continue to argue, but your last post should put an end to it all. If that's how you judge a CD player, and its working for you, fine. You're getting it right and that's all that matters. But not everyone does things the same way. If we did, we would all have the same system.

"@mgreen   In a world with loads of brick and mortar come listen to it establishments what you said would be THE way to go, however in my "neck of the woods" (literally) there are NO audio shops to listen to gear.  My last major purchase, Vandersteen Treo CTs involved a 6-7 hour round trip to make the purchase.  In that particular instance I was buying speakers from a manufacturer whose speakers I have owned for the last 30 years.  I knew pretty much what I was getting without first hearing them as available reviews and discussions with owners confirmed what my relationship with Vandersteen Audio had me believing.  Fortunately all is well as they have turned out exceeding my expectations.  I do envy those of you fortunate enough to have audio emporiums in close proximity."

Yes, but you still took matters into your own hands and drove that 6-7 hour drive. I've driven half way across the country to make sure I was doing the right thing. I find that the money spends much faster than it takes to make it. That said, there's zero risk when you buy Vandersteen's. They make the best speakers.


If that's how you judge a CD player, and its working for you, fine. 
The OP said he's has a cd fetish, so Multibit is the way to get the best out of that fetish.   

Not just me, but many are now starting to understand that to get RedBook, PCM, CD, to sound right it has to be converted via a Multibit dac not Delta Sigma based

Even music companies are starting to understand this also.
   Quote from MoJo Music:
" When a PCM (CD) file is played on a Delta Sigma or Bit Stream converter, the DAC chip has to convert the PCM to DSD in real time. This is one of the major reasons people claim DSD sounds better than PCM, when in fact, it is just that the chip in most modern single-bit DACs do a poor job of decoding PCM."

That's why you are now seeing a big resurgence back to Multibit by many audiophile dac, cdp manufacturers, even if now they have to make discrete versions of ladder Multibit dac convertors, as it's the way too expensive to manufacture in chip form now, compared to very cheap manufacturing process of Delta Sigma .

http://www.diyaudio.com/forums/digital-line-level/227677-using-ad844-i-v-99.html#post4972314

Cheers George

"Not just me, but many are now starting to understand that to get RedBook, PCM, CD, to sound right it has to be converted via a Multibit dac not Delta Sigma based

Even music companies are starting to understand this also.
  Quote from MoJo Music:
" When a PCM (CD) file is played on a Delta Sigma or Bit Stream converter, the DAC chip has to convert the PCM to DSD in real time. This is one of the major reasons people claim DSD sounds better than PCM, when in fact, it is just that the chip in most modern single-bit DACs do a poor job of decoding PCM."

I'm not saying your opinion isn't valid, but the reality is someone could listen to one of the players you like and hate it. That's just the way it goes, and it doesn't mean you're wrong. For example, I like time and phase correct speakers, and from a technical standpoint, they have advantages over other designs. I can't see myself changing to any other type of speaker. But no matter how much I like them, other people will prefer different designs regardless of the technical issues. Most audiophiles really like Magnepan's. To me, that big strip of aluminum they use for a tweeter sounds like a flattened out soda can. Its like icepicks in the ears. But most of the people that own them love the way they sound. Who am I to say different?  

I’m not saying your opinion isn’t valid, but the reality is someone could listen to one of the players you like and hate it.


I only pick the one/s out of the OP’s list/s in his first post as he said he has a CD fetish, this is not to say I would own them.
It’s just the one I would pick out of that list for doing CD/PCM/Redbook conversion bit perfect, instead of a facsimile of it with a Delta Sigma based dac/cdp.

Cheers George
To the OP
are you looking for other features?  Do you want to play Blu Ray, or USB drives, or perhaps DVD-A?  I know that CD is your priority, but you can can get a good transport, such as the new Sony Universal Player, discussed on other threads here for $300.00. If you like the sound of the internal DAC then you are done; if not lots of great DACs in the $500-$1000 range
Hi mahler123 and everyone... 

No, I don't need a bunch of extra features. This is for a straight 2-channel system, so no need for blu-ray or USB. I went with the Naim, so that should give you a good idea :)

I have an old iPhone 5 & that I use exclusively for streaming Apple Music... which is connected directly into an HRT iStreamer, then into my Creek integrated via DH Labs Air Matrix RCA's. I also sometimes use my iPod Classic, which contains about 2000 songs from my CD collection... downloaded in AIFF format.

As for the DAC discussion; for me, I just go with what sounds good to my ears because ultimately that's the bottom line here. Some of my favorite CD players had DACs from Phillips (TDA1541A, TDA1305), Burr-Brown (PCM54), Wolfson (WM8740), dCS ring (Arcam Alpha 9), Cirris Logic and others. Whether they're PCM, multi-bit or 1-bit doesn't matter to me. In the end, what I'm hearing is the manufacturer's interpretation of the analog stage. 

  
The Oppo 105D is the Swiss army knife for the little silver disc, and it is also a very good streamer.  In other words, it will play anything the cat drags in.  I use mine to feed a Meridian G68 DAC / preamp via HDMI into a Meridian 621 hub for all things digital.  In this application, it is as good as anything out there, (but Meridian is in another league from most other digital gear, so the Oppo is basically a transport.)  I haven't listened to its analog outputs, but I owned and have listened extensively to an Oppo 95 and it was pretty good - not Meridian good, but pretty good for a CD player.  Oppo is moving on to UHD, so if you want an Oppo 105D, you need to move pretty quickly.  Reportedly the new Oppo UHD players will have fewer features than their recent BDP players.

I have two Emotiva cd players, ERC 2 and ERC 3 solid build and great sounding, especially for the price
I recall reading that oppo will have a more dedicated audio model as well?