AUDIOLAB 8200CDQ - FIRST THOUGHTS AFTER HOME AUDITION

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After long waits for software upgrades or whatever was holding them up, finally got my hands on one for a sale or return home audition. Why and I changing? I start here, because you need to ask yourself the same question. For me I have bought a power amp and needed a pre-amp. And my old CD player needs a new drawer belt. So the CDQ seemed an obvious choice from a limited choice of CD pre-amps. Only one if you want to preserve some analague inputs. THE TEST: Selected some of my most revealing CD Tracks - for soundstage, rythm, etc, ripped them into WAV and created two identical disks. Connected my old Marantz CD63 into one of the CDQ analogue ports and adjusted the input level trim until this gave identical volume levels. The remote for the CDQ and CD63 worked both players, so I could cue tracks at the same time and was able to switch back from one to the other with minimal disruption. Using a Quad 909 power amp, Chord interconnects and Diamond 9.1 speakers (yes I know, I am awaiting PMC TB2i's, but the Diamonds are pretty good) So what did I discover - In short, I could really barely tell any appreciable difference between them. I detected slight differences at times, then listened for that difference, convincing myself I had heard it only to find I was listening to the other one! I was actually never unhappy with the CD63 - it was just I was looking for a pre-amp anyway and would have spent £700 on a NAD, so another £214 to get the CD and a DAC seemed too good to miss. Some future proofing too if I want to go NAS etc later on. In terms of the rest of my ability to hear the differences, the QUAD 909 was a revelation over my Audiolab 8200A in terms of open-ness and clarity of sound. And I have heard huge differences between speakers. I have put lead in my speaker stands and re-made my speaker connections. These have made big improvements, so I am not insensitive to changes in quality. But between these two CD players, I could barely separate them - in fact in a blind test I bet I would not be able to pick one out over the other. Perhaps when I get the PMC TB2i's, more will be revealed. So do have a good listen before you shell out - the 8200CD may have had rave reviews, but IMHO, there are still some older players out there more than up for giving it a run for its money. Not to say its bad - far from it, just don't expect miracles if you already have a well regarded CD player.
 
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Anonymous

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Sorry there are no paragraphs - for some reason I can't input using rich text and the paragraphs I entered get deleted when it posts for some reason.
 

Frank Harvey

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Interesting. Pwiles on here replaced his CD6000KI Signature with the 8200CDQ, and is enjoying a whole new system. Saying that, his speakers are far more revealing. I really don't think the 9.1's are going to show you any worthwhile differences.
 
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Anonymous

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FrankHarveyHiFi said:
Interesting. Pwiles on here replaced his CD6000KI Signature with the 8200CDQ, and is enjoying a whole new system. Saying that, his speakers are far more revealing. I really don't think the 9.1's are going to show you any worthwhile differences.
i agree with david, i think the wharefedale's are a bit on the budget side so the differences would be so small. wait till you get ur pmc speakers then decide.
 
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Anonymous

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I agree with the above. I know we're talking different systems but the difference between the 8200CD and my old Cambridge Audio CD4 played through my old Wharfedale Valdus 400 floorstanders was minimal, but through my new, much more revealing Epos Epic 2, the difference is huge. It deserves good speakers.
 
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Anonymous

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You may well be right about hearing the difference with better speakers. Although after a prolonged listen only to the CDQ last night, the CDQ did sound better in a way I could not put my finger on just switching back and forth.

I think its an interesting point though - with the amplifier, the difference between a Quad 909 and Audiolab 8200A (80's) was huge. And I have had great improvement from loading the stands with lead shot, making better speaker connections and the like - all audible through these budget speakers.

The differences between decent players appears to be far less than it is for other elements. One hifi speclialist did say as much about my CD63 - even in non sig/KI guise he said it was still perfectly acceptable in a mid-range system.
 

