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Wanted, Analogue Sounding CD Player.

I know, I'm looking for utopia !!. I would like some opinions on the most analogue sounding CD player in the £2k to £3k price bracket. My existing Marantz CD17 KI Signature sounds pretty good to me until I have an evening playing some vinyl then I realise what I'm missing. The Rega Planar 3 with Denon DL160 whips it in every respect apart from convenience and surface noise. Am I 'chasing rainbows' or is there something out there, CD-wise that might get me close to the vinyl sound ?. There are so many CD players in the price bracket I am looking at it would be most helpful if all you kind souls could give me a 'shortlist'. Many Thanks

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RE: Hi-Fi

I'd probably suggest looking into either a better amplifier or different speakers.  This will more likely reap greater rewards than a change of CDP would allow.  If that's not an option, and you insist on the CD source changing, look at the likes of Eastern Electric, Icon Audio and Graaf who are three manufacturers building valve-equipped players which may get you nearer to what you're looking for.

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RE: Hi-Fi

Pathos Digit.....a must listen.

Audio Note (haven't heard outside an AN system)

Cno

"We should no more let numbers define audio quality than we should let chemical analysis be the arbiter of fine wines."  Nelson Pass

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RE: Hi-Fi

lydeard wrote:

I know, I'm looking for utopia !!. I would like some opinions on the most analogue sounding CD player in the £2k to £3k price bracket. My existing Marantz CD17 KI Signature sounds pretty good to me until I have an evening playing some vinyl then I realise what I'm missing. The Rega Planar 3 with Denon DL160 whips it in every respect apart from convenience and surface noise. Am I 'chasing rainbows' or is there something out there, CD-wise that might get me close to the vinyl sound ?. There are so many CD players in the price bracket I am looking at it would be most helpful if all you kind souls could give me a 'shortlist'. Many Thanks

Hi lydeard

What amplifier do you use?

The speakers?

Interconnect and speaker cables?

Do you use any after market mains cables or or mains related products?

What do you and anyone else who is also likely to use the system listen to?

Would you also consider using a digital to analogue convertor in conjunction with your CD17 KI?

All the best

Rick @ Musicraft

 

Anonymous
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RE: Hi-Fi

Many Thanks folks for your interest and replies. With respect however I think that you might be missing my point a little bit. My issue is that I am more than happy with the sound I get from my analogue front end so, as I see it (but will be corrected) there is no point in thinking about upgrading amp or speakers. I accept that doing this would likely give me an overall improvement but the performance gap between Vinyl and CDP would still be there.
Anyway, to give you a bit more info for you to comment on my system is as follows:-
Rega Planar 3 with Denon DL160 Cartridge.
Marantz CD17 KI Sig CDP with Van Den Hul D102 Mk3 interconnects feeding -
Unison Research 'Unico' Amp
Gale XL315 speaker cable
Castle Avon Speakers.
I am using just standard Mains supply and cables as I live in (I think) a relatively 'clean' Mains area, ie well out in the countryside. I did audition one or two Mains cables at home a while ago and failed to be excited by them.

Yes, I would be prepared to go for a separate DAC if you feel strongly this is my best option - any suggestions on what make/model ??.
I note that 'The Record Spot' suggests valve based CD players. What are the strengths and weakness's of these ?. Compared to vinyl I would say that my Marantz sounds closed-in, hard and 'glassy'. It also has a less firm and tuneful bass and generally less attack.
In summary, when I go to listen to vinyl after CD it's like someone has removed a thick blanket from front of speakers.
Majority of music listened to is Soft Rock and Blues with a bit of Folk mixed in for a change.
Very interested to hear what you all think.
Lydeard

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RE: Hi-Fi

For that budget I would recommend trying out a Naim CD5 XS (latest post-April 2011  RRP = £1950 but some dealers may have pre-April stock at £1865 or even ex-demo stock for a bit less.)

