Digital Drive

Upsamplers, DACs, jitter, shakes and analogue withdrawals, this is it.

Return to Digital Drive


Message Sort: Post Order or Asylum Reverse Threaded

Better to buy new lower-end, or older higher-end?

64.129.152.158

Posted on February 13, 2012 at 07:56:49
K-wey
Audiophile

Posts: 64
Joined: January 5, 2012
As I've noted on the Planar board, I'm getting back into the lower reaches of hi-fi after several decades away. Help me spend my money wisely.

New CD player is needed. Budget $350-400 or so. Am I better off with:

- New CD player with more modern DAC chip, such as NAD or Cambridge Audio?

- Or older higher-end player that now sells used for much less? Better transport, but maybe older & less advanced DAC chip?

Am I viewing this sensibly? I'm still learning this stuff.

Help and advice welcome. Current rig is CD player straight into 400wpc QSC RMX 1450 then to Magnepan 3.6Rs. No pre-amp.


==K

 

Hide full thread outline!
    ...
RE: Better to buy new lower-end, or older higher-end? , posted on February 14, 2012 at 11:47:22
KnobSpinner
Audiophile

Posts: 189
Location: Rural Washington State
Joined: August 13, 2009
I don't think it will make much difference in that price range. So you might as well go new. I have bought lots of used gear over the years and I have found that this makes sense if you can afford to buy what was the cutting edge for it's time. If I was looking for a cd player I would shop for a Meridian, an Audio-Research, a Rega. You might be able to find a Rega in your stated budget.
(Worshiping at the Universal Music Altar)

 

" Am I viewing this sensibly?", posted on February 14, 2012 at 18:19:21
Kal Rubinson
Reviewer

Posts: 9838
Joined: June 5, 2002
No. You cannot make such generalizations.

 

Have you given computer audio any thoughts? nT, posted on February 15, 2012 at 07:41:13
.

 

RE: Better to buy new lower-end, or older higher-end? , posted on February 15, 2012 at 08:28:21
lancelot
Audiophile

Posts: 1487
Joined: March 23, 2001
Contributor
  Since:
April 5, 2002

The one major concern with an older player is the probability that either it can't be repaired if it fails or would be too costly .

My experience with new CD players in your price range ( NAD and Marantz ) is that you need to spend considerably more for any appreciable improvement and that they are excellent value for money.
I especially like the Marantz players.

My other idea is to buy something like a Pioneer Elite CD/SACD player for a little more money. I use mine for SACD which I find a significant improvement-most of the time-over redbook CD.

 

.....great idea.. That $350-400 would be better put toward a DAC. /nt, posted on February 15, 2012 at 10:15:54
bwb
....

 

RE: Better to buy new lower-end, or older higher-end? , posted on February 16, 2012 at 11:59:53
Bromo33333
Audiophile

Posts: 2851
Location: Western NY
Joined: May 4, 2004
Contributor
  Since:
January 9, 2012
It really depends upon the exact new vs the exact used you are considering - there has been a lot of digital advancement in the last few years too, which complicates things.


============================
As audiophiles, we take what's obsolete, make it beautiful, and keep it forever.

Hey! I have a blog now: http://mancave-stereo.blogspot.com or "like" us at https://www.facebook.com/mancave.stereo

 

RE: Better to buy new lower-end, or older higher-end? , posted on February 17, 2012 at 04:57:42
New is definitely better when it comes to digital but the rest is very dependent on the the specific component and the price you can angle it for.

 

Neither, posted on February 17, 2012 at 14:54:37
nickwh
Audiophile

Posts: 492
Location: New Jersey
Joined: January 25, 2003
I had the Cambridge Audio 640C a while back, it was OK but the highs sounded artificial and imaging was flat. I haven't heard a NAD CDP in years so I can't comment. I settled on a CAL Icon MkII from 1999 - 18-bit hand trimmed DAC goodness. I'm keeping it until it fails (as a backup to my music server).

For the most part CD Players are now obsolete. Rip your music to a lossless file format onto a NAS or external hard drive, then get a Squeezebox or a Sonos music server. The built-in DACs sound good enough. If you want to extract more you can always upgrade with an external DAC, tube buffer, linear power supply, etc. Future proof.

If you hate technology and computers, then use a cheap DVD/universal player as a transport with a a new DAC for 2-channel music.

 

If you have a computer you can dedicate to audio, posted on February 18, 2012 at 09:13:09
mr.bear
Audiophile

Posts: 3364
Joined: November 13, 2001
...you might best spend that budget on a contemporary USB DAC, rip your CD's to WAV or losslessly compressed files, and play them back that way. My experience is that you don't want to be using the "stereo" computer for a lot of other chores, just music and it can sound really good- as good as a very decent CD player. It also gives you all the options and modern conveniences of computer audio. If you already have the computer it can be a cost-effective solution. Read the review of the Schiit Bifrost DAC below, it seems like a good one and is in your budget range. Also, bone up on the topic through the "Well Tempered Computer" website and the PC Audio section of AA (but be ready to sort some wheat from some chaff, bro.)

