Eastern Electric Minimax CDP
(Also posted at AudioAsylum)
I bought this item after looking for an upgrade to my NAD 541i. I listen to Jazz primarily (also Rock) and so was interested in exploring tube CDPs. My Jazz interests are heavily weighted toward the 50-60s era.
I am a big fan of the value right now of the Chinese imports, so focused my attention there. I first auditioned a Xindak SACD2 (tube) CDP. This was an authorized US import version from the distributor. It was upgraded with NOS Western Electric 896A tubes. The unit sounded very good on Redbook CDPs, ok on SACDs. The build quality was good, but the reliability of the unit not so due to an infrequent skipping problem. If it hadn't skipped, I would have kept the Xindak and not looked elsewhere.
I came across the Minimax on 6moons were it got very good reviews
It also got a good review at:
I originally heard the Minimax 8 months ago at a local dealer where it was listed for $1400. Eastern Electric is now sold direct through Bill O'Connell, the US distributor. He is a delight to work with; the best I have had a chance to interface with. I spent a lot of time with Bill talking about my needs and different tube options and he sent along several pairs for me to try.
The unit arrived triple-packed!!! The build quality is superior and the sound, once I had dialed it in with the various tube alternatives was excellent. My focus was on maximizing the bass detail (I play electric bass so I key into that) while not creating too much high end that it ending up being distracting. I had midrange to spare already with the tube integrated amp.
The music selections I demoed included Kind of Blue (pre-1997 version), Norah Jones, Bill Evans Live at Village Vanguard, and Dark Side of the Moon 1st US version (Japanese Pressing).
Here are my limited thoughts on the tubes I tried:
NOS Amperex 6922 PQ Gold Pin US Version White Lettering: Most expensive and the clear winner. Clean, detailed across the spectrum, great soundstage and depth
Amperex Bugle Boy 6DJ8 Holland White lettering. 2nd choice. Much like the above, except I found the high end a tad overpowering and distracting at times
HP (Amperex) 6DJ8 A frames Holland: 3rd choice. Too much low midrange.
NOS Valvo PCC 88: 4th choice. Not enought bass detail. Sounded a little too harsh for me after even 30 hours. According to Bill, these take a while to break-in, but are a good value.
EH 6922: These were the stock tube and I never gave them a fair listen to evaluate.
In summary, I found the Minimax a very nice player and a keeper.
Product Weakness: Tube dependent, bass slam
Product Strengths: Tube dependent, build quality, soundstage, headphone output, smooth yet very detailed, option to try many tubes
Associated Equipment for this Review:
Amplifier: Cayin TA-30 Integrated Tube
Preamplifier (or None if Integrated): None
Sources (CDP/Turntable): Minimax CDP
Speakers: Soliloquy 5.0s and S10 Subwoofer
Cables/Interconnects: Analysis Plus 9 and 12 for speakers. Acoustic Zen Matrix I for ICs
Music Used (Genre/Selections): Jazz primarily
Room Size (LxWxH): 18 x 15 x 9; hardwood floor bedroom (bed, armoire, etc.)