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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I am considering a new CD deck. I have one SACD and hundreds of red book CD's, so SACD is not an important consideration for me. That said, SACD capability would be a plus if it happened to be there; it's just not essential. The two-channel CD sound reproduction, clarity, separation, and imaging is the paramount consideration.

I plan to audition before I buy, if possible. Budget is $1500. I haven't listened to any of the following yet, but these are on my list and all are available in my area for auditioning.

Marantz SA 8003 - CD/SACD
Rega Apollo - top loader
Rotel RCD-1520
Rotel RCD-1072
Arcam CD17

The decks on my list so far are those that are available at dealers in the Dallas Texas area. Lower-priced tube decks like the Jolida JD-100A would be on my list, but they are direct sale only and can't be auditioned. Do you have any suggestions to help me fill out my audition list up to $1500?

The top-loading design seems like it would have an inherent stability advantage over tray loaders, but it may not fit well in my furniture. It depends on the dimensions with the cover open. Some top loaders have flip up doors, but I've seen at least one with a sliding door. I can't put a top-loading CD player on the very top of my furniture as that is where my TT resides.

The PrimaLuna Prologue 8 is a tube based player, more than $1k over my budget, but since there is a dealer in my area I'll audition it anyway just to see what I could do for $1k more. It would have to blow my socks off to make me consider expanding my budget that much, and if I did so, then I'd want to look at other decks in that price range too (e.g., Bryston BCD-1, Rega Saturn, Arcam CD37, used market McIntosh MCD201).

I welcome your suggestions and comments.

five
 

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You could save your self alot of cash by just buying an Oppo Player. For the money you wont find anything better and the playback quality is very high.
 

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There are some that swear there are night and day differences between the inexpensive CD players and the uber-expensive variety.

There are some that will tell you a CD player is pretty much going to sound like just about any other CD deck regardless of price.

I fall in the second category. I really don't think there is all that much difference, if there is one at all, between a really expensive CD player and a more modestly priced player. When they first came out, I've heard there were some pretty obvious differences with the DAC's in the players where a more expensive model made more sense. These days, I'm not buying it. I also fully realize that there are some who will passionately disagree with me on that one.

That doesn't mean I'm going to go out and buy the cheapest player on the market -- how loud the physical/motor parts are, the reliability of the unit, the remote, etc are all items I'm going to want to review before I purchase, but I'm not thinking the output is going to be all that different between the units.

On the assumption that the more expensive units do have a superior sound, I'd argue that the difference is still going to be small and that you would need a well treated room with a good set of speakers to notice the difference.

What does that all mean? I think that I wouldn't spend more than ~$150-$200 for a dedicated CD/SACD player.

But, again, that's just me.
 

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There is defiantly a difference between a cheap player (below $100) and a unit in the mid grade level however I do agree that the over priced CD/DVD players do not improve sound the only thing is the build quality is much better on the high priced units and the drive units are more stable. Worth the $1000 plus you spend? I doubt it.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Tony, are you referring to the Oppo BDP-83? I already have Blu-Ray and DVD capability, but if I can find a local dealer, I will audition it.
 

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Yes, the BDP83. I think for the money its going to be tough to beat.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
One review of the Oppo BDP-83 Universal Blu-ray Player, from Home Theater Magazine, July 2009, leaves me with some concern.

Operation is smooth across most formats. I’ve had the chance to use the player for quite some time, and I haven’t come across a hitch with a Blu-ray title at all. However, some SACDs and CDs had a brief dropout on occasion. At press time, Oppo had just recently offered the BDP-83 for sale to the general public after extensive beta testing and its “early adoption” market trial program. Oppo is committed to timely firmware updates to address any little bugs that might pop up. Thankfully, there hasn’t been any significant issues with my unit. In fact, I’d say this is the most trouble-free player I’ve used in my system considering the breadth of titles (and formats) I play regularly.
Emphasis mine. This was really all that was said about the Oppo's CD playback capability in the entire review. I believe the reviewer was primarily interested in the deck's Blu-Ray and DVD playback capability, which I am not interested in. The sole comment about CD is not positive. There is no review of the deck's two channel playback sound at all. As that is all I am actually interested in, I've crossed this off my list.
 

