Find yourself a used conrad johnson DV2B, one of the best around.
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you would be suprised what is made in china, i give up, it all started many years ago with japanese tv , and now you can't buy a decent tv without it being japanese....better open up and consider, i own a raysonic cd 128, which come through canada, but i believe its assembled in china, i dont' care , for 1700.00, tube player, it's killer....sometimes you just have to go with the flow...
You may have to stretch a little bit on your budget to really get what you want, or give up the tube output criteria. But if you cannot move away from either, maybe the AMC 6 is a good CD player for you?
If you can move a little in price, the Granite 657 CD player is an excellent choice. Variable 6922 tube output, fixed solid state output, excellent build quality and reliability, fantastic sound. I've had mine for about 3 years now, and have never been less than enthralled with the sound. Negatives are they are quite rare on the used market, and you must be patient, as well as the remote being slightly disappointing though only in comparison to the player itself. On top of it all, Don Hoglund is the type of manufacturer we would all do well to support as best as we can - top level customer support and a wonderful person.
If you are OK with a solid state player, the Electrocompaniet units are also terrific machines.
Disclaimer: I am the North American importer of Opera Audio/Consonance products, including the CD players
I had two Jolida JD100, a Granite 657, an Opera Consonance Reference 2.2 and an Audio Aero Prima mk2 (I've had a bunch of solid-state cd players too). My favorite of the tubed group is definately and without a doubt the Audio Aero.
The Jolidas were nice but a little slow, the 2.2 is very very similar but perhaps with a tiny bit better imaging even when the Jolidas had black plate 5751s. The Granite was not very good - it is veiled and its dynamics fall short compared to the AA. The AA seems to do everything right - it isn't very analytical but all the detail is there and it has body and texture as well. Great CD player for the money and gets my highest recommendation.
I second the Audio Aero for a tube based player - much better than the Rega Planet, Unison Unico CDP, and Linn Genki.
The Audio Aero is warm to neutral, naturally detailed, without any strain. It get the texture and tone of instrument right, more than any CDP I had. Piano has the right weight and mechanics of the piano are realisticly reproduced.
At the current used prices for the Prima MKII CDP I doubt there is anything that can beat it. It easily is worth the asking price.
And a slightly different alternative: If you are interested in more affordable options, I would recommend looking into PC audio using a good qualty USB DAC like the Scott Nixon tube DAC. Alternatively a USB to SPDIF converter combined with a Mhdt Paradisea would be very affordable alternatives. I currently use a Wavelength Brick USB DAC aside from the Audio Aero Prima.
Good luck in your search!!
I have to speak more about the Granite 657 vs the AA Prima . I have had both and think that the Granite is a clear step above the Prima . The Granite has much better PRaT than the Prima which I found to be a bit slow . I have also found the Granite to give a bit better extension in the highs with less nasties and a little better with details . To me the Granite is just more musically satisfying to listen to .
And then there is the transport problems that the Prima MKII's experienced . That is why the new models came about using the Sony transports . I went through three transports , under warranty , before AA finally sent me a new model featuring the Sony unit . Very good customer care !
Granite , as mentioned above , is a small mom & pop company where the designer-builder answers the phone and your questions !
New , I think that they are about the same price and Granite will let you audition for 30 days .
Used , the Granite is almost impossible to find . The Prima would be a crap shoot with the transport .
Saki - as far as I can tell, you are the only person that has had transport problems with the Prima. I know several other Prima owners that haven't had any issues and mine is going on two years old, played everyday, and it hasn't ever missed a beat. You just had bad luck like anyone one else can have.
As for the Granite, I had the opposite experience. I have a local Granite dealer and wanted to like it but any way I tried it, it had poor transparency. The SS output was better but still a big step down from the Prima Mk2.
Maybe the Granite is overly sensitive to cables and my cables didn't work for it but in any case, I didn't like it. Goes to show, you have to try things for yourself and in your own system!
i have heard the granite player many times, but not in my own stereo system. i perceived high resolution and what i would call the modern tube sound. there was no lack of transparency. the other components were usually granite audio amps and preamp. it is possible that the cd player is "soft" in the treble.
at one time i was interested in auditioning the player. i called the company. i asked several questions and was told that the player was "neutral".
My very close friend, The Doctor (Mechans) and I were able to A/B my Granite 657 and his Audio Aero Prima in his system. We were able to run both players into his monoblock power amplifiers, though the solid state output of the 657 (same as the Granite 650) necessitated we use my Endler Attenuators to control the volume
The solid state output of the Granite has always sounded along the lines as what Albert has described. It's interesting to note how different we both heard the player overall, but that's often the nature of this hobby. I feel this sound is quite good - weighty, rich, full bodied. One of the better performing players out there in terms of the low frequencies, though bass is one area I feel SACD and vinyl trump CD hands down.
The AA Prima was definitively a step above this in sound; more clear, detailed, airy, open and spacious sounding. The bass took a step back. But, surely a lovely player, indeed.
We next tried the Granite 657's tube output. Again, the low frequencies were less full bodied than the solid state output. Overall, the sound was incredibly close to the AA Prima; we both felt the Granite beat the AA by a slim, though discernible margin.
I recommend both players emphatically, and a tremendous fan of both. I will say The Doctor's AA Prima transport gave up the ghost, and he bought a Granite 650 to hold him over until he finds a good deal on a used 657 or upgrades this unit to becoming a 657.
I have no experience with the Raysonic, but Wally of Underwood HiFi has recommended it to me as better than the Jolida CD-100 I bought from him. I have both the Jolida and the Ah Tjoeb 4000 with upsampler. They are very different machines. I have swapped them in and out of both my main systems several times. With my Modwright>Bel Canto M300s>Von Schweikert VR-4JRs the Jolida wins because it sounds less strident and more like music. With my smaller Creek 5350SE>Von Schweikert VR-1s/REL sub the Jolida wasn't detailed enough, was too soft, but the 4000 was shockingly life-like and musical! Go figure. You may have to try and experiment. I can't figure it out, but its fun!