Researching the CD/HDCD Players from China

I have gotten 40 plus responses regarding CD players built in China. However, the more research I've done It appears to me that most CD players and many other audio pieces are made in China or in Japan. I recall back in the early 1960's working as an audio salesman, we not only carried hi end audio equipment, but table radios and certain consoles. I would always steer customers away from anything made in Japan. That was my mindset back then and remained so for some years.

Now it appears that this is the same mindset of many audio buffs regarding anything made in China. Much of my restarch as been trying to find high quality CD players that are built well and can render classical choral and orchestral as well as jazz small and big bands well. In particular it must be able to give me a good presentation of the human voice in song. Plus it must be able to render an wide sound field throwing music outside of the speakers. And there must be sufficient height to the sound field as well. I am also particular about being able to pick out each jazz instrument and/or voice from within the sound field.

I have heard (for short periods)an Original 2008 Mk2, a Shenda SD100S, Doge 6, and a Bada HD23. All of these players produced a very pleasent sound. However, my primary concerned is with "LONGEVITY" and being able to improve on the sound with tube changes, upgrades, etc.

Finally, the reason I've spent time researching these and other CD/HDCD players has to do with funding. I don't have a large amount of $$$ to spend, but still want hi end sound. This may be a foolish notion, but that's what I am looking for. I understand that there are some HDCD CD's now on the market. Has anyone heard any and is the sound quality superior to the redbook CD's? By the way, the rest of my system will consist of the following:
1. Elite Rock turntable with Excalibur arm (Sumiko cart)
2. Audio Research Pre-Amp
3. Threshold S/300 power amp
4. Mirage OM-9 Omni (soon to be upgraded to Mags 1.6)
5. Various Kimber Cables
I have many classical and jazz LP's i've collected over the years especially many from Germany. I may have just as many redbook CD's. I plan to purchase HDCD's if they can present better sound than my redbooks.

Again thank you for your comments because I really need them. I hope to purchase something within the next few weeks depending on what I get in the way of your responses.
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HDCD is just great - it's also effectively obsolete in terms of new recordings being made.Where it gets interesting is that since the format was truly backwards compatible ( for once) -there are quit a few out there to this day. Some artists/engineers really got behind it and their work will play just fine on a regular redbook CD player - plus really shine thru a player or converter that can recognize and process the HDCD process.
I also have a strong suspicion that part of the reason i really like so many HDCD encoded recordings is simply because the original "master" recordings were done by people who both cared about the sound of the final product and had the chops to get this done right - probably more important than the HDCD process it's self.
FWIW - as a former service manager - I would not expect to be able to repair any mechanism over the long run ( Chinese or not). Personally prefer to send my music out of relatively cheap players into a very good outboard DAC - that way when the player goes down - I feel no qualms about piching it.
And still have potential issues, USA doesnt mean its gonna last any longer it just may be easier to get fixed. Many hate China for obvious reasons but the audio is better and better and the line between them and others is increasingly blurred. I dont have any thoughts or issues either way, if its good its good and nothing is without China's influence in large part.
"Personally prefer to send my music out of relatively cheap players into a very good outboard DAC - that way when the player goes down - I feel no qualms about pitching it."

That's exactly how I feel. Also DVD players have good tracking.

If you buy thru-hole hand made tube gear than I would be carefull with China but if it's, for instance, CD player than I would not be afraid. SMT boards inside would be made in China (or India) anyway and the SMT process is very well controlled. Rest of it is just put together and if there are any mistakes (inferior quality control) it will most likely show during warranty period. It also depends on individual brands and policies. Japanese gear is considered very reliable (just look at the Nikon, Canon etc) but Boeing had serious quality/attitude problems when they started making parts there.

"Where it gets interesting is that since the format was truly backwards compatible ( for once) -there are quit a few out there to this day."

I'm not sure about that. It uses 16 bit resolution with 15 bits carrying sound and least significant bit switching dynamic range (technique known as in band signaling). Playing it on regular CD player should bring noise on bit #16 and weird dynamics.
Yes there's a great HDCD machine made in Iowa by EAD which features the well known Pioneer stable platter drive mechanism. Enlightened Audio Design

Rb watch for my email...tomorrow...
I have had various players from China and have had zero problems.The one I have now also does HDCD and sounds very nice.
Good luck in your quest.

