What gives? CD’s, Solid State?

I have recently acquired Rega’s upper-end equipment (Saturn, R-7 speakers, Cursa Pre and Exon Monblocks) and am NOT that impressed with the overall listening experience when playing CDs.

Some years back I had Conrad Johnson Pre and Power and listened to vinyl. How sweet, full and warm that sounded. I realize that was tube equipment and now I’m with solid state, but still…

So, I’m trying to trouble shoot here – Is it the CD medium (I wish I had a turntable to do an A-B comparison) or is it the solid state components that sound a bit edgy, dry and less than full bodied? Would my listening experience improve much if I acquired Rega’s P7 or P9 TT and used that as my source?

Give the system a chance to break in and make sure speakers are set up optimally, etc. first before passing any final judgements.

At that point if it is tube sound you still crave, then by all means go for tube amplification. If you can get by on just vinyl and forego all the good things that are available with modern digital playback systems, then do that to.

My recommendation is to be patient for now, get things broken and tuned in properly, give your ears a chance to adapt also perhaps and see what you really have first. A tube DAC with the CD player is another good option that might take you towards your tube sound nirvana without wholesale changes perhaps.
I've about given up on CD playback (and it is WAY better than it once was). Yes, if you get a TT (any TT) it will be better.
I've been struggling for a few years now, trying to get a digital front end that is as pleasing as my vinyl rig. It's not that I WANT my vinyl to sound better, that's just the way it has been. I would love to enjoy the convenience of digital and have it be just as pleasing, but I haven't got there yet. I just ordered a PS Audio DL III that will be arriving tomorrow, and hopefully it will sound good; many people claim that it sounds very "analog", but every time I've heard that claim about a digital product, it turns out to be bunk. I'm beginning to think that it will take thousands of dollars for a DAC to get anywhere near the tonal accuracy and smoothness of vinyl, if that's even possible at all with standard Redbook audio.

Now that Lindisfarne and I have initiated a digital vs. analog debate....
" I'm beginning to think that it will take thousands of dollars for a DAC to get anywhere near the tonal accuracy and smoothness of vinyl,"

For a "hard" sounding SS based system, try a mhdt Paradisea tube DAC for under $500 used. That got me very close. If your system has some tube-like smoothness to start with, then try the mhdt Constantine SS DAC for even less. Though there are still differences in inherent sound between digital and vinyl sources, I've had no qualms with my digital relative to phono in either of my systems since obtaining these. Other than surface noise and other vinyl moise artifacts on some records, I am hard pressed to hear a significant difference between my digital and vinyl in most cases these days.
you might try leaving the CD player on repeat for a day, let it rest a day, then do it again, until you've logged something like 200 hours. it might make a big difference. also: are you leaving the CD player on all the time? (some CDPs don't need this as their digital circuitry stays on regardless - you can check with the dealer). speakers need break-in time too, so factor that in too.
Return to 100% tube chain to be sure.
Ferrite beads.. you need some Ferrite snap-on gizmos for your interconnects from the CD to the pre or pre to amp. They scut a bit of the digital grung. Radio Shack snap on are about $10? Some 'audiophile' types are $30 to $40
Back in the day when all digital sounded like dodo, the ferritte filters were all the rage. If you are stuck with bad digital sound.. a cheap way to improve it a bit is with the ferritte.
Listen to Elizabeth.

A good source to buy those ferrite cores is Parts Express. Don't pay extra for "audiophile" type. They don't work better except they cost many times more.
Randy - I'm starting to believe that first impressions about audio equipment are quite close to the final opinion. You are having a very negative reaction to what should be a good system. With that level of negative feelings, break-in isn't going to matter.

Here's my recommendation - there's a Nixon TD2 DAC (tube) for sale on Agon right now. Snap it up. A remarkable piece of equipment. The warmth and richness of this unit needs to be experienced.

But that would only be the first step in what looks like a system overhaul.
"I'm starting to believe that first impressions about audio equipment are quite close to the final opinion."

