I had....Ayre is so much better. CEC seems to roll off the tops. Lack of details.
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The CEC is smoother than chocolate, yet leaves nothing to be desired in PRAT. For what it's worth, I find the CEC to be more detailed. The sparkle and precis imaging is all here, as well. Incredibly well-balanced player. The next step up from the CEC would be a Naim CD5x/Flatcap2x.
The Ayre is too forward and bright for me, emphasizes leading edges, but is very dynamic, vivid and incisive in the vein of say, a Meridian G08. Which one you like better will really depend on your system's balance. If your speakers are dark and warm, as opposed to clorox clean and bleach clear, then this is a good choice. If it's the reverse, the CEC is the way to go.
You can't go wrong with either player; both are competitive with what we would have paid $6-7000 for not so long ago. For my money and my system, the $1300 price difference between the CEC and the Ayre buys me a nice isolation platform, allows me to go bananas on an interconnect, and pays for other finishing touches to be installed on other components.
Sorry that another Audiogoner had nothing better to do than be rude.
Just stumbled upon this. I was hoping to replace my CEC with the Ayre as my 'last cd player ever' type scenario. Floored when the CEC won for me. The Ayre was flat and unengaging. Bass via the Ayre (supposedly a strong suit) was not as low or convincing then through the CEC. The CEC was much more dimensional and engaging to listen to. The CEC has bested more than few players in my set up, though besting the Ayre was a surprising revelation. Sometimes you don't know how good you already have it.