I find it confusing that a person with a system consisting of Threshold and Audio Research now wants to skimp on the CD player. As far as the Chinese players go, nobody knows the ultimate longevity of these players, as they have not been on the market long enough to establish a track record. Sonically, I've owned a Doge6 and I thought it was fabulous - how long is it going to last? Can't say. If you are truly concerned with reliability, I believe Esoteric has a great reputation for that. Personally, if you want reliability and HDCD, I would recommend a Naim CD5x with a flatcap PS. About 5K new and probably about half that used. An excellent, reliable player at a very good SH price.
I have two CD players built in China. A Cambridge Audio D500SE that is now 5 plus years old and a recently purchased used Cayin CD-50T. I have had no problems with the Cambridge, and the Cayin has somewhere between 1 1/2 thru two years on it. The Cayin has first rate build quality, and for the most part top notch parts. The Cayin also offers HDCD processing.
The Cambridge shows decent build quality with very sound engineering, and selected high quality parts in selected areas where the deliver best bang for the buck.
And for the record, I have a Cayin HA-1A tube headphone amp that sounds splendid and is built like a tank. I am very impressed with Cayins quality and sound for the money.
I listen to classical, jazz, and older rock. The Cayin combo really shines with classical and jazz in my opinion.
My first real jump into high-end audio CD players was the Cambridge D500SE. That was almost 10 years ago. It worked fine for almost 3 months, then had no output on the right channel. That is, until I was going to bring it back to my dealer, and it began playing again. He told me it wasn't the first player he'd seen this with, so he asked me to bring it in. I did, and the problem reappeared when he hooked it up for a listen. He had a new in the box player waiting for me when I walked in.

The second player worked for about a month, then developed the same problem. Same scenario, he gave me another machine.

I opened the box of this third player when I got home to take it out, and the drawer would not come out, but I could hear it trying. So, I gave it a gentle tug, and it jumped to the side as it popped out. Hit CLOSE, and the drawer was so misaligned that it ended up about 1/8" to the right of where it should have been. Called him up, and let him know I was done with Cambridge CD players for now, and we agreed on me taking a similarly priced rack instead.

I understand the next generation (C540/C640) players were infinitely more reliable than the D300/D500 series. I also bought a Music Hall MMF25 when they first came out, and it provided over 3 years of flawless operation. Then again, I've seen players with another zero in their pricetag fail right out of the box or anytime after that.

I don't want to say that it's just Cambridge or whatever brand of CD player being made over there, it's the shoddy workmanship in general of these components. In October, I bought one of those 3 packs of General Electric cordless phones/answering machine at Circuit City. My 2 year old daughter dropped one on a hardwood floor, and it shattered. OK, 1 down. And, this past week, a second unit of the three just up and died. Now, I'm left with one of the three phones I originally purchased, and am left wondering why I paid another $50 or so for the 3 pack.

Growing up in the time when you pretty much expected the phone you had to last a lifetime, I must say the increasingly short lifespan of the phones being produced in the past decade (dovetails with the rise of manufacturers shifting their production to China) is enough to make me question what direction we've gone down with this low price at whatever cost paradigm. Yes, it was more difficult to buy my first real good cordless phone, a made in Japan Toshiba, way back for $199, but I expect to get 2 - 3 solid years out of this type of product. I've almost reached the point where I'm willing to pay triple the price to have the thing last me. The ironic thing is that there are now no such products available. Well, at least now I know why the warranty on the current phone pack was only 90 days...

Sorry to hear of your problems with the Cambridge. Perhaps I got lucky with mine. My D500SE has been flawless. I also have a NAD C540 cd player purchased in early 2001. Other than it's known fussy behavior reading less than prestine cd's, it's been good also. I have read many reports on reliability issues with NAD, Cambridge, and others built in China. I was a bit worried about the Cayin purchase, however there are many reviews of their gear and it's excellent build quality. I guess just like past history with the early Japan gear, they will keep getting better at it.
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Tvad - microfiber is polyester. Get cotton with bamboo towels (the best) if you don't mind bamboo coming most likely from China.

Oops - I didn't notice it was a hardware store.
I am more than pleased with all the responses I've received. I wanted to get as many opinions as I could before going out and doing my own listening. I had taken a hard look at the Cayan and Doge 6 and liked what I saw. The quality seemed to be topnotch and I have read great things about these CD players. And both can be modded in the future to perform at a much higher musical level. As stated earlier my favorite music is large and small scale classical choral works, large and small scale orchestral works and modern jazz vocal and instrumental.

Don't be fooled because I have Audio Research and Threshold. I buy used because I cannot afford to buy new. So, I want the very best CD/HDCD player I can get no matter where it comes from. However, I will not purchase a player directly from China because I want to have access to service if I need it and that means buying from a USA dealership. I am trying to put together the best 2 channel music system I can for limited funds. So far I've done very well based on the very kind advice I've gotten from you and others. Thanks much for sharing with me.
Have you checked with Underwood hifi as they mod players and if there is a problem I believe they don't send them back to China.

