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In Reply to: NAD C541i vs. Music Hall CD 25 posted by Mr Blue Sky on May 26, 2003 at 17:38:06:
I prefer the NAD C541i. The Music Hall sounds nice, but its coloration is not to my taste. I observed that the Music Hall CD 25 can impose a slight richness and cloudy sheen in its sonic presentation that might make it sound better with some recordings or to some ears. The NAD C541i sounds remarkably neutral and clear to me; I think it yields more insight into the music that is (and is not) on the CD and has been a pleasure to listen to.
"Build quality", I guess, is in the eye of the beholder. Underneath the Music Hall's thicker and heavier shiney faceplate, the quality of its parts and mechanics seem sufficient, but are certainly not better than the NAD's. Less importantly, I prefer the NAD's compact remote control to the Music Hall's original retro-sci-fi remote (I just read somewhere that Music Hall now supplies more conventional remotes with more recently-manufactured CD 25's).
The widely-reported reliability and tracking problems in many of NAD's previous CD players, especially with the C540 and C520, have been virtually eliminated in the "i" series ("i" apparently means "improved"). Also, while the CD 25 has a 1-year warrantee, the C541i has a 2-year warrantee.
I'm afraid I may have to agree with you. Although I find NAD to be a repulsive company for a variety of reasons, the C541i seems to be a bit more open and punchy than the Music Hall CD 25. The NAD bothers me a little bit in the highs, displaying a tad of harshness and sibilance, but it seems to have a tad more detail, clarity, speed, and space than the Music Hall. Although the CD 25 does have a nice smooth quality to it, it is the wrong kind of smooth. I find that the player has a tendancy to blur basslines, smear dynamics, soften attacks, haze vocals and bring them forward in the mix, and muddle depth. That said, I still think the CD 25 would be a better match for less expensive or bright speakers such as those with metal dome tweeters and is still very much a likeable, good sounding player. I'm still doing my extensive comparison between the two players, but these are my thoughts at this point. One downside of the NAD is that despite it's strong points, it still sounds cheap to me, though I can't explain exactly why. All of this said, the differences are very minimal between these two players. It is not night and day. It's simply a matter of which sound you prefer. Just so I can put your comments into perspective, may I ask what equiment you are using in addition to your C541i??
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