They are all pretty similar as transports - the DAC is what will make them rise up and improve their ability to make sound. Pick the one that has the features you want and spend the money on the DAC.
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My wife and I love mega changers.
I found the Sony ES mega changer sounds better than the non-ES changer, I found the sound to be much fuller.
I like the Sony because I have never had a Sony product go bad on me, it holds 400 discs with title display, and it works with Slik-e (an amazing litle toy!) so we have instant access to every single track.
Using One DIP with the ES improves the sound nicely.
The non-ES changer benefits the most from two DIP's, with the first DIP improving sound substantially.
I used damping material on the outside of the changer. I was surprised how much it helped. So much so that I ended up covereing most of the sides/top. Damping around the 'hump' on the ES had the greatest impact.
Whish I'd done the bottom before I filled it with disks!
Next, I will see about the power cord. Don't want to open the thing up, so maybe some ferrite rings or some shielding on the cord. I have it plugged into a Versa Woodblock, but that didn't seem to help much. It will (eventually) get it's own dedicated power line. AFter that, time to experiment with isolation and mass.
I'd love to hear from other mega changer users and what you've done to improve the sound.
The Marantz 300 disk CD changer does not have a coax digital out. It only has a toslink digital out. I ordered one about 2 weeks ago because the Marantz website says it has one of each. Again, it does not. Luckily I did not have to keep the changer. I called Marantz about it and they said it was a typo on their website. Their DVD changer probably has a coax digital out but I wouldn't buy it for CD play back only. I am now running my 2 year old Pioneer 300 disk changer through an MSB Digital Director and then through an EVS Millenium II DAC with very good results. The Digital Director lets you input a toslink cable and output a coax cable. It is also supposed to be a jitter filter. I've also been told that a coax digital out can be added to any changer for very little money but I don't know anyone to reccommend.
The Pioneer I have is the DVF 727 - it is a DVD/CD changer that does 301 disc - it has a coaxial output and toslink - the Sony only has a toslink - The DIP is a device that goes between the CD player/tranport and the outboard DAC - it smooths things out and helps to correct jitter from the transport to the DAC -it has a couple of digital inputs and a couple out so you can hook toslink in and come out with a coaxial to the DAC - AudioAdvisor.com use to sell them and may still. I think they sold for 299 - not sure. Most of the CD only megas only have a toslink out from my experience. Not sure about the Kenwood.
Chantaipan, welcome to the madhouse! It would be an addiction if it wasn't so rewarding!
The DIP is a small box made by Monarchy audio. They can be found for sale regularly on this site, since they are very popular. You can also buy it new from Audio Advisor, and try it for 30 days.
It takes digital coax/toslink signal and re-clocks it removing quite a bit of jitter (a huge topic, with tons of info; some people on the net will tell you jitter is inaudible, but I don't think anyone on this forum will say that.)
It then allows you to output coax or balanced digital to your DAC.
If you get a used one, get at least the MkII DIP.
The new ones are 24/96 (note that the MkII only 16/44, but this is fine for CD's) so they can also be used on DID players for HT (DD, DTS). I have one of each, they both seem to work about the same for CD's. Changing the power on it improve the sound a bit as well.
I also recommend (for mega changer users) the Slink-e device. This let's you control your changer from your computer. It'll scan the player for you, get all the album/track info from the net, and let you create playlists, search for songs, and what not. But it only works with Sony S-link connections.
KP, thanks. It sure is rewarding. Your experience is that it sounds better(more anologue) to connect the changer's toslink through the DIP, then coaxial cable to the DAC. So if I get a DVD mega changer, like the Kenwood DV5900 or the Pioneer Elite DVF-07, I should get the DID?!!!! Now I am wondering whether the CD or DVD sounds better as I am told by the salemen that the DVD will reveal more data than the CD; therefore it should be more revealing.
The DIP should help most dvd/cd players going to a DAC.
You might want to get it from AA where you can return it if you don't like it.
As far as DVD vs CD sounding better, it depends. I thought all my DVD players (using coax) sounder better (player-->DAC) than the regular Sony mega box (toslink).
However, with the setup (player--->DIP(s)--->DAC) they all sounded very similar.
The ES mega box (toslink) sounder better than any of the DVD players I tried (Sony, Toshiba, and I forgot the other one).
I know some DAC manufactures (BelCanto, for one) suggest you use a DVD player with Toslink going into the DAC. I can't comment on this from personal experience but user comments on this idea suggest that coax to DAC is better.
Also, the DVD w/o a DIP may sound better because DVD's have an output buffer (16k, I think, please correct me), that's supposed to reduce jitter. Once the DIP is in place, it should take care of most of the jitter issues. So, that would explain why the DVD players and the regular Sony sounded similar with the DIP in use.