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New CD player or DAC?

chairman bill

Active member
Apr 28, 2021
7
1
25
Hi

I've finally decided I need to do something to improve the sound from my CD player. My current kit (which is quite a few years old now) comprises a Linn LP12 with an Origin Live modded Rega RB250 tone-arm with a Rega Elys cartridge, a Musical Fidelity A3 cd player, Audio Analogue Puccini Settanta amp, running through Castle Severn 2 speakers.

I'm happy with the sound from the LP12 but the A3, whilst nice enough, is run a very distant second by the Linn, which I accept is not very surprising.

So, the question is, do I upgrade to a better CD player, or add a DAC? The subsidiary question is then, which CD player/DAC?

Budget is in the £hundreds rather than £thousands, and I'm probably looking more towards second hand than new kit. I'm unlikely to get into streaming 'cos I'm now officially an old git (60, though I only look 58 and 3/4), but it's a faint possibility.

Thanks in advance for any advice/comments etc.
 

plastic penguin

Well-known member
Apr 28, 2008
1,919
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20,070
Welcome...

I'm not a big fan of Musical Fidelity.

Having demoed many affordable Dacs (Rega, Arcam, Cambridge, Peachtree etc etc...) they added nothing in terms of better sound quality, although there was a slight improvement when connected to the Blu-ray player.

My feeling has been look for a well-sorted CD player, such as Audio Analogue to match your amp or I can highly recommend my Exposure. I purchased mine s/hand for £250, incl. delivery and original box. The sound quality is very cohesive, detailed and well defined. Can't think of a better option for such little money.

The only major benefit of a Dac, based on my experience, is the flexibility if you want to use a laptop, games consul and suchlike.
 
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muljao

Well-known member
Jul 18, 2016
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Imo their is likely a mismatch between cd player and amp in the sense they probably combining to give to much of a good thing. The linn is likely more neutral. You could spend 10grand or 10 pounds on a dac and it may not suit. In your position I think I'd take a chance on something like an Ifi nano i one it may be worth the "risk" at 199 pounds. Ifi have a reputation for good quality audio, it's considered fairly neutral and as a bonus gives you a few other bits.

You'd sell it at minimum loss if it didn't work out
 

chairman bill

Active member
Apr 28, 2021
7
1
25
Welcome...

I'm not a big fan of Musical Fidelity.

Having demoed many affordable Dacs (Rega, Arcam, Cambridge, Peachtree etc etc...) they added nothing in terms of better sound quality, although there was a slight improvement when connected to the Blu-ray player.

My feeling has been look for a well-sorted CD player, such as Audio Analogue to match your amp or I can highly recommend my Exposure. I purchased mine s/hand for £250, incl. delivery and original box. The sound quality is very cohesive, detailed and well defined. Can't think of a better option for such little money.

The only major benefit of a Dac, based on my experience, is the flexibility if you want to use a laptop, games consul and suchlike.
I'm sure your exposure is great :) I might have to look at the possibility of an AA CDP
 

chairman bill

Active member
Apr 28, 2021
7
1
25
Imo their is likely a mismatch between cd player and amp in the sense they probably combining to give to much of a good thing. The linn is likely more neutral. You could spend 10grand or 10 pounds on a dac and it may not suit. In your position I think I'd take a chance on something like an Ifi nano i one it may be worth the "risk" at 199 pounds. Ifi have a reputation for good quality audio, it's considered fairly neutral and as a bonus gives you a few other bits.

You'd sell it at minimum loss if it didn't work out
That's certainly worthme thinking about. Cheers.
 

chairman bill

Active member
Apr 28, 2021
7
1
25
Have you considered the possibility that you much prefer vinyl to CD and no digital source will give you what you're after?
In my current system, that's definitely the case, and might be the case in pretty much any system, but a better sound from CDs is probably still worth persuing ...
 

insider9

Well-known member
Sep 20, 2016
1,018
511
6,070
In my current system, that's definitely the case, and might be the case in pretty much any system, but a better sound from CDs is probably still worth persuing ...
Fair enough. Just thought it could save you a lot of hassle. You have a nicely balanced system and your CD player doesn't seem out of place in it. In isolation it is a solid unit but I appreciate it doesn't do what you want it to. Care to elaborate where it disappoints?
 

insider9

Well-known member
Sep 20, 2016
1,018
511
6,070
Welcome...

