Like

Cary CD-500

 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1273
Registered: May-05
Ok guys, don't give me any crud, I know I said I was done for awhile. But, I started reading reviews of CDPs and got interested in the Regas, Carys and Marantz units. After a little focus, I narrowed my interest down to a coupld of the Cary units, a few older ones on Audiogon and this newer unit and one of the older Marantz units.

Now, I have a shot at picking up a 2 month old demo unit of the Cary CD-500 for under $2000. It sounds like a screaming deal and I think it would be a substantial upgrade to my Arcam Diva CD-92, if nothing else just for the upgrade in DAC quality, up sampling ability, jitter control and the transport. Has anyone heard it or had any experience with the more recent Cary units? Thanks, Dave
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1354
Registered: Jul-07
I've read very good things about it. High quality unit, very well made, and is quite hefty for a cdp. My only concern with it is comments like this.....

"The Cary is solid-state, so don't expect the very fleshy quality of Cary's tube coupled units. The Cary CD-500 is not exactly lean, but it does fall into the "detailed" category of players. Here "clean and clear" is more obvious than "richness or elegance." A cello will sound more like its strings than its box. Acoustic guitar will sound a bit thinner and more snappy. The sound is more forward and direct than recessed and full-blooded. Higher sampling rates will soften any edge that your ears might experience, but can also add a vagueness and reduce dynamic punch. None of this is a deal buster if you aren't interested in tubes. "

Now, that's just one man's opinion, but what he describes it is not is pretty high on my list of must haves. However, your 'must haves' may be more in line with what it is, rather what it is not.....so you may love it. For that much money though, I'd demo it in-home to find out for sure.

Are you set on a cdp ? Not considering a DAC at all ?
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1274
Registered: May-05
Chris,

I thought my next purchase would be a DAC but I've now had friends bring two units over and played them in my system. One was a "Pro" grade DAC from a manufacturer I had never heard of before. The guy spent $5,000 plus for it new and he explained that the company is just now getting into "hobbyist" level DACs. Frankly, my Arcam Diva CD-92 sounded better than his DAC to my ears. Sound was fuller, cleaner and the sound stage was taller and wider. I would have called his DAC fairly lean as I felt like some information was missing compared to my CDP. After he left, I asked impressions of the other two people that were there and they described it slightly different but we all agreed that "something" was missing with his DAC.

The other was a W4S DAC1. I really felt that this was going to be an interesting comparison because I was leaning towards the W4S DAC2 if I went in this direction. These DACs are considered to be more "tube-like" and that can translate to warm and rich or dull and muddy. The W4S was warm in a way but I didn't think it sounded as accurate as my CDP. Again, this is a 10 year old CDP that was pretty dang good in its day but it has no upsampling abilty, the DAC in it is older and the transport mechanism, IMHO, is cheap for the original cost. So, I expected the W4S to clean its clock in a head to head and it didn't. I can say that some tracks I liked better on the W4S but some I liked better on the CDP. So, I asssume that the "house sound" for the two W4S DACs are going to be about the same and I'm not interested in throwing down $1500 to find that it's no more than a toss up in improving my sound. The incredible improvement I've had with each migration to what I have now suggests that the CDP is probably my weakest link and it isn't even close to horrible by any means.

But, that is what led me to consider a new CDP and I kinda just decided that I may sit out the whole DAC deal until there is a some kind of clear improvement in the quality of the digital files that can be played through a DAC or some other reason to make the transition. Frankly, I have no problem getting up and changing a disc every hour or so and I'm still feeling like I get equal or better quality from a CDP at this point. Maybe I would hear the Rega and go crazy. Dunno on that. Thanks, Dave
 

Gold Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 1085
Registered: Dec-06
Dak, perhaps I misunderstood, but you can use whatever quality of digital file you want. There is no reason you shouldn't be able to find CD quality files and more (depends on where you get the files of course).

That said, I prefer the one box route myself. If you are open to other options, you could also consider Simaudio. In my system the CD.5 strikes an excellent balance between clarity/detail and smoothness/expansiveness. Timing and organization are impeccable and the sound is not too forward or too recessed. The player continues to impress.

For $2,000 you could move up a few rungs on the Simaudio ladder and get what should be a really impressive player. Bryston is another option at this price level. Their player is well liked on this forum.

I found with my old Apollo SE that the sound was too full-bodied and heavy-handed for my liking. I think Art also came to the same conclusion with his Saturn. This may or may not be an issue with your system, but if your amp and speakers lean that way then perhaps adding a more balanced CD player is a better fit than one that will add further warmth and body. If this is the case then perhaps the Cary is a good option. Though what did that reviewer compare it to? The tube sound? Other tubed CD players that you'd figure a company like Cary might make? Compared to these sorts of players sure, the Cary may seem more solid state. But compared to your Arcam, who knows? It could actually lean the other way.