I think that's debatable at best. Peoples impressions change over time with familiarity and so does the sound of new equipment.
Agree with mapman. Sometimes (also) the problem is elsewhere. you may have crummy A/C power. You may have a computer nearby sending out giant clouds of RFI creating havoc with you audio equipment. Your next-door neighbor may have an illegal shortwave setup. The list is long, and all these things may be the problem. BUT: the problem may ALSO just be in your equipment.
Anyway..try the feritte. It's cheap, and a 'classic' fix.
I still use ferrite stuff in a lot of places..
(and I have about 20 of the Rat Shack claps sitting on a shelf from past usage.)
why not try a good p/c audio card,axiom passive,outlaw m2200, kg4s ,supra cables ,speakers lifted,components isolated,nothing special. i stream off the internet and the music is alive you want to hear true sound the axiom is $165 incredible piece great sound doesnt have to break the bank good luck Rich
SS can be pretty darn good but does not work for me

the last few hi fi shows I went to, I did not really care for one SS room I was in, the only stuff I really liked had tubes

you may be in that camp

just a thought
Wow, thanks everyone for your thoughts!

Mapman, you are correct in that my system has become more relaxed and musical since I acquired it. The R-7 speakers certainly have improved in depth and bass. When I bought this stuff I was told there would be a break-in period and I am experiencing that. As Musicslug suggested, I’ve been running the daylights out of this stuff to expedite!

Nonetheless, I do feel that Jult52’s point is a valid one as well. Yes, I am experiencing improvement but I know well enough that this will never reach the nirvana I’m after.

So, what for now?…Ferrite snap-on gizmos? A DAC? Reside myself to the fact that the Saturn, although a good CD player, can’t replicate that vinyl analog sound I so like and therefore buy a TT? Hmmm, I’ll be looking into these suggestions.

2 other things: First, I have Rega’s best speaker cable, their SC 42 @$10/ft coming later next week which might help. Second, dirty power… has anyone ever had a “good” experience with a power conditioner? Many have said in Agon’s forum areas that many of these are wastes of money. Are there any good ones?

Before signing off, I do appreciate that no one knocked the Rega equipment – thanks.
As far as cleaning up A/C, I've had excellent results with a PS Audio regenerator. I've used a P-300 on my transport, dac and preamp. It does impart a certain smoothness, in the sense of a sheen or haze being lifted.
Upgrading to a Premier model allowed me to power my amp as well with good results.
So, what for now?…Ferrite snap-on gizmos? A DAC? Reside myself to the fact that the Saturn, although a good CD player, can’t replicate that vinyl analog sound I so like and therefore buy a TT?

Yes, there are intrinsic differences between digital and analog. So if you prefer the sound of vinyl to cd, and barring any solvable problems in your system, you'll need to go the vinyl route for the sound you prefer.
I am one of the few who prefers digital, at least with my setup, enough to sell off my vinyl collection. I'm not going to suggest any equipment changes as your rig sounds pretty digital friendly. There are many here who love their vinyl rigs and feel digital can never match analog. Give the tt a try and see how that works for you. Maybe you'll join their ranks.
The thought of a DAC has aroused my curiosity. Don’t know anything about these, so if anyone would care to validate (or correct) my thoughts I would be very appreciative.

So, does a DAC reside between the CD and pre-amp for converting the incoming CD signal to analog? Also, one quality I do like about my Saturn is its level of detail, which I wouldn’t want to loose during this conversion process – would it be compromised?

I did look in on the Nixon TD2 DAC and maybe it’s just what the doctor would order. However, I don’t want to loose any detail, but rather edge and all at the same time gain sweetness. Am I asking for to much?
I don't think you will ever get what you are seeking from the Rega CD player. Digital is too convenient and there's too much content out there to dismiss it(I am a vinyl guy and have a music server but CD's (and SACD's still get alot of playtime for me) all together. It is difficult to get (CD sound)right, but very possible. Tubes or SS just give you a different sound-neither can make a CD player give you the "nirvana" you arer seeking. It's either getting retrieved off the disc, or it isn't. Exceptional CD sound is out there. It's just a question of finding the right player and subsequent system synergy in the music chain.
Back when Stereophile and TAS went from using zip coded address labels to bar coded address labeling, I remember reading Letters to the Editors threatening to cancel subscriptions if the dreaded digital bar code continued to be printed was on the front of their beloved magizines. Well... Stereophile and TAS survived and today we're still trying to figure out what we have to do to enjoy "digital" music. I hope I live long enough to figure this out.
I will bet you anything it is not just because it is solid state or because it is CD. People can argue cd is no good ad-infinitum BUT I have heard CD better than a 10K analog rig and I have heard a 1K turntable sound better than CD.