If your nearest dealer is also a Rega stockist (they often are) it could be fun to try the CD5 XS with it's digital optical output into a Rega DAC (£500) to see which gets closer to what you like.*

This (the Rega Dac) will also give you a USB option for your computer. (Internet radio/iTunes etc.)

If you take your CD17 KI Sig to the demo you could try that with the Rega DAC against the Naim CD5 XS.

 

*Having heard the - older - Naim CD5X (and owned a CD5i-2) I am not convinced the CD5 XS is going to benefit from a Rega DAC, but it's probably worth trying. 

 

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RE: Hi-Fi

My suggestion of the Pathos Digit should meet your requirements (just check the measurements suit)

It's within budget, and is one of the most analogue sounding CD players around at that level (Pathos make very stylish, good sounding gear)....I also think that it would fit in well with your very musical kit.

It also uses tubes which have a way of removing the digital nastiness from the sound.

Regards Cno

"We should no more let numbers define audio quality than we should let chemical analysis be the arbiter of fine wines."  Nelson Pass

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RE: Hi-Fi

Hi

 

A bit under your buget but can be upgraded http://www.iconaudio.co.uk/CD_X1.html.

 

Cheers

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RE: Hi-Fi

Hi

 

A bit under your buget but can be upgraded http://www.iconaudio.co.uk/CD_X1.html.

 

Cheers

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RE: Hi-Fi

lydeard wrote:
Many Thanks folks for your interest and replies. With respect however I think that you might be missing my point a little bit. My issue is that I am more than happy with the sound I get from my analogue front end so, as I see it (but will be corrected) there is no point in thinking about upgrading amp or speakers. I accept that doing this would likely give me an overall improvement but the performance gap between Vinyl and CDP would still be there. Anyway, to give you a bit more info for you to comment on my system is as follows:- Rega Planar 3 with Denon DL160 Cartridge. Marantz CD17 KI Sig CDP with Van Den Hul D102 Mk3 interconnects feeding - Unison Research 'Unico' Amp Gale XL315 speaker cable Castle Avon Speakers. I am using just standard Mains supply and cables as I live in (I think) a relatively 'clean' Mains area, ie well out in the countryside. I did audition one or two Mains cables at home a while ago and failed to be excited by them. Yes, I would be prepared to go for a separate DAC if you feel strongly this is my best option - any suggestions on what make/model ??. I note that 'The Record Spot' suggests valve based CD players. What are the strengths and weakness's of these ?. Compared to vinyl I would say that my Marantz sounds closed-in, hard and 'glassy'. It also has a less firm and tuneful bass and generally less attack. In summary, when I go to listen to vinyl after CD it's like someone has removed a thick blanket from front of speakers. Majority of music listened to is Soft Rock and Blues with a bit of Folk mixed in for a change. Very interested to hear what you all think. Lydeard

 

Before spending possible a few K on a new CDP have you considered or tried a new interconnect between CDP and amp?

The reason i ask is i've found the VDH brand to be lifeless in presentation with anything but a bright or forward system, which your isn't. 

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RE: Hi-Fi

Interesting that, when the OP asks for a more analogue/vinyl kind of sound, valves are suggested.

Is it because of that old (and usually wrong) association of vinyl with 'warmth' and so too with valves?

None of my old turntables/cartridges were 'warm' (I wouldn't have been interested if they had been) and they included a couple of Rega Planar 3s (and a P2) and a variety of MM and MC cartridges over the years.

The biggest difference between CD players and turntables is usually timing. Despite turntables having (on paper) pretty poor figures for speed 'accuracy' - compared to CD - vinyl replay seems to have an unerring momentum and drive that CD often lacks.

It's like an instinctive... "get up from the chair and dance" kind of 'urge'. The specs/figures of CD vs vinyl speak volumes against that being possible, but then bumblebees aren't supposed to be able to fly are they?

The one CD player I owned that prompted the same kind of 'urge' was the Naim CD5i-2. It was a little too 'gung-ho' at times (although I liked that)  which is why I recommended the more polished Naim CD5 XS.