Good Luck,
tvad walk around your house and throw out everything you own that is made in China
talk the talk -walk the walk
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I grew up as a USA audiophile since before CD's (Carver Amazing Platinums, ESS Heils, B&W DM7's, B&K/Fosgate/Carver electronics, ...that level gear...). I now live in China and have the Jolida S100 and Original CD A8II CPD's, Behringer DEQ, Dussun and Classic Amps, ShengYa and Xindak pres, Xindak DAC, M&D Rubies with Omni Harmonizers. TV system is Aurum Cantus Leisure 5's with economy QinPu integrated. Everything was made in China and working well for over a year or two... The sound is fantastic (especially considering the main system is in a tiny square room), the tube gear responds well to tube changes, I am still tweaking cables so I think not yet at the final sound. I am not in the electronics field, but have been working in China factories for many years. I feel confident most of the current export-bound production here is up to best commercial practice standards for workmanship when compared to similarily priced items in the global marketplace. Best of Luck!
Tvad - there might be another reson for quality problems in China that has nothing to do with China. I had Cambridge amp (A3i) that failed after couple of years. I found out that four LED diodes used as voltage reference were soldered too short and got overheated. There was certain "know how" that missed "special instructions" or "test procedure" but it could happen as well in Switzerland. Surface mount process is better controlled and boards are made in China or India anyway.
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The issue, as some have pointed out, is how well can you expect to get good service if something bad happens. Not sure. However, I know what you are saying - I have seen many ads and reviews apologizing for the product having been made in China. OTOH, things from Germany or Sweden get top billing. There is some reality and history (of course) to these paradigms and stereotypes. However, to pay a fine craftsman (worker) in Germany is a huge expense, which is reflected in prices, whether Burmester or BMW. And you can be sure to get a pretty good product, but you will pay. There are a lot of smart and talented people in China, who may be very well and reasonably laughing at our stereotypes. While I'm sure some of their products are created for quick sales based on market desires, I'd also bet there are some fine products coming from there made by those who care. Overall, I think it's time for a paradigm shift. Ultimately, for this kind of discussion it would be helpful for someone with technical credentials to weigh in on the quality of what is coming from China compared to the U.S. and Europe.
Tvad - I known it was made in China but forgot to mention it. I even talked to designer of this amp Alex Nikitin who works for Michael Creek. He expressed opinion that it would cost twice as much to build it in the UK. My point was that something in process of shifting production to China was lost but it could happen as well while moving production to Switzerland.
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Tvad - The torroid story is really interesting, but do they shield toroidal transformers? As far as I know magnetic field around torroidal transformer cancels completely as long as winding is uniform.

"Further, in the case of the Cambridge A3i, there was no shifting of production. It was always manufactured in China, although it was designed in England."

- so we cannot even compare and there is still a good chance that China has nothing to do with it and whole thing is just lack of quality control and production supervision (I had Ford - I know).
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I think they cover torroids just in case or for the looks. My Benchmark DAC1 has uncovered (quite large) power toroid just few inches from the DAC and clock and Benchmark still gets S/N=140dB.
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A couple corrections on your comments. The Cambridge D500 CD player was not an attempt to hide a "fake torrid" transformer. It is a circular copper plated shield placed over the transformer to reduce the tendency every transformer has to spray stray magnetic field around the surrounding circuit board region. If you look up a companion report on the Cambridge D500SE in TNT audio, it will clarify that incorrect assumption.

Secondly, there is no Cayin product I know of that uses a "fake" tube for lighting effect only. There were posts on a vintage Luxman tube cd player from the mid eighties that made a similar accusation of a phony tube circuit. I don’t know if that is true or not. Cayin gear is top notch and is b very well engineered and designed, so I find it hard to believe it was a Cayin product your referring too.
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"That's the only relevance to this thread."

- In order to understand relevance or lack of it one has to understand what toroidal transformer is and why non-toroidal transformers have to be shielded. I suspect that many companies (including LAMM) might be putting shields on torroids just for the looks and that's much worse.
They might sound good but they won't last long. I went through two Shanling SACD players in 2 1/2 years. The first one never worked properly and after 3 attempts to fix it at Signature Audio in Vancouver, Can., it was replaced with a newer model and myself forking out another $600. This one lasted 1 1/2 years at witch time it stopped working. I brought it back to Signature Audio and was told that the model is no longer in production and no parts where available.I was shit out of luck and $3600 poorer. Never again.
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Tvad - Didn't you just make the same assertion about people opening Cambridge CD player?
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Tvad - I did not make assertion that people open Lamm preamps either. Every review of Lamm preamps as well as their website shows inside of the box - difficult not to notice. Lamm, according to reviews and reputation makes one of the finest sounding gear but in case of transformer cover something is wrong. Their specified S/N ratio is only 84dB (LL2) - pretty poor for line-stage while Benchmark DAC1 has 116dB specified (140dB measured) WITHOUT ANY TOROID COVER. Cover therefore is BS.
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Thanks for the link provided to the alleged bogus tube rectification in the Cayin A70T and your correction on the piece involved. Sounds like Cayin were indeed guilty of perhaps a bit of "extra glitz". That should not be necessary given the good qualities of that piece of gear.

However, that being said, the bulk of their product line seems well designed, extremely well built, and offer excellent "bang for the buck" sound quality. I am extremely satisfied with the two pieces of their gear I own. In fact, I’ve posted a review of the CD-50 T player in the Audiogon Reviews- Digital section.

I guess time will tell on the Cayin long-term reliability and ability to get parts if needed.