One with mods.
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No doubt you'll get many recomendations. You'll need to define "better" for us as in what you're looking for. I moved from the Jolida to a Consonance CD120 Linear and my definition of better is: detail, smoother defined top end, a transport that is dead quiet and a general overall cleaner sound. I don't see too much on this CDP but it has been the best digital I have owned including a RA Opus 21 CDP. Can be had under $900 new with a 2 year warrantee.
I went a different direction and now use the Jolida as a transport and added a DAC: a PS Audio Digital Link III. Superb sound- refined, detailed, and still warm and life-like. Around $995. I use a tubed pre-amp and Bel Canto amps. I have heard that the Classe has a sweet almost tube-like sound so it may be a good match. PS Audio has a 30 day return policy if it doesn't fit. Good luck.
i owned the jolida player. i don't have a clue why it has garnered such praise. it certainly is not warm or sounds like it has a tubed analog stage, probably because of the dac chips and op amps. most 24/96 or 24/192 players sound very similar.
as far as alternatives, the question is , in what direction ?
you might need to modify a player, changing caps and op amps to get an improvement.
the state of digital players in my opinion is a sorry state. most of them are unpleasant to listen to for more than a half an hour.
i heard the flagship marantz sacd player (over $6000) that soiunded acceptable and then there is the amr. both are above your price target.
perhaps you should consider a tubed dac, such as the $1500, little dac from exemplar audio.
I'd have to respectfully say that your issue lay elsewhere. The Jolida is one of the most responsive units out there to changes, be it tubes, cords or board modifications. As for harshness, I haven't found that to be the case at all (stock or otherwise), but I did note that seems to be your opinion about CDP's in general.
Is the Jolida the end all of CDP's? No, not even close. In stock form, for the money, with different tubes and power cord it is a decent unit.
I modified mine, heavily. Is it as good as my reference? No, but it does sound pretty damn good in my office rig.
I've had two (long story) JD100s and liked them. With nice tubes it is a very good cd player though not very detailed. I have since gone through several others and ended up with an Audio Aero Prima mk2. Wonderful player - the best I have heard in my stereo so far and not nearly the most expensive. You can get one for $1k used. It is much better than the Jolida player in basically every way.
Based on his comment on the Jolida and also on subwoofer coherence with Magnepan 1.6/QR I agree that MrTennis does indeed have issues with his system and most probably his listing room.
I've been experimenting with SVS and Martin Logan Abyss subwoofers with the Maggies and have come to the rather obvious conclusion that room tuning is 90% of the formula. That said I've come to some reasonable results with the SVS and even better ones with the Abyss. Since nothing is broken in yet, I have not posted results.
Regarding the mids and highs of various players, the room plays a dramatic part. I've read enough of MrTennis posts to see that his experiences with some gear runs counter to others on the whole. That usually suggests a poor listening room, one with few or no treatments and several windows.
Here are a few picks of my (still under construction theater and listening room. Room is 25X15 aprox. Front wall is curtains and there are foam panels behind the screen. I've yet to experience any reflection issues, though I'm trying rear treatments as well.
i acknowledge the affect of the room, however, there are two other factors.
while i had the jolida, i also owned and do own an audionote cd2. the latter player makes the jolida sound like solid state. the latter player is tube sensitive.
since i hear differences in cd players in my rooom, which is overdamped , by some standards and has windows, this brings me tow issue number two, perception.
i find that i am much less tolerant than other to extension in the treble. my listening preferences and hearing ado disagree with many audiophiles on this forum.
i am more tolerant of what would be considered "dull" sound. thus , what some would consider warm, like the jolida, i would not.
i have had many interesting audio experiences at ces where in the same room, i have disagreed with the tonal character of what i have heard with others in the room and have preferred a sound that mnay others do not like.
so, to sum up, since my sonic preferences are at variance with a majority of audiophiles, i would characterize the joilda as not warm. my idea of warm me be more subtractive than what others consider warm.
i think i have now explained my position and in the future, as i comment about the sound of other components, one will realize that my prefernce for a very euphonic sound and perception is somewhat idiosyncratic.
I owned the JD 100 for long enough to know it does not sound all that great until you fit the almost non-existent Sylvania 5751 black gates into them. That change really lifts the CD player up into a higher playing field.
That said, unless Jolida has improved their JD 100 clocking, it must still sound like it's not on sound footing.
Right now, I am using a transport and an Audio Note DAC. This combo is only one of the superior sounding sources out there.
A friend just bought the Jolida and for the price I like it quite a lot. Replaced the stock tubes with a pair of RCA triple mica 12AX7s and the change from stock was downright remarkable; entirely different machine. That and a better power cord and it really is quite nice. In some ways, I like it more than my MF A5, thought they are quite different in their presentations. The presentation from the Jolida is one I happen to like, weighty and warm.
The last word in detail and soundstage? No, but the new (old) tubes helped a lot.
It's hard to take a stock JD100 and ask what's better...toss in a pair of Siemens (& Halske) 12ax7's, Amperex (Heerlen)12ax7's or Raytheon 3xm 5751's and give it a good listen. Tubes make a BIG difference in this player. If the NOS tubed JD100 doesn't trip your trigger...then ask what's better. Passing on a JD100 stock unit for some other mfg's stock unit is missing the JD's (easily obtained) potential.
there are many cd players out there which may be preferred over the jolida. it's a matter of opinion, as sound is subjective. we all have our favorites. right now, the joilida is not one of them.
perhaps, if i heard it again, my attitude would be different. at this point, it is just another cd player with two tubes.
FWIW, I had a stock Jolida back in 2004, then went to a RA Opus 21 CDP after A/B comparison in my system. The Opus won out after a week of trials. Then in 2006, changes made to my system brought the Jolida back in and I really liked its sound (again). I was really surprised how good it sounded (again). About a year ago, I wanted to try out a NOS CDP, I bought the Consonance CD120 Linear (which I own now) and trialed it against the Jolida and I liked the Linear better.
There may come a day when I try the Jolida again, who knows? It's so difficult to tell you "what's better". You've received good advice here on what tubes to roll. I'd say try some of those (if you haven't already). The Jolida is a very good machine (at its price point). Many have moved on from it, some have stayed with it and others have returned to it. I may just pick up another one used and see how it sounds after a year with my CD120 Linear. Nothing like validation, right? Do us a favor and let us know what you decide on, it helps close the loop. Good luck.
I have the JD100 and I am very impressed with it, actually my unit is not stock but it has a level 2 mod which makes the player compete with much more higher price cdp. Since I've had my unit for a year I am selling it to get into a solid state cdp Cambridge Audio 840C which HIGHLY impressed me... Tube sound is great just a bit too warm for me