Raysonic 168

Thanx for the responses on the 128. I see now the 168 has been released. I saw what Underwood Audio has done to the 128 as far as mods go, it looks like some things done in the mods have been incorporated in the 168.
Has anyone yet heard the 168? I am hedging my bet between the two for an upcoming purchase.
I believe the 168 has a volume control enabling you to run it directly into a
power amp without an intervening active preamp/linestage. This may not be a
good idea, sonically. Saturday I took my Raysonic 128 over to a friend's house
to play it through his passive linestage. Sounded totally unlike itself -- scrawny,
threadbare, glary -- and I quickly reinserted it into my CJ Premier 17LS2 when I
got home to see if it was damaged. Nope, sounded great. But it definitely
doesn't play well with passives, or at least this particular one that was custom-
built by my friend. His own CD player/DAC sounded just great through this
passive, BTW. Dave
the 168 has the Volume as stated above, might be good, might not work with all systems... It also has a philips transport vs. the Sony unit used in the 128.. it has orange lights opossed to blue... It has what seems to be a different model DAC chip, but also loses the HDCD capability it seems... As for the price I believe the 128 is 1699 unless they upped it, and the 168 is like 2399... Worth 700 more? Well a real serious A-B test would need to be done, but unless you need the volume control, and don't want HDCD, it seems the 128 might still be the best value and probably sounds just as good.
I think the current MSRP for the 128 is $1850. I can't see the additional money for the 168, given what you say, but it would be nice to see some review comparisons.
Well, FWIW, the 128 uses the same DAC as my $500 Rotel player, IIRC, the BB 1732. I cannot bring myself to upgrade to a CDP that uses the same DAC I have in my entry level player, even though, due to other aspects of design, it might be worlds better. At least the 168 has a newer, more SOTA chip.
Bondmanp, Well I will say this... The Dac Chip has very little to do with ultimate sound, some are a bit different but not better... Power supplies, Analog output stage, OPamps, Clocks, Transport, yes those are the key elements in todays digital, One dac chip vs another is pennys on the dollar, In other words that single silicone chip is not the greatest cost by far, one DAC chip can cost 18 dollars, and one that everybody thinks is suppose to be better is only about 3 dollars more.

I have heard far bigger differences in Analog stages that you actually hear, not the translator chip, all Dacs obviously have advanced quite a bit since the 1990 10,000 dollar machine right? So would you take a 1990 10,000 dollar machine and believe it sounds better than a 2000 dollar machine using a newer chip?

Possibly, possibly not... Not, as for being a more advanced DAC chip goes, do you really believe that BB has really advanced the chips that much that will now translate into better sound from the year 2000 till' now? Just illustrating a point here is all, not an argument, don't get hung up on the DAC chip, I have heard 3 dollar chips sound as good as 5000 dollar CD players. When you buy an outboard DAC for example, it has to do with the better designed power supplies, Analog output stage, better capacitors and parts, their are many cheap excellent DAC chips, some better than others, but normally these days don't equate to better sound in the end. A good design from somebody like Wadia for example could build a machine around a Really Cheap BB chip and still make it sound better than 99% of lesser machines with cheap transports, power supplies, Analog parts etc...

By the way I have had Several Hi res machines, With 24/96 top of the line Chips etc... SACD, DVD-A ... And I have heard 1996 well designed machines with 16 bit DAC chips run circles around them. So this is the least of our worries.
Undertow, FWIW, I have 4 very good Digital systems and only one of them 'up-samples', the Raysonic 128, and I don't like it in that (selectible) mode. Personally, I think the benefits of upsampling is a lot of sales hype - the real difference are in the output sections. IMHO of course.
Newbee, not sure what you are refering too from my end on upsampling.. However I agree upsampling in most cases means nothingÂ… And in the Raysonics case I don't use it, without sounds much more analog. As for price, I don't know that Raysonic uses that as a marketing scheme, and I never even mentioned it in my post as being so, so I again I agree.
Undertow: Your points are well-taken, and I agree completely. It's more of a psychological thing; when I spend big bucks on an upgrade, I want everything about the new kit to be better. Of course, one should judge with their ears and not based on a parts list.
The CD168 uses not one, but two BB DACs in balanced configuration. The DACs are also different than the CD128. The CD128 uses one 1738 DAC chip whereas the CD168 uses two 1792s.
Bondmanp, Don't get me wrong I totally see your point, honestly if we all thought a single advancement in digital part #'s equates to better sound we would all have to say the latest Greatest IPOD is better than somebodys 10 year old 20,000 dollar CD player with a far inferior DAC chip in todays terms right ? :-) Its still shocking to some people especially ones that I know stop by and hear a great analog (LP) system walking away saying dammit, now my Levinson system I got at a premium from the dealer for 5 K in my new Lexus will not impress me as much! (True story by the way)

Also, Rotel is using a chip I am sure is in many other Hi end players including ones 10 times the price as it is the same in the raysonic, but the architecture of the machine is not remotely close, as a matter of fact if the DAC Part #'s were not published by the manufactures we would never think of such things in the first place, cause a 50 dollar Sony DVD player can have the same DAC chip in something a 8,000 dollar Lexicon home theater receiver has in it, makes no real difference in the end 9 times out of 10, especially in the advanced redbook Dacs from within the last 10 years.
That does change things a bit... Might be why the 168 I believe shows a 2.3 volt output and the 128 a 2.2 volt out.. Also why it costs much more its got 4 Dac's to pay for opossed to a pair..
Which two tubes are used for the RCA outputs in the CD168. Is it the pair in the center? I understand the circuit is configured in matched pairs and a identical matched quad is not needed (for tube rolling purposes) Only a specific matched pair for either the RCA or XLR outputs.

