Cambridge Audio D500SE CD player

First off, Trelja, is yours sounding any better after another 24 hours or so?? Any one else have one, how would it compare to the new Rega Planet 2000. Thanks.
Hello Mike. I will post a bit more on this player in the future. Yes, the sound has improved. But, still not to the point where I could be considered happy. Or that it is very much better than my old Pioneer. A bit off putting, considering all the rave reviews this player garnishes. In my opinion, it is equal to or better than the previous generation Rega Planet. My dealer prefers it to the Rega Planet 2000(which he also sells - but I did not audition). That factors in sound, build quality(which he finds the Planet 2000 poor), ergonomics, and price. And at least as good as everything I have heard from the Planet's price point downward. The reason I have not upgraded before is that no player seemed to improve the sound of my system enough to justify its cost. But, my old player was starting to act wacky, so I decided to make my move(I waited for 3 years). Currently, I have been running the player on repeat(with a different CD every day - different types of music) since midday Monday. I will continue to do so until this coming Sunday or Monday. Then, I feel I will be better able to discuss the sound quality. I would like to comment on the areas I usually see the product being trashed in. That would be the build quality, fascia, controls, jog shuttle, display, and remote. In short, the ergonomics. I have been very pleasantly surprised by these areas. Unexpected, especially in light of all I have read. Build quality seems fine. I know a lot of mass - fi players that have been rolling on for 10 - 15 years, with no problems. This player seems as well built, if not better as those products. The fascia is plastic. That is a fact. It's a $450 player, and most everything in this world is built to a price. They chose to cut corners on the outside, rather than the internals(which supposedly compares to players even 3X its price). Smart move in my book. An audiophile would favor that tradeoff. I know I do. I am interested buying a player for its sound; I don't need a piece of audio jewelry. The controls are fine. At least as good as anything else I have used. I LOVE the jog shuttle. It is simple(also quite handy and effective) to work, despite what I have read. I shivver to think I am sharing the highways of this country with people who do not feel comfortable with this control. I would hate to see them operate a motor vehicle if they cannot twist a knob one way or another. While I cannot say the display is as bright as a beacon, I have no trouble reading it. There is no time remaining feature on the display. I cannot defend that. But, I am sure they are not the only ones who have left this off. There is no keypad on the player itself. So you cannot program the player by using the front panel. That is not uncommon(maybe even dominant) in the high end. You can, however do all of that and more on the remote control. I find the remote as good as anything else I have been around. The remote has always been trashed. This remote is wonderful, in my opinion. Perhaps they have upgraded it from previous models. And you can open/close the transport from the remote now. To sum it up, I find the ergonomics of the player to be very good indeed. I will try to purchase a SACD this weekend to address the issue of playback of that format. Although my dealer was steadfast in his assertion it will, I do not believe it. If it did, it would be marketed that way. And maybe they would charge a lot more for this machine. I just hope the player becomes worth the price of upgrade to me. As of yet, I would have to recommend waiting until universal players become available.
Trelja, when you get the SACD make sure it's not a hybrid disc, or else your player will play the CD layer and not the SACD layer. If you want, contact me and I can send you the Sony sampler, which I got with my SACD player and I think is only a single layer SACD (as are all of the Sony discs)--that would save you some money if your unit won't play it.
I will e-mail you Rcprince. Thanks for the heads up. I know that a good amount of the SACD are hybrids, so they will be backward compatible. Read it in the initial Sony ad for SACD. It seemed like they want it that way.
Trelja: What do you have the player resting on and are you using the stock cord? I have found that both of these issues can increase the sound quality of digital greatly. The few players that I have home demoed with my HT cord and Vibrapod platform sounded much better in my system than at the shop without these little extras (even with the room(s) aside, I think).
Actually, Sony's discs are ALL single layer discs(!!). Their idea of backward compatibility is that the SACD player will play both CDs and SACDs. I question their judgment, given that virtually all, if not all, of the other SACD releases are hybrid discs. But then, I don't have a balance sheet that can match theirs, so what do I know....
Dekay, thanks for your advice. The player is sitting on a 2 1/2"(I think, or more) maple butcher block, which Brulee sent to me last week. To say it is stable would be an understatement. I may use some more things in concert with this(I have been told Redkiwi is an expert in this area). Such as another layer of material, or some type of different feet(polymer or metal cones), etc. I haven't even taken the stock cord out of its plastic bag. The power cord I am using is a 13 awg silver model from Delta. It consists of three sets of three wires(hot, neutral, ground). Each of the 9 wires is teflon insulated 99.999% 22 gauge, solid core silver(analogous to HomeGrown Audio Super Silver, but with much thicker teflon insulation). The three sets of three wires are braided ala Kimber/Home Grown Audio. I also have other power cords, another from Delta which is 8 gauge copper(I use it on my amp), and two Coincident CST power cords. I could try one, after the player has broken in. Interconnect is HomeGrown Audio Silver Lace. My experience has shown me no superior cable to this product on my tuner or CD player, in my system. A very dynamic, bass rich, detailed cable. I also have a Coincident CST IC, which I will try after the player is fully broken in. As you can see, I am hesitant to make any changes until after the player has had the opportunity of a full break - in. I want to establish a baseline for comparison of ancillary factors. Will keep everyone posted, as there is probably a fair amount of people who may be interested in the purchase of this player. I think we are in a no man's land. One in which it is not wise to buy an expensive player, as the new formats are on the horizon. Yet, they are not here yet. And some people may be in need of replacement of older machines.
