CD upgrade.

Hi. Ive been searching the net for ideas, but i could do with some pointers. Im looking to upgrade my Consonance droplet cd player. This is a very large and heavy valve player which i like, but have had for some time now and feel an upgrade is in order. I want something that will better it, ideally valve but that is not essential. im looking to spend 3k ( british pounds) and would consider something pre owned too. Is that a bad idea, given that cd players have moving parts? the droplet retails at just over three. anyone think this would be a side ways move? ive seen a gamut cd3 ( ex dem, not heard it) for around 3k. Anyone have any experience with these players. Thank you kindly.
I would look into the Ear Acute. The new model has digital inputs, which is cool if you care to fool around with computer audio. The older one, without the digital inputs, is a great buy on the used market.
Thanks the the replies, guys. Audiofreak, any suggestions on dac? Can any cd player be used that has an optical output be used as a dac? I have in storage an old marantz cd 63 ki. i recall from my days of using it, it would even read the most scratched cd without problems, something the droplet doesnt do if the cd is sufficiently scratched. i suppose the marantz would have its limitations in this regard too. would a dac be able to play computer audio ( mp3, flac) with the sound quality a high quality cd player? i want something really good sounding that i can use for a few years. Anyone have further suggest for a really nice sounding cd player> Thank you.
A few relatively low priced ($1,000 US new) current CD/SACD players with digital inputs that many people seem to like are:

Sony SA5400ES (recently discontinued)
Marantz SA8004
Oppo BDP95

Digital inputs allow you access to the DAC inside the player from other sources, such as another transport or a music server. You really should get a player with digital inputs so that it doesn't become obsolete if music servers take over for cd players, which probably will happen one of these years.

The Oppo is a universal player BluRay, SACD, CD, DVD, DVD-A. It's got all the bases covered.

There is probably a lot of opinion on each of these players on the forum. A search will give you lots of reading.

The optical output on your cd player is digital out. It is for sending the digital bits from the Droplet to a different DAC (like the ones in the players above). I think optical is going out of style as a digital connection. I don't think that the players I mentioned above have an optical digital input, but I could be wrong.

Hope this helps.
P.S. You may find with the newer players that cd sound has improved enough that you don't need the tubes to take the edge off the sound. There are still prenty of good tubed players around though
I mean ditch the spinning disc totally. Ripping your CDs in with DbPoweramp as FLAC (24/96 or higher), and playing through a DAC (with an iPad), will result in better sound. I am using a LINN Akurate DS with an iPad and 24/192 WAV files. You would be hard pressed to find a CD player under $10k that would beat this sound.
Audio freak, thanks for the pointers, and thank you tomcy6.i appreciate the responses. And thanks to others too.

is the linn akurate ds very expensive? my budget is around 3k pounds ( British pounds).

During research i came across a product - Olive music servers.
anyone have experience with this kind of product? their claims are very high.

it does seem cd might be phasing out in years to come.

I just read that Olive claims 250 times the resolution of cd!
How can this be possible when surely there is no music file with 250 times the data that is present on a commercial cd let alone a flac or mp3, direct or burnt to an audio cdr? am i missing something here? Seems like high claim that has no truth in it whatsoever , designed to make sales? am i wrong?
Thank you kindly
Hello James.

Ayon makes tubed equipment that has many talking about. Their CD players are said to be fantastic. Also their DAC, which also has a fantastic volume stage. Actually, some or their CD players also have this feature.

Esoteric X03SE would be a very nice CD player, for the money. As Tomcy6 said above, I doubt you would find it edgy. Please keep in mind there are underlying arguments about spinning discs vs computer audio being better, so you are likely to get people getting on their soapbox. Just be aware. Likely someone who already replied will say the Linn will beat any Esoteric...fine. Just read around. BTW, I don't spin disks anymore, but I do belive there are fantastic CD players around.

A very nice DAC I think is Aesthetix (tubes), Berkeley Audio (SS), Lampizator (tubes), to name some. If I knew I was only going to spin discs I would probably get a Accustic Arts CD transport and DAC (German, SS). Be aware that computer audio, while it opens a number of doors, also has a steep learning curve and is still quirkier than spinning disks.

I hope this helps.

