Is my dealer lying to me?

This past weekend I went to listen to some speakers. I've been planning to buy CD player also, but that was not this weekend's purpose.

At first we were using a YMB player, McCormick amp, and Soliloquy 5.3 speakers. The speakers is what I was auditioning.

The CD player he is trying to sell me is the Cambridge Audio D500ES, I beleive. Price:400

Big difference I know between the YMB ($2500)and the Cambridge ($400). But it wasn't $2100 in difference in sound I can tell you that. What concerns me is the difference between his comments and the perceived opinions of people on this board. In other threads, there are quite a bit of "ditch the Cambridge" comments.

The dealers comments were "best player under $2000"... "chris sold his $2500 Theta and picked this one up because it's that good, and pocketed the money"... etc.

I'm not asking if this is the best player under $2000. But how does it compare to Arcam and Rega models at $500-700?

Obvisouly, he recommends the Soliloquy 5.3 also. I liked them but wasn't as impressed as much as I thought I would be. The guy has a small shop and seems honest, but it seems this cambridge is not very well respected in this forum.

I've gotten rid of alot of my gear. What I have left to use is a Yamaha RXV-995 receiver. An amp will come, hopefully sooner than later, but I need speakers and a CD player now unless I want to continue to use my DVD player for CDs.

Any comments?
I don't think your dealer is lying to you. Remember, no one says "rotten fish" for sale. That is not an excuse for lying, but remember he could carry alot of different products and chose the Cambridge on it's merits and profitability as well. Also, you can bypass all of this stress by bringing the unit home for an audition on your system and keep it if you like it. If you don't, return it for refund or store credit. At any rate, make up your own mind and don't get hung up on the opinions of others. Even mine!
Good luck!
At the risk of drawing the wrath of fellow audiophiles that own megabuck CD players, I personally think that most high-end CD players are grossly overpriced. I used to work for a laser manufacturer, so I have a pretty good idea what it costs to build a CD player. To look at the prices of high-end CD players, you'd think they were manufactured with parts made of the mystery element, unobtainium.

If you don't own a good DVD/CD player, you might want to consider buying that rather than buying a CD-only unit. I previously owned a Rega Planet CD player, and replaced it with a Pioneer Elite DV-37, which I bought new for $650. The DV-37 not only produces a superb video image with DVD's, but it also has better audio quality with CD's than my old Rega player. A number of other people on this forum have also had a very good experiences with the DV-37. The DV-37 has a very large power supply, solid chassis, and excellent build quality.

To the extent that reviews matter, the DV-37 received a 5-star rating from one of the major review mags. Just my 2 cents......
I'm not so sure that Cambridge has recieved the degree of disdain in this forum you describe. Many here have recommended them as a decent budget player. Sure, the cosmetics, programming, and ergonomics aren't the greatest, but they hold their own sonically in comparison to the Regas and cheaper Arcams (not the 9's & fmj's.) Like Patmatt says, demo them at home and form your own opinion.
I think I agree with Sdcampbell ... I have not been able to hear much difference between my Marantz CD67SE and an expensive Meridian player I borrowed, and certainly not a $2k difference. In my experience the interconnect makes more difference than the CD player. I have a modest system of Densen B-100 amp and Spica Angelus, similar in price to the Soliloquys. Therefore your dealer could well be truthful .... I too have long suspected that high-end CD players do not justify their price tags, but I have never heard a dealer say so. On the other hand putting more money into the amp and speakers (and room treatment and cable) makes a profound difference (again my experience).
Patmatt is also correct that you should go with your ears.

Sorry I can't help with comparisons with the Arcam and Rega ... and at that price point I would also consider the Creek CD43 (not because I've heard it, but because lots of people seem to like it). I also wouldn't rule out Marantz ... I've been very happy with the sound and build of mine, and it only cost me $250 at a sale ... leaving plenty of cash for the rest of the system, and for a later DAC (if it makes an audible difference)
I think the Cambridge is a very nice player for the money. I friend of mine has one, and I really can't think of any budget players that sound any better. In my opinion, you should get the very best source components that you can reasonably afford, because no future upgrades to your speakers or amplifier will be able to improve its' sound downstream. You can probably find a used Rega Planet 2000 (a huge improvement over the original planet) or a used Arcam Diva CD 72 for around $600 to 650 on Audiogon or eBay.
well, the D500SE is supposed to be considerably better than the D500. The dealer is going to come to my house with it and let me compare it to whatever else I can get my hands on then. Sounds reasonable.
Musical Fidelity A3CD. I don't see how you can go wrong with this one. $995 new online (only place to buy it). I don't own one, but from what I've read I believe you should take a listen. Others here might agree. Most online stores have a good return policy.
I agree with the above posts that high end cd players are grossly overpriced and that your money is way better spent on speakers and amplification.

