How about Cambridge Azur 640C??
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In my opinion, Azur 640C is rather on Rotel 1072 side than Arcam's side in terms of characteristics. Azur 640C does things little less satisfying compare to Rotel 1072 to my ears. But the low freq. is more aggresive (in good way) than the Rotel which might be strong point to some audiophiles. I prefer to have excellent midrange sound, so Azur 640/540 lost against the Rotel in my system.
I was actually forgot to comment on the construction of the Rotel and the Arcam. Arcam's look is very nice a few feet away from the unit but when I touch to operate it, it is just not as good as the Rotel nor the Cambridge. But it is better than NAD. Rotel 1072's construction is very nice and feels solid or unbreakable. HOWEVER, at the end of the day the look doesn't really matter to most of us, I believe.
Enjoying the Rotel since early this year,very nice machine.Sound is especially good with an HDCD disc.
I printed a masterlist from the new HDCD site now owned and run by Microsoft.Turns out I have many HiRez recordings already,what a bonus.Eminently resalable stepping stone,keeper or both.No upgrade itch concerning anything digital since getting it.
I was just researching these two players (the Rotel and Arcam) and ordered the Arcam CD-73. It will be replacing a Classe CDP-10, which replaced a Sim Audio Moon Eclipse. I've been stepping down, selling my gear, pocketing the $ and still trying to be happy with the sound.
To me the Eclipse was really resolving and recreated the acoustic space really well, but a little dry and not too rhythmic. The CDP-10 was sweeter than the Eclipse, more analogue sounding if you will. Soundstage was slightly smaller, instruments less delineated than the Eclipse... still not great rhythm. The Eclipse had a stronger low-end than the Classe.
Subbing-in while I wait for my CD-73 to arrive is a very old Sony X111ES. This player is not any where near as sophisticated sounding as the others I have had, but it really has drive and gets my toes a tappin way more than the other players. I decided on the Arcam from what I read it had the music and rhythm thing called out in almost every review. What my Sony has convinced me of is that musical involvement through rhythmic drive is very important to me and the music I listen to. Hopefully the Arcam will have the Sony's pace with a little of the Classe's analogue-ness, and a dose of the Eclipse's definition and low-end response.
If the Arcam doesn't do it for me, I'll try the Rotel.
One huge thing I realized is that I was able to notice differences between the players I have had in my system, but those differences were quite subtle and not worth the price differences.
I have also had the original Rega Planet and Cambridge D500SE. I have also heard the Creek 5330 and the Arcam FMJ23 in my system. All the players I have had (or have heard in my system) have all had their own subtle qualities. Not a one did all things well, no matter what the price. I believe I can find a less expensive player (like the Arcam or Rotel) that does one or two things well, is well enough built (the Sim was an incredible piece of craftsmanship!) and matches my priorities close enough to stay. (Im hoping the Arcam doesnt feel cheap.)
My reference is my Rega p25 turntable with Dynavector 10x5 thru Gram Amp 2se. This is my example of meeting key priorities: Rhythm and musical meaning. Its bass is lacking and it's not really defined around instruments. Its imaging is fairly focused but there's a nice sparkle/air to the highs. This is what I'm looking for in a CD player.
PS Augustine, I really liked how you described the players (Rotel = 'A concert Grand Piano played by a rising star pianist.' Arcam is like 'Upright piano played by a maestro pianist.') I imagine the maestro would have rhythm and timing and the ability to convey musical meaning down pat. If he/she could play on a baby grand, perhaps I could be happy ;-)
Thanks for the post...I believe the Arcam 73 doesn't do HDCD though, so if you are listening to HDCDs on both systems it won't be a fair comparison.
I prefer the Arcam sound myself. I didn't buy a 72 when I got my first system together because the $400 difference between a Rotal RCD-961 and the Arcam 72 wasn't worth it to me at the time. But I liked the spaciousness more than the Rotel's accuracy, or what some might call brittleness.
My Rotel has also had some problems - it had a period last year where it wouldn't play anything for a week, then mysteriously the problem went away. Recently it's had some dropouts, but I got myself one of Herbie's Grungemaster CD stabilizers and that problem has also disappeared (and I got a noticable improvement in smoothness, clarity and a wee bit more of soundstage - almost like an Arcam!) too so I'm happy for now. Probably just needs the head realigned or some such, but it's out of warranty.
Maybe this will help.
My in home comparison of: Creek CD50mk1, Cary 308, Rega Planet 2000, Roksan Kandy mkIII, Arcam 73t, Cambridge 640c. I couldn't get a hold of the Rotel sadly.
My Equip at the time was: Quad 21L, FT Audio LW1S2 Passive Pre-Amp, NAD C350 etc. I've upgraded to Monarchy SM-70 since then.
Feel free to e-mail me with any questions.
Vertewax, what was wrong with the CDP-10, Moon Eclipse? I don't seem to understand the logic here even though I admire your decision. One thing for sure- you mentioned finding something that would still keep you "happy with the sound"- well after having the Moon and Classe in your system you will never and I repeat never be happy the same way with either a Rotel or Arcam. I have owned previous to my Classe and Orpheus digital equipment, an Arcam CD72T, Rotel 971 and Rotel 1070. Arcam and Rotels are great if you want "bang for the buck" but coming down from what you have owned seems rather illogical. I can understand if you want a simpler system but to me saving that little extra $$$ (not much if you consider the fact that a used CDP-10 can be had for about $1,400- not much more than a new Arcam 73 and there is simply no comparison between the two units) is not worth it.
