CD player for Classical

Discussion in 'Digital Sources' started by duckrabbit, Apr 5, 2018.

  1. Grenadeslio

    Grenadeslio Super Member

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    1,663
    I've found a couple of older Sony DVP's that sound pretty good, and look the part as well. Both of these players originally sold for around $1000, found both on eBay for $80. To be honest the 900V is in black, still looking for one in silver that's not $300 and residing in Russia lol. I think the 900V is a tad warmer sounding so from your criteria the 999ES might be the better choice, but really I think you can't go wrong with either.

    Sony DVP-NS999ES
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    Sony DVP-NS900V
    sony900v.gif
     

     

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  2. duckrabbit

    duckrabbit New Member

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    This is fantastic advice, I will def check those out!

    Thanks also for the CDP suggestions. I've actually had my eye on a Philips CD304 mk1 with TDA1540 which don't seem to cost that much. Good 80s looks too. But some say its not the best for classical, lacking definition. I could imagine enjoying a beefy sounding player for classical as long as it keeps enough texture and transients of the instruments.
     
  3. savatage1973

    savatage1973 Addicted Member

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    Extremely underrated and often overlooked are Kyocera units.
     
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  4. bimasta

    bimasta Super Member

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    2,285
    Good advice from xero-D-hero. The TDA1541 is legendary for its 'musicality' and excels on Classical — strings have that special 'sheen', to name just one aspect. I also play electronic music (eg Massive Attack, Portishead) and the 1541 delivers the bass with authority and the density of the soundfield with clarity. Most of the players on that list (the Dutch Classics site, I have it permanently bookmarked, and it's good reading) will suit your budget, with euros left over. Some, due to age, may need minor maintenance (a new belt, or lube the mechanism that opens the drawer) but you seem handy enough and the cost is negligible.

    There are so many, you have the luxury of choosing for looks, it that matters to you. There's also a NAD with a devoted following (CD 540 I think) — a different DAC but very smooth sound and of course a perfect match to your 3020.

    You say you don't want a separate DAC. That's how I felt, until I got an Adcom GDA-700. It was a score I couldn't resist, only $7 at a Goodwill. It was a mindblowing improvement. Normal price is ±200US. Reviews compared it favorably to the contemporary $8000 Mark Levinson DAC. It was developed at the peak of CD and represents the best of Redbook playback. I get the sense your collection is mainly CD, as is mine — the selection is so vast and the costs so low. If I move to streaming, or SACD etc, I'll need more versality, but I've never heard CDs sound better, even on 10K players. The output stage is Class A, designed by Nelson Pass, and has Class A's tonal truth and richness.

    You already have a transport so — why not?
     
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  5. duckrabbit

    duckrabbit New Member

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    Good advice here, has helped me forward. But I have to say all of this is rather overwhelming. Tons of options, lots of TDA1541 CDPs, but how do they sound, how do they compare to eachother, to new CDPs in my 400 EUR budget etc. There's still a ton of googling for me to do. It seems like a great time to buy a vintage CDP though.

    I've actually been a vinyl purist for 20 years, but with a dj's approach, not so much as an audiophile. Got back into buying CDs only some months ago mainly due to my new interest in classical. As said I still prefer vinyl for most types of music.
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2018
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  6. savatage1973

    savatage1973 Addicted Member

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    Keep on Googling!!! This is a really great time to buy a "vintage" CDP, as prices are down due to streaming, rather than physical media. However, do your homework, not only on the DAC chipset, but also the laser in the drive--these players are approaching 30+ years old and the laser (reader) may be on its last legs, and some of them are "unobtanium"--you might not be able to find a replacement. A lot are still readily available, but others are not. Some are known to have really long service lives, and others are known to fail, so read the threads before you invest in a "doorstop".
     
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  7. duckrabbit

    duckrabbit New Member

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    Update:

    Well first of all, I upgraded my NAD 3020 to QUAD 303 which I use with my old DJ mixer Urei 1620LE. The Quad was recapped (the four big black capacitors) and 180 eur locally so I couldn't resist (even though I said I was happy with my previous system :naughty: ). The Quad is one of those "instant smile" pieces. I simply love it.

    The Urei mixer I previously used with active monitors (Neumann KH 120s). It is rather transparent but a tad warm and adds some weight and 60 hz punch to the sound. It was too muddy to use with the 3020 but with the Quad it works fabulously. Vinyl sounds almost perfect now, warm clear, deep and punchy. But I will keep the lovely NAD 3020 which I will surely want to connect again some day.