Like with all components there is a point of diminishing returns, where you have to expend significantly more to get a little bit better sound. With cd players this point seems to be around $500. To be sure there are differences between players in this price range and up to $2000, but they are minor.

What you are really paying for in a more expensive player is better construction (hopefully), hype (likely) and lack of efficiency (the smaller the company or production run the more it costs them to build the player). I've heard cheap dvd players from mainstream manufacturers sound better than "megabuck" cd players from small high end companies.

The most important thing is to satisfy yourself and not follow blindly what you read in the magazines or this or any other discussion forum. Therefore, it really should not matter what your dealer says, simply trust your ears. And if you are lucky you will not care about the minor difference in sound that a $2000 player will give you.
it's like the old lawyer joke. how can you tell when he's lyin'? his lips move. -cfb
Take home a couple CD players and hook them up to your receiver. Match the levels and get two or three copies of the same CDs (borrow from friends).

Then you can compare to your heart's content and decide for yourself. Who cares which CD player *I* (or anyone else) like? I'm not the one buying it.

I've done this in the past and I ended up saving a lot of money. More expensive doesn't mean better!
My impression is that Cambridge is well-regarded on this board as a line of affordable audio equipment. It's mentioned a lot for people who need CD player or integrated amp under $500.

For myself, I liked the Cambridge amps better than their CD players, which seemed "bright" to me. But this is a matter of taste, and if the dealer is willing to let you try in your home, it is worth working with him on this.

I ended up going a bit higher in price, spent about $1300 on electronics (amp and preamp), and am still waiting on the CD player!

You may do better to work on the speaker purchase first. If you don't have good speakers that you like (positioned correctly in your room), it will be hard to pick the CD player you like. Trying speakers in your home is even more important than trying CD players, since rooms vary so much in their "sound".

In the store, be sure to audition speakers with your music, and even bring in your receiver if they will let you. Also audition with an amp they suggest that you might be able to afford (you don't want to limit yourself to only speakers that sound good with your current gear, but you don't want to buy speakers that will never sound good with anything you can afford!).

If you can, listen to speakers at several stores. They really do vary, and stores in a given area generally are exclusive reps. That said, working with a helpful dealer can really be worthwhile (someone who spends a lot of time with you on a $400 CD player can be classed as helpful).

Best of luck!

- Eric
I personally feel you get what you pay for. Regardless of brand. That said you should always trust your ears. You heard it with a pair of speakers you are planing on upgrading to and you liked it compared to the cost/sound of the other more expensive players so why not go for it.

If there wasnt a big difference to you compared to the $2500 player then it is going to compare even better to an $800 player.
I have recommended the Cambridge to dozens of people on this site who wanted a new player under $500, but wanted the sound of a more expensive ones. Sterophile said it was comparible to many $800 players in sound that it demos. I think they gave it a Class C. I do not know how much better the D500SE is from the D500. I owned them both, but not at the same time. The D500 has a 20bit DAC, the D500SE 24bit. But the 20bit DAC is of a higher quality spec. according to HiFi Choice Magazine (not that the 24bit is bad).

I remember the "ditch the Cambridge" comment was on a thread on whether to buy a $2000 DAC using a different transport or the Cambridge. It is kind of like saying "ditch the Camry" just because a Lexus is better at $10,000+ more. It is out of context.

Stay away from DVD players if you have a music system.
People can tell you what they want.bottom line is a Dedicated CD player from a good MFG will allways be better than a DVD player at the same price point.
Pioneer for one does not make anything that would be considerd Hi Fi.
Great units but not Hi Fi,
Cambridge is vastly overrated.
You get alot for waht you pay compared to other units in the 400/500 range yes but true hifi no way.
Listen to a used BAT VK-5 at around 2K used and tell me you wont hear the difference.
Your source is the most important piece of your system.Dont go cheap there.
Junk in is junk out.
The best pair of speakers in the world cant correct a bad singnle.
Also consider a DAC.
I bought a d500 for a friend and was favorably impressed by the sound. At least as good as my Anthem cd1 ($1700 list). Hooked it up to an Anthem tube system (Pre1 and Amp1) played through a pair of Soliloquy 5.0's. The system sounded great, very dynamic. Now Cambridge doesn't have the build quality of the better high-end stuff, but good sounds for the money.