I'm not a big fan of Musical Fidelity.

Having demoed many affordable Dacs (Rega, Arcam, Cambridge, Peachtree etc etc...) they added nothing in terms of better sound quality, although there was a slight improvement when connected to the Blu-ray player.

My feeling has been look for a well-sorted CD player, such as Audio Analogue to match your amp or I can highly recommend my Exposure. I purchased mine s/hand for £250, incl. delivery and original box. The sound quality is very cohesive, detailed and well defined. Can't think of a better option for such little money.

The only major benefit of a Dac, based on my experience, is the flexibility if you want to use a laptop, games consul and suchlike.
Hahaha PP! So you like Leema, Exposure and Alfas. If I'm ever stuck on hifi front I'm taking your suggestion blind and I won't even care what colour it is.
 

plastic penguin

Well-known member
Apr 28, 2008
1,919
259
20,070
Hahaha PP! So you like Leema, Exposure and Alfas. If I'm ever stuck on hifi front I'm taking your suggestion blind and I won't even care what colour it is.
Actually there is a weird correlation between Leema and Alfa Romeo. Both are exciting, well equipped... and both don't hold their s/h value.

It's like I've always said NAD amps are the XR3i of the hi-fi world.
 
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muljao

Well-known member
Jul 18, 2016
321
81
4,970
Think @insider9 makes a very good point about vinyl. Are you sure you really want to spend money on a secondary source? It looks like vinyl is the first choice, as with me, hence why I was reluctant to spend too much on a replacement for my old Arcam CD73.
I would think it would be worth a small investment into the secondary source, to see does it then match the vinyl sound quality. I do also think that if anything did the trick it may be a neutral dac. It's a pity there's no way to try one out at the moment
 

chairman bill

Active member
Apr 28, 2021
7
1
25
Fair enough. Just thought it could save you a lot of hassle. You have a nicely balanced system and your CD player doesn't seem out of place in it. In isolation it is a solid unit but I appreciate it doesn't do what you want it to. Care to elaborate where it disappoints?
I have some music in both CD & vinyl formats. If I was to listen only to the CD I'd be happy, but in comparison to the Linn, there's just so much missing in terms of detail, sound & overall musicality. I'm just hoping to capture a little more of that from CDs.
 
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nopiano

Well-known member
Feb 15, 2009
751
464
19,270
I have some music in both CD & vinyl formats. If I was to listen only to the CD I'd be happy, but in comparison to the Linn, there's just so much missing in terms of detail, sound & overall musicality. I'm just hoping to capture a little more of that from CDs.
Have you ever considered ripping your CDs, and playing them with a streamer? Linn’s discontinued Sneaky DS might suit you, if you fancy a toe in the water of streaming. It is 2021 after all! Or buy what everyone else seems to - a Bluesound Node 2i for £499.

Or buy a secondhand DAC, whatever takes your fancy, as they seem easy to resell.
 

rainsoothe

Well-known member
Apr 30, 2012
648
282
19,270
Denafrips Ares 2. Look for reviews about it, they all say it's a very musical and analogue sounding DAC. Should you later decide to get into streaming, you can always look for a budget solution with digital output, and boost the sound of that as well - something like a sh Bluesound Node 2i (which has good software and functionality, but average DAC section, imo) or Google Chromecast Audio or whatever.
 

chairman bill

Active member
Apr 28, 2021
7
1
25
Thanks all for the advice; much appreciated. A DAC seems to be the way forward, so I'll look at a few reviews on the suggestions so far, maybe swap the A3 for the Audiolab 6000CDT.
 

millennia_one

Well-known member
Sep 1, 2014
795
373
11,270
Don’t the new Mf CD players act as DACs as well. M3 cd has digital inputs. Usb and so on. Think it would the smarter money spent and from time to time connect your phone/ computer to.

Just a thought and completely up to you
 

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