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from Home Theater Magazine, July 2009, leaves me with some concern.
I have a feeling that his CDs may have had a scratch or some other imperfection, The higher end players are also more sensitive to scratches, fingerprints and dust
 

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That was one person's experience. I know that I haven't had a problem with mine at all for CD and SACD or DVD-Audio playback. Oppo is ALWAYS working to make things better anyway. If there ever is a problem and it gets reported, they will try to fix it.
 

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The two-channel CD sound reproduction, clarity, separation, and imaging is the paramount consideration.
I would presume you have a decent analog system to realize the advantage of spending the extra money on a good CD player. If you plan on simply connecting the player through digital to your system, you can get away with spending somewhat less.

If you do have a good analog system, I would recommend listening to the Bryston BCD-1 and the Arcam CD-37 to see if you want to add those extra dollars. They're both a couple grand, with the Arcam also playing SACD's, but the Bryston with the better specs.

I have an Arcam Alpha 9 myself feeding a Bryston analog system, and my opinion is that a good player is worth every cent. The specs on the Bryston player are very good, using fully discrete Class A analog outputs. It would be my choice (coupled to a good system)..

brucek
 

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Discussion Starter #11
brucek, I am in the process of building my system, and I think it may be good enough to take advantage of a good CD player.

For two-channel, I will have B&W 804S speakers driven by a Rotel RSX-1550 integrated amp. I just bought these; installation is scheduled for later this week. For HT, I will have a B&W HTM3S center speaker, and a pair of CCM65 in-ceiling surrounds.

I have a Rega P5 TT. Since the Rotel RSX-1550 doesn't have a phono stage, I've also ordered a Jolida JD-9A phono stage that will hopefully be delivered sometime next week too.

I'll be going to audition the Rotel RCD-1520, Rega Apollo, and the PrimaLuna Prologue 8 on Wednesday. I will be calling on the Arcam dealer Thursday or Friday. The Arcam CD-37 certainly seems appealing, but it and the Bryston and the PrimaLuna are all considerably more expensive than the other decks I'll be listening too. Tough choices.
 

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The new Rotel CD spinner has been getting some very positive reviews in the HiFi press here in the UK, will be very interested to hear your thoughts on how it performs number 5?
 

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If you can audition the Shanling CD-T100se please do. A friend's sounds very good indeed.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
John, I'll post back on my impressions of the Rotel and others.

Jay, I would very much like to listen to a Shanling CD-T100SE, but so far I have not found a dealer near Dallas. I am very curious about it, and also the more expensive CD-T1000SE that I believe has replaced the T100SE in the lineup from Shanling. From the review articles, it seems that many people end up modding these units to get the best sound, and that adds considerably to their cost. Due to the lack of dealers, I suspect I'd have to buy one to audition it. I'm reluctant to take that sort of risk, but if I can find one to listen to, I will.

five
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Hey recruit. I deferred my auditioning plans to this coming Saturday. Work has kept me more occupied than usual this week, and the distance I'd have to drive to get to one dealer would force me to drive in rush hour to get there before they close.

Stay tuned.
 

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Hey recruit. I deferred my auditioning plans to this coming Saturday. Work has kept me more occupied than usual this week, and the distance I'd have to drive to get to one dealer would force me to drive in rush hour to get there before they close.

Stay tuned.
Work always seems to get in the way of pleasure :(
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I did listen to both the Apollo and the Jekyll ... I mean the Hyde, sorry.

No actually I was very impressed with the Rotel CD player. But I felt the Apollo was better.

If I can manage to complete my review, I'll post it.
 

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I fall in the second category. I really don't think there is all that much difference, if there is one at all, between a really expensive CD player and a more modestly priced player....

That doesn't mean I'm going to go out and buy the cheapest player on the market -- how loud the physical/motor parts are, the reliability of the unit, the remote, etc are all items I'm going to want to review before I purchase, but I'm not thinking the output is going to be all that different between the units.
Agreed JCD, the bolded area i find to is most important.
 
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