To quote the marketing people at Dodge, "The rules have changed." Spending lots was the rule. Now, some budget pieces have really caused havoc in the realm of big ticket items. I just picked up a pair of Axiom M3 Ti speakers for a secondary system which I would put up against many a big name. They bely their price of $240.

Some electonics embarrass pieces costing many times more. Stop looking at price tags and reading reviews. Listen!!!!!!! Good'll need it.
Adding to the above, differences in performance are perceptible if the rest of the chain's able to reproduce them (rubbish or otherwise). A $0,5k player in a WELL MATCHED SYSTEM may not sound much inferior to a 2,5k player in a MISmatched system -- but the 2,5 in a WELLmatched system may be another affair...

So, the Cambridge may well be a good buy for you. A used, higher performance cdp may be a better idea, especially as you're out to get amps next.

Whichever the case, you MUST listen to the dream machine, and do so with ancillary equip you LIKE -- otherwise, choosing correctly is impossible!

I agree with Natalie above. She is giving you good advice. I think that the better question is: "Is my dealer giving me good advice or just trying to make a sale?"
It sounds like the advice is questionable at best. With the current state of your system, you may not be able to hear differences between CD players, even if they are $2,000 apart. If your speakers, amp, preamp, and cables are not up the the level of the front end, then you will not be able to hear the difference between a mid-fi CD player and a high-fi unit.
My advice it to wait until you have good speakers, amp, etc. and then go shopping for a CD player. Even the higher end DVD players ($1500-$3000) take a back seat to a good CD player for the same money. Another good reason to wait is what's called "system matching". Aside from the cables and interconnects, it gives you the best opportunity to balance the sound of the system to suit your tastes. Some CD players have a laid back sound and some are more aggressive; if you have bright sounding electronics or speakers you may like the laid back sounding CD player better. Lastly, try to set a budget for the whole system, and that will determine what you can spend on each piece. If you are planning a $10,000 system, then you can afford more than $400 for your CD player. If your budget is $2500 for the system, then maybe a $400-$500 CD player is perfect.
D500 sounds as good as an Anthem CD 1 you must be kidding.Your system must be very lacking if you cant tell the difference.I had both units here.I owned the CD1 was trying a d500 for a second was found lacking and nit good enough for the second system.I tried it in the big rig and it really made the Anthem shine.
Come on people Cambridge is not HI FI.Poor build quality to boot.
One of the most respected dealers in my area has droped the line.To many reliability problems.
I completely agree with Audiopath. You need to decide where you are going to take your system in the near future. It sounds like you will upgrade everything over the next year or so. If that's the case, you'll need to buy a CD player that fits your future system, not your current one. You probably won't hear significant differences between CD players in your current system. That will change when you have better amplification and speakers.

You also mentioned Arcam. I have the Diva CD92 and can tell you that it is an excellent player and much better than the Pioneer DVD player I was using previously. Spend a little more now so you won't have to upgrade again in a year or two.
Good Luck.
Celtic66 is absolutely right. I have experienced severe flak in this forum for saying that most audiophiles have a tremendous need to believe that $$$ = better sound 24/7. There are many "deals" out there in new equipment. Equipment whose price/performance ratio is outstanding on its own, but, and more to the point, that offer very high sound quality that should leave most everyone, except died in the wool upgraders, satisfied for years to come and that could leave time and money for recordings; which is what the whole thing is about in the first place. I will spare everyone the anecdotal evidence I can think of which tends to demonstrate that if an audiophile believes he/she is listening to a mega-priced component while in fact some lesser priced unit hidden somewhere inside a cabinet is playing, he/she will quite often wind up with egg on the face.
As I suspected, this topic is drawing debate, some of which -- inevitably -- focuses on the merits and demerits of DVD vs. CD players. I must humbly disagree with Natalie's commments, though she is certainly welcome to her opinion. Major Japanese manufacturers have been producing some excellent higher-end equipment for many years, and the Pioneer Elite line is certainly in that group.