The problem with reviews, including my little CD.5 review, is that you can't tell from these writeups how something will sound in your system to your ears. Most reviews read like a glowing recommendation, but there is nothing in any Simaudio review that made me know that it was going to be a good fit. I had to try one out myself. And don't get me wrong...Rega makes great CD players...in a different system, or with different ears listening, it would surely beat a CD.5.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1278
Registered: May-05
Dan,

Excellent thoughts. The problem I always have is that Spokane has no decent audio stores. Huppins (One Call) carries mid level speakers (under $2000) and mid level audio ($1000 CDPs and $1500 amps) and it carries nothing in the Cary, Rega, SimAudio, or professional level Marantz line or any similar higher end brands. So, I can't really demo things here in Spokane and I can't take the system on the road.

So, I read reviews and "guess" and get advice from you guys and use Wally at Underwood Hi Fi who knows most of the components in my system and he has been great with synergy. He believes the Arcam is a little "bright" and he recommended the W4S integrated because it would strike a nice balance and not push the CDs even brighter.

Based upon what I hear and what is written about the Cary, I suspect it will be an improvement and won't be as bright as Arcam but it will add detail and give me better (real) music, just because of some of the quality issues that I addressed initially. But, for me it's always a crapshoot and I've been incredibly lucky so far.

My thinking is at $3000 retail even if I'm wrong I can sell it without taking a huge hit since it's a 2 month old player, with a full warranty and I'm getting it for 1/3 off. So, . . . I'm leaning towards taking the plunge. Plus, I can fund it with a watch sale that I never wear so it should be about a zero cost net. Long story on the watch. Very nice to be able to go at this way. I learned that my $350 watch purchase is now worth $1700 to $2000 7 years later. I wear one of the two watches I purchased and the other one has never left the box so it should fund most if not all of the CDP.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1279
Registered: May-05
Chris,

Same review and where he is reviewing the quality of sound reproduction as opposed to his "Quibbles":

"The Sound

I have to say it: the Cary is simply the best solid-state CD player in anything like its price range that I have heard to date. In my experience, you would have to buy the solid-state Ayre DX-5 at $9995 to better the performance of CDs on the Cary. The Cary is much more realistic and musical than any of the mass-produced Japanese brands, and more solidly built (at 23lbs.) than most. Filled with exotic parts and sporting a terrific transport, it sounds like it looks. In addition, almost none of the Japanese brands have HDCD decode, which is superb! The CD-500 is part of Cary's "Classic Line" of components, and these are the ones to own. The folks at Cary have great musical taste, and it shows!"

I'd say that since I can't afford the Ayre and I'm not looking at going with tubes, that's pretty dang high praise and it's the same guy's opinion that you quoted above. But, as always, my mileage may vary so see my post above as to my rationale for taking the leap. It's like a "no brainer" and as you know, I have no brain so . . .

Dave
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1356
Registered: Jul-07
I did go through the whole review Dak and he certainly liked the player.....no question. The only reason I quoted that section is just to highlight (as he did) that priorities are everything. One man's rave is another man's rant. If you like what he likes, you'll love the player. Jan talks about this a lot. If you can figure out what a reviewer is hearing and what they're priorities are, you can sometimes find a reviewer that you can trust more.....although it seems that everyone has some sort of agenda, so it's still a bit of a guessing game.

Finding a match to your other gear is the other challenge. He had that player hooked up to some sweet components. If the W4S gear tends towards the warm'ish/dark'ish side, that type of player might be just what is in order.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 14537
Registered: Feb-05
Dan you are right about my long term conclusion relative the Saturn. It was more of a synergy thing rather than me not liking the Saturn. I have found that the more I spend on hifi the more the sound is specific to taste rather remaining good with every type of music and that is more relative to electronics than speakers.

I spent last weekend listening to my Marantz SR 5005 AVR (in Pure Direct mode) connected to my Pinnacle AC650's and a Sony CD player I bought new in the box for $50 from Ebay and was shocked at how good it sounded. My wife sat around and listened to Bill Evans for hrs on Saturday night. I bought a Marantz CD5004 which is to arrive today that I will put into the living room setup to replace the Sony as it was pretty obviously the weak link last weekend. We'll see.

This may be one of the secrets of McIntosh gear is that it's built to play music and not built to any specific taste such as Naim for example.

