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I have owned the following Sony SCD1, Accuphase DP77 and I just received my Cary 306 SACD player, great review my oldvinyl! I played it for about an hour in red-book-HDCD and SACD mode, just to make sure things were working ok, my Jazz At The Pawnshop have all three formats so I could check each format out.
My impressions. The Sony SCD1 is just outstanding on SACD, Good on Red-Book (no mods needed on the SCD1)it a very good player on it's own.
The Accuphase is a superb player also, as a red-book player playback is a touch better than the SCD1, it does up-sample which could explain why it does sound better on some red-book cd's, on some it did not, up-sampling is not always a good thing on some discs where brick-wall filtering was used, once you hear the sound becoming thin it is time to go back to 44.1 setting, even jumping to 96kH can make things thin and noisy due to digital noise being brought forth from expanding band with.
The Cary gives me the best of both units, it is musical, looks good, and though no where near the built quality of the Sony SCD1, then what is. Like the Sony the Cary keeps DSD in its pure form, does not reverted back to PCM, though I still felt it sounded better then red-book even when converted, regardless of what others say, they were trying to keep the noise from the DSD processing out of the signal and reverting it does so, good move by them, it is the lesser of two evils, if there SACD design is noisy.
The Cary is a bit more complicated to use then any of the other units, no knock, but it is not as user friendly, but once I get used to it, it will be just fine. The Cary is well built, looks good, uses good parts and sounds superb. $6,000 is a few bucks, more then the Sony was in 1999-2002, but less then the Accuphase and it combines the best of those two units, so I guess you could say it is priced fairly.
On the down side the Cary has a very short warranty 1 year, Sony ES line is 5 years, plus there repair rates are cheap if you send your unit to them. Accuphase 3 years. Both are work horses that will last for 10 years if you kept them that long.
If the Cary is reliable then I would say the Cary 306 SACD is a best buy at this moment in time. You would not go wrong buying one, it is very, very good right out of the box, I like it enough to buy one and that says it all I guess, because I am not unhappy with the Sony or the Accuphase.
Cary is musical as all get out, good depth and music has body to it, Jazz at the Pawnshop sounded great, warm, detailed, you could feel the clubs atmosphere, even on red-book, SACD just increases that 2 fold, it gives you more of everything, what a great format SACD is.
I am letting the unit run while I am at work, tonight I will put on some newer 24/96 discs and give a listen, then try to up-sample and see what effect it has.
Well that is my take on it so far. I give it a few weeks to settle in and see what changes if anything.
Keep these three players on your short list of some of the best CD players made regardless of prices, because these all are so good you start to get into the area of diminishing returns.
The Cary should end your search for a great cd playback system. That in the end is what we are all searching for, Right?
Enjoy the music that also is what this hobby is about. The Cary 306 SACD is the end of the rainbow for many of us.
You also should look for the Accuphase DP77 or Sony SCD1 on the pre-owned market if the $6,000 is to steep, you can't go wrong with either.
I read your post with great interest. I currently have a Cary 303/300 and Accuphase DP-67. I'm now also looking around for a good redbook +/- SACD player. I've shortlisted the Cary 306SACD and the Accuphase DP-77. Sonicaly the 2 are quite different. The Accuphase I feel is more accurate, detailed and tonally right ... it's very good but my only gripe is that it sounds a tad dry. The Cary sound is more musical, the 306SACD which I heard had yet to burn in yet so although it sounded more detailed, forward, authoritative and with better imaging and soundstaging than my 303/300, it was a bit rough on the edges.
I'm interested to know more of your experience A/Bing the 306SACD and the Accuphase DP-77. I hope you will be able to share your thoughts. BTW the other CDP which I like a lot, but is only redbook is the Sim Audio Moon Andromeda. Could you have heard it yet?
....several inmate's impressions regarding the 306/SACD have a similar conclusion: that this player seems to be the closest one will likely come to the "Holy Grail" in digital playback AND it reaches the level of analog playback quality. This comes from several experienced listeners who have had equipment other than CARY. Has CARY really nailed digital playback? Well, I'll find out for myself soon. While I have seen people get excited about certain pieces of newly released equipment (myself included), I really haven't seen reviews quite like this or THIS level of excitement for any other piece of digital playback equipment. It kinda makes things interesting and fun.