I have been a serious audiophile since the mid-1960's, been a member of several audiophile clubs, and have twice supported myself professionally by selling high-end audio gear. That does not mean that my opinion is the final word, but it does mean that I've had a lot of opportunity to listen to and objectively compare a number of brands of CD and DVD players. A well-made, upper end (as opposed to high end) DVD player often has a heftier power supply than many CD players, and most of the DAC's used in both CD and DVD players are made by the same manufacturers (Motorola, etc.). Therefore, choosing a combined DVD/CD player not only makes fiscal sense for many buyers, but practical sense as well if you have limited dollars or limited space.

As I mentioned in my first post, I worked for some years for Spectra-Physics, one of the major laser manufacturers in the U.S. Lasers for DVD's and CD's are virtually a commodity today, as are DAC's and other processor chips. This isn't to say that there are no quality differences -- there are -- but pricing is based mainly on quantity, and as someone above noted, manufacturing costs are largely a function of volume. Hence, many of the boutique high-end companies that virtually hand-build their products -- but who still buy the component parts from the same manufacturers as high-volume builders -- cannot compete directly on price with larger electronics firms.

Ultimately, you should audition several units IN YOUR HOME -- both CD players and DVD/CD players -- and let your own ears decide. As Pbb noted in the preceding comment, don't fall for the high-end argument that more $$$ = better sound. Tain't necessarily so........
Whoa ... everyone calm down ! Sdcampbell is correct ... and Natalie may also be correct. In a system costing $5kUSD or less I think it would be hard to justify a $2k CD player as the remainder of the system probably could not resolve the differences. That is my situation (Densen amp, Spica Angelus speakers).

In a $20KUSD+ system I have no experience ... I suppose that it's possible that a $2k CD player might sound justifiably better than a $500 player ... I don't have any experience at this level.

That said I think it's important to note that Gunbunny doesn't appear to be assembling a megabuck system, and so, in that context a $500 Cambridge CD player (or any good $500 player) is probably a very sensible suggestion.

At this level it has been my experience that all components should be of approximately equal cost, and that money can most easily be saved on a judiciously chosen CD/DVD player, rather than a cheaper amp, or speakers.

Gunbunny ... please correct me if I have underestimated your budget/enthusiasm :-)
The following is my experience, and where I think more money makes the most difference

Most important -- good amp/preamp
Next -- good speakers
Next -- wire
Next -- cd player

If items 1, 2 & 3 are top-notch, you will notice the difference in item 4.

For me, high quality sound can be found if you spend 2K on electronics, 1500-2500 on speakers (less if used, and it's hard to get high quality for under a grand), 500+ on wire (but at least 250) and 500 on a cd player.

So the cd player is probably the best bang for the buck. I.e., you get a lot without spending a lot, while that is not the case with other components.
There are a few arguments going here but what you have to remember at all times is that it is your ears and your money. Who cares what we think. Who cares what the dealer thinks. Who cares what the specs say or a reveiw magazine says. Opinions really vary but it is only yours that is important.

You heard a comparison in a decent system. So you tell us what you think and go with what YOU think is best. You said it yourself that you thought there wasnt much of a difference.

If you still doubt yourself go used. Then down the road if you want to try something else you wont lose much or even any money.

You will learn a lot and your taste will even change a bit the more you get into this hobby. Your ears will improve as you learn what to listen for. You may be able to tell the difference more a year or two down the road but for now though just get what your ears tell you to get and enjoy!
Gunbunny - dont let him into your house. If you do, dont let him anywhere near your equipment. If you do, dont let him see your cables. If you do . . . .

Seriously, dont let him into your house. If he is serious about making a sale he should let you take the piece home to audition in private.

I have 5 different cd players in my home and a dvd player that will also play cds. Between my $3995 list ($2200 cost) meridian 508.24 and my $1000 list Denon 1650ar(somebody is selling one on Agon for about $500 asked right now), there are meaningful differences through electronics and speakers capable of demonstrating those differences. And I would not forsake the natural palpable three dimensional real life like sound I get from the meridian. But I doubt that I would be able to tell much of a difference between them through many speakers other than my own or speakers costing considerably more.

Between the Denon and my $1500 list meridian 506, there are meaningful differences, but there are tradeoffs. Depending on the system, I might choose either one of them. But neither one of them sounds as much like real life as the 508.

Cheaper stuff in various bedrooms or just sitting around doesn't come close.

