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Old 6th August 2003, 06:23 PM   #1
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Default Recommendations for decent and inexpensive CD player

Hi,

I know this has been covered in the past, but what the heck My CD player is dying a slow and painful death. And for the record, that has nothing to do with the mods I performed on it, the player's worked fine for a year since I touched it last. (Just thought I'd state that, since everyone including my wife is teasing me about that )

So, I'm looking for recommendations for a CD player. Requirements are:

* $300 - $400 used
* Has a digital output (so I can build a DAC down the line)
* Sounds reasonably musical out of the box
* Is a good platform for modding

I searched through the archives, and the Marantz 53/63 series seem to be very popular mod platforms, but someone said they don't sound so good in stock form. I've seen a NAD recommended (C540? C540i?) that's said to be good in stock form and easy to upgrade. I was looking around on Audiogon last night and saw some CAL Icons, I think, in my price range. And there are a few Sonys and Pioneers and others that I don't know anything about, they may have very good transports for all I know.

I'd appreciate some more names that I can go off and research.

Thanks,
Saurav
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Old 7th August 2003, 12:59 AM   #2
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Default CD player Recommendation

My Recommendation, for $275 or less:

NEC 6XE SCSI CDROM external drive and the Assemblage
DAC 2.0 with parts upgrade package.

The NEC drive is a very high build quality unit ($600!) out of the
mid 90s with full playback controls, and a growing reputation
for excellent sonics. They are often available on E-bay for
$ 10 to 25 dollars, and even sometimes new for $50 to 60.
Read the review at this address for the NEC drive:

www.positive-feedback.com/Issue3/cdrom.htm

The Assemblage DAC 2.0 is a unit that uses the Crystal CS8412,
PMD100 HDCD filter, and Burr Brown PMC1702 current output
20 bit mono DAC chips. The parts upgrade has an I/V using
AD811 and many resistor/capacitor/wire/jack upgrades. This DAC is periodically seen for sale on E-bay and Audiogon for $ 225 to
$250.

The combination, with a 48 hour warm-up, produces a very fine
sound quality with lively dynamics, great pacing, very high res-
olution, and a large airy soundstage with depth and transparancy.
The sound overall is quite good with well recorded CD music. This
combo does not smooth out bad or average CD sound , so it is not for a person who needs there entire music collection to be easy to listen to (make bad/mediocre digital recording sound good), or someone who has a bright, forward system. But if
you have a fairly neutral to slightly warm system, and listen
to high quality CD recordings, this pair will shine.

I have not heard anything better for under $275, and there are
still many mods that could be done to either component to further
improve the sonics.

fastcat
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Old 7th August 2003, 03:56 AM   #3
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Thanks, that's an option that I hadn't considered. I wouldn't call my system warm, but I like it the way it is, and don't want an overly warm sounding CD player, so this should work well. The lack of a remote is a bit of a drawback, but very small (since my linestage is a DIY with no remote).

Edit: Will I have to give up direct track access? That would be a slightly bigger deal for me...
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Old 8th August 2003, 12:59 AM   #4
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Default NEC 6XE drive controls

Hello!

The NEC has forward and backward track access, as well as
play, pause, stop and repeat. The guy who wrote the article
for Positive Feedback told me in an E-mail that the NEC holds
up well compared to transports costing up to $3K. If you go
this route, buy several of the drives to have a backup.

Some people have modified the 6XE with high performance
+5 and +12 VDC analog power supplies, better digital output circuit & jack, clock damping, etc. They report still better sonics with the mods installed.

fastcat
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Old 8th August 2003, 08:18 AM   #5
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Thanks. As long as I can fast-forward to the track I want to listen to, that's all I need.
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Old 14th August 2003, 03:13 PM   #6
SimontY is offline SimontY  United Kingdom
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Hi,

Was it me who said the Marantz players are crap in stock form?

I have to chip in and say my modded 63ki is absolutely beautiful sounding, and it gets better every week as I perform more tweaks...

Apparently, the 'se', not 'ki' are smooth and listenable, perhaps unlike I found my ki version to be, so please don't be put off, if you see a good enough price. I bet you can get a 67mk2se for $150 if you hunt/wait - a mate bought one from Ebay-UK for 90 - bargain!!

Immediately remove the dc blocking caps and muting transistors, for a large free upgrade!

With the remaining budget add some bitumen damping, conical feet, proper power lead and input cap, some Schottky diodes, and maybe change the analogue/output filter caps. All this is probably well <$100 total and will transform the player into a proper musical one.

Still under budget you could fit a low-jitter clock and its own psu.

I have done all these and more, and I reckon its as good as 1000+ With new op-amps, [I don't know exactly what to buy yet], I'm confident the player could only be bettered by a VERY expensive player.

Just an alternative to your first alternative


-Simon
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Old 15th August 2003, 06:56 AM   #7
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Thanks for the advice. I don't remember whose post I saw that comment in I liked the idea of getting a CD-ROM drive and building a DAC, so I bid on a 6XE on eBay. Let's see what happens. If I don't win it, I might change my mind again and return to looking at CD players.
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Old 15th August 2003, 07:17 AM   #8
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I'm very happy with the Technics SL-PG100 i brought ($150arg used, from a friend). This is a very well built unit, doesn't skip at ALL and on top of it, it sounds pretty darn good as it is. Plus, there's a lot of room for tweaks / improvements - i already converted it to 220vac and right now i'm contemplating a caps and opamp change. The main pcb board is the same for all the "PG" line (this is the cheaper model) so the wiring for digital out and such are there, only the parts are missing, so that's something i'm definitely going to do too.
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Old 15th August 2003, 08:32 AM   #9
Zombie is offline Zombie  Sweden
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Default CD63mkII KIS

Hello!
I would like to recommend the Marantz CD63 KIS, no need to look further. :-)
It meets all your requirements. Have one myslef and it sounds really good and you can make it sound even better by modding.
There's a wealth of info here and elsewhere on how to mod your CD63.
Think you'd easily can pick one up for less than $300.
Cheers,
Tom
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Old 15th August 2003, 09:57 AM   #10
SimontY is offline SimontY  United Kingdom
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Indeed, so many of them going 2nd hand, and so good for modding! Mine cost me 180 ($290 current xchange rate), but you could get one for less if you're lucky.

This really is the 'soft option' though, making one from *scratch* is more like real DIY, and may be more satisfying to do...

Zombie, have you changed the op-amps in your cd63? I want to know what to get, the suggestions I've had so far I don't know where to buy


-Simon
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