Question CD player DAC upgrade – retaining character

TenTonTarantula

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Aug 17, 2021
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I've inherited a Marantz CD-63 MkII KI Signature, which I've paired with a Rotel A11 Tribute (for various reasons other than the KI connection, though that did seal the deal).

The Rotel doesn't have a DAC, however, so I've bought a Schitt Modi 3 so I can plug in a streamer.

My question is twofold:

A: while the Marantz is still a very capable CD player, will the more modern DAC in the Schitt likely offer significant improvements (I'm presuming that DAC technology has moved on a lot further than the analogue componentry at the heart of the Marantz) and therefore I should just use it as a CD transport?

B: the Marantz's cult following is down to its KI-inspired audio signature, so how much of that will I lose in circumnavigating the inbuilt DAC? I know KI was mainly upgrading the transistors etc. rather than the digital outputs when tweaking, but presumably anything he did would have been in synergy with the pre-existing DAC.

As ever, can just compare the different outputs and see what I prefer, but thought was worth the discussion.
 

12th Monkey

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Aug 31, 2015
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I think your last sentence is the important one - all that matters is what you prefer. How good a DAC is in terms of technical proficiency doesn't necessarily translate into a sound you'll prefer. Some are after refinement, some the hard-to-define musicality etc etc. Go with your ears.
 
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nopiano

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Feb 15, 2009
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My entirely arbitrary opinion on the KI influence is that it seemed to impart a slightly richer and smoother sound, without losing clarity. I’m sure you’ll hear a difference though I’ve no idea what another DAC will sound like.
 
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Gray

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I've tried the same, modern, sub-£100 DAC on a (23 year old) Philips CDR870 and a (19 year old) Marantz CD6000KI.
No surprise that it changed the sound of both, especially the Philips.

I'm sure you'll hear a change. Whether or not you like it......
 
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plastic penguin

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Apr 28, 2008
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I can only give an opinion on what I've heard (or haven't). I've demoed a number of budget Dacs over the years, using the CDP as transport. Either I've heard no or little difference than a standalone CDP. I think to hear a significant difference you need to spend around the grand mark.

As some of the older posters on here may remember years ago I owned the original DacMagic... it was a short lived thing. Also had on demo Arcam rDac, Rega and more recently Peachtree iDac. They made a slight difference when plugged in the DVD or Bluray, but audio playback there was hardly any difference.

As I see it, the only real benefit of a budget Dac is the extra flexibility, if you have more than one digital device.

This is just my humble opinion.
 

skinnypuppy71

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Aug 10, 2021
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Njc audio's reference dac is fantastic bang for buck. Is easily on par with the dac in my Naim Superuniti....no in fact better....you just can't demo it and take a punt, which I did with both their dac and headphone amplifier....both superb units.
 
I can only give an opinion on what I've heard (or haven't). I've demoed a number of budget Dacs over the years, using the CDP as transport. Either I've heard no or little difference than a standalone CDP. I think to hear a significant difference you need to spend around the grand mark.

As some of the older posters on here may remember years ago I owned the original DacMagic... it was a short lived thing. Also had on demo Arcam rDac, Rega and more recently Peachtree iDac. They made a slight difference when plugged in the DVD or Bluray, but audio playback there was hardly any difference.

As I see it, the only real benefit of a budget Dac is the extra flexibility, if you have more than one digital device.

This is just my humble opinion.
I would agree and to the OP I think option B would be my thinking, the unit was designed around the dac it has for a reason.
 
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nads

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Nov 29, 2007
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I can only give an opinion on what I've heard (or haven't). I've demoed a number of budget Dacs over the years, using the CDP as transport. Either I've heard no or little difference than a standalone CDP. I think to hear a significant difference you need to spend around the grand mark.

As some of the older posters on here may remember years ago I owned the original DacMagic... it was a short lived thing. Also had on demo Arcam rDac, Rega and more recently Peachtree iDac. They made a slight difference when plugged in the DVD or Bluray, but audio playback there was hardly any difference.

As I see it, the only real benefit of a budget Dac is the extra flexibility, if you have more than one digital device.

This is just my humble opinion.
Ah yes the original DAC Magic. Can’t say it improved much when I had one. Sold it and did not see the need to replace it.
 

plastic penguin

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Ah yes the original DAC Magic. Can’t say it improved much when I had one. Sold it and did not see the need to replace it.
Indeed. Think well sorted CD players, regardless of cost tend to have really good built-in Dacs, and unless you have several digital machines I can't personally see the advantage of buying a price-minded Dac.

I was never a fan of any early Cambridge stuff and I think the DacMagic bolstered that reasoning.
 

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