I have heard the inexpensive marantz and most of the Sonys and found all of them wanting in some way or another. I do think you get what you pay for in cd players, but the quality of $700 to $1,000 cd players has improved considerably over the years and for most systems any of a number of players in that range (retail) would be satisfactory. I think the Denon is the best buy around.

I have heard about qc problems with Cambridge gear, and I have always been struck by the markup from the UK to the US. Cambridge prices here are much higher than in the UK. In contrast, NAD prices are about the same in the US as in the UK.

What a strange thread. Starts off by asking if cheap cd players are as good as expensive ones and gets responses about prioritizing. I'll join that sub-thread too: your most important component is the weakest link in your existing system. Speakers are, of course, the least accurate audio components, and thus the most critical. But you won't be able to stand the sound of a cheap cd player or a glary hard transistory amp through really good speakers. If you are starting from scratch, you have to find speakers and source you can live with. If you have speakers that you like, focus on the source components.

But dont let him into your house!
I spent the better part of a Saturday afternoon auditioning the D500ES vs a used Acurus ACD11 in a local stereo shop. The system that we used was worth about $4K retail. My enthusiast (but not audiophile) ears found a substantial difference between the two players. I don't doubt that the D500ES is a great player for the money, but if you look around I'm sure you can find better on the used market for less like I did. Good luck and take your time.
Here's to adding a bit more fuel to the fire of debate here. I was a late convert to digital around 1995 or so when I purchased my first CD player, a Cambridge CD4. Went through either 2 or 3 of them (I can't actually remember) in a 6 month period due to breakdowns before I upgraded through my dealer (who graciously gave me a full trade-in value) to an Arcam Alpha 7. I would avoid Cambridge on this basis alone, but maybe they've cleaned up their act. Upgraded the 7 to an 8, upgraded the 8 to an 8SE with improvements each time. The 8SE was/is a $1000 CD player and pretty reasonably thought of. What do I use now as a CD player? An RCA 5223P DVD player. The RCA (in stock form, plugged straight into the wall, which is not the way I use it now) which last sold for about $179 (discontinued now) was/is better than the 8SE at CD playback. I wrote a review of it and posted it at Audioasylum if anyone cares to read it, along with the details of my system. Since then I've added a Harmonic Tech adapter and a Cardas Golden power cord to the RCA and run it into an Inouye Line Conditioner (a good line conditioner that retails for around $800 Cnd. and is still used by the Canadian magazine UHF in their reference system). Interestingly, my Arcam 8SE did not benefit all that much from the conditioner, but the RCA does substantially, leading me to believe the power supply in the RCA is probably pretty lousy. That in itself probably shouldn't be much of a surprise on a really cheap DVD player. But I'm not the only one to experience this type of thing. There's a post at Audioasylum right now in the digital section from a guy who figures the new Toshiba DVD player he just paid $250 for offers up about 95% of the performance of his Pioneer Stable Platter/EVS Millenium II Dac combo. I've heard the Arcam 9, the CD92 and the FMJ and would estimate I'm getting about 85-90% of the Arcam 9/CD 92 performance with my RCA/Cardas Golden/Inouye tweaked up combo (paid $150 for the Inouye used) for about 25% of the price. My guess is that a couple of things are at work with the new DVD players: firstly, DAC chips are probably getting better all the time and secondly, DVD players are designed to read much smaller bits of information off the discs than CD players are. Perhaps even with lousy DACs (if that is indeed what they have), DVD players are getting more redbook information before it hits the DAC, resulting in less error correction, I don't know. In any event, in the under $1000 price range, I wouldn't consider buying a stand alone CD player after my experience. I bought the RCA never intending to use it for audio, but after reading some posts either here or at Audioasylum, I gave it a serious listen and ended up selling the Arcam. I guess if I had money to burn and price was no object, I'd consider looking at the $2000-$5000 standalone CD players, but I've heard a lot of them, including the Linn CD 12 (at much more than $5000!) and never really been all that impressed. My ancient Gyrodec/FT3/Ortofon MC 20 Super still sounds more like real music than any CD player I've heard, and it's not a particularly state of the art analogue set-up. Haven't heard SACD, but would be interested in it (especially in a combo DVD player, the Sony 9000 looks pretty interesting) if there was a lot more software out there, but I'm not convinced it will succeed in breaking into the market. Most people think redbook CD is fabulous and don't really care.
So, Natalie, what I think I hear you saying is...Junk in is junk out. Your position on the topic is abundantly clear.

