No nasty response here! The time and effort vinyl demands is not for everyone. IMO the Audia Flight-CD One is not easily surpassed at any price. $2700 might not be enough for a late model version, but you would save in the long run avoiding any need to upgrade.
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You only have 150 CDs, which is not a huge collection. I think you would do well with the Sony 5400 which is very good on Redbook, and use the other money to buy some more CDs. With the way people are ripping collections and dumping disks these days, you could get a ton of new music.
But maybe the Sony is not that much better than your Rega Apollo and it would not impress you - although it does do SACD, which you have not mentioned. I like Needfreestuff's suggestion of the EAR or Modwrights. If you could get a used Ayre C-5xe MP for $2700 you would be doing very well.
What is the rest of your system?
For less than $2700, you should be able to pick up a used ModWright Sony 5400 or an MW Oppo 95. My guess is, if you want a cd player, either one of those players is going to be hard to beat in that price range if you can wait for one to come up for sale.
If you are willing to go with a computer based system, you might want to think about the Sony HAPZ1. I think most people would be surprised how good this thing is.
BTW, the situation you describe is exactly why I have not invested in vinyl. No nasty comments here.
For just over $1k you can buy an Oppo 105. A very versatile multi format player, you name it, it will play that disc format. Sound quality on Redbook CD is excellent, fantastic for SACD and Blu Ray. But best of all, it has an asynchronous USB B input you can connect to a computer and start playing computer audio files, including HD 24/96 and above. This is what I did, using a MacBook Air and Audirvana Plus. I could not be happier with the results. Redbook CD via Audirvana Plus sound better than regular CDs played directly. As for HD 24/96 files, an absolute revelation IMHO, as good as I have ever heard over the last 45 years as an audiophile.
Thank you to those who have responded so far. The comments and advice are helpful and provide me with alternatives
To Mgattmch, without sounding like a yokel, I have never warmed up to computer audio because it requires more accessories. In addition, somewhere along the line, more computer music servers will be charging large fees for the service. I also want to keep the system simple
To Metralla, several members have recommended the Sony 5400; however a major caveat is:.... it may not sound that much better than the Rega Apollo. Therefore, I am looking to make a major jump in sound quality.
I believe I have the speaker in the Acoustic Zen Adagios that can reproduce the jump in quality of CD playback through a modded player, or an outstanding player that is ahead of the pack
My amp is a Rogue "Sphinx" integrated of 100RMS. So far, the Rogue Sphinx has been surprisingly better than what I anticipated. And, unless I am wrong, should not subtract from sound quality provided by a legitimate high end CD player.
Another related question is:.... how much better, or how big a jump in sound quality will the Modwright upgrades of the Sony XA 5400 produce?? Would it exceed the performance of a Ayre CX-7emp2, or the Ayon-CD-07???
SunnyJim, I haven't heard the Ayre or Ayon players, but the ModWright Sony 5400 is much, much better than the stock unit on both Redbook and SACD. If you could find a used ModWright Oppo 105, that, by all accounts, substantially betters both the modded 5400 and the Oppo 95. If you could stretch to $3800, you could probably get a new Oppo 105 and have it modded.
The ModWright route is a leap of faith on your first purchase. You buy something you can't hear, based on reviews and word of mouth. He has a lot of happy customers. On the other hand, if you are buying used equipment on AG it is almost always bought without audition.
There's a used Ayon CD-7 for sale right now for $2650; a fair asking price.
From all the reviews I've read about the ModWright Sony and from Brownsfan's raves, I believe it is in the same class as the Ayon, Ayre or an ARC CD. In this upper class of CDPs, jitter is controlled thru the use of a superior master clock, laser system and isolation.
The sound quality is far better than the Cambridge 840C.
An excellent line of CDPs that I have auditioned is Naim. They often appear in the classifieds in your price range.
A few follow up comments on Lowrider's post. The ModWright Sony 5400 is a very good piece, and is certainly much better than the 840C, which I owned for a couple of years prior to the ModWright 5400.
