What CDP or DAC cured your itch to keep looking?

I live with a decent collection of CDs, and enjoy the physical aspect and mechanics of playing CDs- I still remember the first CD player and rapid spinning CD I saw as a pre-teen already fascinated by music and music playback. It was at a neat little store chain in the northeast of USA called Tweeter, Etc. I was amazed at this high tech device, and fixated on this new technology.

Now, there’s really something special to analog playback and vinyl records, but I don’t discount the little silver discs and the joys they ushered into my life.

I’m glad to have modern options too- streaming services and downloading high-resolution files, but I haven’t embraced them like I have the physical media formats. So, I still dig a nice CD player and DAC.

Curious as to what CDP or DAC allowed you to sit back and enjoy your music on compact disc, and feel free to include your thoughts on music servers and downloads too if you’re inclined.

I recall listening to a Bel Canto DAC a few years back and being VERY impressed. I don’t recall the name/model but it was maybe around $1500, plus another $900-$1000 for the upgraded power supply. Really excellent performance. However, my dealer had been sending back just enough Bel Canto product for repair for various issues that had me weary.

I ended up finding great performance in the slightly cheaper Teac HD-501, and the Rega DAC-R, and both being trade-ins, at great savings. Both came with stellar reviews from the press. Of course when the next latest and greatest came out, some of the magazines discounted these prior models as has-beens, but to me they still sound fantastic, allowing me to enjoy my CD collection with beautiful reproduction.

The diminutive Teac PD-H600 CD player is another great sounding unit- more in line with TEAC’s Esoteric line in sound. No need for an add-on DAC.

The Rega Apollo-R is another great stand-alone unit, performance close to the R DAC.

I have an older Rotel 1072 as well. Very quiet background (exceptional, really) when used as a stand alone device, and pretty good sound, but I run it through either the TEAC or Rega DAC, and it’s a nice and noticeable improvement

Lastly, one dinosaur remains here- the surprisingly competitive Enlightened Audio Designs DSP-1000 series II/III, although it’s been idle for years.

In the grand scheme of things these are likely considered budget or mid level product, but dollar to performance is excellent and while there’s always better, and more performance, these units are the perfect tools for me to achieve excellent sound performance.
 
I did a DAC off last year... posted a thread on the board here somewhere...

Basically in the end my Audio Mirror Tubadour SE stopped me from looking further. it has every input including i2s and both RCA and XLR out. R2R and full tube output, not buffer. this was all DACs under $2500, never bought or tested over that price point
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
I really like my Topping D70 DAC, but everybody’s itch is different. My EMM Labs CD Player is the last CD player I ever want to own, but I actually listen through the Topping more. I even rip CDs to the server to listen to them through the Topping rather than the CD player as I find the CD player to sometimes present pop music with too revealing a light. It’s fantastic for SACD, though.
 
I did a DAC off last year... posted a thread on the board here somewhere...

Basically in the end my Audio Mirror Tubadour SE stopped me from looking further. it has every input including i2s and both RCA and XLR out. R2R and full tube output, not buffer. this was all DACs under $2500, never bought or tested over that price point
Oh- I bet that sounds great. I could see upgrading to a tube DAC if I had some extra cash- I’m sure a quality unit could add a bit of “panache” to the system.

I’m still satisfied with what I have but yes, that would be nice.
 
I really like my Topping D70 DAC, but everybody’s itch is different. My EMM Labs CD Player is the last CD player I ever want to own, but I actually listen through the Topping more. I even rip CDs to the server to listen to them through the Topping rather than the CD player as I find the CD player to sometimes present pop music with too revealing a light. It’s fantastic for SACD, though.
I am surprised the Topping is performing that admirably, to be honest- that’s quite amazing.

That EMM Labs is a nice unit.
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
I am surprised the Topping is performing that admirably, to be honest- that’s quite amazing.

That EMM Labs is a nice unit.
It just clicks all the right buttons for me. I’m sure there are better sounding DACs but this one really has that Goldilocks thing for my tastes…. and in my system, which has enough warmth to make up for anything the topping lacks. Others might not love it as much, can’t say. What I like is how it holds everything together instead of ripping them apart into individual audiophile sounds.
 