The source is always changing and to me other from speakers has the greatest influence on the sound of your system. It is the source that needs to be upgraded often while a good amp and speakers can bide for a little while longer.
Good luck in your quest!
Thanks for the response Zenaissance. I completely agree with you about the amp and speakers remaining if done well... and they have. I've had the same amp (although I upgraded it) and same speakers through all of this downshifting. I tell ya, I was not super impressed with the Classe overall. It did lots of things well and was really well built, but it didn't excite me. I found myself listening less and less to my system.
My hold-over-player (the Sony) is more energetic. It is probably doing things wrong, but it is more exciting than the Classe. If anything, the Eclipse was really a top notch player. Anyone who heard it was blown away by it's detail, resolution, ability to find missing sound and music, full-range, imaging, etc. That could have been a player to retire on!
Well, the Arcam is due here in a week or so, so we'll see how it goes. Who knows, I may endup climbing up the ladder again to find something that pleases me. I'm keeping my fingers crossed on the Arcam.
Vertewax, your choice to try out the Arcam is good- other than the less-than-impressive aesthetics (cheaper/plasticky feel to the buttons etc), the sound I find is generally better than the Rotel. Rotels have a brighter and cleaner sound but is not as full and rich as the Arcams. Besides, the Arcam units are upgradeable as well, but alas coming down from the Moon is something that would be hard for me to take if I was in your shoes. The Classe is a great player for me and works well but the last degree in the lack of excitement (although it cures listener fatigue)is the reason why I went with an external DAC. The CDP-10 makes a great transport and the sound is transformed. IMHO, pace and rhythm is more essential to a recording than transparency. A good toe-tapping session is certainly rewarding itself. So the Classe is still a keeper as a transport.
I think eventually you are going to move up (it is part of this crazy hobby of ours). Sometimes our listening habits change and so do our ears (as one gets older, different music becomes appealing and changes happen all the time). Forget about the Cambridge unit suggested by Hongkongpearl (no offense to his suggestion) but the Arcam is in another class.
Hope it works out for you and let us know of your listening impressions.
So I received the Arcam today and have played about 5 cd's on it. Right now listening to the Kings of Convenience, "Quiet is the New Loud". Had U2's new on one today... some jazz, electronica and indie rock (Wilco, Elefant)... so you could say I'm spreading it around a bit. I'm sure the player might need quite a few hours to break in, but I heard it break in across the first few albums: from cold box to sitting above the warm Rogue gear.
I am VERY impressed with the sound. It's spacious, airy, very even across the frequencies, good bass extension, good definition, good delineation of space. Most notable characteristic is that it is very quiet... very quiet between notes. It's a calm player. The pace is good... not rip-roarin, but not sluggish either. Good texture. What else? I like it. I'm happy.
It's very attractive too. It's more subtle than the photos make it seem in black. It's a small unit... not tall, not too deep. The lettering is subtle, the buttons are nice. I'm not a huge fan of the display... the green color, but you can dim it and it's better. The remote is plastic but logical. You can view remaining time on track, on cd... that feature wasn't avail on wither the Sim or Classe, and I appreciate it here.
I saw the Rotel in a store and it was no better built than the Arcam.
So in a nutshell, it's a really good player for the $ on first impression... no buyers remorse AT ALL!
Vertewax if you get a chance to read my review of the Arcam 73t let me know. I, personally, am all about PRAT. And where I found the Arcam 73T to fall flat on its face was in this regards in the 'upper frequencies' We had a track we used from Tortoise's T.N.T. Something 'hillside' in which there is a predominant use of chimes. On the Creek & Cary players it was obvious in which pattern/direction and what kind of rhythm was being emphasized, it was obvious. On the Arcam this completely disappeared and even some basic details within this fell apart as well.
I'd be curious if you encounter the same thing. That new Kings of Convenience disc is rather good though isn't it :) Either way I suspect you'll find that the Arcam doesn't hold up 'PRAT' wise throughout the full frequency range.
For PRAT Creek, Bluenote (Stibbert/Koala), or Rega would be preferable based upon my listening. NAIM of course by reputation.
I have (had) the CD72 and just upgraded to the CD82.
Can't speak for the CD73, but the 72 -> 82 upgrade helped significantly in PRAT, especially the "R".
Will have to experiment and see how it does with the upper end. My initial response is to say it's improved too but I need further listening to confirm.
This is an old thread, but I thought I'd make mention of one small thing.
I don't know much about the lower line of Arcams, but the FMJ cetainly had no problem that I could see with the higher frequencies. If not waaaaaaaaaaaay extended, they were clearly present and allowed a sense of the venue that would not be present if they were rolled.
As for the PRAT, it's possible I'm wrong, but since I listen to jazz, big band and older (NOT NEWER, ugh!) R&B from the 60s, I think I'd have noticed any pacing issues. Just play Motown stuff to tell if the PRAT is there. Motown's rhythm section was famous for its 'swing.'
Back to the Arcam: thanks for the insight on the lower line of players. I find it surprising that people are saying the soundstage is 'smaller.' I never found that to be the case at all. What is equally likely is that, since the Arcam moves the soundstage back a bit, it appears "smaller," just as it will sound smaller from the balcony at Carnegie Hall than it does from 6th row center.