If you're going to spend Audio Aero or Cary $$, consider the BAT VK-D5SE. You won't regret it.
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I would look into the Lector CDP-5T. It cost about the same as your Cairn and it sounds wonderful. I lived with it for about 3 months waiting for my CDP-7T to arrive. The 7T is a better player but it also retails for $4000.00. At your price range, for a tube CDP, the 5T is a great bet. Good luck in your search.......John
I have been living with the Audio Aero for about two months out of all players I have listened to (Rega Planet, Linn Genki, Unison Unico CD), it is the most involving and musical one. I have owned the Planet for seven years, Genki for 4 months and the Unico for two months. None of these players comes as close to portraing a real piano as well the Audio Aero Prima. The Prima is more detailed and musical than the Unico (which according to Chris at partsconnexion betters the Jolida, sorry no personal experience) and more liquid and involving than the Genki. It has a more tuneful bass than any of the other players.
After searching for a long time to find an upgrade to my seven year old planet, this is as musical as the planet, but does not sacrifice any of the details. It is also the first player that my wife likes more than the Planet.
Of course, either of these players looks very interesting and I did not have a chance to listen to the Jolida, Cary, Lector, or BAT. Maybe at HE in New York?
Thanks for your comments!
Jburidan, have you compared the Cairn and Ah! side-by-side? I would love to hear what the Ah! brings to the table over the Cairn. If you could email me or post more information on your comparision it would be greatly insightful to me. Thanks!
Rene, thanks for your thoughts on the Prima. I am hoping to attend HE in NYC, if only for a day. I might have to try to stop by and listen to all these players. I have found, the only way to really know, is to bring it home and slap it in your system for a month though, but at least I could get some preliminary thoughts at HE?
When buying used, you can recoup most--if not all--of your money should you decide to re-sell. Therefore, I would suggest buying the best player you can. I have owned the Rega Planet, the Planet 2000, the Jolida JD-100, and the AA Prima. The Prima is on another level entirely when compared with the first three. Much smoother, greater dynamic capability, and it tracks complex music with more accuracy. As Rene said, it nails piano (and vocals) with an organic sense that pulls you in.
FWIW, during the month or so that we were waiting for our APL 3910 player to be ready, we kept our Prima and sold our Resolution Audio Opus 21. The Opus 21 did everything well, except engage us.
Best of luck,
I agree with Jrwr7, teh Lector 5T is certainly the way to go for a tube cdp under $2000. Moving up in price, you certainly should try and give a listen to teh Granite Audio 657 at $2900 - it is the best cd player that I have heard short of the AA Capitole! Output impedence is a bit on the high side, so input impedence of the pre needs to be in the 50K and up range, but if it is - WOW!!!
I heard the Cairn Fog v2.0 at a friend's house, but didn't audition it side-by-side with my AH! Supertjoeb 4000. We listened to Beethoven string trios performed by L'Archibudelli -- it's a good reference CD for judging bass, midrange, and treble via cello, viola, and violin.
I just never like the sound of violin on most CDPs, except for upsampling CD players with a tubed output buffer; and neither do I care for the sound of solid state electronics in general. I shouldn't have declared that the Supertjoeb will best the Cairn, since I didn't hear them side-by-side. I should have said that I love my Supertjoeb with upgraded tubes; the stock tubes give too much emphasis to the upper midrange. The Dutch CDP nearly makes a solo violin sound beautiful with solid state electronics; and with the right tube electronics the sound is downright splendid.
Some relatively affordable tube CDP's options: Audio Aero Prima, Shanling CDT100, Super Tjoeb, Jolida 100A, Heart 6000 OSE LE, Cary. Not sure if all of these would best your Cairn Fog.
Another route to consider... a NONOS design DAC (unfiltered, no oversampling) coupled with an affordable transport or quiet pc hard-drive (possibly SACD so that you have the best of both worlds). These DAC's include 47 Labs Shigaraki, Audio Note, Ack! Dac, Scott Nixon, etc) or a NONOS CDP such as Audio Note. Sound is supposed to be natural, linear with good PRaT and an absence of digital glare.
The Minimax is one of my favorites in price performance, but the Lector just doesn't sound digital. It's much more coherent with more analog type air surrounding the instruments. Once you get familiar with the sound, it's difficult to go back to even very expensive and well regarded players. The .5 is a real sleeper.
It's also very unexpectantly un-tubey sounding for a tubed player. That's also the case with their Zoe linestage.
I'm a dealer so take what I say with a grain of salt. But I also sell other players at other price points. The Lector is unique.
Well, I brought home a Jolida JD100a and have spent quite a bit of time with it. It is a great player and portrays a very warm presentation. It soundstages like a champ, expanding the soundstage beyond the speakers; my Cairn seems to take it to the speaker edges only.
Both players have precise imaging, but the Cairn seems to portray a more precise tonal accuracy. It also has a bit less background noise coompared to the Jolida. The Jolida is so seductive, but it does give up some detail to the oh-so refined Cairn. The Cairn is definitely pulling more detail off the disc.
The Jolida adds a little height to the soundstage, while the Cairn is definitely deeper. If the soundstage could be diagrammed from above, the Cairn would have a tigher arc than the Jolida, where the Cairn goes deeper, and the Jolida goes wider.
As far as bass goes, the nod goes to the Cairn, it is juut tighter and punchier. The Cairn wins with PRAT, but the Jolida IS seductive. The Cairn has always pulled me into the music, and I am impressed with how much so the Jolida does this as well!
I am curious what a mod or tube change would bring to the table for the Jolida? I am using EH tubes right now. I love the seduction of the Jolida, and I think it has given me insight into what a tubed CDP can bring to the party, I am just curious if I can give up all the things that the Cairn does so right?