That said, progress in digital gear, whether servers or cd players, marches on. Without a careful A/B in ones own system, it is really tough making comparative judgments. The MW Oppo 105 is reported, by Dan Wright and others, to substantially better his 5400 mod. My stock HAPZ1 server, in most respects, also bettered my Sony MW 5400 in most respects. I expect that after the modding, its going to blow the 5400 out of the water, but that remains to be demonstrated.
Increasingly, I am convinced that the only way to improve ones system is to bring in multiple pieces, do a careful comparison, keep the better piece and resell the "looser." That is a tough proposition in the digital realm, where one generally prefers newer pieces due to the rapid advance in sound quality.
Another way to approach this is to take a best guess and be satisfied if you find that what you buy is better than what you have. It is interesting that having sent my HAPZ1 to Modwright 2 weeks ago, I'm as happy as a pig in mud with my MW 5400. I think most people would be extremely satisfied with it unless they had heard something clearly better in their own system.
From what I know of the Rega sound, and the OP's move from vinyl to digital, I suspect he might want to stay away from Esoteric players (many of which I have heard) and Krell. I also suspect that the Ayon, Modwright sony or oppo, or Ayre might well provide a suitable transition away from vinyl. The cambridge 840C to my ears was decidedly digital sounding.
I have heard the Ayre cd player and compared it to the Linn that I wound up buying. It had a slightly more pleasing mid bass but the difference was subtle. As far as I know the circuitry hasn't changed so it probably still sounds very nice indeed. I Don
The know what they go for used but if you can find one that is in good condition it would be well worth your consideration.
sunnyjim, i found myself in complete accord with metralla above--you have a (comparatively) tiny cd collection, and i wonder if you wouldn't get more pleasure using some of your budget to get more tuneage, rather than spending it all on hardware. cds are awful cheap; you could consider keeping your rega and adding a $500 dac if you're looking for a different sound. entirely your choice, of course.
Let me backtrack from member Lewn's comment. I don't foresee buying more LP's. One, I don't want to track down used record huts with vinyl of dubious quality There only two such huts in Honolulu where I live.
Second, New LPs are expensive, especially if you buy from Music Direct or Acoustic Sounds. Even some of the speciality analog remasters of classic 60's rock sold direct on the internet can cost an arm and a leg. I never was totally sold on this so-called "Vinyl Renaissance" that has been growing in the last 15 years. However, as you noted (which could be debated forever), the Sony 5400, or the Oppo 105 may offer me enough improvement. ( I don't understand why OPPO does not offer a simple giant killer CD player WITHOUT A FREAKIN DVD PLAYER which increases its cost of production, and its retail price
To Bigbudukks. I thought Linn no longer made CD players?? ( I will check again) The Ayre CX-7emp usually sells for $1700-2000 "used" for the current model or an upgraded version. I have read and heard more pros than cons about its performance. One caveat is....it supposedly sounds better through its unbalanced inputs. I don't have same on my Rogue integrated, and buying unbalanced to balanced adapters could cancel out the small gain by going with unbalanced inputs.
LoomisJ Good recommendation, but I was informed several times by members that using an "outboarded" DAC with the Rega Apollo would yield marginal improvements....and that was three years ago I looked at and considered a shit load of DAC from Micromega, Musical Fidelity, Rega; Sim Audio PS Audio and at least a dozen others. I say "considered" but did not try I did not want to get on the ship andtry merry go round. Shipping from Hawaii to the mainland is expensive.
Therefore, if anyone has ever used an outboarded DAC for the one in Apollo, let me know the results, but please remember I am looking to make a major upgrade in sound Thank again to all who have responded!!!
