Musical Fidelity is gone???
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Arthur Salvatore has placed the Krell standard mrk II just about at the top of his best Cd players list on his site AUDIO CRITIQUE.
have owned The Krell SACD Standard MKI and MKII. While the MKI was an excellent player for the money it was plaqued with transport problems. I purchased my MKI in June 05 and within 18 months it went back to Krell 2 or 3 times. Krell replaced it with a brand new MKII, free of charge, and restarted the 5 yr warranty!
The main difference between the two was a new/improved servo-drive. The change in the drive made a significant improvement producing a wider deeper (to die for) soundstage, deeper and tighter bass and crisp but silky smooth treble.
I have read about complaints of load time, but mine loads in 3 to 7 seconds. I have read about noisy transports, but in complete silence, I can't hear mine unless I am closer than 2 feet away. Finally, I have read about, reliability issues. I have my MKII for two years. I play it nearly every day from a couple of hours to (a more typical) several hours daily. That's 2,000 hours without a problem!!
Get yours before the word gets out!
I would highly recommend the Rega players, the Apollo is around $1100 new, and the Saturn more like $2600, I think. I have an Apollo and like it quite a bit. Rega designs their players to sound warmer and more analog-like that most. The British company has been around a long time and will be around for a long time to come.
True, no one could tell with dead certainty, if a company would be around in 5-6 years: that's why it's a guesstimate. Yet one hopes there are definite indicators pointing out to their business model being a projected success or bound for failure. Off the top of my head, Krell would probably stick around.
Well, it would stretch your budget a bit, but the Resolution Audio Opus 21 would be a great choice. (Used they run about $2,000+) It is a fantastic cd player. The sound is very close to being like analog, and does not sound very digital. (I usually listen to my turntable, but I don't mind listening to my cd player, as opposed to some that sound too digital to me.) Read all the reviews here and at other web sites, and they all agree that it is a great cd player. And, it has a built-in analog volume control should you wish to use it directly into your amps.
I have compared this unit to cd players costing two and three times more, and it holds it own. (I'll be honest and state that maybe it is not quite as good as some of them, but it is within a hair of being as good as the best of those more expensive players.)
As far as reliability, I have only had one problem in the four or five years I've owned it, and that was caused via rough handling during shipping to me. (A small piece of metal sheilding dislocated inside the unit and it was causing a short.) The cd player comes packaged in a wooden crate and so no real damage could have occured except in extreme circumstances, such as being run over by a truck. And as far as servicing of the unit, Jeff Kalt, owner and designer of Resolution Audio, is a stand up guy. I live about 50 miles south of San Francisco, where R.A. is located, and so I called him up and he said to bring it by and he'd look at the unit. My daughter and I drove up the next week, and he put it on the bench, and fixed it immediately. (He even gave my little daughter a small stuffed animal that he had recieved as a present at an audio show. She still likes that little stuffed elephant with the bell bottom feet!)
If you do a search on the best service provided by manufacturers, Jeff's name comes up every time.
Well, that is my two cents worth.
Good Luck in your search.
I think it is a great question and is relevant considering the state of the economy. It seems to me that long standing companies that use professional grade transports give you your best shot at longevity. I am considering the same question, and I believe that Marantz, Sony, Denon, Pioneer, Cary, Rotel, and a few others are likely to survive. Its anybody's guess, but small esoteric manufacturers are going to have a tough time in the next few years unless they are ultra high end (price is no object). Or they are high volume with wide-spread distribution and service networks. IMO.
Thanks to all for the input! Look, I am past the stage of sonic experimentation: selling, trading, buying, swapping...and finally, I am positive, I've settled down to a system I've had now for a couple years. Pragmatic stuff- like value, service, longevity and reliabilty are now the top priority. I am also now a big believer in the diminishing returns side of things, and frankly, with CD-format being in a state of what it is, $2-2.5k used for a CDP is what I'd be comfortable with and feel good about.
That said, Bryston+Marantz+Rega+Krell+Esoteric look good and are reasonably diversified.
Audio Research and some other high-priced mainstays might just price themselves out into extinction. One- (or two-) man operations aren't looking so good at all!