Rebl, Don't know about the 168, but I've done some tests with the tubes in my 128 and I've concluded that the 4 tubes act in concert to some degree, for example the tubes in the RCA output will affect the sounds from the XLR outputs. This in contrary to what I've been told and read (interestingly never by an authoritive source) but I became interested when I had a tube in the XLR output fail and it affected the RCA output which alone was connected. FWIW.
i have heard the 168 in my system, during a short break-in process of about 48 hours. according to a raysonic dealer, the player opens up and becomes more resolving as it approaches 168 hours, which, supposedly is a reasonable amount of time to allow before judging its presentation. from what i heard, there is no tube bloom and has the sound of a typical burr brown dac chip. it was not irritating, but was not very smooth either.

in many respects i prefer the musical fidelity a5. if the audio dealer is accurate in his appraisal, i suspect that this player may be unforgiving and very detailed.
Thanks, for the info. I believe what happened in your unit is that when one tube failed, the filament voltage increased in the remaining tubes due to lower current draw. Resulting in a percieved change in sound. I still need to known which pair is for the RCA outputs and which for the xlr.

I am not 100% sure but I think we spoke on the phone regarding the Raysonic CD players numerous times. I apologize if this is not you, but I think it is and everything is lining up here (you called me twice about your obscure sound preferences). For the record, these players are anything but unforgiving and overly detailed. Just read the reviews, this player is as liquid as it gets, which I told you.

I think you need to be honest with the others here on Audiogon and those who would read your post and tell people what you are looking for in a player: You told me on SEVERAL occasions that you wanted a MUFFLED sound, NO detail, laid back and a cd player that blends all the sounds together. Now I may be paraphrasing your words, but this is the sound you are looking for.

I am not sure there are any other audiophiles here who would be looking for such a sound and your critique above is unfair due to your unique listening preferences. I also would have appreciated some honesty from you when you called me asking about this player. You should have told me you had it already and just been honest with me.

Let's just all be honest and open here before we start to slam products, MRtennis!
hi eric:

i stand by my statements. i did not slam the 168, and yes i prefer a darker sound. this is old news. i also mentioned that the player had 48 hours of play. all statements are factual. when i spoke to you i did not mention my brief experience with this player. and at this point, pending further break in and tube change , i prefer the a5. all facts. what's the problem ?
Mrtennis: By implication, are you saying that you find the MF A5 dark sounding? I am curious, as I have never heard this player referred to as dark, or lacking in detail resolution.
the a5 is not dark sounding in my opinion. it is very balanced in frequency response. it seems puurer sounding than the raysonic. note, the raysonic is not fully broken in and the eh tubes have yet to be replaced.

what impresses me about the a5 is that it doesn't seem to exaggerate any region of the frequency range. in addition since it is close to neutrality, i can "color" the sound with another component to approach the voicing i prefer.
Reb1208, the center tubes have most effect on the RCA's outer tubes on the XLR... As for the 168 vs. the 128...
Fatcataudio, Since you are on here, please give an opinion on the 2 machines?

I honestly feel after seeing some of the pics on the internals side by side that the 168 has found a way to reduce build and parts costs with using no doubt some more current Dac's, but all the analog parts and layout seem "cheaper" for example only because its obvious the Auricaps are used in the new one vs. the Mundorfs in the 128, I know I have used both in other units in the past, not digital components, but none the less heard these caps head to head and always prefered the mundorfs, and they are a bit more money. There are several other things I note that have been done a bit more conventional in the 168 vs the 128, I am not saying this has anything to do with final sound, just an observation.

The 128 losses the HDCD but gets a slightly advanced redbook chip, however this really means nothing today.

And the main advantage for some users is the 168 adds the volume.

So not saying the build or parts in the 168 will make it sound better or worse, but would like your opinion on the actual differences or flavors of the units.


You deliberately called another dealer (me) to inquire about this product when you had no intentions on working with me on the purchase. You did not let me know you already had the unit and continued to talk as if you were an interested buyer. You need to work with your local dealer who supplied you with your CD168 (or whoever supplied it to you). That is the problem.
Undertow, its quite easy and economical to change the two .22uf film caps to whatever type you prefer. The XLR outputs are capacitor free, so you can compare your "experimenting". Although, there are probably some extra op-amps in the XLR signal path that may scew the results.
I have experimented with tube rolling the CD168. The two center tubes are reported to affect the RCA outputs and the outer two the XLR. However, my findings are the same as that repoted by Newbee on his CD128. Changing either the inner or outer pair will affect the sound from both the RCA and XLR outputs. I have settled for now on a pair of Siemens CCA 6922 in the center and a pair of Amperex White label 6DJ8 "D" getters for the outer positions. Seams to meld the Siemens and Amperex sound into one cohesive sonic signature.
Reb, Glad to hear it wasn't my imagination. It also explains why I wasn't able to get the sound of the sonic signature from the tubes I was using unless I used all four of the same brand. Interestingly it makes the permutations seem infinite - perhaps not so good for the anal folks. :-)

BTW, how do you like the 168? Anything to compare it against? Have you heard the 128?
Newbee, I will give all 4 tubes changed out to the same good ones a shot in the upcoming weeks to see If I can concur the inner and outer have effects on both outputs. I definitely can say just changing one pair at a time had large effect by itself, but if its even better with a Matched Quad than I will keep it that way, I just don't have access to my system right now to do any testing.
any conclusions?