S0und Dragon

Moderator and Circus Hand.
Staff member
The CD player and DAC combo that truly ended my hunt for another player is Marantz CD 94 and Japanese domestic CDA-94 DAC. There is a purity of sound to this combination that just blows me away. Non of the filtering and sampling. Just purity of the recording as it was recorded. It is single beam though.

I also have a Partsconnexion modded Onkyo DX-G10. It was further modded with Sparkos labs op amps and boy does this player put a smile on my face. It allowed me to sell the mighty TOTL Marantz SA-10, which I adore and think highly of. The Onkyo however was its equal on Redbook playback. The well executed mods of course play a major factor in that. While not as pure in presenting the recording as the Marantz CD-94, it is not single beam and can handle complex produced CDs like XRCDs which the Marantz simply was not designed to handle.

lastly, there is my Modwright modded Sony SCD-XA5400es. An absolute master class in what thoughtful modding can do to an already well performing player. I had begged Dan to do the signature truth modification to my SA-10. But alas he refused. The Sony definitely has a sound. It definitely tastefully enhances and polishes the recording. The Tubes add flavor to the mix as well. It is however a very very good sound and I preferred it to both the DCS and EMM Labs players that I have spent time listening to. It is very pleasing to the ear and can be played for hours without fatigue.

With these three, I am pretty much sated. All can be swapped in for one another for Redbook and I think they all bring something to the table. The Sony however plays SACD and so has a leg up in that regard. There is not much else that I pine for anymore. Anyone of these players could easily be my only one. Thank goodness I don’t have to choose.
 
Love my Lampizator Big 7. Holographic sound and I love tube rolling DHT’s and rectifiers. I’ve been rolling some inexpensive antique triodes like the 01a and 112a and they sound so rich and full for a fraction of the Leicestershire of a 300b tube. Also love my Lumin X1 as a streamer and also as a DAC. Going direct from the balanced outputs of the X1 into a power amp and using the Lumin’s Leedh volume processing which comes with all Lumins brings out the purity and crystalline highs in the music I enjoy so much. I am trying out a Purifi amp I just received and going from the Lumin directly into this modestly price yet powerful and superlative power amp is a real treat. Makes me wonder why I have expensive preamps and power amps! Mies maybe had it right when he said less is more.
 

marantzfan

Administrator
Staff member
The Musical Paradise MP-D2 has had me out of the DAC market for about 6 years now. Mind you I have the original version 1; I haven’t even heard the latest abs greatest iteration.

Also, sheepishly admitting that it still has the stock obligatto gold caps. Never even got around to making that most simple of upgrades.
 

JoeThePop

Known member
I still have CDs and play them almost every day. I remember the first time I saw a CD player in a store and couldn't wait for the players to become more affordable so I could ditch my scratched and dirty LPs and move to that magical silver disc. I'll probably never get back into vinyl, even though I'm intrigued, because of the cost and the care required for LPs. I've been picking up used CDs, many for $2 or $3. It's a great time to be a CD lover.

Early this year I bought a pair of SVS Prime Wireless speakers for my desktop. I have been working from home for the last 16 months and I needed something so I could enjoy music while working. I typically stream from Spotify or the Musical Paradise internet radio station (main mix), but at least every other day or so I will slip a CD in the Denon DVD-910 now residing on my desk (eBay $25). I feed the optical output from the Denon to the optical input of my speaker, so I really don't know anything about the DAC. But it sounds good to my ears. Granted my ears don't have much experience with high-end gear, but I'm satisfied.

One CD player I have looked at that would be a better fit for my desktop is the TEAC PD-301-X. It also has an optical output, as well as an FM tuner and a USB port for a flash drive. Unfortunately it doesn't support FLAC files but does support WAV files. When budget permits.


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Thermionics

Post Whore In Training
If I'm feeling like a more modern DAC, I can always pipe the Magnavox through a Auralic Vega (mostly providing DSD support for Raspberry Pi streaming via USB), although I haven't had much urge to do so.
 