Economic instability definitely makes one think twice about extravagant hi-fi purchases..since no one really wants to end up with a $2-3k boat anchor
I think the Marantz SA-1, SA-14, and SA-11 are all quite good. Denon also has some great players, especially modded, for not huge money. Esoteric is also good bang for buck used. I still get excellent music out of my stock Sony SCD-777ES, which also gets me SACD. There are a whole raft of mods available for this one too. Out of those mfrs, the only one I would absolutely count on remaining in existing format in 6 years' time would be Sony. Denon and Marantz are D&M Holdings, just taken over by a private equity deal (where the debt matures in less than 6 years) and Esoteric is a brand of TEAC, where the listed company is somewhat heavily indebted. That said, in any bankruptcy reorg, those brands and at least some of their engineers are likely to be around in a new life for the brand - just the equity owners will lose out.
The good thing about widely modded players is that there is a large community of people who could probably fix it in a jam.
That said, if I were in your shoes, I'd go the music server + DAC route. My bet is that Logitech will be around for a while, and DACs don't have moving parts to wear out. And if you want to upgrade later, that should be easy too.
One of the good things about the older MF lines [I have some] is that they are in substantial cases and can be upgraded. If I liked it I would consider having that done and then you could send it back to the modifier for service if necessary. I don't know about the laser but I am currently using 3 transports from the early 90s and have never had problems. I am going to have my TriVista modified someday and possibly my M3 also.
It's not just about long term viability of the company. It's also about who has a track record of orphaning older product. In that light most companies have issues. For example:
Wadia - try getting service on older gear, particularly transports.
Sony - transport parts for the SCD-1/ SCD-777 are becoming scarce
Krell - transport problems turned at least one of their SACD players (can't recall the model) into a boat anchor.
Esoteric - parts for older transport mechanisms (P2 and P2S in particular) no longer available.
Mobile Fidelity - see earlier posts
Economics will pressure even the larger companies to drop support for older gear as quickly as possible. As audiophiles are a niche market I believe we'll suffer most.
There is some good news. I have an older Pioneer PD-S95 transport that is still serviceable. Pioneer seems to support its older models. Any others?
On a whole electronics are supported much longer than mechanical items such as transport mechanisms. One could make an argument that the PC/MAC based music server with a good DAC might be the best bet over the long haul. It's easy to upgrade computers over time, and CDROM drives are easily replaced.
Remeber most transports in cd players are PHILIPS or SONY to begin with. It is the laser on older models that are getting hard to find.
The economic downturn has greatly effected the high end audio market. For instance there are things going on with most of the companies mentioned in this thread. I am not
saying they are going out of business, but the "holdings"
companies will merge and reduce brands.
Look at at how many dealer ads you now see right here on Audiogon.......WITH GREAT PRICING! You did not see that here even a year ago.
How many new $5000 + cd players do you think are being sold right now? That is why you are seeing the great deals right here. I am sure eveyone can talk about a local dealer
who is doing well, but for the most part if you can afford
it.......NOW IS THE TIME TO BUY. SUPPLY UP........
DEMAND DOWN......SQEEZE EM!!!!!!!
I think expecting to have a CDP for many, many years without operational problems is unrealistic. Yes, I know there are folks here who will now post about players they own that they've had since "Happy Days" was on the air, but overall, CD players are prone to failure...primarily the laser assemblies.
So, I've begun to look at CD players as disposable items, like most cars.
If you take a look at some of the players that can be purchased today used, there are some real bargains. Some of the modded players available for under $1000 (and some below $500) will surprise you with their performance.
Perhaps, buying a used player and enjoying it until it croaks isn't such a bad thing.
I think that the idea of treating CDP's as disposable devices with a rather limited life span is of merit. Before I settled on my Musical Fidelity, I did what some of us do: purchased 3 units to compare, with my CD-308 being the least expensive (@ $1250). The other 2 were in the $2-2.5k range used. All three were different-sounding...nothing drastic or absolutely horrendous, merely different. As tempted as I was to step up price-wise and get the most expensive one, I came to a stark realization that it just didn't make good sense...because in 3 or so years I'd have to move on to something else regardless, either out of boredom or because of mechanical issues. That said, each one of us determines his/her own definition of what disposable price range would be.
Can't believe I do not see Ayre here yet. Their support is highly regarded as approaching the industry best; their gear is generally regarded as sounding quite good for the money; they offer two players to cover your price range (CX7e used is around $2K, and C5Xe is considered a worthy upgrade at about $3.5-4K); they support upgrades of their players; and they are currenty implementing two new upgraded players, that can be achieved by current owners who send in their players to have the upgrades installed. At least check them out.
Lexicon has very strong service and they have built their business on professional grade reliability and long standing customer satisfaction. I don't think they would want to tarnish their reputation. Harman is behind them and look how solidly they stood behind other, lesser known-i.e. Proceed--products.