whats a good older hdcd cd player?

i had a chance to listen back in the mid 90s a system that blew my mind. didnt have the money for it but remember the cd player was a nad player and the speakers were psb stratus golds. i now own stratus silver i speakers and a old school pioneer elite 39tx pre amp. the cd player now is a old elite dv37 which is dvd also. i would like my own cd player but dont wanna spend a ton since my equip is pretty low fi stuff. do non hdcd players equal out at all to a non hdcd. i would like a nad c541 but cant find one. thanks for any info. newbie kevin
Used Arcam FMJ23; it's a classic.
I used to have California Audio Labs CL-15 in my system. It's warm sounding great CD player. Its HDCD performance was excellent. You'd be surprised how many CDs are actually encoded as HDCD although the case may not show the HDCD logo. I'd pop in a CD and think it sounds pretty good, then notice HDCD decoding sign on CL-15.
If you like your sound clean and forward then nothing competes with a Music Hall MMF-CD25. They are giant killers I have had one for 6 years and still use it. Supports HDCD.
I'm still very happy with my Cary 303/100.
naim cdx is a top player with HDCD
I've been quite satisfied with my Cary 303/200.
I ditto Mechans recommendation above of the Music Hall MMF CD 25 with HDCD. Superb for the modest price ~ $550 new and can be found for about $300 used here on Audigon.
I still have my Rotel RCD-971. In my opinion it was a great player for the money when I bought it, and is still a really nice sounding unit.
There is a NAD C541 now on sale here on the 'Gon for $260. Personally, I like NAD units but find my old Classe CDP.3 more refined. Good luck.
For a low budget system, you might be better off with a brand new Oppo DVD player (yes it decodes HDCD) as opposed to an inexpensive used CD player, for about the same money.
The Linn Ikemi is a great sounding redbook and HDCD player and I see them fairly frequently here on AG
COPLAND CDA 289.Built like a tank,sound like an angel.I've had it for 5 years now and nothing less than 10k Cdp can beat it .Problem is you might have to search all corners of the world to find one.Best product COPLAND has ever made IMO
FMJ-23 used RINGDACs same Dacs used in expensive Elgar. (ARCAM got license for them). Because of production problems (low yield) they switched to regular DACs in next generation. Get one if you still can. Ringdac has 4 current sources built-in that randomly add noise (16 levels)to increase resolution in filtering. As for HDCD - it is 16-bit compressed format where least significant bit 16 switches dynamic range od remaining 15 bits. Some studio engineers say that it sounds weird and was introduced to promote media with very strong copy protection. I would stay away - it's dead format.
Another vote for the Rotel RCD-971. I've put it up against many players costing many multiples of its price. Never once was it embarrassed.
As said before, you can't beat the Arcam 23T. I've held onto one even though I have the AudioAero Capitole. The HDCD's sound great on it. In fact, a friend just purchased a sealed left-over 23T for $1100.
Arcam dv27. The HDCD performance is great. I mean really great. It's a big difference compare to when playing non-HDCD disc. Everything just comes out more lively; deep bass gets deeper and even image gets sharper. Used can be had for less than $500. Whereas, I've tried the same test on a Linn Genki and the sound was pretty lame. No big difference between playing HDCD or non-HDCD.
To me an Arcam FMJ CD23T is very similar to a Denon 3910 on standard CDs and almost indistinguishable on HDCDs. The Denon has become my sole digital source; I use a Benchmark DAC1 for 2-channel. Plus, I get very good video from the Denon.
For digital source almost anything sounds the same on Benchmark as long as it is "bit transparant" - even Benchmark says so. Video is nice benefit - I use Sony DVD player with DAC1.
You could also consider a DAC with HDCD. I have an Assemblage 2.0 that I love--it's ancient (relatively speaking) but works fantastic, is built like a brick and you can mate it up with any player that outputs digital on toslink or SP/DIF on RCA and BNC. They occasionally come up for sale on the 'gon.
I am very happy with the Adcom GCD-750 I bought here on Audiogon.
Short answer for me is the Resolution Audio CD-50. Excellent redbook cdp and absolutely superb HDCD player.
The long answer; I got hooked on HDCD sound a few years ago when I had a high end Sony cdp paired with an Adcom GDA 700 dac. The Sony and Adcom were very similar with standard cds but when I put in Joni Mitchell's HDCD encoded "Blue," the Adcom was much better.
Since then I have owned several cdps and two dacs with HDCD. I'll list them in ascending order to the top rated (by me) CD-50.
1. OPPO DV-980H.
2. Original CD-A8, I believe this was a clone of the MMF CD-25.
3. Onix cd-88, another clone of the Music Hall CD-25.
4. Adcom GDA-700 dac.
5. NAD C-541i, this is an outstanding cdp for the money, IMO, especially if you like smooth sound.
6. Linn Genki, a very nice cdp for the used price.
7. PS Audio Ultra Link III, never should have sold it.
8. Resolution Audio CD-50, it uses older 20 bit technology but I'm convinced the wonderful sonic character comes from the analog stages. Even better when if you system supports balanced operation.
I know the CD-25 gets high praise here and by many reviewers. I prefer a smoother sound overall which is why the CD-25 didn't work for me.
Wow, this may be the longest answer I've posted. Good luck.
i hate to show my stupidity when it come to electronics but whats a dac? im really new to hi fi stuff. right now im having a issue with the pioneer dvd player. it pops and crackles when i have a dvd in it. sound fine when playing regular cds. thanx for the info your time posting is much appreciated. any ideas on whats up with the dvd player/quick fix till i get a new one. kevin
Digital sources that have analog outputs, like CD and DVD players, contain a Digita-to-Analog-Converter (DAC) internally. There are manufacturers that make separate external DACs. They are connected by the digital output of a digital source, again CD and DVD players, that is used to only spin the disc.

I think you'd probably be very happy with a Denon 3910 (if you could find one) to replace your Pioneer player. HDCD decoding is becoming rare in new players.
Kijanki, my comparison between the Denon 3910 and the Arcam FMJ CD23T did not involve the DAC1. Each was fed into a different input on my Bryston BP26 preamp. I added the DAC1 later so that I could eliminate one of the digital sources.
Bob - your Denon might be the best solution for Kevin if it's not too expensive.
thanx for all the info guys. I really dont think a external dac is for me considering that im just learning. I will keep reading about this stuff and try to upgrade my equipment as the wife allows. Kevin
Cary CD 306/200
I agree about HDCD, it really is an improvement on CD, probably why it did'nt take off, with the perverse market we have. Another vote for Copland, I used a 266 for years. good price, lovely organic sound, no digital glare. Great on HDCD
I've had an Anthem CD-1 for ten years; I think it sounds good. I too think HDCD is an improvement. Perhaps that one reason didn't catch on was that it started life as a proprietary process, not an open system. I know that the Sonic Solutions mastering suite wouldn't encode it (I don't know if this is still the case,) and Sonic Solutions was the market leader in cd mastering.

I may be wrong in the details, but this was the reason I wasn't able to use HDCD on some the cd projects I produced, at least according to my mastering engineer. The reason I stuck with him was because he is the best in town, and my one experience with using out-of-town mastering taught me I want to be present at the session. (In the end I caught what I wanted on that project (including HDCD) but it was an expensive learning experience.)

You might want to look at the NAD C542 CDP, which is an upgraded version of the NAD C541. Matter of fact, I'll probably be listing my NAD C542 on the Audiogon sales pages in the next few days as I recently purchased a Jolida JD-100. I will tell you, the NAD C542 is a very nice unit, and there are many positive reviews about this unit. Check it out for yourself.