Regarding the claim of the Olive, as you increase the sampling rate (from 44.1 to 96khz) and word length (16 to 24 bit) you greatly increase the amount of data being stored. This does not result in anywhere near a proportional increase in sound quality though.

The Olive is designed for someone to rip their cds to and I think it upsamples them. This will give you maybe a small improvement in sound quality, maybe not, but not nearly as much as a file that was recorded at a higher sampling rate and bit depth (96/24 for example) and delivered to you at that same resolution through SACD or high-res download. Some people think that even high-res files are not that much of an improvement over cds. The Absolute Sound has an article on that very subject in the July/August issue.

IMHO, computer audio has not developed to the point that most people should get rid of a cd player and go to computer audio exclusively. Audiofreak will vehemently disagree with me on this. I'm not anxious to rip all my cds to a server. I don't mind playing cds and I see computer audio more as a means to download and store high-res files when that market matures a little more.

Computer audio is still pretty glitchy if you are not comfortable with computers and electronic devices. I think that it will get more user friendly and cheaper in the next few years. That's why I recommended that you get a player with digital inputs at present. Do a lot of homework if you think you want to stop spinning cds and go to computer audio. I'm waiting but a lot of people have made the change and like it a lot.
Thank you, tomcy6 for the response. it is very much appreciated. I actually prefer cd playback. Would a transport and separate dac be a good idea? i dont want to actually stop spinning discs at this point. am i right in thinking the dac would serve me when i actually take the step to computer audio so would withstand that change in the future? Any ideas on a really good dac? perhaps i could use my droplet or marantz as a transport for the time being? i was looking into dacs a while ago and came across a benchmark in a shop. i could not for one moment imagine why it has the reputation it has. it sounded very ordinary, like a upper budget cd player. Any 3k ( pounds) dacs that can really deliver? Thank you.
I have a LINN Akurate CD running 24/96 and 24/192 FLAC or WAV and I access my entire library from my iPad. The files were ripped off CDs that I owned, borrowed from friends or checked out from the library. I used DbPowermap (either free or stupid cheap, I forget), to rip the CDs in.

The fact you are missing Tomcy6 is that it is the playback that makes the difference. When you stream just data from a server (NAS) or your PC to the LINN DS unit, then let the DS do the clock and D to A work, you have a SIGNIFICANT advantage over almost any CD player made. It is not a subtle difference. The salesman at the dealer here in AZ are comparing the LINN Akurate DS to CD players at the $20k level.

Understand this: once you take out the entire spinning disc, jitter, laser, power supply, etc. that is in EVERY CD player, you have made a serious leap in sound quality.

For anyone wishing to not speak on the subject unless you have actually heard a DS in comparison. I do not mean an Olive unit either... or any unit playing off a laptop via USB or other connection - THIS IS NOT THE SAME THING.

I'm sure you've got a great sounding system. What did the the digital portion (Linn DS, NAS, controller, router, etc.) cost and how easy was it to set up? Who is your dealer in AZ?


There are a lot of DACS available and I don't know much about any of them. You could go with a transport and DAC or a player, whatever works for you. Digital is evolving pretty rapidly right now so what I would do is get something that's a nice step up for you but not too expensive. A lot of digital products will be hitting the market in the near future and I think the sound quality and ease of use will be improving and the price declining. I could be wrong though. It has happened before.

Check out they sell high-res downloads and they seem to be adding a lot of titles lately.
I bought the Akurate DS as demo ($5,500), normally $7,500 I think retail, the NAS w/ 3TB drive was about $350, the iPad was $350. Router is just a std. wireless router I already had setup. You do not even really "need" a separate NAS... you could put the music files on your main PC, however that PC would have to be on in order to access the music when you want to listen. That is why I wanted a "dedicated" NAS setup.

The dealer in AZ is L&M Home Entertainment.

And I agree that a person just wanting to "dabble" with a discless setup and someone not wanting to get rid of their CD collection yet should not drop a ton of coin into it. This setup of mine was to replace my CD player and CD collection of around 750 CD's.

Setup was done by my LINN dealer, but once I saw it done, it is not complicated.
No, just a fan. Go troll somewhere else, unless you have a comment about this subject.