Trelja, after hearing this tweak last week, it's worth trying--get a small innertube at K-mart, put it under the CDP and inflate it enough to get the player's feet off the surface it's resting on, but not too much more than that (you've got to not overinflate). There's a thread on this elsewhere right now. The consensus at our NJAS meeting was that this tweak worked very well (much better focus, detail was more apparent, soundstage better defined), and clearly beat using Vibrapods, which surprised me. Plus, it's cheap.
Trelja: Its mike again, I would of course be interested in how this inner tube works. That is if you try it, don't know what my wife would say about that one, she already thinks I'm nuts.
Trelja, I thought I'd chime in my two cents worth. I'm not sure to what degree my experience with my Cambridge cd4se is relevant to your d500se, but it might be. The sound improved noticeably on my player when I installed it on top of a sand box isolation platform and then put a one gallon baggie with three lbs. of sand on the top (transport side.) Also, a REALLY big improvement was manifest after reversing the plug polarity. After checking the chassis voltage with a multimeter I found it lower with the plug polarity reversed. Bass definition and clarity were especially improved. Keep us posted, Will.
Photon46's damping with sand on top of the CDP is also a good idea if you try the innertube support; you've isolated the unit from vibrations coming from its support, the bag on top mass damps the chasis vibrations. I'd hate to see what this all would look like if you did them all at once! Looking forward to hearing your results.
Just was no comparison against the BDR cones and sand bags - much more focus with none of the harshness the other tweaks brought out on my Alpha 8SE.
Thanks to everyone for all the suggestions. Lots to think about, and try. I can relate to the feelings of those around us thinking we are nuts. One thing I noticed last night was a really high noise floor with the player in place. Almost a hum, but not as loud as that. It basically happens when the interconnects are plugged in to both my amp and the CD player. Originally started playing with RFI blockers, as I blamed the Home Grown Audio cables(moving them around heightens or deadens the volume). But, I soon realized that any interconnect gave me the same result(and I do have a fair number of cables to try). After almost pulling my hair out trying to find the cause, it turned out to be the power cord(I looked at every cord - speaker, IC, PC in my system...) I was using on the player. It is not shielded. Didn't have this problem with my old player, with its captive power cord. When I tried a Coincident power cord, the noise floor dropped a great deal. I guess it has a fair amount of shielding, although I am not certain of its construction(don't really want to be cutting open expensive power cords...). My father will give me a braided shield to slip over the silver power cord. In theory(famous last words), that should help. I also want him to install a 4 outlet receptacle box(he is an electrician/technician/electrical engineer - worked his way up the ranks with increasing experience and education), to which he refused. Instead, he went and got one of those cheap, horrific things that let you turn a 2 outlet receptacle(plugs into the outlet) into a 6 outlet job. Uuggghhhh! Said he didn't want to go in the wall. Funny about those not really involved in our hobby - they refuse to pander to a lot of this stuff. Would be even funnier if I attempted it myself.
I have tried a SACD only disc in the Cambridge, and it DOES NOT PLAY SACDs! I was pretty sure this was the case, but needed proof. My dealer's insistence on its SACD capability I am sure was based on dual layer discs. It seems that the companies other than Sony produce these dual layer discs. Although the player has a 24 bit/192kHz DAC, I am not yet sure what that buys me. Perhaps, the benefit will be realized in playing 24 bit CDs. I have to give this all more thought, but I think I will try to sit back and enjoy this player for a while. It has rounded out pretty well during this break - in period. Getting better in all areas. I actually prefer it in to the previous generation Rega Planet(have yet to sit down and listen to the Planet 2000), MF A3 CD, and Linn Genki. All of which I am familiar with. I always thought I'd be buying an MF. Those players seem a little lightweight to my ears. I wanted a player that did not sound like that. While this player is no powerhouse, it is at least as good as those players in the area of weight. That is not to say that I think this player is better in all areas to those listed above. Just the overall ratings, in my opinion. Factoring in the price makes it a no brainer. In light of the Sam Tellig article and other stuff I have read in the past few weeks, I feel I have made a nice purchase. Especially, in light of the price. If SACD/DVD-A do fall the fate many are predicting, this player will be a great match for a good upsampling setup. And the fact that it costs half as much as the other CD players one would use as a transport makes me feel better all the time. And that is a major reason I feel it to be a smarter move than the other players. My former player was starting to go down hill, and this new player gives me a digital out(my old player did not). Otherwise, for those who have a nice player, I am of the opinion that you might as well give the dust more time to settle. I think the end result will benefit those who do not act hastily.
