What are the best CD-changers?

Are changers/multi-disc players of such poor sound quality that they are not worth it? Or are there some decent ones?
California Audio Labs makes a CD changer (or at least used to) that is well regarded-- don't remember the model number. MSRP is in the $1500. range.

The other possibility is to use a CD changer with digital out (preferrably coax) to an outboard DAC, as some changers make decent transports, but have "compromised" DACs.

I used a Sony CA9ES with Toslink out to a Muse M2 DAC very successfully, and my daughter uses a Denon 560 changer with coax to an Adcom 600 DAC. That combo sounds good. Good Hunting. Craig.
The Cal Audio Cl-10 does a nice job.
I strongly agree with Craig...the best changers, are those that use a good changer transport feed into a great DAC..
I'm surprised nobody has mentioned the Adcom GCD-700. With dual Burr-Brown 20-bit DACs these changers sound great on their own. The build quality and heft aren't quite on par with the CAL changer but they sound great and they're very decent especially when you consider the price. If you need better, you can always add and external DAC but I use mine stand-alone. It out performs the CAL Icon MKII single-disk player that I once owned.
For another option, you might want to check some of the other threads here concerning CD player modifications.

A number of people have reported success with modified mass-market changers. I have not myself listened to these, though I may in fact buy one soon. There are several people who reportedly do a very good job with these modifications.

-- Eric
sctazmon: the answers to your questions, from my admittedly biased point of view, are: (1) yes; (2) no. -kelly
For using a changer as a transport for a DAC, the best bang for the buck is a $89 Aiwa at Best Buy. For a player the above recommendations are good at their price points, plus the Rotel with the same Burr Brown chip.
I totaly agree with sugarbrie's advice. I personally know six audiophiles (plus myself) that have systems that cost over $10k, which use the Awia transport/ MSB (modified) set-up. Its really that good!
Stan Warren will modify a multi-disc Pioneer DVD Player into a great stand alone changer/player for around $250 plus the cost of the DVD Player that you supply.

He also does a $160 modification to the Aiwa Changer/Transport that is well worth it.

I have finally gotten my $90 Aiwa changer modified by Stan Warren and to my amazement (and delight) it sounds great as a transport. I paid $130 plus $20 shipping for the mod, so for $240 I have a multi-disc changer that rivals the performance of my Parasound CBT-2000 transport which originally sold for around $1600. The mod includes a digital cable that is not a toslink but will only plug into a toslink input. I don't know how this works, but it does work fine and it sounds great. I think the only areas that the Aiwa gives up to a mega buck transport is a very slight loss of transparency and very deep bass response, but at these prices, who cares. Compared to the stock Aiwa, the modified one has fuller bass and a much smoother midrange. If you are going to get the mod, make sure to follow Stan's instructions for labeling your box.
The question is how long will it last.The Adcom would be a good deal @$700 but it and the $1K and $1.5 K CAL crap out after some time.Check the new Sony $800 that has some heft and plays SACD.Genrally speaking CD only no longer makes sense.Even a cheaper DVD carousel player with up sampling or again a full hybrid player (I am skeptical about DVD-A though) makes the most sense.Then get a MSB rig to D/A it and your cooking with gas.
Chazzbo wrote: "The question is how long will it last. The Adcom would be a good deal @$700 but it and the $1K and $1.5 K CAL crap out after some time."

Everything craps out after some time!

You can buy the Adcom for much less than $700 new and you can find them used for less than $300. I've had mine for several years, use it daily, and it has yet to "crap out". And generally speaking CD only DOES make a lot of sense if you have no interest in the poor selection and high cost of SACD. Also, the Adcom GCD-700 does not require the added expense of an external DAC to "be cooking with gas." It sounds excellent out of the box with its dual 20-bit Burr Brown DACs.
Dear Chazzbo, you make a very good point about the Adcom, but consider this: For less than $700, you can buy TWO Awias and an MSB! , which with it's 24bit D/A, will soncially crush the Adcom. Then, when you are up to crushing the much bigger (read really expensive) processers, just have the Awia and MSB modded by Stan Warren (only a couple hundred of dollars)....Now with one transport, a "back up" transport, and a world class sounding D/A, we still have not spent $1k! How's that for digital bang for the buck? I wonder, is anyone out there paying attention? I sure did. (The above is EXACTLY what I did). Just trying to save you all some hard earned money.
I can only report that I am very happy with my CAL CL-10 which should be available on the used market for about $700-$800. Very good build quality, quiet, and reliable service. Has a variety of digital outs, including ATT, if you ever want to go to an outboard DAC, and you avoid the jitter issue with an all-in-1. Former Stereophile Class B, FWIW. Adcom build quality not as good, but maybe an inexpensive way to sit out the format wars.
i can't find the aiwa cd changer on the best buy website. anyone have a model number?


The reason that you can't find the Awia changer is that as of last week it is now discontinued. Leave it up to Awia to stop making one of the truley great audiophile anomolies. I have heard that some obscure Best Buy stores do have some of their stock left, but the ones I checked were out. Good luck.
Below is a link to the Limited Edition Nakamichi Dragon Musicbank CD Player System, it plays 7 CD's. Unfortunately it is only available in Asia.