You've have gotten good recommendations and I understand your view on analog LPs for your circumstances. I strongly agree with the choice of the Modwright modified Oppo 105 and 2nd choice the 95 model. I find these two a little better than the Sony Mod (but it's still very good!). For your stated budget the modified Oppo offers wonderful sound that's natural rather than typical digital "hifi"(Esoteric for example) . You'll also have terrific medium flexibility (if that is important to you). With this unit I doubt that you will miss your turntable much at all. Superb value for the money spent. IMO the Modwright out performs quite a few more expensive players.
I second Brownsfan's suggestion that you audition the new Sony digital HAPZ1 player. I listened to one through Audeze LCD-3 headphones and I was shocked at the resolution. The unit does it all, and it's portable. Before you add another CD player, have a listen! It may be your last purchase.
Sunnyjim, If you never intend to buy another LP, then scrap your vinyl set-up or keep a minimal one for playing your small collection. If you ever leave Hawaii for a vacation on the West Coast, you ought to be able to haul back a few LPs from a high quality re-saler in SF or LA. Just a thought.
You mentioned the Ayre cdp. I own a C5XeMP. All Ayre gear that I know of is said to sound best via balanced inputs and outputs, not via "unbalanced". Perhaps that was a typo, as I don't believe your Rogue gear offers balanced inputs in any case. But that issue is no reason to avoid Ayre products. They're excellent, but so are the Sony XA5400ES and the Oppo BDP105 (or the even cheaper BDP83 SE, on the used market), for less money.
What about the all-new Rega Saturn-R CD player (roughly $3,000 US).
It comes with a built-in DAC should you ever decide to get into digital downloads or invest in a digital streamer/player.
I have a large vinyl collection, to me at least. About a thousand. CD's around 500.The vinyl sounds better with more variance between recordings. Almost gave up on it though.
That said, It would be a reach to say it would be worth it to put together a vinyl collection and a vinyl rig from scratch today. The advice from those above who know digital seems the most prudent thing to follow, but I personally listen to very few CDs. But the vinyl rig was 12K.
Dentdog, good comments. You touched on something most of us who have gone all digital think about frequently. If one were starting from scratch (no pun intended) with a 5K budget for a source, would one do better with a vinyl set up or with one of the high quality/high value digital systems, like a Modwright Oppo 105 or Modwright Sony HAPZ1?
I dearly loved vinyl. I never owned a cassette deck or reel to reel machine. The transition to digital back in 83 was driven by one consideration-- Money!
My entire rig was worth about $1200, I had a vinyl collection < 100, and I thought I could do better going with a CD system. It was probably the correct choice.
Resetting the clock to 2014, I think we are starting to understand how to do digital right. Over the last few years, the emotional element has returned to my listening in a very strong way. This is something that was largely absent in my listening during the period from 84 to 09. I've had the pleasure of using a source that doesn't scream digital, and has all the virtues of digital- S/N, dynamic range, absent vinyl noise, etc. For this reason, and because I now have a CD collection of ~ 1500, and because of the extensive availability of classical music on CD, digital remains the better choice.
As far as sound quality, I can't argue how a $5K investment in tt, arm, cartridge, and phono pre would stack up against my recently modded ModWright HAPZ1 or MW Sony 5400. Its an experimental question, which I am not really motivated to answer. It would seem the OP went through the same analysis and came to the same conclusion.
I think it is good that this thread has been largely devoid of dogmatically derived answers. Let the music answer the question.
I beg to differ with you, strongly. Back in 1983, all digital sucked. If you know my posts at all, you know I do not usually express my opinions so strongly, but on this subject, I feel confident. I remember being at a party at the home of my closest audiophile friend. He had taken the plunge on the then latest and greatest Meridian cd player. It sounded sooo bad, so unlike real music, that I begged him to play vinyl. (He owned 6000 LPs, so why not?) I myself did not buy any cd player until the late 90s, and I still use digital for background music mostly, although the quality is immensely better now than at any time in the past. Back in 1983, you could have had a great vinyl system (phono stage, turntable, tonearm, cartridge) for under $1500, and by now you would have had an extensive LP collection. IMO, you missed the boat. I do agree that at this point in time, if one has no vinyl collection, what to do is a toss-up.
