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  1. #1

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    Default CD Player shootout: Jolida-Eastern Electric-Musical Fidelity- Denon-Opera Consonance

    I've been looking all over for reviews of mid-level CDP's and found it very hard to fnd a good comparison. So I thought, why not do it myself? So I am. I will be reviewing 6 popular players that seem to get great reviews on their own. I want to see what the "real" difference is between them. So many claim to have features that people think mae a superior player. I wat to put them to the test.

    I have 2 tubed players and 4 SS. one is nonupsampling. 3 have internal volume attenuatoin. one is a CDP and preamp all in one.

    Let's meet the contenders:

    Eastern Electric Minimax CD Player - tube
    from SoundStage!: features Burr-Brown 1732 DACs and accepts two 6922 or 6DJ8 tubes, with a pair of the 6922s included and pre-installed. A custom toroidal power transformer was designed specifically for the MiniMax. The player supports both conventional and HDCD-encoded compact discs, and includes a small LED to tell you when the latter is spinning. The unit also supports homebrew CD-Rs.

    Jolida JD-100: tube
    from Jolida website:
    Gain stage utilizing two 12AX7A vacuum tubes. Unit does not utilize op-amps.
    Two transformers
    24/96 Burr Brown D/A converter
    Phillips CDM 12.1 Transport System
    Programmable for up to twenty-four tracks.
    Full - function random access metal remote control with search function.
    Track repeat and index of track search function.
    Variable Headphone output.

    Opera Consonace CD-120 Linear: SS - non-upsampling
    from tnt-audio:
    "Sampling frequency: 44.1kHz/88.2kHz (selected manually using remote control unit)
    To Experience the True Possibility of 16bit/44.1kHz Format"
    DAC resolution: 16bit TDA1543
    Clock Jitter Less than 14ps directly distributed to DAC
    0dBFS signal output: 2.35V RMS
    Frequency response: Less than +/- 0.5 dB deviation 20Hz-20kHz
    Phase response: Less than 5 degrees deviation 20Hz-20kHz, or less than 2 degrees deviation 20Hz-20kHz, depending which Consonance/Opera website you visit
    Signal-to-noise ratio: More than 100dB
    Crosstalk: Less than -100dB
    Distortion (RCA): Less than 0.12%
    Remote Control: Philips RC-5 compatible IR system 36kHz modulation frequency
    Dimensions / Weight : 8.5cm x 43cm x 32cm (HxWxD) / 10kg

    Musical Fidelity CD-Pre24 SS - with built-in preamplifier
    from stereophile:
    Description: Combination CD player/digital and analog preamplifier. CD Section: DAC: 24-bit delta-sigma, 8x oversampling (CD or DVD-Audio conversion only). Frequency response: 20Hz-20kHz, ?0.02dB. Channel balance: <0.02dB. Stereo separation, 20Hz-20kHz: >98dB. THD 1kHz: 0dB digital level 0.002%, -10dB digital level 0.004%, -70dB digital level 0.050%. S/N Ratio: 110dB unweighted (20Hz-20kHz), 114dB A-weighted. Audio output at digital 0dB level, 1kHz: 2.14V RMS nominal, sourced from 47 ohms impedance. Jitter: 189ps. Preamplifier Section: Direct Analog connection: Maximum output for 2.2V RMS in: 8.4V RMS (11.6dB voltage gain). Distortion: <0.002%, 20Hz-20kHz. Frequency response: 20Hz-20kHz +0/-0.02dB. Crosstalk (typical): 85dB. Channel Balance: 20Hz-20kHz <0.01dB. S/N Ratio: 106dB unweighted (20Hz-20kHz), 109dB A-weighted. Preamplifier Section: ADC/DAC (measurements made by linking coax digital output to digital monitor and using digital monitor function). Maximum output for 2.2V RMS in: 8.2V RMS. Distortion: !x0.004%, 20Hz-20kHz. Frequency response: 20Hz-20kHz +0/-0.37dB. Crosstalk (typical): 90dB. Channel Balance: 20Hz-20kHz <0.02dB. S/N Ratio: 101dB unweighted (20Hz-20kHz), 104dB A-weighted.
    Dimensions: 17.2" (440mm) W by 5.5" (140mm) H by 14.8" (380mm) D. Weight: 30 lbs

    Denon DVD-2910 SS CD/DVD/SACD/DVD-A
    Faroudja's FLI-2310 DCDi chipset, Burr Brown DSD1791 24-bit/192kHz audio D/A converters for all channels, and two 12-bit, 216MHz video DACs, complete with NSV circuitry.