Here's my two-cents. Just as others have said, balance (synergy) is the most important factor in a music system. A $2K (or $20K for that matter) CDP, when paired with budget components will not sound much if any better than a $500 CDP.

Natalie, would you buy a $2K cartridge for a $179 Sony turntable. No? Why not? Junk in is junk out. If you don't have a quality stylus and cartridge, you will never fully realize its' capability. As you said, "the best speakers in the world can't correct a bad signal."

It all comes down to balance and context. It doesn't sound like Gunbunny is assembling a mega-buck system. Based on what he's told us, a $500 Cambridge CDP (or comparable) will be more than adequate.

Trust your ears, not the opinions of others. That being said, don't forget about gold old-fashioned common sense. If your budget is 5K, you'd be pretty silly to blow 40% on the CDP. Rbirke was right on with his observations about the order of importance in selecting your system components:

1) amp/preamp
2) speakers
3) cables
4) cd player (most bang for the buck and, consequently, sonic improvements are only realized when the rest of the components are in place and of good quality/synergy - without the rest in place, you'll never hear the subtle differences between other players.)

The End
Hi Natalie ... please explain why one part of the signal chain is more important than another. After all the signal must pass through all components(source-cable-amp-cable-speakers-room) in order to reach the listener and is degraded at each stage. The optimum system (at a given price point) matches the capabilities of all parts of the signal chain. Disproportionately favouring one part of the chain means you'll compromise another.
Having an outstanding source and so-so amp + speakers means you have wasted money on the outstanding source and compromised the cable/speakers/room treatment. That is unless you plan to later update the amp and speakers to the same level as the source.
It would be a similar waste of money to have a very expensive amp and or speakers with a so-so source.
Don't know about the Cambridge, but would have agreed with Natalie until I just hooked up a Sony DVP-S9000ES DVD/CD/SACD player, with the intention of using it for DVD's. Played a regular CD on it and was AMAZED! Disconnected my Meta Research Laser 1, originally retailed at $3850, and am THRILLED at the sound of the Sony. Not to mention it plays SACD's and, of course DVD's. It can be found around the web now for around $850 I think.
The source is most important beause it gets the information to the rest of the system.If you start off with a bad singmal it only gets worse.
Ncarv.You cant compare your 9 year old Meta to a current player.An 199.00 sony Player will sound better than your 3850.00 9 year old player.
Buy a Sony Cd/SACD player at the same price point of your s9000es and see if it is not better at Cd playback than the combo player.
Well after everyones response and further thought on this matter. There is no reason to buy any CD player this week or this month. I don't plan to buy new speakers until febuary or so and I seriously doubt my current speakers could show the difference between my Panasonic DVD player and the Cambridge or any other.

I think I'll get the new speakers and then audition CD players. Players are alot easier to cart back and forth from the store than speakers too.

A note to all on the DVD players. I'm a little more knowledgable about video than audio, but I'm learning. I can tell you that after buying a Denon 2800 DVD player (a new one without the bugs), I returned it for a Panasonic RP-56. Which has the Sage chip by the way. The price difference: $230 compared to $750. The Roundtable... it's as good as the Panasonic for 4 times the price. On my 57" HDTV, the Panasonic was better than the Denon. The Denon is supposed to have better audio due to the Burr Brown DACs and sampling rate, but like I said... I can't tell with my current system. I got the cheaper and better Panasonic due to the belief that a seperate CD player would sound better than any DVD player. Did I make the right decision in the long run as far as audio is concerned? Who knows! But the DVD players are getting better. Maybe it's because of DVD-Audio requirments?
Gunbunny: The Panasonic DVD players have a pretty fair reputation for sound; I'd compare the Panasonic to the Cambridge-my guess is the Panasonic would smoke it.
Gunbunny, you dont say which Panasonic dvd player you have, but it might be just as good or better as a cd player than the Cambridge.
Its the RP-56. I think the RP-91 is supposed to have better audio. I know the RP-91 plays DVD-Audio. I got the RP-56 because I beleive it has less problems with video than the RP-91, however, depending on who you talk to you'll get different opinions.
Speakers will effect the signature of the sound more then any other piece. Its a good idea to start with speakers and then try different cd players with the new speakers.
I agree with your conclusion and Perfectimage. Wait until you have your speakers and then audition the CDP. And you might want to consider a used CAL ICONN or even a (shudder) CL-10 changer (used for about $7-800) which was Sphile Class B.
My Panasonic DVD sounds like shit. My 10 year old Rotel 855 was seriously more dynamic and musical. Sure, cheap DACs have improved, but the difference in mechanical transport quality probably accounts for the difference.
Likewise, I wasn't happy with other CDPs (ARCAM 9, FMJ, ARC, Marantz, Bel Canto)to replace this old humble Rotel until I got a REALLY mechanically stable CDP with a super-smooth DAC (EMC-1 MkII). Thus I posit that it isn't just about lasers and chips. You gotta spin these acrylic frisbees VERY correctly, no?
My take on the component importance ladder is a bit of an amalgam of others' posts: I believe it's the transducers that carry all the weight:
1. Source
2. Speakers and room
3. Amplification to drive the speakers in the room.
4. Dedicated AC lines, and cables to synergize the system