Received my d500 yesterday and ran it all night and all day, Mr. Tallyman. I suppose it's that 3/10's volt (output is 2.3 volts) but this player is far more dynamic than the Parasound 1000 it replaces. As did Trelja, I find the soundstaging very good, even sounds on pop music that have been panned to the speakers sound like they're coming from in front of, but not directly from. The entire soundstage has moved a foot or so further forward of the speakers.Perhaps its the sampling or the lower jitter but there is more of the recording coming through: breathing, hall ambience, secondary vocal and instrumental lines and especially 12 string guitar overtones. I differ from Trelja about the bass, there is great impact from the drum kit as well as clearly audible attacks and bowing of orchestral double bass. This could be system dependent (SFL-1 and Sonographe 250 with Silver Solution IC's and DH 14 cables bi-wired to Kestrels). Interestingly, my silver colored model has an aluminum faceplate and although Cambridge says no cheap cables, there they are, and are they ever. The loading drawer mechanism is very solid and fast, the remote is good but the controls are in strange, to me, places. Now, can someone 'splain me the function of the toslink input for"dacs that have a clock output"? Huh?
Trelja, Kitch29, does this unit have a digital INput as well as output? If so, I wonder if you could run a digital out to an upsampler, then an input (even, ugh, Toslink) from the upsampler (or for that matter, a DVD player with a digital out that passes a 24/96 signal) back into the unit to take advantage of the 24/192 DAC. That would be a possible further advantage for this player.
Trelja: So, are you saying that this is a better all round player than the original planet?? I have Friday off work to continue my search for a new CDP, but as you say, for the price, this might be a no brainer. Kitch, what did you compare this to?? Thanks
Miked, I am saying that in my opinion, the sound is at least as good(to me, better) than the original Planet. My dealer carries NAD, Jolida, Cambridge, Rega, and Electrocompaniet. He told me to forget about the new Rega, in favor of this new Cambridge. I did not even audition it. My girlfriend was paying, and I refused to let her pay that much(although she wanted to). But, when he talked to me previously on the phone, he told me he liked the sound of the new Cambridge better than the new Rega. He also said he is very disappointed with the new Rega's build quality, but I cannot comment on that one(haven't seen it in person). He said he wouldn't stop me from buying the more expensive player, but he does not BS me. That's why I try to buy from him. If a cheaper piece is better, he is honest with me. I was never that big a fan of the old Rega. Nice, but... Kind of.. bland??? I thought I would buy a MF A3 CD, but that player always seemed less in terms of sound than it reads on paper. Lightweight. Fast. Open. Detailed. But, lightweight. Seems better on the outside(gorgeous cosmetics) than on the inside. Cambridge seems to be the opposite. The Cambridge sounds good. And to back up Kitch29, the bass is pretty good. I just compare it to two killer players I have heard, and it does not have the impact that they do. But, they are much more expensive. With the requisite parts to have that sound. The Cambridge is $450. Right now my system consists of the Cambridge w/HomeGrown Audio Silver Lace into a Jadis Orchestra Reference Integrated(surprising bass), connected to Coincident Technology Digital Masters via Coincident speaker cable, Coincident Troubass subwoofers via AudioQuest Midnight. I feel that double bi - wiring with these thick gauge speaker cables allows me to extract every last drop of sound, detail, bass.
Miked- keeping in mind just 24 hours so far, I compare it to Audio Refinement Complete, which was similar but not nearly as dynamic and the combination of my Parasound 1000 and MBS DAC III which was even more laid back than the Parasound alone, although come to think of it I was using an MIT digital cable, see: carl eber, et. al. What comes the closest in a very strange audition is the Classe' .3 but if you read my "Big Adventure" post the point was how can you tell where the cd player leaves off and the $15,000 amplifier and $10,000 speakers begin? Oh, I also heard one of the better Sony's, ES-7??, the Cambridge, which still sounds edgy is still more musical. Guys, and Elisabeth and Angela, the Cambridge is $399, money back 30 day guarantee, why not listen to it instead of me?
You know that label on top of the D500 SE Trelja referred to that says give it 36 hours to break in? Well it apparently has a 36 hour timer in it that automatically switches from a Fisher Price DAC that plays right out of the box to the 24/192. I went out of town right after the 24 hour mark (and my last post), left it cooking but not playing. Started it up upon my return, got to 24 hours again last night and was ready to return it. My one initial complaint, digital edginess, (grain?) especially on vocals was really terrible. This morning, having reached the consecutive 36 hour mark, and all this day, the better soundstage and dynamics I heard almost right away are complimented by a much more relaxed and natural sound to vocals with a complete absence of the digital nasties. On top of that, the period wooden flute on the Vivaldi Concerto in D finally sounds like a wooden flute, not a Conn band rental, something neither the Audio Refinement, Adcom 750 nor the Classe'.3 could do. Finally, I'm listening to the music again, something I haven't done since my then to be ex-wife discovered what "fungible" meant re: my VPI/Koetsu, Muse, etc. I wonder if you can only listen to it every 36 hours? Is the Cambridge factory in Brigadoon?