    2008 Mac Mini computer
    used as transport into Musical Fidelity DAC through toslink
    using only AIFF or FLAC files played through VLC with flat equalization

    HOPEFULLY TO BE IN THE SHOOTOUT
    Rega Planet 2000: SS
    from enjoy the music:
    Digital Outputs: coax digital, optical digital
    Analog Outputs: single-ended via RCA
    Power: toroidal mains transformer, detachable AC cord
    DAC: Rega 24-bit Sigma Delta IC40 DAC,
    24-bit converter with 64 level sigma delta DAC design,
    three stage linear phase FIR filter
    followed by a 16x over-sampled linear interpolator
    Enclosure: extruded aluminum,
    Rega VCS case isolation system
    CD Mechanism: Sony
    Other:
    RADS conversion stage
    CD Text Display
    Solar Wind remote control


    A formidable group, those.

    All in all, the majority of them can be had second hand for around $400 - $700 with the exception of the Denon, which can be had for ~$150 and the Musical Fidelity which will run you a little over $1k. But considering that you get a reference grade preamp built in, is quite incredible.


    Now, the associated equipment:

    speakers: Emerald Physics CS2's with moderate modifications
    amp: Sunfire Cinema Grand in bi-amp configuration
    interconnects: MIT EXP Proline Balanced XLR, and MIT EXP1 RCA
    speaker cable: MIT EXP2
    preamp: for the sake of convenience and consistency, all CDP's were played through the CD-pre24. I ran this up against my audible Illusions, and honestly, the MF is an EXCELLENT preamp, and certainly reference grade. The MF uses the same architectures as their legendary Nu-Vista and A3.2CR.


    Preliminary tests are being done today.

    If you have any particular requests or questions regarding any of these units, let me know!
    design is where science and art break even.

  2. #2

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    Very cool comparison!

    Do you have an external DAC so that you could compare their merits just as transports?
    2-Channel:

    Source 1: PC
    Source 2: Rega Apollo CDP
    USB > SPDIF Converter: Stello U3
    DAC: Audio GD NFB-7
    Preamp: Audio Research LS-15
    Power Amp: BAT VK-500
    Speakers: Magnepan 3.7's

    HT:

    Source 1: HTPC
    Source 2: Oppo 103
    Pre/Pro: Marantz av8003
    Power Amp: Rotel RMB-1095
    Fronts: LSiM-705's
    Center: LSiM-704c
    Surrounds: LSiM-702's
    Subs: Dual SVS PC12-NSD's

  3. #3

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    Ditto; very cool indeed. Except i would rather newrival just use cd's internal dac. Up to him though. either way.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by chumlie View Post
    ... i would rather newrival just use cd's internal dac. Up to him though. either way.
    I think testing them in that way, as full-on CDP's, is a given. The transport shootout would be an addition from what he's planning.
    2-Channel:

    Source 1: PC
    Source 2: Rega Apollo CDP
    USB > SPDIF Converter: Stello U3
    DAC: Audio GD NFB-7
    Preamp: Audio Research LS-15
    Power Amp: BAT VK-500
    Speakers: Magnepan 3.7's

    HT:

    Source 1: HTPC
    Source 2: Oppo 103
    Pre/Pro: Marantz av8003
    Power Amp: Rotel RMB-1095
    Fronts: LSiM-705's
    Center: LSiM-704c
    Surrounds: LSiM-702's
    Subs: Dual SVS PC12-NSD's

  5. #5

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    With respect to the tube cdp's, how are you going to determine if it's the actual tube or unit that gives it good or bad marks? WHen dealing with tube gear, tubes used can make or break the unit and comparing them to each other seems like you will only know how it performs with a singular tube in place and not even the same tube in each piece of gear.

    H9
    "Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not".--Nelson Pass

    Pass Aleph 30; Eastern Electric Mini Max; Adcom GDA600; MIT S3/Z Pc; SDA 1C; Squeezebox; Tubes add soul!

  6. #6

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    Looking forward to your review its good to understand the importance of the source.

    RT1
    REEL TIME THEATRE
    Onkyo-TX-NR5007
    B&K 7270 amplifier
    Polk SWA-500 Subwoofer amplifier
    OppO BDP-83
    Pioneer Elite 50"
    Polk LCi-RTS-105;LCi-RTS-C;LCi-RTSFx;LCi80Fx
    Subs-Twin Polk CSW200
    HTS5000


    RABBIT HOLE RIG
    BAT VK-31SE
    VTL MB-450 Signature monoblock
    Wolcott Presence monoblock
    Musical Fidelity kW SACD
    Rega P25/RB600/Clearaudio Aurum Beta
    Acoustech Phono-Pre
    Sound Lab Millenium ELS
    BillyBags Rack
    MIT S1/3 cables
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    Everthing Matters...Tubes Rule...and It's Over until it's Not Over

  7. #7

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    thanks for the encouragement guys.