One can get a used EMC-1 for around $2k, and I sold my Rotel for $250. Was there a difference? An incredibly large one! Was there a difference between the Rotel and the others I demoed in the $500-$1600 range? Essentially that small improvements in smoothness over midrange bloom were counterbalanced by lack of dynamics or good pace. And the DVD alone was crap, and not THAT much better with a 'Canto on it.
My take on under $1k CDPs is that you try to find a player that has a good enough transport to keep time well, and then find a filter you like with your speakers/room.
Would I have bought the EMC-1 if I hadn't already upgraded to VERY resolving speakers? Probably not! But my Parsifal Encores (especially once driven by a great pre/mono setup) easily resolved stuff upstream that NOW proved bothersome, so the hunt was on to improve the front end...but ONLY when I could resolve differences therein.
I glean from some of the posts (and I agree) that one can get quite decent peformance from some cheap CDPs, so that the cost/benefit curve is rather non-linear.
I don't believe this is so much the case with loudspeakers, although room-matching is so important that one's specific results can be wildly non-linear, of course.
Nonetheless, I believe one should apportion one's budget for a great set of speakers, a decent front end, and clean adequate electronics in between as necessary. We HEAR transducers...elecronics just enable them, with as little coloration as possible if we're lucky.
Bon soir.

Yes you made the right decision to go with the Panasonic.

The RP-56 has a superb picture and very good sound. I recently had a discussion with a reviewer who lives in my neck of the woods and he told me that it measures more accurately than any of the Sonys that he has tested (for video, of course) and even better than the more expensive Panasonic he reveiwed that has DVD Audio. He believes that the Sonys have some extra processing/emphasis in the chips that cannot be turned off. To some, however, the extra processing gives the picture more punch, but at the expense of accuracy. He also told me the reason why the Panasonic is better is because there is less processing and features in it. As for the sound you will have to be the judge, but at the very least you have an excellent dvd player.

Keep this in mind when you go shopping for speakers and amplication.