As a person who owned the Rega plane years ago and have heard the Saturn... whew ...here I go. It is the Regas fault. They look nice and in a budget system I guess they are ok. I could not stand the sound of the Rega units. I used it ONLY as a transport but even as a transport it is nothing to talk about.

It is compressed, cold and lacking any type of musical depth. I remember back in the day the major mags used to rave about the Rega Planet. I could not for the life of me understand what they were talking about.

Try a Consonance CD player but I promise you the Rega CD player is the culprit, don't know anything about there other products, never heard them.
I had a Rega Planet 2000 and it was a bit full sounding and not especialy open or liquid but was pretty good as far as tone and fun factor IMO fwiw...
You are obviously a tube guy trapped in a solid state body.
I agree with the others here that state you need some tubes in the mix. Some nice warm cables may also help.

I run a tube rectified Modwright preamp in my otherwise SS system. It certainly helped to inject some warmth, body, and sweetness (once I found my preferred tubes); while retaining excellent resolution. And, I'm running CD with a SS DAC.

I wouldn’t call my system lush, by any means. But, I’ve got enough of that tube sweetness to make for a highly engaging, yet un-fatiguing presentation.
Mooglie makes a good point. I might think a tubed preamp could be tried.
You just might want to try a tube DAC. I'm breaking in a Music Hall DC 25.2 and it blows my Consonance CD-120 Linear into the weeds. I leave in on the lowest,
'locked' setting as the 96 and 192 settings seem a bit etched or too finely honed for my tastes and have just rolled a Matsushita tube (NOS from the '70s) and the bass is now all I can ask for. Plus it tightened up the rest of the range some and the sibilance is lessened. All in one day and I'm impressed.
It might be just what the doctor ordered.
Its not vinyl but what is?
Mapman - ""I'm starting to believe that first impressions about audio equipment are quite close to the final opinion." I think that's debatable at best. Peoples impressions change over time with familiarity and so does the sound of new equipment.

I agree with you conceptually, of course, but in practice the question is a matter of degrees. Break-in and increased familiarity are marginal increases; the initial impression sets the baseline. If you hate a piece of equipment on first hearing, things aren't going to get enough better to make one enthusiastic.
i have tube preamp (quad QC24) and quad909 poweramp. i love this combo, since i have the benefit of both sides. even with a low end cdp, the music shines and has presence and soul. i think you need good and matching tube preamp. i heard only apollo, but i think even that cdp is good enough. it's a matter of taste, but for me the rega speakers are smooth but lacking a tight bass (for me). one more thoght: marantz sacdp -esp. on sacd- are quite analog-ish sounding and not 'over-analitical', and sacd is definitely closer to vinyl experience.
I too used to have a CJ tube amp also (an MV55 w/ PV10). I've also used a Pass Labs class A single ended solid state and now use Rega RS3 w/ Elicit. Simple answer is there is just no way you are going to get that blooming midrange warmth you loved about the CJ from the Rega. What you will get is much better bass response, and clearer sound that is also free of the upper range (treble mainly) distortion tubes have. In direct comparison with the solid state pass labs the most notable thing was the total absence of any grit, grain and distortion in the treble relative to the tube amp. What the CJ had was more body and impact in the midrange- but in the rest of the spectrum the Pass was superior and the Pass midrange was still good, just not as good as the CJ. I abandoned tubes and class A solid state amps as much for practical considerations as sonic ones. That brought me to the Elicit Integrated. For me the Rega system sounds neither tubey or solid state sterile- it is uncoloured but remains open, coherent and musical. I notice where it falls short relative of tubes, but also where it shines. I have used the saturn but prefer the Jupiter 2000, the Saturn is a little unforgiving of some cd's and is very neutral through the midrnage whereas the Jupiter adds more body- which I prefer for cd playback. I am one of a minority who feel that Regas newer players actually represent a step back- I like the original planet and the Jupiter 2000 better than the Apollo or Saturn. I find their older players to be much closer to analog.
I think there's a simple answer here. If you still have records, get a turntable. If not, proceed using the advice already given and try to get the most out of your digital/SS rig.
Besides, I would make an educated guess that 90% of your problem was that your new speakers hadn't broke in yet.
Also, in case nobody has mentioned it, SS gear likes to be left powered on. So leave it on, unless you know you won't be listening at all for the next 2 or 3 days.