Owners of Cary 308,308T, Arcam FMJ 33 or Ayre CX-7

If anyone is interested, my current rig and description of it's contents can be seen in the "budget minded" of virtual systems under Yarvis' Rig. I am looking to hear from the owners of the aforementioned CD players. I am looking to upgrade from a modified Music Hall CD-25 (bought from Underwood HiFi) and would greatly appreciate owners comments good and bad concerning their expereinces. Budget will be an issue and I think I might want to go new on this purchase. (but that is always negotiable) What do you think of THESE players and how do they sound? I hope to hear from many of you!
I had a Cary 308 for about 18 months.
Very nice neutral balanced and extended sound.
I sold it to help finance a turntable setup.

Now using a Tube Research Labs modded Sony 595.
It is better than the Cary in every way which was hard to believe but, true.
Only 700 bucks plus shipping complete.
Amazing unit at any price really.
Good Luck in your search.
I had a Cary 308 (not the "t"), was a well rounded player, good build quailty.
Quirky player when it came to tracks that begin < 100 ms. from the start of the track, would clip the very beginning of the song, very annoying.
Traded up to an Ayre CX-7, better detail, imaging and soundstaging compared to the Cary. A well built player and a great company standing behind their products.
Recently tried the transport/dac route, which has now superseded the Ayre.
Far more detail, imaging and soundstaging, timber/tonality, a far deeper reach into the music. At least that's what I'm hearing in my system.
Lkdog and Jman66:
Thanks for the responses, I appreciate them. So you both thought the Cary was good and the Ayre better, looks like I have some listening to do! Thanks guys, keep them coming folks.
Yarvis - despite the quirk I found in the 308, I would love to hear their new 303/300, although it pushes the price envelope up far from the 308. Nice thing about the 303 (and also the 308), if this is your only source then you can forego a preamp and connect direct to the amp(s).
I would think the output section of the new 303 is far better than the 308, especially the ability to switch between solid state and tube output on the fly.
However, there are lots of good players out there, make a short list and try to audition them in your own system.
That is whay I placed these CD players in the short list I have for myself. I really don't want to add any more pieces into the "mix". I also need to keep the price low. (so It looks like the Ayre will need to be purchased used)
Don't know your price range, but you really should check out the TRL 595.
Truly a fine digital source at any price.

If you want to use the built-in variable volume control of a CD player, you should check out the Quad 99 CDP (current version, not the old Quad 99). I previously owned the Cary CD-308 and it was a good player. It is pretty neutral as described above, however I find the Quad more engaging. The Quad 99 CDP and the Cary CD-308 are the same price new but the Quad is a bit more expensive used.

The Quad also has the benefit on having 6 digital inputs so you can use the Quad as a DAC for a DVD player or other digital source that outputs PCM.

I liked the Cary CD-308 when I owned it and preferred it (very slightly) to the Theta Miles (balanced version) that I also owned at that time. I just like the Quad better. It seems more musical to me.


Can you give me anymore info on the TRL 595? A website, price?

I read up on the Quad, but not sure if this piece will suit me. I don't think I need all of the digital inputs and not even sure what this pieces built in variable volume control is or does.

The Tube Research Labs website is here:


I believe they charge $550 plus shipping for their mod of most players. You supply the unit. They do a lot of Sony's. They will source the unit for the Sony 595 which they are doing a bunch of right now and they are buying 10-30 a week of those.

I know they also do mods on other units besides Sony units such as Esoteric, Marantz,Denon, and other already modded units that people are not happy with, etc.

Paul would have to quote you on specific units, but again I think most units are $550.

Yes, it is cheap. If that bothers you, then there are plenty of other options that will take more of your money-like 10 times that amount.

The sound? The best digital I have ever heard. Think of the best analog turntable setup you have heard and you get the idea. Many would agree and they are dumping their other modded units for the unassuming TRL Sony 595.

Since I have not heard as many units as some people, you may wish to look at this review from 6 Moons on the TRL mod of the Sony 775.

The 595 mod is much better according to all who have heard both. The same reviewer is doing another review on the TRL 595 this month in 6 Moons. He apparently is quite impressed.

There is a thread below about the TRL which turned into a troll thread, but there is other info in it that may be of interest.

Good luck in your search.
Feel free to email me offline if you wish.
If you are going used you won't be able to beat the Arcam FMJ 23. I've had the 23,and 33 and believe that the 23 gives up very little ground to the 33. Dynamics are great, soundstage is wide & deep and the vocals on it are amazing. I am currently using the Ayre CX-7 and would not swap back for either or the Arcam's, but I am also using an Ayre amp & pre-amp so I am probably getting some synergies, (balanced connection for one) that were not avaiable with the Arcam. I have not heard the Cary. At the end of the day I don't think one can make a "wrong" decision when choosing between players of this caliber, but given budget considerations you can get an awesome CD player and save $400 to $800 by going with the Arcam FMJ 23. I have not had a chance to hear any of the Cary line. Happy Hunting!
Thanks for your thoughts and input. I am still undecided, but the Arcam is loooking like a GREAT contender. I am now thinking that price point is going to be a major consideration and a used Arcam or Cary will be the least expensive way to go.
I just sold a cd 92 and bought a cd 33 for a very decent price,and if i would have had to pay more then i did for the 33 i probably would not have bought it that said the 92 is a awesome player the cd 33 takes it up a nice step,i am very happy with it.
I have the Cary 308t, which I upgraded to from a Jolida JD100. I suspect the Jolida and your CD-25 are comparable in cost/performance. In my system, the Cary maintains the warmth of the Jolida, but with much improved detail and clarity. I have been very happy with the Cary.

Good Luck|