Just thinking out loud, forgive.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1280
Registered: May-05
Chris,

Thanks for the clarification on your thinking. You are absolutely correct about hearing it with your own ears and how different things can sound to different people. I've now read every review I can find on this player. I have a decent feel for what is being said about it but there is no substitute for hearing it in your own system. Given my very limited options here in the audio desert, I have to take the 3 blind guys in a room with the elephant approach. I grope around and hope I don't stick my hand in the wrong part, LOL.

There is no question that it won't be hooked up to the same quality of gear as that reviewer used but I also read a review by a guy that ran it with an AVR receiver, a $1000 integrated and a $5000 integrated and he had good things to say across the board, although he noted some changes with the sound as the gear changed. Also, he was using interconnects and power cables that were closer to my price range and not the $4500 power cables being used by the reviewer we both quoted. For some of these reviewers, the level of stuff they use really doesn't tell the rest of us anything really all that helpful.

I'm not going to buy a $3000 CDP and use $4500 power cables, a $5000 power conditioner and $4000 speaker cables. DUH!!!! So, how about using equipment that is in the ballpark of the gear you're reviewing so "real people" can evaluate how it might work with their own systems? Anyway, I digress . . .

Art, you are always welcome to comment or digress in any of my threads, especially if you're talking about $50 CDPs.

Dave
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1281
Registered: May-05
Well guys,

As you might expect, I took the plunge and the Cary will be shipping soon. I'll let you know if it's good, bad, equal or something else. Not sure what else there is, though.

Dave
 

Gold Member
Username: Dmitchell

Ottawa, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 4807
Registered: Feb-07
Dak, I had the W4S DAC-1 for awhile and I had more or less the same findings. It was a very warm sounding DAC. Very pleasant to listen to, but I found that maybe it was just a bit too warm. I picked up the Bryston BDA-1 instead and it sounds completely different. I wouldn't say better, just different. The Bryston is very precise and revealing.

The W4S DAC-1 and DAC-2 share probably 95% of their electronics and design, so I imagine they would sound very similar.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1282
Registered: May-05
David,

Thanks for the additional information. I don't know when I'll next look at a DAC. My current system is so clean, simple and easy to use that I'm sure it won't be real soon.

Now, for a first and relatively short listen of the new Cary CD-500. It's very interesting. Where the Arcam is very upfront and almost in your face, the Cary moves you back a few rows. The sound stage is wider and taller and has a more accurate placement of instruments and people.

I thought the Arcam was pretty good when it came to listener fatigue but I did notice that it required that I push the volume up considerably to get all the details. The Cary delivers those same details at lower levels. At this point, I'm not sure I would call it more accurate but I think that is where I will eventually end up. I understand that it only had about 30 or so hours on it at the place I purchased it and Cary recommends 100 hours for break in. So, I want to see how it changes with time.

The upsampling ability is fantastic and I'm playing with that to determine how much additional information I can get on most CDs. I haven't tried any HDCDs yet but it is supposed to automatically deal with those. So far, I'm thinking this is an upgrade but it is strange to go from "loud, upfront" to mellower and detailed at all listening levels. More to come as I get more of a chance to listen this weekend.

Dave
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1377
Registered: Jul-07
I prefer the less upfront presentation myself. If things have moved back a bit, yet provided more transparency, that's a good thing in my book. My cdp also handles HDCD but the results are mixed. I have a few that are stellar, but most are not noticeably better than a regular cd. A couple of them don't sound as good as many of my disks.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1283
Registered: May-05
Chris,

I'm finding I prefer the less upfront presentation as well. Last night, things opened up a bit more and the presentation remains a bit back. But, the clarity of voices and accurate presentation of voices and instruments is really noticeable. The last thing I listened to was an older recording of the Romeo and Juliet symphony that came from an updated master. For several minutes, I forgot I was listening to "digital" because the sounds were warmer and reminded me of my old, long lost vinyl collection. That sent chills up my spine.

I've got a coupld HDCDs but haven't tried them yet. I suspect that your experience is typical, though. It all depends on the original source material. Dave
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1379
Registered: Jul-07
Not sure of your musical tastes, but the best HDCD I have is Boz Scaggs - Speak Low. Very nice light Jazz/Crooner material, and an excellent recording. His voice has mellowed with age and he does an excellent job with the material. I put it in frequently after a very hectic day and by the end of the disk I'm usually mellowed completely out. Of course, a glass of wine as well doesn't hurt.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1284
Registered: May-05
Chris,

I have no musical tastes. I listen to just about everything depending upon my mode, except opera and I'm really trying to develop even a minor interest in opera but it's tough so far. But, a Boz Scaggs CD is certainly doable. Thanks, Dave
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1380
Registered: Jul-07
Ah, just like me. Classical one minute, Blue Grass the next. Lately a lot of contemporary folk. So far though, no Techno or Hip Hop. I'll leave that to my kids.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1286
Registered: May-05
Chris,

Have you heard the Decemberists' "The King is Dead"? Interesting mix of soft rock and blue grass and folk contemporary. Lead singer has an incredible voice. I'm buying more to see if their sound is that good across the board.

