CD player upgrade or DAC upgrade?

6and8

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Jan 20, 2014
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I've upgraded the vinyl end of my system as far as I want to for now. Now I'm turning my attention to the CD player - an Audiolab 8200CD bought some years ago. Not only does it still sound good, I use the DAC when I want to stream Spotify from my MacBook Pro. But if I wanted to upgrade to achieve an even better sound (subjective I know), what brands / players should I consider? Or would you keep the Audiolab, use it as a CD transport and upgrade the DAC?
 

6and8

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Thx. Would something like the Chord Qutest be a significant upgrade on the Audiolab DAC? And is it easy to bypass?
 

Friesiansam

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Thx. Would something like the Chord Qutest be a significant upgrade on the Audiolab DAC? And is it easy to bypass?
I would expect the Qutest to be a substantial upgrade. If you buy, make sure it is from somewhere that won't be a problem to return. From what I have read the Qutest is very good but, Chord's sound is not for everyone.
 
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6and8

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Jan 20, 2014
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I would expect the Qutest to be a substantial upgrade. If you buy, make sure it is from somewhere that won't be a problem to return. From what I have read the Qutest is very good but, Chord's sound is not for everyone.
Thanks for that. My nearest AudioT says I can borrow one to try out in my set up at home. If the Qutest doesn't turn out to be what Im looking for, what else should I consider?
 
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I’d say drop Mac and get a proper streamer. Like a blue sound, yes the dac will and should be better but I think the Mac is the week link. Heck my iPhone sounds better then my Mac did and it wasn’t a small difference either.

As im an Apple Music listener im waiting to see what streamers are going to support it.

As if you can borrow a blue sound as well.

But it really depends on how you digest your media the most the qutest is quite the investment. But is very very good. I have sitting on the shelf.
 

6and8

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Jan 20, 2014
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I’d say drop Mac and get a proper streamer. Like a blue sound, yes the dac will and should be better but I think the Mac is the week link. Heck my iPhone sounds better then my Mac did and it wasn’t a small difference either.

As im an Apple Music listener im waiting to see what streamers are going to support it.

As if you can borrow a blue sound as well.

But it really depends on how you digest your media the most the qutest is quite the investment. But is very very good. I have sitting on the shelf.
Thx but maybe I didn't make it clear that the main reason for the upgrade was to improve on the Audiolab 8200CD player when I'm listening to CDs. I don't really spend much time streaming music, although the Audiolab DAC makes it possible. I have a large collection of CDs I want get more from. So my question was, (or should have been), in order to get a better sound when listening to CDs do I upgrade the CD player or buy a better DAC and use the Audiolab as a CD transport?.
 
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Thx but maybe I didn't make it clear that the main reason for the upgrade was to improve on the Audiolab 8200CD player when I'm listening to CDs. I don't really spend much time streaming music, although the Audiolab DAC makes it possible. I have a large collection of CDs I want get more from. So my question was, (or should have been), in order to get a better sound when listening to CDs do I upgrade the CD player or buy a better DAC and use the Audiolab as a CD transport?.
In that case

CD player.

As the the dacs and components in the the CD player are built from the ground up to be used together. Tuning out any deficiencies that the dac may have within the player.

Unless the transport is designed specifically for use with an outboard dac there’s hardly any benefit in my experience.

For example I have my nad c540 going straight into my sugden, tried it into the qutest and it robbed it of all its drive and sole. Sure it was more precise and everything eles that goes with a more modern dac but It just lost something and I wasn’t a small difference either.

Having said that audio lab do make a transport so it might be a case of replacing both.

See what happens when you borrow the dac your experience will be completely different I’m sure.
 

6and8

Well-known member
Jan 20, 2014
87
9
18,545
In that case

CD player.

As the the dacs and components in the the CD player are built from the ground up to be used together. Tuning out any deficiencies that the dac may have within the player.

Unless the transport is designed specifically for use with an outboard dac there’s hardly any benefit in my experience.

For example I have my nad c540 going straight into my sugden, tried it into the qutest and it robbed it of all its drive and sole. Sure it was more precise and everything eles that goes with a more modern dac but It just lost something and I wasn’t a small difference either.

Having said that audio lab do make a transport so it might be a case of replacing both.

See what happens when you borrow the dac your experience will be completely different I’m sure.
Thx Millennia, really helpful advice. The search continues!
 

6and8

Well-known member
Jan 20, 2014
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At a UK RRP of £800 Denafrips Ares II discrete resistor ladder R-2R DAC is also worth a look. Like other Denafrips DAC's the Ares II has a very natural and effortless analogue like quality which is very reminiscent of R2R tape decks and T/T's.
Thx for that, wasn't aware of the brand. I shall be in Derby for a family wedding next month, staying a few days, if I get a chance I'll drop by.
 

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