I find it difficult to listen and "compare" lots of other really high end digital gear. Just don't know people that have them.
Did you also find that the up-sampling sound inferior to 44.1 setting. Christine Tham also agrees. I like to see Cary just do away with it, and let the unit read 16-24 bit cd's and process them at there own rate.
HDCD does not get upsampled, it has its own filter. I don't think that the upsampling settings make any difference.
For most CD's I prefer the 192 KHz setting. The high end is a little smoother.
There are some CD's that do sound better at 44.1 KHz.
Most of the time, I just leave it set on 192 KHz and enjoy the sound.
i had a similar expirience with 303/200 upsampling - ti was brighter, thiner and less "music".
That is because consumers do not understand, the better up-sampling works the tinner the sound can be because it is expanding the bandwith which will bring out the noise on red-book cd's with strong brickwall filtering, so the Cary is actual better than your Meridian, because it truly is showing the limitation of some early and current red-book cd's.
SACD is such an consistant improvement, as is HDCD process, 24 bit and a lot of other red-book sound great, just leave well enough alone.
There is a nice posting on up-smapling by Christine on this site below this message.
"Cary is actual better than your Meridian"
perhaps, but it sounds worse - what do you think is an important pne - theoretical advantage (still i'm not sure if what you say is correct) or better sound?
"because it truly is showing the limitation of some early and current red-book cd's"
"the better up-sampling works the tinner the sound can be because it is expanding the bandwith which will bring out the noise on red-book cd's with strong brickwall filtering,"
Nope, you have this front-to-back, strictly speaking upsampling on it own cannot expand your bandwidth (except if used with noiseshaping) and as a result cannot make the resulting sound thinner. Also upsampling negates the necessity for strong brickwall filtering.
Music making the painting, recording it the photograph
Well Upsampling takes the signal from 44'1 to 98, 198, 398, 598, 798 or whatever rate higher than the 44.1Kz. If the cd was mastered and there is digital noise up in higher bandwith, then upsampling would pick up this audio noise, thus a thinner/brighter sound. I am not saying upsampling has brickwall filtering, but some cd's were mastered using the extreme roll off brickwall filter.
"Well Upsampling takes the signal from 44'1 to 98, 198, 398, 598, 798 or whatever rate higher than the 44.1Kz. If the cd was mastered and there is digital noise up in higher bandwith, then upsampling would pick up this audio noise,"
It does not work like that at all, The Nyquist frequency is an effective ceiling and no data is captured above that frequency. Therefore the upsampling cannot pick up digital noise from non-existent data. The process of interpolation approximates new data points, but that approximation is based on initial data at the original sampling frequency, in this case 44.1. The filters used in the upsampling process may introduce problems of their own, but that is another matter entirely.
Music making the painting, recording it the photograph
Thanks for the educational response. What then does up-sampling attempt to do? What are the negatives, from my viewpoint on what I am hearing, even 24 bit recording take on a slightly thinner and less dynamic sound quality, as you go up the ladder, the sound can become even more thinner or dull.
When I go back to the 44.1 setting everthing seems just right or perhaps balanced.
What is happening and why has up-sampling become the rage with designers? Ms. Tham sent me her concerns with up-sampling, her message is elsewhere on the page below this message.
Look forward to hearing back from you, this is very interesting subject.
Great review PhillyB.....I agree this is it for digial playback.I'm only hanging on to my analog setup for 45prm recordings ....otherwise I listen to the Cary.
After 3 days the unit has really come into it own. The HDCD feature is just a great addition, I am finding disc that have no label saying HDCD mastered, yet they are.
The Beach Boys 30 greatest hits (Elvis started another fad), is mastered using HDCD, I you tell you this I have never heard the Beach Boys Sound this good, the layers of harmonies, musical textures and rhythms never was so apparent.
