More CD Player selection woes

I'm looking to replace the "weak link" in my system: A Denon DCD-1560 CD player. While its held its own over the years (being a 20-bit player and all), it is time for it to go.
I find my Well-Tempered Classic TT, EAR Phono Amp, and Grado cartridge to be my preferred setup, but I do want a CD player to come close to that sound. Of course, budget is all constraining so I need help deciding between a NEW Cambridge 840C; or one of those Chinese tube player; Cayin CDT 17A or Shanling etc.; or a USED/DEMO McIntosh MCD 201; or Meridian 208 (if I can find one).
Has anyone had experience with the Chinese models? How do they hold up?
Any help will be appreciated.
I'd suggest you read a few reviews of the Marantz SA-11S1 or SA-11S2 and add those to the list of candidates. I find them to have a most pleasing sound that is easy on the ears in an analog-ish manner. Much more appealing to me than Cambridge's sound, although that's just my take on things. I'm not dissing Cambridge, I owned several of their players in years past and they are a good value (but not very reliable in my experience.) Cambridge "house" sound is rather analytical to my ears. The SA11S1 is showing up on this site used within your budget.
If the player has digital outputs, consider using it as a transport and just add a separate DAC. That will provide the best improvement for the dollar most likely. Then you can try a music server or alternate transport later.

There are lots of threads with good information on various DACs here on Agon.
A good used Music Hall CD 25 or 25.2 might work for you. Nice sound. they go for 250-350 used 450 new
i own a marantz 11s2. i'm not sure you would prefer it to your denon player, without a statement regardding your sonic objectives.

definitely, stay away from the cayin,. i owned that player. without mods, it is definitely unbalanced in its frequency response.

send me an e mail with your concerns and i will try to answer your questions.

most of the 24 bit players in current production are fatiguing after some duration of listening.
Look at used Musical Fidelity players or decoders. They are very good and I have found them reliable.
Raysonic CD-128. Check the l-o-n-g review on 6moons. Built like a battleship and sounds absolutely wonderful. Two audiobuddies bought them after hearing (or hearing about) mine. I've had the Raysonic for 18 months with zero problems and sold a Sony XA777ES ($3,000 msrp) because the Raysonic sounded better on the CD layer of hybrid SACDs than the Sony did on the SACD layer. They show up fairly frequently here for ~ $1200 used. Good luck, Dave
I agree with Dopogue. I have the 168. According to 6moons the 128 & 168 are quite close sonically. I am a proponent for fully balanced system from source through amps, so the 168 fit my needs.

Previous players Lector CD 7T and Bluenote Stibbert Mk II (both around $5K). I had a lot of problems with the Stibbert, none with the 168. It sounds better, too
The Marantz is a little out of my price range at this time. Basically, I'm looking for a player in the $800-1100 or so range. Sonically, I prefer something that does not ADD anything to the CD that isn't already there. I hear the Cambridge fits that bill. I am intrigued by the Raysonic CD-128, and other tubed players. My preference is to list to LP's via my TT and tubed EAR phono. I'd like the CD player to sound as close to that as possible. I intend to connect the player with balanced outputs into my pre-amp that is connected to the power amp via balanced connectors as well.
I'm not all that well versed in the subtleties of audiophile jargon, I’m just looking for a player that sounds crisp, clean, warm, and doesn’t “influence” what’s on the disc.
For what it's worth, the Raysonics have paralleled XLR and RCA outputs. I much preferred vinyl too until getting the Raysonic; now CD and vinyl get virtually equal time.
Check out the Grant Fidelity CD-427. It is a Chinese tube
player with balanced outputs.I bought one and found it to be a well built player.You can purchase a demo unit here on
Audiogon for 1040.00.I replaced the Chines tubes and was very
impressed with the results.
I agree with Tweak1 about the Lector CD 7T. I am waiting for an affordable one to come up on agon myself. I prefer to buy the MK3 if possible.
Tweak1: What was your experience with the Lector. I think I want a CDP 0.06 Player. Here's an email I got from someone who sold Raysonic:

"We did sell the Raysonic products, but I cannot recommend this tube cd player to you. It is my opinion, that these Chinese products such as Raysonic, Cayin, Melody are simply inferior imposters. They have sizzle but no steak. Too many problems, they are built from inferior components and are copies, poor copies of other products in the marketplace. Again, they may look good, but the sound they produce is harsh and solid state sounding. Here is the deal, there is no need to buy Chinese when you can buy European products such as Ayon Audio from or say Lector Audio from Italy."

Whatta Think???
Utter nonsense, Ebuzz. Reminds me of the dealer in the Southwest who
supposedly sold Raysonics, bad-mouthed the player to me before I bought
mine, and didn't even have one to begin with, according to the distributor I
called. You might check the dealer's bona fides (the one you quote) with Quest
for Sound, the U.S.distributor.

