I have not heard the Mark Levinson 39. The CD50 is up there with the best, very neutral and fast, but is laid-back - certainly in comparison with the Wadia and Theta players. The CD 50 tends to need livening up with cones in many systems. The CD55 is a bit more open and with better resolution (pardon the pun) and less laid-back. I feel the CD50 is better than say the Meridian 508-24 in most respects (having owned both), and importantly, you don't need a preamp with the CD50 (if you play CDs only).
Redkiwi, what are the characteristics of the CD50 that you feel better the Meridian? Also, how do the 50 and 55 compare/contrast? Thanks, Doug
Redkiwi, I followed your advice a few months ago and bought a cd 50. I've been very pleased. I'm interested in the cones. Which ones? How do i set them up? Thanks.
I have owned both the Levinson 39 and both models of Res Audio. They are all great but the CD 50 is still my reference player.
I have not heard the Levinson 39 but I did compare the CD50 and CD55 extensively with each other. I also compared these against a Meridan 506.24, a Thule balanced CD (150 ?)and separates consisting of a Rotel tranport and a Sonic Frontiers tube DAC. The Resolutions easily beat the competion with the Thule coming in the closest. I ultimately preferred the CD55 over the CD50 - a more refined sound and slightly better soundstage (it has upsampling, the CD50 does not). I kept the CD55. The CD50 and CD55 are unbeatable for the price.
Streetdaddy, if the CD50 does not sound too laid-back for you the best upgrade is to remove the feet (which just unscrew from the bottom) and place four small E-A-R polymer feet under it. This will be more even-handed than cones. I only mention cones if you need the greater immediacy. If you want more immediacy then there are plenty of decent cones to try, like the Walkers, DH Super Cones and Black Diamond Racing. Doug, I never had the 508-24 and the CD50 at the same time, but I have had them in the same system for months at a time each. I know I like the CD50 a lot better. The 508-24 still has some of the ringing of the 508-20 which causes a sheen or glaze to the upper midrange that reduces presence and resolution. Overall it is also less neutral and natural in its presentation than the CD50. In contrast to the 508-24, the CD50 is wonderfully open and natural through all of the midrange. The improvement from the 508-20 to the 508-24 is in the right direction, but not as good as the CD50. The CD50 has a much better balanced bass, with more extension than the 508-24 also. The CD55 is a little less warm and laid-back, has better resolution, but through being more refined it does not mean it is any less smooth than the CD50.
Where can i find the E A R feet?
I think someone said that Parts Connection div. of Sonic Frontiers has them available? Confirmation anyone?
Redkiwi have you tried Aurios MIBs under CDP?
If you do not have stiff/heavy AC cord or ICs, I find them much preferable to any cones I have tried.
No I haven't Megasam. It is not easy to try stuff like that in NZ without buying it from the US first. With enough recommendations for the Aurios MIBs, then that may have to be what I do. I find cones to be a bit of a band-aid and prefer to concentrate on rack and shelf. Cones give more detail and immediacy but at the price of imposing their own sound on everything. But if one's rack/shelf is not so good then on balance they can be a good thing. Streetdaddy, I have received your email but will respond publicly here if that is OK. You can find the E-A-R feet by going to www.sonicfrontiers.com and then selecting the link to The Parts Connection. You will find the E-A-R feet in the catalogue and the small ones sound better on the CD50. In general I find they are sweeter, smoother and more resolving through the mids and treble than standard rubber feet, and the bass is more articulate, extended and open than standard rubber feet. As rubber feet go, the standard ones on the CD50 are fairly bad - way too big for the weight of the component. If they had put something on that was a more appropriate size, no doubt people would have complained about the cheapness of the feet. One last comment. I have yet to find a system or setup that shows up any nasty sounds from the CD50. That makes it unusual in the world of CD players by my reckoning. Some may find others more engaging or exciting, but the sheer naturalness of the CD50 lets the music do the talking and never draws attention to itself. I know that sounds like a plug, but it is the best way I can describe why I like it.
thanks for the input on the 2 cd players. I'm still waiting for the new format to emerge, mainly because I don't want to buy 2 different types of software. I'm interested in upsamplers at this time because I can still play my regular cd's on them, but I do hear some controversy on this too, so will probably settle on a good cd player, then maybe use the digital outs for a dac in the future with the player as a transport.
Megasam - someone somewhere here suggested using heads of spoons (removed from their stems) sitting in Vibrapods, and then glass marbles sitting in them. Simple enough so I tried it. Believe it or not they sounded better if I sat the spoon head in up-turned E-A-R feet, but I got a sense of the effect of roller-bearings (no one brings them into NZ). Very good natural dynamics, some coloration, but primarily of the support (ie the Vibrapods or E-A-R feet), but also a mild ringing (perhaps the glass marbles, I will try ball-bearings soon). Definitely better than cones. Better with thin spoon heads like cheap metal measuring spoons than with your best silver (fortunately). I will do it a bit more properly next time and use precision surfaces (still much cheaper than bringing something in). If all that works I will start looking into getting something like the MIBs. As you say, the big difference was with the CD player. I am not so sure yet about the effect on my valve monos, with the el-cheapo test there was an unwanted coloration with the monos. Interestingly the effect is good between my Neuance shelves and my components, when I had thought the Neuance shelves had made fancy footers redundant - in fact all the cones I have fail to improve on using just the Neuance shelf - they do not improve isolation and add coloration. But the roller-bearing idea seems like it improves isolation further - very impressive.
Red, yes you will like Aurios MIBs under CDP, since your
marble/spoon experiment worked your AC cord and ICs must be somewhat flexible. When MIBs are properly set-up slightest
touch will make CDP swing freely back and forth, the more the swing the better. Stiff or heavy cords make MIB set-up
very difficult or impossible. MIBs are expensive but everyone should try a set under their CDP, works wonders
will very little tonal shifting, close to nuetral. Much
preferable to cones IMO.
I beleive Bluenose told us about marble/spoon/vibrapod tweak in a thread about daruma bearing isolation footers