Review: Raysonic 128 CDP CD Player

Category: Digital

My motivation for posting this is only because this is a new product on the market of which folks should be aware. It was recently reviewed by 6 moons if you're interested. I purchased it as a potential replacement for my CAL Alpha/Delta.

FWIW, I listen to Classical, Jazz, and pop vocal. No head banger stuff. Sonic preferences are for neutrality in all components - so long as they are 'tube based'. :-) While I can tolerate a bit of an uptilted bass so long as its undistorted, I can't tolerate exagerated high frequencies. I require transparency and smoothness. I can tolerate a bit of roll off so long as the signal is clean and clear.

I have had the Raysonic for about 3 weeks and it has just passed its breakin phase. Initially out of the box it was very rolled in the highs and full but dull in the bass. I'm still using the factory tubes (EH's). I did try different types and it is easy to change the units tone with different brands (whats new here!)

In comparison to my Wadia (direct to an amp) the Raysonic is as full but not as tight in the bass, as smooth in the mid range, and clearly not as extended in the highs. Compared to the Wadia thru a pre amp the gap closes quite a bit but the Wadia is still tighter and more extended.

In comparison to the BAT the bass is deeper and tighter but the mids and highs in the BAT are much more open and 'airy', perhaps a bit more transparent.

In comparison to the Cal units which it replaces it is sonically fuller in over-all tone, not as forward, and much smoother. I can't think of a single issue in which I prefer the Cal units, which have been long time favorites of mine in their price range.

And, in comparison to all three units, the Raysonic seems to have a greater dynamic range. I'm not talking speed, nor am I talking about absolute low or high frequency extension, I'm referring to the difference in the spread between the quietest and loudest sound.

I suspect this unit would have a high level of appeal not only to tubophiles, but to SS folks who want to avoid some of the more obnoxious effects of digital done wrong.

I'm keeping it!

Associated gear
Primaluna 3/5 pre-amp/amp
Tyler Linbrook Signature Systems Speakers

Similar products
Wadia 302
Bat DK5
CAL Alpha/Delta
Great review! Good to here...what qualities and tube substitutes would you recommend? Especially to obtain some more high end details...

What tubes you should use will depend on your priorities and associated equipment.

I've used 6h23's, NOS sovteks, EI's, New and NOS Teslas. With the Primaluna stuff w/6550 I like the stock EH tubes. With KT88's I like EI's and 6h23's. This CDP is not dull in the highs, its just not edgy, harsh, or 'bright'.
Thanks heaps for the review !
I have been keen on it reading the reviews so far and you seem to be confirming it.
It seems to have the qualities I am after .
Newbee - thanks for a very helpful and interesting review. Do you like the Raysonic CD128 more than the BAT? Did you prefer Wadi and the Cal stuff to the BAT as well? I've heard the BAT VK-D5 and compared it to a Shanling CDT100. The BAT blew the Shanling out of the water in retrieval of detail, more extended highs and lows, better air etc\. The BAT was more natural sounding than the Chinese made Shanling, which I still admire for what it is. The Shanling just sounded rather flat and unexciting in comparison. Perhaps that is their design goal. I was hoping that is not the case with the Raysonic.

I'm interested in a Raysonic CD128, but I lean toward a more detailed, extended and dynamic presentation that retains an analog tube sweetness. So I am concerned it might still not yield the extention of highs and lows, with airy instrument placement etc. Your thoughts?
Newbie, thanks for pointing me towads your review. I too and toying with replacing the Cal pieces.
Hi Groberts3

Wish I had an easy answer to your question - so much on your end results depends on the rest of your system that its hard to predict how any one piece of equipment will actually interface with your other components.

FWIW I just listened to 4 different digital front ends in one system (all tubes) - the BAT, the Cal Delta/Alpha, the Wadia 302, and the Raysonic. The Cal, Wadia, and Raysonic were all very similar in linearity, tonally speaking. The Wadia was very clean and smooth - no added 'tube' artifice in the highs. The Raysonic was similar with a bit more high end detail (not up-tilted highs) and sounded just a tad more forward, something I can easily control with tube selection if I chose to do so. The Cal was similar to each except that it was more compressed, had slightly brighter highs and less bass.

Now to the BAT. I found in this system, compared to the above units, and playing only one recording of solo piano music which is a recording of a long love for me from LP's thru CD's, the BAT had slightly softer but fullish bass, and a slightly recessed mid-range which created, IMHO, a 'sense' of brightness in the highs which actually wasn't there. What seemed apparent is that the BAT is a bit resessive in the mid range. This is not the first time I noted this 'balance' and over the first years I had the BAT (1998/9) the CAL actually 'sounded' better because of my preference for its balance in the system I was then using.