I've heard that the Ayon is not an actual "European product" but is built in the
same Chinese facility as the Raysonic -- it certainly looks that way. 'Course
it's twice the price. "Harsh and solid-state sounding?" Another
laugh. Dave
Given that you want your cd player to sound similar to your analog rig, I wonder if you'll be happy with a Cambridge. I've owned a couple higher end Grados and the Cambridge house sound is not at all like Grados warm and comfy sound. Given your preferences, perhaps you'd find a Rega Apollo to your liking. Not sure if the software glitches that affected the first batch of latest generation Apollos has been corrected though. Also, if the Marantz Sa11 is a bit too spendy, the SA 15 is a good substitute I'd sure consider, within your range at used prices. MusicDirect has them on sale, marked down from $2k to $1400. It could be argued that all cd players in the price range discussed add or subract something. To expect neutrality at the $1k price point isn't realistic IMO. The one thing that worries me about cd players imported from China is the possibility of losing long term repair support for them if the importer's market position changes. Some companies have been pretty well established and wouldn't worry me too much, but others??? Do your research. Cd players have been the most trouble prone product category for me by far, so I'm leary.
I aquired a Shanling T-80 about one year ago that uses two output tubes. The Chinese stock tubes projected a very bright presentation, but once upgraded to either WE396a or GE JAN5670s the player became as smooth and almost as detailed as my TT allowing me to enjoy both with equal time. Sadly no CDP will make up for some of the older CD recordings and their intrinsic shortcomings.
For what its worth, I've found a tubed DAC can be advantageous in terms of tailoring the resulting sound via use of different tubes rather than switching out entire players at much greater cost. The differences from tube to tube is really quite substantial, and it is not expensive to try different tubes. I like having that flexibility in controlling how things sound. Through different interconnects into the mix and you can have a lot of control on how things sound in the end rather than having to put all your eggs in on basket hoping it sounds the way you want.
Ebuzz's post is not as far off as some people might think.

As the former distributor of Opera Audio/Consonance products in the North American market, I can offer up my experience on their CD players. In fact, the CD players are among the main reasons for my throwing up my hands, and finally walking away. I don't want to say too much regarding the other Chinese companies, who I won't name specifically, beyond the information I obviously have as an insider is that my experience was totally par for the course. Coming from a background of producing MILSPEC components, I could not in good conscience continue on with a product with a failure rate on the level they did.

First, the full sized Droplet 5.0 (provided it uses a Philips laser head) is an incredible machine. In fact, I give it the ultimate recommendation, I use one myself. With the aforementioned Philips transport, the user should most likely be in good shape, though I have seen a few other inexcusable and unforgivable failures.

As for the rest of the lineup - the players using Sony transports, well, you've got far better odds in playing Russian Roulette. The failure rate of CD players I imported in 2007 exceeds 80%, and that number is more optimistic than you might think, as I've included the Droplet 5.0 (with Philips laser, a part which NEVER fails in my experience) in the total number. I once got a case of Sony transports in to use in CD player repairs. Fully 10 out of the 10 sent were defective. 10 out of 10! The company's response to my inquiry about how a company could not only ship out defect repair parts, but bat a thousand in doing so, the typical shoulder shrug and "Uh, yea, we've had some problems with those parts of late..." reaction.

What the Chinese do very well are chassis and casework. The materials and CNC milling are far ahead of what typically comes out of North America, Europe, and Japan. That, in my opinion, is where the comments like "built like a battleship" come from. But, just as you can't judge a book by its cover, the smart buyer should focus on what's inside, and it is there that the Chinese obviously fail.

Of the CD players I received in for repair since the spring, I have been able to successfully fix only two. As it stands, I have a half-dozen or more CD players waiting to be fixed right now. The company has sent me three shipments of repair parts since early summer, and each batch of them has proven incapable of correcting the problems, and thus, utterly worthless to me and the customers waiting on them. In all honesty, not being the importer any more, I really should not take on the burden, but I don't want to leave a customer in such a situation, so I'm waiting until things get right before completely cutting the cord.
Trelja. Very sorry your experience with an inferior made Chinese product has clouded your perception of what is available for purchase by discerning audiophiles. Making sweeping generalizations (at best) or displaying a personal bias against products because of place of origin and without having actually tested most of the products you disparage is unacceptable.

The Chinese own the electronics universe and yes they do build products that are unreliable and disposable. Just check out some of the major discount stores to get a sampling of unreliable planned obsolescence.

However, those manufactures that choose to work smartly and take advantage of what the Chinese offer can do very well. Companies such as Prima Luna and Raysonic built great sounding products that are reliable.

I own the Raysonic 128 and in some respects it sounds better than my Esoteric DV-50 (for redbook). It is without a doubt the most analog sounding CD player I have ever owned. And it gets played a lot. I also own the Shanling T-80and it is also reliable and musical, but clearly not in the league of the 128 or DV-50. I have also owned a number of Prima Luna pieces--- the Pre 3 and the Prologue 1. They both sounded excellent (not as good as my Wyetech) and were musically satisfying.