Both players are impressive and I could live with either - almost depending on mood, deciding which one to pop a disc into?
Jh20s, Re tubes for the Jolida. Have some fun on the cheap by experimenting with new production tubes. The sound will be different and you can pick your own flavor. I would suggest that you try (my first choice) EI's which should give you much cleaner and smoother highs than the EH's - they are not over ripe in the bass and produce a more neutral sound. For a clearly different tonal response try the JJ Tesla for a much fuller bass response and bit more forward sound in the highs. Both are quite different from the EH's so you have clear choices - and they are cheap.
Newbee, I do like the idea that with a tubed CDP you can 'voice' it to your personal preference, I am just wondering if I will gain all the things that the Cairn does so right with a simple tube change? Some of the shortcomings (or differences) seem insurmountable by simply changing tubes? But then again, what do I know, I am still new to this whole world of tubes! ;)
Jh2os, good to hear you took the plunge for a tubed CDP. Now comes best part: Playing around with tubes like Newbee suggested. I just started tube rolling in my Jolida amp: I now have five different sets of 12AX7, four different sets of 12AT7, and two sets of driver tubes. I am starting to think this is a little too much, but then nothing beats trying things yourself.
Start with some current production tubes in the Jolida (EI Gold, JJ, GE 5571). It will make a significant difference and you might just end up with what you are looking for.
Also a powercord change might make a big difference. Try a VH Flavor 4 etc.
The tube change can be dramatic. As can the upgrade in power cord. Most used cords can be bought and sold for the same price if you decide it's not what you want. From my experience, I never heard the capability of the Jolida until I put a very good PC on it. In my case, when I went to a Wolff Carbon PC, I could not go back to the Signal. Just my experience.
Best of luck,
Jh2os, I have not tried the signal cable, so that I cannot make a qualified
statement about the improvements. I tried the following different cords so far:
VH audio Flavor 2 and 3, Audience powerchord, VdH Mainstream. Right now, I
have the Flavor 2 on the Jolida, the Audience on the Audio Aero Prima. each
made a very distict difference and even more important the Audience was not
that great on the Jolida, the Jolida not as good on other amps where I tried it. Its
all a matter of system interactions.
Certainly I think the VH Flavor 4 should be worth a try. Also with Chris' generous
return policy for 60 days (I returned one) there is not really any risk.
Also, Howard's recommendations are usually spot on....I would love to try the
Wolff, but there's too many other things first in my system.
John, I think you are making the right choice by skipping us losers for Vegas. Yes, we'll definitely have other opportunities to give the Granite a shot.
By the way, The Doctor owns the Jolida and an Audio Aero Prima that he got used for even less than the Jolida I believe. And, that Prima just walks all over the Jolida. It's just a hair behind anything but the most esoteric and expensive players. You might want to give one of those a look.
Wish you the best with Lady Luck!!!
Restock, since you own both the Jolida and the AA Prima, what are your thoughts between the two? Will the AA get me what I am missing from the Cairn with the Jolida with that seductive tube sound??? I could afford a used AA Prima if I sold both the Jolida and the Cairn.
Then I'll hear the Granite and want that. ;)
Thanks for all your help guys!
Jh2os, sorry for the confusion with the Jolida. I completely forgot to mention that the Jolida is an amp.
Are you going to explore the area around Las Vegas a bit or are you just trying to increase your funding for your next Hifi purchase? I love driving northwest to Death Valley and northeast to Zion from Vegas.
Also, you are sure you don't want to come to Las Vegas, New Mexico, instead? In that case you could stop by in ABQ and listen to the Prima.
Enjoy your trip.
This weeks' trip to Vegas I am finishing and punchlisting a renovation project for our company, and I am pretty booked.
Next week I fly out again (with the wife) for the AIA conference, so I am hoping to explore outside of the city on Saturday. Your the second person who has suggested Zion to me. Might have to check it out?
I noticed a Prima listed on here now, so maybe I'll pick that up to A/B/C with the Cairn and Jolida. ;)
Jh2os, one thing about the Prima since you are considering it: There are by now several versions out there (and prices that I have seen them sell for here):
- There is the the original version with volume control, no upsampling. Glossy front (used $800).
- The 192/24 upsampling version with glossy black front (used $1000-1300).
- The 192/24 upsampling version with matte black front and XLR outputs and some internal changes (used 1500-1600).
- The newest version has a completely different front plate, and according to the distributor no internal changes on this one. This one only has been available since 04/2005 (new 2700).
I would confirm with the seller, which version he has. Usually you can tell from the pictures, but quite often people post pictures from reviews etc.
By the way: I have the 192/24 upsampling version with matte black front and XLR outputs. I can't say too much abou the sonic differences to the earlier ones. Soundstage reviewed the two earliest versions.
The Vincent S6 is a sweet CD Player. Give it a listen/audition, I think you may be surprised.
The only difference between the S6 and the S6mkII is the Balanced outputs. Otherwise, they are exactly the same. I
I have one on order and it should be here over the next 3-4 weeks. I wanted the Black and all they had was the Silver. So they ordered it for me, and they are now going to bring in more of the Black.
I also have the Vincent SA-T1 Pre Amp on order, in Black.
Some correction to my earlier response from 05-10-05:
The newer version of the Audio Aero Prima uses a Sony transport, the latest MKII version a Phillips transport. Now which of the two is better is a good questions though. The change over is mainly since Phillips discontinued the CDM12 transport.
I have since verified this myself by opening my MKII unit.
Just thought this would be a helpful update for any user here.
Still a very nice CD player!