In the long run you will find as you get further into audio that often times, less is more; the fewer things you have in the circuit the more pure the sound is (it should be more reliable too). Most of the time efficient speakers have a very simple crossover or none at all and lower powered amps have less transistors or tubes and an overall simpler circuit design. Therefore, when you go looking for your next set of speakers consider its efficiency. This will allow you to use an amp with less power. Like the Panasonic keep it simple.
Subaruguru is closer to what I think is the proper hierarchy of things audio: the transducers are critical, to which I want to add that speakers are probably the "weakest link" (it's hard trying to sound female, British, annoying and nasal, in writing...). That is not to say that the people favouring a balanced approach are wrong. The two approaches are not mutually exclusive. I will trot out my old warhorse again: cables are the least significant factor and they should not be used to alter the sound of a system, unless something is wrong with the components (oh! sorry, yes, yes, cables ARE components), they should be neutral. Ever since Linn came out with the LP-12 and announced to the world that the greater portion of your budget should be on the source and the dealers started to sell lopsided systems consisting of a very expensive turntable/arm/cartridge combo with a tiny British amp and equally tiny two way speakers, this idea of the source being the prime consideration resurfaces regularly. The source is very important, but you have to have balance or else you may very well be equipped to reproduce the Linn dealers demos of yore: chamber music played at a very "reasonable" spl. Strange to think Linn only made turntables back then, maybe preaching for his own parish, no? From the little I know about music (euhm...), it is dynamic and when the going gets tough, you do need the speakers with both range and dynamics and, taking into account how efficient those speakers are, a power amp with enough gumption to drive them to the required levels in a clean fashion. In closing, Subaruguru mentioned the room in which all that sound and fury will be sampled: again right on, proving two things: the guru knows cars and sound systems. Yes, no sense in pining for that last bottom octave if your room will kill it. As in all things, balance is what counts, but to achieve it certainly means a holistic approach which includes the room and which does not mean that every component in this chain should be treated equally. And in answer to the question itself: dealers speak the truth AS THEY KNOW IT. I have never met one wishing to sell a less expensive product or actively inciting a customer to buy a product from a line he does not carry. Although, I have heard a sales person in one of the largest shops here recently telling me that tube products are not reliable and that the store stopped selling a Canadian brand of tube electronics because some of their products would actually blow up in flames or at least set themselves alight... The truth is a rare and elusive commodity. Regards.
You've got a good point, Natalie, re: the new
Sony DVP-S900ES vs. the 9-year old Meta Laser 1, but, after hooking up the Sony and listening, I checked around the web and read more than a few reviews remarking on the superb sound quality of the Sony, comparing it to CD players at several times the cost. You're right, I can't comment without having listened to CD players in the same price range, though I think I have a pretty good ear and have listened to much more expensive players. This one holds its own. (Maybe I'm just thrilled with the upgrade.)
Pbb, don't assume the reason the story the dealer told you about the line he no longer carries is true. I've heard all sorts of stories about lines dealers "decided" to abandon.

I knew one retail salesman who, knowing my price range and objectives, recommended a cd player that his store did not carry. He was also honest about the merits and deficiencies of the products in his store. Only problem was, the guy could never hold a job in retail.

Oh, and speaking of retail, Gunbunny et al., sometimes a salesperson has an extra incentive (e.g., a manufacturer's spiff) to promote one line over another. Ask them when they give you the line about A brand putting all its money into those glossy ads and B brand putting more money into "the product." In reality, both brands spend as much on promotion, but A advertises more and B gives spiffs to salespeople.
a lot of folks are ditching their pricy outboard dacs in favor of a cheap ~$130 art di/o, w/cheap (~$100) mods. see the audio asylum's digital forum for a nauseating plethora of praise for this dinky thing... ;~)

in *my* system, which *is* pretty hi-resolution, imho, my modded di/o & humble nad 5-disc cd-changer is *far* better than either a $1800 alchemist nexus or $3k resolution audio cd-50.

ymmv, doug s.

Natalie: The Chicago Audio Society's reference source is a $89 Aiwa CD Changer. So much for spending a lot of money on quality. See for yourself at
aiwa, huh? i was looking at the possibility of a cheap transport upgrade - after this cheap di/o i got made such an improvement, why not take it to the next level? ;~)

doug s.

I've just run into something similar while looking for speakers on the various audio sites. A respondent told me that my Cambridge Audio D500-SE was nowhere near up to the task as regards to the speakers I was considering (Vanderteen 3a sigs, Theil 3.6, Von Sweikert VR4 GenII, B&W Matrix 802 S-3, Snell C/V, etc.) He said he wouldn't match this low of a quality cd player with speakers with a retail list price of $500.00 (good $500.00 speakers)
He did recommend however that I could get a pair of Mission 782's ($900.00 list) and upgrade my cd player later.
Is this cd player that bad? I'm pretty new to this stuff and don't really know much about it, although I try to research all components before buying. (I bought the Cambridge on recommendations from members of this site as well as others)
What I've got so far:
Citation 7.1 amp for music
Citation 7.1 amp for movies
Adcom GTP-760 Pre/proc
Cambridge Audio D500-SE
For me this represents an effort to step up from my Denon 2801 receiver.
Say, on the strength of some of your components, it looks more like a full ladder up from the Denon. And indeed the Vandies, Thiels, B&W (don't know the others) are strong and revealing players... which does not mean the cambridge should be trashed. It means, IMO, that you can easily upgrade your cd source without losing out elsewhere along the chain, i.e. you won't have to upgrade other components to hear the best out of a reasonable cdp upgrade. When you upgrade.

True, there are other cdp's or crafty combinations of transport + dac that can produce better sound. Don't worry though, if you're happy with your present tunes!