Manufacturing a product inevitably results in compromise. Therefore I suggest that one listen to what other actual owners have to say about the reliability of a product before you commit to purchasing. I know that there is a lot of crap products that are out there and it is inevitable that a lot of them are Chinese made products built to a specific price point. I certainly appreciate that you have experienced the negative side of things but many of us have also found great products at reasonable prices that exceed expectations.

We live in interesting times and as this discussion illustrates purchasing quality audio products isn't getting easier. Confidence in a product comes from many people having a long term positive experience with their audio gear. I guess I fall into that camp. Listen to what actual owners have to say before you draw conclusions. Don't let someone else's agenda take the fun out of our hobby.

I have a Cambridge Audio 840C CD player for more than a year now. I brought it over NAD M5 CD/SACD, Rega Apollo, Sony ES-???? SACD Player, Music Hall CD25, Naim CD5i and a bunch of other CD players in that price range.

Cambridge Audio 840C is a bit analytical, with not a very large soundstage, but Cambridge Audio 840C is undoubtedly the best in that price range, and competes with players way above its price range. I have a tube preamp, so I do not find it that analytical, and it has integrated with my system very well. Also it has two Digital Inputs.
This certainly has turned into an interesting discussion on the merits of audio gear from various companies and countries, and I appreciate the education I'm getting from all of you.

Vinylrowe, you say that I should: "Listen to what actual owners have to say before you draw conclusions. Don't let someone else's agenda take the fun out of our hobby." I'm certainly doing that and appreciate and respect the expertise of all those who have lauded the merits of these Chinese players, but you also opine that: "Confidence in a product comes from many people having a long term positive experience with their audio gear."
The problem I have with the Chinese players is: for how long has that "positive experience" been? Have these players been around long enough to develop the track record for service etc., that the European and other players have established. The issue may be moot for me when it comes to the Raysonic because it’s a top loading player that will not fit into my rack. I won’t quit just yet on some of the others though.

I am, however, being drawn to the Italian Lector 0.6T and Audio Analogue Maestro player and am still considering the Cambridge player.
Vinylrowe, you may be interested in this. I heard good things about the Russian 6N1P-EV tubes and although they're not drop-in replacements for the 6922/6DJ8 types used in the Raysonic, they are very similar. I queried Raysonic and they gave me the go-ahead to substitute. I like them better in my 128 than the best 6922s I had been using using (JAN Philips). Many Eastern European Ebay sellers seem to have them -- mine came from a Ukrainian seller @$17.00 for all four, including shipping to Potomac, MD, and they got here in 10 days! Two friends have also bought them and love them. Dave Like all things in life nothing is certain. I did my homework, stared at photo's of the inside of equipment I was interested in (thanks to 6moons) concluded the engineering and construction looked good. Perhaps I have been lucky so far but I assure you my equipment is run daily and after 18 months everything is holding together. The stock market has forever altered the way I view long term reliability. In other words go short .......go long? To me it doesn't really matter as long as it works now and puts a smile on my face.

Dave. Thanks for the tip. I will give it the Billy Taylor test...
Making sweeping generalizations (at best) or displaying a personal bias against products because of place of origin and without having actually tested most of the products you disparage is unacceptable.

I agree you absolutely cannot generalize about quality control in audio electronics with dog food, babies milk, chocolates and now eggs. ;-)
Agree with Dopogue.
I have owned Stibbert tube,Lector,Cayin sacd50T which was very nice amoungst others.I have had no problems with my Raysonic-128 fully modded and prefer over all the the previous but that is just my opinion.It is very smooth with great authority and detail.

Best of luck to you in your search.

I purchased a MHZS 88E after reading about it on Arthur Salvatores web site. I purchased mine direct from China. They can also be purchased from Pacific Valve out of Seattle. The Grant Fidelity CD-427 appears to be the same unit, just rebadged. I took the risk by not buying in N.A., it was less than $750 delivered to my door and it has worked fine. I can't say the same for a headphone amp I purchased but died after 20 minutes.

I have been happy with this unit. It does not match vinyl playback with a good album but but a good CD does sound good.
I have the Cary 306 SACD and it's sound is far and above any other players I have owned or auditioned but the greatest thing about it is that, any day of the week, I can call and talk to the guy that designed and built the thing right here in the USA. North Carolina to be exact. I consider that to be a real plus
According to a thread here and discussion on AA (sorry I don't know how to link them), all Cary audio players are currently made in China. The Audiogon post said the 306 was made in China and "finished" in the U.S., whatever that means. I can't vouch for the truth of this.
An interesting question Dopogue. I pulled up the Cary website and sent them an inquiry as to the validity of the made in China claim. I'll let you know what there response is. I know that any time I have had any problems with my Cary stuff that I didn't understand, I call the factory in North Carolina and can immediately talk to the Cary engineer.