Now, to make your decision more difficult, I have another system which I have set up (all tubes) in which I have changed out the factory designated tubes, KT88's, and have inserted SED 6550's. These tubes change the sonic's of this system by smoothing out the upper-mids and highs, restoring tonal balance, and reduces any bass bloom, giving a tight and deep bass. In that system the BAT sings!!!!!!!!! Clean, clear, smooth and much more balanced.

I don't know if this will make any sense to you, but my conclusion is that the Raysonic will sound much more balanced in a SS (assuming that is your system) than the BAT.

I hope that helps. Don't hesitate to ask further questions if you think I can clarify anything.
I asked a 6Moons reviewer whether an NOS machine would not be better than the oversampling Raysonic.
Having read a number of different reviews of NOS and OS machines, I began to have the impression that NOS were perhaps SET-like (excellent on timing, but a little lean) while OS were more push-pull-like (not so good on timing and a little overblown); but he told me that it all depends how the design is implemented.

Indeed, according to this reviewer, the Raysonic is very close in sound to the NOS Zanden. If that is so, it should be quite something!

He also points out that the Raysonic is a top loader, so that eliminates potential drawer issues.

See also
for another positive review.

However, there is a strong rejection of the principle of ASCR which this asylum member claims is used by the Raysonic, here,

"It is yet another CD source that uses asynchronous sample-rate conversion ("24b/96khz upsampling")- One feature that I'd personally avoid like the plague." Posted by Todd Krieger

There is also a not so positive review by a Marc Philip (who appears not to like any tube based CDP), but he is also comparing the Raysonic with a much more expensive Classé machine.

Marc PHILIP (said to be an independent journalist), was visiting Rotac électronique inc, a shop or importer in Québec.
In a French language web magazine, he likens its sound to that of the Shanling, and can't understand the present taste for valves in CD players.

He says he far prefers the Classé CD which he claim is more dynamic, having a more realistic soundstage.

Of course, I do not know how independent such journalists are. Perhaps this does point to the Raysonic, being better in an SS system rather than a valve system. However, Classé is made in Montreal and Raysonic is based in Montreal, I don't know whether they may be a little regional rivalry here.

"La comparaison directe avec le lecteur de CD Classé, ne laisse aucun doute, le Classé CDP 10Z est beaucoup plus performant, le son est plus dynamique et pour tout dire plus réaliste, la scène sonore reprend une taille généreuse, avec un piqué sur le piano notamment, qui nous est apparu en tout point parfait et quelle belle extention dans les deux bouts du spectre, il n’y a rien à faire Classé, fabrique des appareils remarquables."

I believe the Raysonic is hard-wired to the tube bases, so that could allow the use of very different tubes from the original ones.

Thank you for this review, I am tempted to buy one myself.
Sorry, I meant Classé is based in Montreal and Raysonic is based in Otawa
I am now enjoying the Raysonic 128 too and have tried a number of tubes including Amperex and Mullard Holland made 6922s .
Nos Tesla worked well for me too but I am sticking with some German made Siemens PCC88s at the moment( Siemens E88CC are too expensive ). They sound the best to me ! My amp is a Unico SE hybrid and I find they work perfectly together. The tube rolling and listening over the last 3 or 4 months has been very enjoyable.
Keen to hear from others that have experimented.
Jackthecat, If you want to hear an excellent tube in this unit (and a lot of other units as well) try Bugle Boys (Amperex - Holland). You only need to use 2 of them. You put them in the inner or outer sockets, depending on whether you are using RCA's or XLR's. They have a beautiful mid range, to die for, warm but not syruppy, very good highs but not 'bright'. Bass seems natural. Not thick or boomy. Just a very natural sounding tube. Down side - they aren't cheap. FWIW, I'm into classic and jazz. I don't know how a PRAT enthusiast would view these tubes, but then I don't know why they would even be using a tube unit in the first place. :-)
the raysonic is excellent player, although i listen to jazz, traditional and fusion, i find that tubes entered anywhere in the system tends to change the lowend. being a lowend guy, i have owned tube systems, with ss players and thought they were very musical, but always lack the prsence of low end dynamics, not booooom , but tight bass. in saying that ...i have gone to a real good ss system with the tube raysonic and found it to be more compatable to for me. i still get the ss tight end bottom and changed the tubes and found that the seimens are the better overall for me and pricing. thanks for starting the review of the raysonic which help me to purchase one..they are a great player for the money, especially if you can find one on audiogon. but in saying for those that retail, its still a great buy and i like the black one best.