Thermionics

Post Whore In Training
I still have CDs and play them almost every day. I remember the first time I saw a CD player in a store and couldn't wait for the players to become more affordable so I could ditch my scratched and dirty LPs and move to that magical silver disc. I'll probably never get back into vinyl, even though I'm intrigued, because of the cost and the care required for LPs. I've been picking up used CDs, many for $2 or $3. It's a great time to be a CD lover.

Early this year I bought a pair of SVS Prime Wireless speakers for my desktop. I have been working from home for the last 16 months and I needed something so I could enjoy music while working. I typically stream from Spotify or the Musical Paradise internet radio station (main mix), but at least every other day or so I will slip a CD in the Denon DVD-910 now residing on my desk (eBay $25). I feed the optical output from the Denon to the optical input of my speaker, so I really don't know anything about the DAC. But it sounds good to my ears. Granted my ears don't have much experience with high-end gear, but I'm satisfied.

One CD player I have looked at that would be a better fit for my desktop is the TEAC PD-301-X. It also has an optical output, as well as an FM tuner and a USB port for a flash drive. Unfortunately it doesn't support FLAC files but does support WAV files. When budget permits.


View attachment 38382
Ooh! Supports Windows Media - that's some XP-era goodness (basically means it just groks WMA format). :)
 

fiddlefye

Senior Member
While I think I have a ways to go with the transport/CDP in the main system I'm way more than happy with the Denon DCD-3300 in the loft set-up with the Accuphase E-202 etc. I read all sorts of negative comments about the 3300 online, but with the mods mine has seen (including some nice Blackgates) it is about as "analogue" as sound as I've heard from digital. May it last forever - I've got the spare laser to help it do so...
 

Thermionics

Post Whore In Training
Oh yeah - I almost forgot - I have a Pioneer Elite DV-59AVi for the handful (I think it is all of 4?) of SACDs I own and a GDA-600 if I'm ever tempted to do a TDA1541 v. PCM63 cage match. I think I picked up both of them for under $120.
 

240sx4u

Technically It's LexusGuy
I bought a nicer DAC, and apothy is mainly what keeps me from hunting for something better. It's an improvement and sounds better and for some reason I am fine with that. I have been considering another CD player but I am just not sure I will use it.
 
I hunted down the matching DAC for my Mac preamp (C1000 and MDA 1000) and could not be happier. It's a TOTL effort from yesteryear that still sounds great to me. I didn't need DSD capability for this as I have been way more than content with Qobuz 24/96 streaming.

I was actually very happy with the Triode tube DAC I had before this, but I couldn't pass up the deal I found on the McDAC. Luckily the Triode stayed 'in the family' so to speak. It's over at Taylor's place and I get to hear it through the big JBLs often.
 

ArtK

Junior Member
I’ve owned most of the decks in the OP, plus quite a few more. My last stand alone player was the Line Magnetic LM515CD. After owning a ton of players, even some really good ones like a Naim CD5x and Rega Saturn, I really thought this going to be it. Sounded great and built like a brick xxxxhouse. So I thought. I started having issues with it. I sent it in for repair and all was well…while it was out I needed something to listen to and had just read a review of the Border Patrol DAC SE. I bought the BP and the well received Audiolab 6000CDT…one listen and it was game over. When I received the LM back it was clear the BP/Audiolab combo sounded a lot better. That’s where I stand today. Happily listening to my CD’s! For streaming my wife bought me a Bluesound Node and I feel no need to upgrade it with a separate DAC…I’m happy in digiland.
 
I’ve owned most of the decks in the OP, plus quite a few more. My last stand alone player was the Line Magnetic LM515CD. After owning a ton of players, even some really good ones like a Naim CD5x and Rega Saturn, I really thought this going to be it. Sounded great and built like a brick xxxxhouse. So I thought. I started having issues with it. I sent it in for repair and all was well…while it was out I needed something to listen to and had just read a review of the Border Patrol DAC SE. I bought the BP and the well received Audiolab 6000CDT…one listen and it was game over. When I received the LM back it was clear the BP/Audiolab combo sounded a lot better. That’s where I stand today. Happily listening to my CD’s! For streaming my wife bought me a Bluesound Node and I feel no need to upgrade it with a separate DAC…I’m happy in digiland.
That Border Patrol DAC looks interesting- thank you for sharing!
 
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