I would not consider this a true review of this product but a overall impression. I was looking for a budget CDP as a gift for my dad. He had a pair of old RadioShack speakers from the eary 80's that sounded so bad that I broke down and bought him a pair of Dynaudio 62's. He also has a Sony CDP, circa 1987, that he absolutely refuses to part with. The motor system is so old that Diana Krall literally sounds like a drunk with slurred speech. Even he agreed that this was true and that he needed a new CDP. Arcam? Cambridge Audio? NAD? How about a Toshiba SD 3960? There has been some buzz in A'gon forums ( and other forums ) about this DVD/CDP - a real love it/hate it clash of opinions. Most people buy the SD 3950. Some people have even downgraded their system to include the Toshiba. Needless to say, I was very curious how a $70 combo player would perform in my system.
I did some direct A/B testing (against my MF A3.2 CDP)with just one CD: Marcus Roberts, the truth is spoken here, 1988, NOVUS. The MF player was better in every way. The most striking difference was the overall tone of the music. Each instrument was better defined, tonally correct, and better placed within a wide and deep soundstage with the MF player. There was also more "air" surrounding each musician. The SD 3960 had a decent midrange of sound but overall, it sounded more compressed. It had a decent soundstage widthwise but lacked the soundstage depth the MF had. The Toshiba was surprisingly musical. If I just let the disc play and walk around the room ( ie. without listening critically to instrument placement, etc... ) and do other stuff, the music was not altogether displeasing. I guess what I'm trying to say is that the Toshiba did not make me want to throw up and rush back to Best Buy for a refund. Please keep in mind the the MF costs over 20x as much as the Toshiba. Would I pick this over the MF. NO!!! Is there a big difference between the newer SD 3960 and the SD 3950? Dunno. Is the SD 3960 better than the SD 3950? Dunno.
I think I have found the CDP for my dad. In a less resolving system, this thing might just work. If I can only convince him to give up that Luxman integrated....
P.S. I happen to own a Toshiba SD2200 2 disc DVD changer that I use in my AV room. It's hooked up to a Marantz 7300 receiver. TotemAcoustics Mites are used for my fronts ( a great little monitor, BTW ). I did a quick comparison between the SD2200 ( about 5 years old ) and the SD3960. I prefer the sound of the SD2200. A little bit more mellow. A little bit more musical. Hmmmm....Associated gear Click to view my Virtual SystemSimilar products