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RE: Hi-Fi

chebby wrote:

Interesting that when the OP asks for a more analogue/vinyl kind of sound that valves are suggested.

Is it because of that old (and usually wrong) association of vinyl with 'warmth' and so too with valves?

None of my old turntables/cartridges were 'warm' (I wouldn't have been interested if they had been) and they included a couple of Rega Planar 3s (and a P2) and a variety of MM and MC cartridges over the years.

The biggest difference between CD players and turntables is usually timing. Despite turntables having (on paper) pretty poor figures for speed 'accuracy' - compared to CD - vinyl replay seems to have an unerring momentum and drive that CD often lacks.

It's like a sort of instinctive... "get up from the chair and dance" kind of 'urge'. The specs/figures of CD vs vinyl speak volumes against that being possible, but then bumblebees aren't supposed to be able to fly are they?

The one CD player I owned that prompted the same kind of 'urge' was the Naim CD5i-2. It was a little too 'gung-ho' at times (although I liked that)  which is why I recommended the more polished Naim CD5 XS.

The idea that modern tube kit is warm, is a left over from the old days.

The kit I've heard, was far from warm and gloopy. It was very dynamic, detailed, emotional and exciting. It just sounded right, without any glare...totaly natural with instruments and voices, sounding like they should. Bass isn't always controlled as well as SS, but it can be.

I also wouldn't describe Vinyl as warm....for me analogue doesn't mean this.

"We should no more let numbers define audio quality than we should let chemical analysis be the arbiter of fine wines."  Nelson Pass

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RE: Hi-Fi

Yep, exactly.  It's little to do with valve=warmth (and likewise the whole analogue thing Chebby mentions - a P3 and AT440-MLa puts that to bed immediately) and more to do with a more natural presentation.  

The OP could also look out a NOS or good condition Marantz SA7001-KI, which has a very sweet sound to it.  Hi Fi World's recommended list described it as analogue sounding and they were bang on in that.  

Anonymous
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RE: Hi-Fi

Significantly under budget, but Rega CD players have this image. Apollo or Saturn. This is in addition to the above mentioned Rega DAC, which apparently exhibits the typical Rega sonic signature (there's a telling review in the current issue of Stereophile).

Good luck with your search!

Hedgehog

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RE: Hi-Fi

IMHO, it's definitely worth demo'ing the Arcam CD37 - and with the money saved, build a collection of SACDs, especially SHM-SACDs. (FWIW, when cobbling together my setup, which includes a CD37, the aim was create a vinyl-type sound...)

Anonymous
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RE: Hi-Fi

WOW, what a nice lot of interesting replies and suggestions albeit we got slightly sidetracked into the Valve versus Solid State amplification debate. Whilst I agree with the remarks made on this subject I don't think it should be confused with the Analogue versus Digital issue.
In my humble opinion the Valve against SS subject is very much a 'Horses for Courses' thing and a matter of personal preference, both have their pros & cons, but analogue versus digital is much more clear cut. As I said in my original post I feel that vinyl versus CD is virtually 'no contest' at least in the mid to upper realms of equipment, it's more a case of getting CDs to sound as close as possible to vinyl whilst recognising you will never quite get there.
So, back to original issue, what are my options. Taking on board what you have all suggested it would seem sensible for me to try the softly-softly approach in ascending terms of ease and cost. In other words I think I will try interconnects first (not overly optimistic) then try to borrow a DAC (the Rega looks a strong possibility) before considering going the whole hog for a complete CDP change. Unfortunately I have to go quite some distance to my nearest dealer with a decent range of gear so don't want to be running to and from too often with various bits of kit. I would never, ever buy anything that I haven't heard in my own room by the way, as I believe that this is one of the biggest 'variables' in the way things can sound.
Who knows, I might end up realising that I can't achieve a significant improvement anyway but should I eventually get to the stage where I shout 'Eureka' I'll post back with results although I will probably keep posting with news of progess along the way.
Meantime, many thanks to you all for interest, comments and suggestions.
Lydeard

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