    So my setup is now
    - Urei 1620 LE as preamp
    - Quad 303 power amp
    - Usher S-520 II speakers
    - (a pair of) Technics SL 1200 mk 5, Grado DJ200i carts

    This setup is obviously more revealing than with the NAD 3020, so it is also more demanding for the CDP. The PS2 Slim with internal DAC was ok with the NAD but with this setup it sounds so grainy and veiled it is unlistenable.

    Now for the CD player:

    When I still used the NAD 3020 I decided to get the Naim CD3.5. The idea was to compensate the laid back overall character and slightly shy midrange of the NAD. I also really like the aesthetics of the Naim Olive range. The Naim arrived when I already had my current Quad setup. It is a well built CDP and I could instantly hear its high end sound quality: fluid non grainy highs and mids, very tight bass, great grab of rhythm etc. It was very close to the descriptions I had read on the web. But it didn't work for me in the Quad setup. It was too aggressive and too tight. Not cold or harsh but still very digital and glassy sounding. It sounded almost as if the music had gone through an SSL buss compressor ( ). Even my PS2 Slim with my cheap Marmitek DAC, which I use with my blu ray player, sounded nicer. The contrast between the Naim and my lovely sounding vinyls was huge. The Naim did not 'invite' me to listen to CDs. So I resold it.

    So now I'm again without a proper CDP. I think I should look for a neutral good quality CDP, slightly on the warm side, but not too relaxed, rather airy and clear would be a plus. Not too punchy in the mids either - the Naim has traumatized me here :eek:. I'm now looking at these two:

    - Yamaha CD S300 - Good looks. Modern, I could try and return if not happy.
    - Rotel RCD 855 or 955 - After reading a lot about TDA 1541A CDPs one of these seem like a good place to start. Not too expensive, apparently warm, analogue like, but maybe less relaxed than the Marantz CD 50 etc.? But how is the soundstage, air and clarity compared to the modern Yamaha, I wonder.

    Still for mainly classical and modern acoustic jazz. For the rest I much prefer vinyl.

    Any comments welcome of course.
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2018
  8. robert_kc

    robert_kc AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Location:
    Midwest USA
    I like classical music, opera, and ballet. New performances in these genres are routinely captured and offered in hi-res formats (often featuring multi-channel).

    SACD, Blu-ray, Pure Audio Blu-ray, Ultra HD Blu-ray, plus downloaded hi-res (24bit/192kHz) FLAC and DSD are currently being released for classical music, opera, and ballet. For examples, see https://www.hraudio.net/ for a partial list of hi-res recordings, HDtracks.com for downloads, and Amazon for hi-res discs (SACDs and Blu-ray).

    If you buy a player that will only play CDs, you limit yourself to 30+ year-old technology, and not be able to play recordings that feature hi-def video, hi-res audio, and multi-channel.

    I've recently been enjoying Blu-ray video box set collections of symphonies. Here's a few examples:

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    [​IMG]

    “Universal players” are available for these more advanced recording technologies (SACD, Blu-ray, Pure Audio Blu-ray, Ultra HD Blu-ray, plus downloaded hi-res (24bit/192kHz) FLAC, and DSD), including units that include “audiophile-grade” DACs, bass management, remote volume control, headphone jacks, etc. Unfortunately, Oppo has exited the business, but they might make one last production run of the UDP-205. (Of course, older Oppo models are available used.)

    Unless someone is only willing (or able) to spend bargain-basement prices for reproduced music (e.g., used CDs), I suggest getting a universal player, and start investing in more advanced recordings, and experience new ways to enjoy classical music.

    Here's a post that might be relevant: Where Do I Start?
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2018
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  9. duckrabbit

    duckrabbit New Member

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    29
    Thanks for the suggestions. This is interesting, but I don't think hi-res digital is what I'm after. In case you didn't read the first posts in this thread, I have a rather specific taste in music and would just like a CDP for partly nostalgic reasons, and partly because many of the releases I'm after, like the ECM Records catalogue, are only available on CD and not on vinyl which I generally prefer (how old is that technology?). Frankly I don't believe there is a significant audible difference between CDs and 24bit/192kHz etc. as such, at least with my modest hifi setup. The differences of hardware of the music players is much more relevant. And of course the recording, mixing and mastering of the music.