Esra

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Feb 20, 2011
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I guess you´ll need better/more revealing speakers.I have a pair of MA BX2 and RX6 to compare and also couldnt notice big difference with the BX2 using 8200A and 8200CD over my Yamaha RXV2700 in Stereo feeded from a PS3.The difference showed up using the RX6 and for me it was much better in comparison i kept the audiolabs.I guess the potential of better electronics( the audiolabs) would even better come through the better the speakers are.
 

pwiles1968

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FrankHarveyHiFi said:
Interesting. Pwiles on here replaced his CD6000KI Signature with the 8200CDQ, and is enjoying a whole new system. Saying that, his speakers are far more revealing.
I felt my ears burning :)

David's statement is correct although I switched to streaming my audio last year so have hardly used the KI of late, I was initially in the Market for a DAC & integrated as I felt it was past time to go for a pure stereo system, I have an AV system up to this point which while it sounded good in stereo was not a patch on my new setup. last year I demoed the CD and the 8200 integrated against the Cyrus and Roksan, I ended up preceding the Audiolab sound Roksan was close run and I found the Cyrus too forward for my tastes.

After a lot of thought and quite some wait I did a home demo of the CDQ with my Marantz 6100 mono blocks and was really pleased with the sound, so much so I really dod not like the AV sound when I had to go back to it, Although I had no real need for the CD player I decided I could not wait for the DQ (DAC and Pre Amp) and ordered a Silver CDQ from Dave, while I was waiting for that I also managed to pick up a used Bel Canto EvoII, which with the CDQ has taken my system to a whole new level it is stunningly detailed the range is great the Bass is controlled and deeper that I thought I would get from my speakers B&W 805s.

I am really happy with the CDQ, it can be pared with speakers and power amplifiers well above it's price band without disgracing itself, it is also really flexible, CD player DAC are good the Pre is great.

If anyone goes to listen to one make sure it is well run in they sound quite coarse ut of the box, just leaving them switched on for a couple of days will transform the sound.
 
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Anonymous

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I now have the PMC's hooked up, and yes I can indeed now hear a clear difference (sic) between the CD63 and CDQ. The CDQ is much less murky in the mid-range; and that's not to say the CD63 ever sounded murky until I was given a comparison. It has a lovelly clarity which is hard to put into words. You could say the difference was small, but some mught argue its huge - its quite easy to hear with the PMC's once you tune in to it.

And the PMC's are not even fully run in yet - just half the time that PMC recommend, so I may hear even greater differences once that is done.

I never called doubt on the CDQ's quality, just how far ahead it really is. Although my recent experience tells me that really you should be looking to spend at least twice on speakers you do on the CD player. Speakers are the hardest components to get right. So speakers listed at 25% of the CDQ were probably always going to limit things!

Something no one ever mentions on the forum, I guess because it would be rude to mention of others, is that of course not everyone has the same quality of hearing. And I don't mean deafness, although as we age our ears do degrade too - another factor. Some people can sing, others can't, but know they can't; yet others are tone deaf and think they can sing when they can't. So where I hear a small improvement, others may hear a bigger one and yet others might indeed be more than happy with my old CD63, or even something a lot less able than that.

I am very pleased with my new CDQ/909/TB2i-Sig new set-up and expect to disappear below the forum radar for another 20 years, at least if this all lasts as long as my previous gear did.

I thank you all for the comments and hope along the way I have added some benefit to anyone new trying to get through the mine field of fact mixed among fiction written about HiFi. Above all believe your own ears - they are the ones that will be listening when you get it all home. If you can get a specialist to offer you a home demo, do it, its the only way you'll really know, but please do then be honourable and buy from him rather than take the cheapest internet deal or he won't be there next time you need him.

Final point: What HiFi are not always right - some 5* speakers for example I really did not like.
 

Frank Harvey

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Jun 27, 2008
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It's all personal preference - there's no single solution out there for everyone unfortunately, regardless of what anyone says.

You have a good set up there, I'm sure you'll enjoy it for a long long time, or at least until the upgrade bug bites :D
 

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