There's no good answer to your OP question- its impossible to generalize that broadly. (For example, I now use a USB to S/PDIF convereter into a vintage Madrigal digital preamp/processor. I like it, but there's better ways if you're starting anew, like you are.) Good luck.


 

RE: .....great idea.. That $350-400 would be better put toward a DAC. /nt, posted on February 20, 2012 at 11:29:51
Bromo33333
Audiophile

Posts: 2851
Location: Western NY
Joined: May 4, 2004
Contributor
  Since:
January 9, 2012
Get a good DAC that does one input really well (USB, SPDIF) and use that with a computer for audio.

I am finding it beats the pants off of older CD equipment. I got one in the ~$500 range (Teac) that is really good, though you do have to mind your cables to avoid harshness in the sound.
============================
As audiophiles, we take what's obsolete, make it beautiful, and keep it forever.

Hey! I have a blog now: http://mancave-stereo.blogspot.com or "like" us at https://www.facebook.com/mancave.stereo

 

RE: Better to buy new lower-end, or older higher-end? , posted on February 20, 2012 at 14:12:40
knewton
Audiophile

Posts: 322
Location: Mid-Atlantic/Northeast
Joined: May 18, 2010
In general, I strongly agree with those who have suggested that you can't boil your question down as simply as you would like to. Almost always, the right advice is to actually audition the specific units which you are considering. However, you are asking about CD players, which physically wear/deteriate more quickly than any other type of audio component I can think of except for tape players. Disc rotations in the hundreds of RPMs, aging lasers, and drawer mechanisms become problematic for long term reliability. For that reason, I suggest that you lean towards a newer CD player over an older one.

Certainly, not all newer players feature quality transport mechanisms. I suggest first looking for a player with a either a Philips CDM-PRO or one of the TEAC drives. I've read good things about the $250 (street price) Tascam CD-200, featuring the audio specific TEAC CD-5020A drive mechanism. I must say that I've not yet auditioned the CD-200.

_
Ken Newton

 

RE: Better to buy new lower-end, or older higher-end? , posted on February 22, 2012 at 14:10:37
K-wey
Audiophile

Posts: 64
Joined: January 5, 2012
Thank you for all of your replies, which I've been reading as they gathered over the past week. This thread is a broad array of opinions and several good new ideas.

- I will likely "go new" based on several comments about the wear and aging of transports and lasers. I appreciate the heads-up on that aspect.

- Thanks also to those who suggested looking into DACs. I'd need a modern CD player to use just as a transport, right? And take the digital signal (via SPDIF optical out) to the DAC, as I understand it? Right now my creaky old 1989-era CD player is so old it does not have an optical or digital out. That's what I need to replace first.

- FLAC lossless files and future-proofing is a good idea. For now I'd like to hear my CDs as-is, but I'll go research the topic some more. That path also leads to a DAC unit, if I understand correctly.

Thanks again. I've had to catch up on lost decades on audio technology, and you guys are good sports about it. And for the guy who wasn't, hey, at least I got dunked on by Kal Rubinson.

=K

 

Update - Better to buy new lower-end, or older higher-end? , posted on March 6, 2012 at 12:07:50
K-wey
Audiophile

Posts: 64
Joined: January 5, 2012
UPDATE - March 5, 2012 -

I ordered a Marantz CD-5004 player from AudioAdvisor and received it in good order. After a week of burn-in and playing, it still was noticeably brighter than my JVC R-5000. Not that the JVC is any reference-quality player, but pianos, guitars, and vocals sounded more natural on the JVC.

I returned the Marantz to AA (they were very polite about it) and will next try out a Cambridge Audio C350 from them. I read on one of these boards that the CA was somewhat darker sounding with the Wolfson chips, and the S3 servo transport is supposed to be pretty good.

My progress as an audio-holic marches onward. Two months ago I had no idea that CD players could possibly sound different - and here I am now getting all picky about their sound. But I know I heard a difference with the Marantz. Thanks, inmates - I'm acquiring your delusions!

=K

 

RE: Better to buy new lower-end, or older higher-end? , posted on March 9, 2012 at 17:49:43
K-wey
Audiophile

Posts: 64
Joined: January 5, 2012
UPDATE - March 9, 2012

I received the Cambridge Audio 350C player, and plugged it in to compare. I knew immediately it was the better choice. There was no high-end edge like I heard with the Marantz, and the pianos, guitars, and voices sounded natural. It's a keeper. On to the next piece of gear!

=K

 

Page processed in 0.031 seconds.