    So in short: I am interested in your experiences of normal old fashioned CD players, especially if you're into classical and lean slightly towards warm and musical as opposed to clear and analytical.
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2018
  10. Yamaki

    Yamaki Not For Hire Subscriber

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    Some of the older Denon 39xx to 59xx CDP's, which are also DVD & SACD players, have a very warm and detailed sound.

    I've owned 3 of these units and they all gave me great service. I just preferred the DAC chips inside these to any other CD units produced at the time because of the well defined music reproduction.
     
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  11. duckrabbit

    duckrabbit New Member

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    Ok, I'll take a few words back: I happen to be a film buff with a 500+ collection of blu ray's and have been considering upgrading to 4k. My plan was not to do this any time soon because there are currently less than 20 UHD blu ray's that interest me. But if I could strike two birds with one stone, the Oppo UDP-203 could be interesting... Seems a bit expensive here in Europe though, around 850 EUR.
     

     

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  12. Yamaki

    Yamaki Not For Hire Subscriber

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    Oppo has always been priced at the upper end of the market but they are fine machines.

    I know several people who upgraded recently in order to get one before production ceases.

    I have an Oppo BDP-105 which I use primarily to place a CD now and then. It's also the box I stream movies through.
     
  13. duckrabbit

    duckrabbit New Member

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    Got the Yamaha CD-S300 today. I've played various CDs for about two hours now.

    Wow, this thing sounds good: airy, punchy, very musical, rhythmic, long'ish decays, treble very sweetly tuned. Great soundstage and detail. I can hear air and breathing of chamber orchestras like never before. Very neutral, not warm or cold/analytical. A bit thin maybe - this could be because of less hamonic distortion in the lower frequenceies. But exciting enough. I'm positively surprised, I expected less from a modern entry level hifi CDP. Compared to the Naim CD3.5 it does most things better IMO and it's obviously less oppresive. Perhaps the Naim had a tiny bit more liquidity in the treble, if I remember correctly, but overall it was not nice to listen to.

    I could keep this one. It brings out the positive aspects of digital, very close to what I was after for classical and modern acoustic jazz.

    But I'm still a bit tempted to check the Rotel 855 if I can find a good deal.

    The Oppo 203 is also interesting but ridiculously priced here in Europe (850 EUR vs 550 USD). However the Panasonic DMP-UB900 seems interesting... The reviews have praised the Panny's sound quality, even compared to the Oppo, but of course I don't know what else the reviewers are comparing it to. Have they recently heard 80-90's TDA1541 CDPs or even modern entry level dedicated CDPs like the Yamaha.
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2018
  14. twiiii

    twiiii Addicted Member

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    Location:
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    Lexicon and Mac MVP 861 players were at the top pf the list in the past and I chose the 861. That said big bad Pioneers could scan discs other could not. Thats one reason I keep my Pioneer Elite combo player. It will scan discs when nothing else will. It doesn't have the staging or imaging of later players but if you have a disc that gives your players fit the Pioneer elite will play the discs. More advanced players from Oppo , Pioneer Denon, and Mcintosh based on Denon are great and I prefer the analog balanced out puts of the Mac for audio reproduction. But for digital reproduction an Oppo advance player and the Mac 891 are hard to beat. I'm sure there are others with a particular hue others would like or should I say prefer. I'm not fond of cold austere reproduction, or peaking uncontrolled sound either.
     
  15. duckrabbit

    duckrabbit New Member

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    Thanks, I had not looked into those before. The Macintosh and Oppo are out of my budget (400 euros) but Lexicons seem to go for around that secondhand. I didn't even know Lexicon made digital sources - I'm only familiar with their classic reverb units. Could you be more specific: what makes you recommend the Mac, Lex and Oppo over others, say classic TDA1541 CDPs or some less expensive ones? Have you compared these to many others?

    I still have the Yamaha CD-S300 but it is starting to sound too polite for my taste, so I'll probably return it. It is good quality, not harsh, good tight bass... but something is missing. It doesn't seem to have any 'character'. My vinyl setup has tons of character that it invites me to listen to my records. Even the Naim CD3.5 had character, albeit the wrong kind for me.

    I might get the Rotel 855/955 next, if I can find one in good shape for decent price. Based on people's descriptions the Rotel seems to have just what I'm looking for: warmth, musicality and good soundstage. I don't care if it's not them most analytical CDP out there.
     
  16. duckrabbit

    duckrabbit New Member

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    Got the Rotel RCD-855 with a non-oversampling mod. TDA1541A and CDM 4/19. Sounds fantastic.

    Thanks again for all the contributions here.
     
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