Can't wait to see what Johnny Manzell does in the NFL.
the oppo is the best deal going. a dac can be used but only with non sacd types i read somewhere as the dac will rob the sacd of its advantages. when oppo first gained popularity they did not play hdcd for some reason. i imagine they do now esp considering i paid $200? for my hd970 yrs ago! i own a nice nad cd player and a scott nixon dac but i am sooooo stunned at the quality of the new hybrid sacd etc that i cannot imagine buying a standard redbook cd again. it is that fantastic. imo the biggest improvement you will make is in the type of cd you are playing and not the player. but if you like to feel like you need to pay more to get more than chuck my advice. good luck, remember it is all about music not gear or names or price. but you knew that already
Lew, good points. Back in 83 my $1200 system included not just the source but the whole works, speakers amps and all. I had a $250 tt, a $90 cartridge, and replaced it with a $350 cd player when the tt developed a hum I couldn't fix. I didn't have $1500 for a vinyl rig. You are right that in 83 all digital sources sucked, as did most of the recordings. However, a lot of the vinyl was based on early digital recording, so it wasn't always that great either.
You could be quite right, and believe me, I have second guessed myself more than once. I came close to investing in a vinyl rig once about 10 years ago, and honestly, the main reason I didn't was because my beloved began to express an intent to dig out her ancient fuzzy warbles to play through my main rig. I went pale, then green, and decided a new vinyl rig wasn't going to happen in this lifetime. True story. Let me put it this way, I'd rather have digital + my current wife than vinyl plus my ex wife. :)
As for Johnny Football, time will tell. I loved the Browns draft, but I'm a little dubious on Manzell. It will be very interesting to see how it plays out. Hoyer is a hometown boy, and is very popular with the fans.
I would say keep with the ultra conveniance of digital play back,..
This past winter I got involved helping out a disabled Canadian Vetran of the Afagan conflict. The young lad always enjoyed music not only from his own generation but his parents generation also and now an appreciation of music from his grandparents generation.
He could certainly tell the differences of playback of MP3 and decent vinyl play back of his fathers system.
The young fellow is blind including other severoir injuries which anyone could imagine the difficulties ,there are many challenges for him and his parents including finicial strains.
I wanted to help anyway I could and was given the green light to do so.
A used ModWright ultimate Sony 5400 came up for sale locally which I listened to then purchased for just under $2000.00.
During the audition the seller thought I should listen to this player sitting on Syposium roller blocks including symposiums ISO platform.
That was a remarkable leap in performance for this modified Sony and a good sales tactic at a up sell on the Symposium products.
As this player stands on its own without vibration drain I found it only tolerable ,however I was not buying it for myself,. with Syposium roller blocks I liked it very much with cd and sacd playback enough to buy a modwright Sony for myself, however vinyl rules in my home.
You wrote "let the music answer the questioh" oh so true! I was a dye in the wool analog LP advocate for many years and still appreciate a well set up TT front end. Once I finally found digital sources that preserved the emotion, soul and natural beauty of music the vinyl- CD gap closed for me. There are digital sources that most certainly convey the musical message. There are turntable set ups that are analytical, sterile, lifeless and edgy. I don't see this as a religious battle or adherence to some mantra. Both source types can be organic bliss or unemotional hifi drivel.
The limitation of outboard stand alone DACs to decode SACD is based only on the fact that Sony refused to license products that output DSD from the transport. I think that in recent months or years, there is a crack in that restriction so that now some transports can output DSD or DSD converted to another decoding stream (PWM?), so that some DACs can now handle SACD.
Anyway, the hi-rez audio available via download and then fed to a DAC with hi-rez capability will challenge the fidelity of SACD, somewhat diluting Sony's attempt at monopoly. I think Sony's reluctance to encourage the spread of SACD technology to other companies was a marketing disaster for them and backfired, like Betamax, another superior technology that died because Sony was greedy.