Dave
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1389
Registered: Jul-07
I have heard good things about the Decemberists, but haven't heard any of their music. I'll have to sample some of their stuff on Itunes.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 14575
Registered: Feb-05
The other Decemberist albums are completely different. This is an excellent group of Portland musicians who typical of that city's artists are very eclectic and play in various other bands of several genres around the Portland area and that includes Jazz and Classical. Portland is a very special "music" city and one of the best in the country IMO.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1289
Registered: May-05
Art,

Thanks for the background. I guess I'm going to have to hear how these guys do jazz and classical. I'm just really impressed with their sound and the lyrics of this album. As usual, you are the man!!!
Dave
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1291
Registered: May-05
Well Guys,

Another 10 hours on the Cary CDP and I'm really liking what I hear for the most part. It's a very interesting change not to have a wall of sound right in my face and have it a little laid back. I listened to Al De Meola, several tracks, The Wicked Sound track - several tracks, almost all of the 6th CD release of Elvis original RCA Records stuff, an early Johnny Cash CD, the Decca Records era Billie Holliday remastered CDs and a few tracks of Mozart and Stravinsky over the past couple of nights.

I seem to be getting a lot more detail, much clearer vocals and instruments, and a more intricate sound from the new CDP. With my semi-crappy hearing, it can be tough to decipher words on some CDs but that is much improved, almost magical.

But, I have adapted my listening as weel because I can turn down the volume quite a bit and still get 90-95% of the sound and dynamics, whereas volume was necessary with the Arcam to get those same vocals, music and dynamics. With the Arcam, the music was not as clear, dynamic and it lacked some accuracy. I really thought the Arcam was quite good but now I realize what the extra bucks and 10 years of technology will do for you.

The Cary upsampling DAC capability is really noticeable in some CDs and vaguely noticeable in others. But, one of the biggest differences that I notice is still that it sounds more like analogue. That was totally unexpected and not really something that I can explain. There are times I could swear I'm hearing a stylus going through the grooves and the music is richer. It reminds me of what I used to get with my old Fisher tube amp, except for a bunch more of everything, especially slam from the 500 plus wpc going through the Wyred 4 Sound integrated. LOL

Dave
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1405
Registered: Jul-07
Glad it's working out Dak. Keep the tunes flowin'.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1292
Registered: May-05
Chris,

Thanks, will do. Is it me or has this forum turned into a morgue?

Where is everyone? Did I miss something?
 

Gold Member
Username: Dmitchell

Ottawa, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 4811
Registered: Feb-07
Yeah Dak, it's dead man. There's only a few regulars that seem to post here these days.... you, Art, Jan, Chris, Dan.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 14596
Registered: Feb-05
It ain't quite the morgue but it is on life support.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 14602
Registered: Feb-05
Hey David...if you like that Decemberist album do pick up;

The Wood Brothers - Ways not to Lose

Billy Bragg & Wilco - Mermaid Ave Vol. II

Both are great listens.
 

Silver Member
Username: Unbridled_id

ChicagoUsa

Post Number: 566
Registered: Mar-04
You like Mermaid II better than vol I art ?
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 14604
Registered: Feb-05
I love anything Wilco is associated with. That Wood Brothers album is even more similar to the style of the Decemberists but with more humor and instrumental excellence.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1293
Registered: May-05
David and Art,

Yoo hoo, anyone home? LOL

Art, as always, you find a way to help me spend my money. I'll guess I'll have to pick up a couple more CDs.
Thanks, Dave
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1298
Registered: May-05
Art,

Picked up the Wood Bros, Billy Bragg and some Diane Reeves. Been very nice so I'll continue to take CD recs from you guys anytime. Now, I'm looking for some decent HDCDs so Chris, which Boz Scaggs is the HDCD?
 

New member
Username: Mjcmt

NC USA

Post Number: 1
Registered: Dec-11
Cary cdps are fine units, even the older entry units. I had the CD308 and it was stunning. The best bargains are their CD308T or CD300/200.
« Previous Thread | Next Thread »

Add Your Message Here

Bold text Italics Create a hyperlink Insert a clipart image Add a YouTube Video
Need to Register?
Forgot Password?
Enable HTML code in message
   

Facebook

Shop Related Deals

Directory

Main Forums

Today's Posts

Forum Help

Follow Us