I know nothing about Ultech. A quick google search came up with very little. If you like simplicity, why not go with a universal player like a Denon 2910 or Oppo 981HD. The 2910 sounds every bit as good as a Rega Planet 2000 and its video performance is top notch. The 981HD has a strong following. It sounds great and has killer video, but its build quality and appearance are no where near the Denon.
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A couple of weeks ago, I picked up an Arcam CD 72 for $275 here on Audiogon. I watched for something like it for about a month, checking every day, keeping in mind my price limits and brands of interest. Many of the pieces I was interested in were posted late in the evening near the weekend, so early Saturday/Sunday morning viewing yielded my best chances to contact sellers first. Good luck and happy hunting.
Thanks for the info guys, I forgot to mention I would also like to listen to the few HDCD's that I have. I don't think the REGA plays them. I'm not sure about the NAD. The Ultech is old, but it seemed to be rather highly regarded at that time. I figured if it was that good then, it would still be pretty nice now. Maybe looking for a HDCD player isn't worth it.
I recall Ultech from many years ago, but haven't heard their name much/any over the last few years. This would concern me if I were thinking of buying a used Ultech. Is the company still in business? Are parts available?
CD players are notorious for needing either laser or transports replaced after they get some age on them. The Ultech is at the age where it could be expected to have a laser or transport failure in the next couple of years (if not sooner).
I'm not trying to talk you out if the Ultech if you have your mind set on it, but I would suggest that you insure it can be serviced before you spend your money.
BTW, even some very popular high end players are becoming high priced boat anchors when they fail because the transport parts are no longer available. Just make sure you do your homework before buying an old player.....
after taking a few minutes to look, the NAD looks pretty nice. It's also rather new compared to the Ultech. I think I'll watch for a NAD. The Oppo's seem to be respectable, but this would not fit my simplicity preference. I always like Denon equipment, is there a Denon model that would be worth buying?
I have a NAD 541 which has in the past skipped on a CD-R disc. Cleaning the lens with a cleaning disc--the kind with little brushes glued on the business side--fixed the problem.
The 541 is known for this particular foible, which the 541i was introduced to remedy. However, in use, my 541 has only proved reluctant on this one CD-R, and a treatment with the brushy disc fixed things. Other CD-Rs have played fine.
I had the Music Hall CD-25 and liked it a lot, wonderful sound for the money. I now have a Denon 2910 and am equally happy with it. It sounds excellent, is very versatile and seems to be better built than the Music Hall.
I did have early transport failure in both L-70 and L-53 NAD all-in-one units but don't know if the same transports are used in the CD-only units.
In addition to a couple of big-buck dedicated CD players, I also own an Oppo Universal Player. Considering the Oppo is a Universal player and some of the Denons are Univeral or multi-format players, I can't figure out what you mean by this statement:
The Oppo's seem to be respectable, but this would not fit my simplicity preference. I always like Denon equipment, is there a Denon model that would be worth buying?
The Oppo and the Denon would be equally "not simple". Honestly, the Oppos are really good for the price. They play CD, HDCD, DVD, DVD-A and SACD. The only issue with the Oppo, or any other universal player, is that they load slowly compared to a dedicated CD player, and you may need to connect to a TV for some functions, like setup for the hi-res formats, etc.
I'm not saying the Oppos are the best $200-$300 players, but they have incredible funtionality, sound very good (considering the price) and generally have unbeatable video quality. They only lack the "jewel-like" build of some of the more expensive units.
Oh, and speaking of simplicity, most/all of the Oppos have variable volume control so you could connect them directly to a power amp, bypassing a pre-amp, if you choos to. I have my highly mod'd Oppo 970 connected direcly to my amps and the built-in remote controlled variable volume control works great for all formats. It's a nice feature that most manufactuers ingore.
What I meant by that statement was,
Oppo all in one units are not simple CD players. I was inquiring about a Denon CD players not an all in one unit. Sorry, it wasn't very clear.
I just thought since I was looking for a CD player to listen to music, I may be able to find a used unit that would be better sounding than a new all in one. The NAD's sound like they fit the description, but may have reliability problems. The Music Hall units are still on the high end of my budget. If i'm patient, i'll find one in my price range, if not I might take a chance on a NAD.
How about this?
I owned one for a while. Inside it looks just like the Music Hall player. To be honest though I preferred the NAD C-541i. My NAD worked flawlessly for the two years I owned it. Good luck.
Just because an Oppo can play DVDs shouldn't be reason to rule it out. I have had several $500-1000 CD players and a $1000 Pioneer Elite DVD/CD player from Kenwood Basic (their high end line), Philips, CEC, Sony ES, and Audio Alchemy with Soundstream DAC (co-designed by Krell), and--purely for music-- my new little Oppo DV-980H trumps them all. It's sweet, smooth, and musical. One advantage I find in some of the universal machines is that because they're set up to decode 24/96 and possibly 24/192 DVD soundtracks, they upconvert regular CDs to good effect.
The Oppo goes even further. It can play SACD and DVD-A, and is one of the few players left that does HDCD. For the last year I've been playing vinyl almost exclusively, but the Oppo has enabled me to get back into playing my CDs and SACDs. It replaced a $600 Philips CD/DVD/SACD player and trumps it in every way. You can use it in a music-only system; you just have to hook it up to a TV screen once to configure it, and then it's set.
If you can go $100 over your stated budget, there's the new and even better Oppo DV-983H with cleaner and higher quality audio signal path. Both models allow you to defeat the video circuitry to drop the noise floor.
Is there a difference between the Shanling S100 and the Music Hall 25.2 Players?
Who performs mods to the NAD c542's? I'm not really interested in modifying anything at this time, but it might be something I would like ot try in the future. The Music Hall seems popular to modify, but I haven't seen much on the NAD.