SACD cd's is out-of-this-world, no need to say more, you name it and SACD through this unit does it. Red-Book is dam good also, some just outstanding to the point of sounding as good as SACD. The 24 bit ones are just superb. Even sound of the older 16-20 bit cd's that were mastered right is killer.
My wife said listening to the Beach Boys the other night, this is almost a spiritual experience, I never heard them sound this good, you can hear each voice as a separate person., and the bottom end at times shook the room.
I put on a few crap cd's and they still sounded like crap, so this unit is not colored at all to sound romantic, but when the recording is well done, Like the 50's Sinatra and Elvis, the sound is so real and organic and musical with the warmth of the tubes used back then that you wish all recordings were this good today.
The highs are open and transparent, the mid-range is killer, the mid-bass perfect, gives weight to the music, so many players miss this part of reproduction, makes things sound thin without proper weight, they trick you into thinking what great detail, but it not right, and the bottom end is full and tight when the music calls for it.
The only thing I think they could do without is the up-sampling feature, to me it just makes things sound thinner on most discs I have tried the settings on; the normal settings sound the best. I think they could do without this feature, I think this is more a current hip thing to do, but sonically I just donít hear an improvement, any one who cares to comment feel free to do so, perhaps someone from Cary?
Also HDCD recordings should be left in the 44.1 mode, that how it was designed to be used.
So far as far as sound reproduction goes I can find no fault, I do wish the owners manual was better written, they do not discuss the up-sampling features at all, and this is a big part of the design. They need to educate the user.
The player is a winner, the best I heard in my life on red-book was the Linn CD 12, I never would pay that much for a unit (20k), now for $6,000 you can have the same quality of sound (Red-Book) with the added features of SACD and HDCD, making this unit a steal for the money.
Go, no RUN OUT and Buy this Unit, al least go audition it, this baby is going to be a classic, I won't be looking back for awhile, my search is over, finally a player that brings out the best in the digital format, it took 20 years but it was worth the wait.
Cary well done!
when it comes to Israel i will go to hear it.
because right now i'm in "keep SACD nad RBCD players separate" concept.
i liked cary 303/200 much less than my Meridian G-08...........
THis is not the 300/200 unit. THis is the Cary 306 SACD unit, keep an open mind. Sorry I also tried the Meridian G-08, Cary 306 SACD was better in a musical way.
In my opinion the 303/200 should not be your Cary benchmark in comparing to other brands. Personally, I prefered the less expensive vacuum tube Cary 308T over the 303/300. That's not a knock on Cary. I love Cary products. I just feel the 303/300 wasn't their best effort.
Well, I sure like my Cary SLP-2002 pre-amp. Especially with RTX bypass caps and some minor wiring improvements. Designed around the same time as the 308T cd player you are fond of. It is my opinion that DJH's use of custom DSP software is responsible for the sound of the 303/300. He has programmed the machine to sound the way he thinks digital playback should sound. That machine wasn't for me either. Just couldn't get it to open up and get out of the way. Many seam to be happy with it, in fact we appear to be in the minority.
It's good to see your review. I just ordered a Cary 306 SACD based on the comments of other owners at the Asylum. It sounds like this may be what I'm looking for. I have quite a few HDCD recordings and am looking forward to exploring SACD as well. I am tired of the "digititis" of other players (I have owned plenty - including Rotel, CAL Audio, Mission, and Ayre). My favorite was the Cary 308 which I enjoyed the most. I gave it up for the Ayre CX-7 (not a bad player - just not as involving), which I regret.
Please give us further updates as your unit breaks in.
I was highly dubious about the upgrade, but I had the opportunity to hear the original and upgraded models side by side on a variety of music. I was completely surprised by the inprovement it made. Before I had many LPs that I liked better than CDs but after the tables were turned. The player became much more musical sounding after the upgrade, especially in the high end, and it was very good to begin with.
Yes, I had my CX-7 upgraded. The Evolution player is very good, but I have a lot of HDCD recordings (mainly Reference Recordings) that I would like to take full advantage of. I really miss the added ambience and depth that HDCD decoding provides. I also would like to delve into SACD.
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