L&M is a top notch dealer. Sounds like you got a good deal considering they did the set up. Enjoy!
Hi all, thanks for all the useful information. I very much appreaciate all the pointers and have been investigating options suggested.
Anyone able to recommend cd players with digital input that i could investigate further? Ive been considering the Gamut cd3, but it appears that player does not have input. During my research , i came accross a product by a Korean company- Stello-. It has good reviews but it seems reviews are rarely bad for any product. the player i came accross has digital input so can be used with a laptop and has good build quality ( according to review i read). Anyone have anything to say about stollo cd players? Sorry for all the enquiries and appreciate the responses. Thank you kindly.
I thought my Raysonic tube CD player was one of the best out there for the money...
Audiofreak32. which model is that, please. is that the cd 22, the one with a separate power supply? Thank you.
No, I had the older CD-128 I think it was. Now, they have the CD-168. I paid under $2k for my CD-128 new, w/ warranty. Excellent player for the money.
At 3,000 pounds, there is a huge choice available and I would not limit yourself to the recommendations in this thread, including any Linn player or DAC.
Just take a look on Audiogon from time to time to see some of the great players you can purchase second hand. For example, there are some Esoteric X-05 players currently for sale. Superb build quality and sound - you cannot go wrong.
Hi all. Do any of you know about the AMR 77 cd player. While seraching the net i came across a preowned one at 3.5k pounds. Is this near what its worth? Would this be a substantial upgrade to my Droplet player, or just slightly better? I dont really pay much attention to professional reviews.

It has XLR outputs but is not balanced.

I understand these are now about five years old now? Anyone comment on the reliability of a player this age. I have a musical fidelity a3 in a second system and that still works perfectly after 10 years of use. However there is hardly anything inside it!

Thank you.
Hi. no problem. Consider closed. Thank you for all those that contributed and provided some useful pointers.

No one can really tell you how a specific piece of gear will sound to you in your system, or how dependable it will be. All you can do is get a diverse set of opinions.

Audiogon has a bluebook which will tell you, for a fee, what equipment has sold for on Audiogon.

You can search the forums and reviews for opinions on gear. I'm sure the AMR 77 has been discussed and those discussions may be useful in deciding if you want to give it a try. Listening to it in your system is really the only way to be sure whether it's right for you or not though.
Thank you, Tomcy6. yes, i did research the AMR 77 and the Esoteric xo3 se,a Marantz flagship model and others. I appreciate that no one can pinpoint how a particular player will sound with my kit. However , i really appreciate the pointers.

Thank you all.

A bit harsh no? If a thread is, for you, tiresome, just don't bother reading or commenting on it.
Vicks - Many people here, including myself, attempted to give the OP some well-meaning advice,for better or worse. But when it comes down to: "What do you think of XYX?" or "How much better is XYX than ABC?", it just becomes an exercise in futility. As everyone here knows, high-end audio is a long and often expensive journey that must be experienced first-hand to appreciate. The OP happens to own a very good player and that makes it even more difficult. The point I was trying to convey, perhaps not very tactfully I'll admit, is that there is no way around actual listening and finding out what's good and what's less good. There were some very good suggestions made here and now it's time to explore. At least that's what I think.
Chayro. i too thought it was a bit on the harsh side, but thats ok, no offence taken.

I too have been on the audio journey and have experienced some costly mistakes. My largest being the trashing of a 3 month pass x350 power amp because i did not understand subwoofer connections, destroying a 3k subwoofer to in the process to just makes things even worse. A 2k pounds mod to a cd player that was returned dead and the modder didnt want to know. Endless cd upgrades . ive sold on so much mid fi , next to nothing literally and even given some away, but thats fine as im glad that some teenagers/ young men somewhere thinks its the best kit in the world. I did too, when i had a technics cd player that cost 80 pounds, many years ago!

ive gone down that expensive journey and if anyone wanted to learn from my mistakes, im more than willing to guide.
To ask a few comparisons and views is surely not
unreasonable and clearly products differ in performance. it is not possible to hear every single product and in order to create a shortlist, views are helpful. If anyone wanted to know how Zingali speakers sound, i could tell them and could make a cross reference to speakers such as mid priced Monitor Audio, because i have both in my home. Now that comparison would be useful to somebody going from mid fi to more serious speakers.

Im very grateful for every suggestion here and actually investigated the first response, which was yours, fully. I have looked into each and every product mentioned by all the very helpful posters here.

Thank you kindly