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?
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