    I will be testing the CDP's on their own merits at this point, using internal DAC's

    I have a Hagerman external DAC and will compare the players transport ability down the road (read: in a month or so)

    H9, I knew this question would come up. Unfortunately, I have not prepared a great answer.
    My first reaction is that I honestly don't think this is a huge deal. Firstly, all players are as they were from the manufacturer. Same tubes as placed/specified by the designer. Secondly, the two tubed players use different tubes: 6922's in the EE and 12AX7's in the Jolida. If it were possible to use the same tubes in each, it would make a decent argument that each should carry the same tubes for comparison. Her, that is not possible. One could say, "try and find tubes that have relatively similar voicing," but this becomes a tricky situation. At some point it starts becoming less about the player and more about the tubes. At that point, I would be diverging from my goals of this comparison.

    This illustrates my point. It's hard to find a REAL WORLD comparison. If I start rolling tubes, I start having to add all kinds of qualifications like, " Player A was better than player B but only when using tubes J, S, and X; however, Player B was better than A when using tubes F, H, and R." Moreover, then why not roll opamps? or caps? This is how I'm choosing to do the comparison because this is what I would appreciate from other reviews.

    It's so easy to get mired down in all the garbage in this hobby. Some people enjoy that. I don't. What differences I perceive, I will report. There are hundreds of resources out there that will tell you observed traits of the tubes. I know tube rolling can fine tune equipment, so I am not arguing that point. My suggestion to the reader would be to read my forthcoming opinions and use them as part of the aggregate of their research. I'm not getting paid to do this, so, I will entertain the endless options only as far as it is useful to me or keeps me interested. The whole point of this was to keep it simple and straight forward.

    Sorry for the rambling. I'm not trying to be combative, just writing out my thoughts as they occur to me.
    design is where science and art break even.

  8. #8

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    For a fair comparison all players should be used stock as shipped from the manufacture. This way all players are on a level playing field. Let the chips fall as they may after extensive listening comparisons. Eagerly await your results!
    "2 Channel & 11.2 HT "
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    D>SONIC M2-600M mono's / mains
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    Rotel RMB-1075 / 5 channel amp
    TEAC UD - 501 DAC
    Oppo BDP-93
    SONOS System
    KEF Q900 / mains
    KEF Q600 / center
    KEF Q800 / surrounds
    KEF Q100 / rear surr.
    Def Tech ProMonitor 1000 / front & rear presence
    Velodyne SPL-1200R subs / dual pair
    DSPeaker Anti-Mode 8033 sub EQ
    Equitech Balanced Power Son of Q 1.5R
    Extensive room treatments

  9. #9

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    Also, I want to add that these players were specifically chosen because they seem to be the ones that come up the most. There are thousands of players out there. Undoubtedly, hundreds that are better than the ones I am testing. But, these consistently get brought up as being the best in their respective price ranges. With the dozens of reviews that get done for each, there is rarely a direct honest comparison done (understandably, when the reviewer has to be concerned about advertising and future product availability).

    So, it is with that understanding that I enter into this review. I'm really excited to get started on it.
    design is where science and art break even.

  10. #10

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    How about list what type or brand of tubes are in each. If you want for the jolida, I have a set of sovtek you can use or compair to whats in the palyer right now. In my player i have a set of EI we can pop out as well. If you are up to it, we can compair the 3 sets of tubes on the jolida and see what one sounds better before it goes up against the rest?

    From my own expierence, I think my jolida beat my denon 2910 hands down.

    Since I am sure all the tubes in his payers are not stock it might be hard to put them back to stock as suggested here.


    Eastern Electric Minimax & Opera Consonace CD both look like a nice players!!

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by erniejade View Post
    How about list what type or brand of tubes are in each. If you want for the jolida, I have a set of sovtek you can use or compair to whats in the palyer right now. In my player i have a set of EI we can pop out as well. If you are up to it, we can compair the 3 sets of tubes on the jolida and see what one sounds better before it goes up against the rest?

    From my own expierence, I think my jolida beat my denon 2910 hands down.

    Since I am sure all the tubes in his payers are not stock it might be hard to put them back to stock as suggested here.


    Eastern Electric Minimax & Opera Consonace CD both look like a nice players!!
    That Monday after I get back you should come out and we'll have a little test. The tubes in the EE are stock. So are the Jolida, kind of. They were the ones from the manufacturer but were not the "base " level. Luckily, the ones in the EE are the same as in the Audible Illusions so I have a few different quads around here.

    Tube rolling is possible, and I may do it as a side note, but I don't want to complicate the message. I will see what tubes are available directly from EE, and if I have them and they sound better, I have no problem using them as a comparison since the Jolida technically has an upgraded tube. But I only am going to do it if it is available from the company to keep this a fair fight.
    design is where science and art break even.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by erniejade View Post

    Eastern Electric Minimax & Opera Consonace CD both look like a nice players!!
    They're all nice players, to be sure.

    As a quick first opinion based on looks alone, the consonance is my favorite. It's sleek, modern, and the cleanest of all of them. Second, the minimax. It's considerably narrower, which I like in this circumstance. Also, it just look super solid, like all of EE's gear. Third is a tie between the Jolida and the Musical Fidelity. They're stylings arent my cup of tea. Design is huge for me, and there are just many things that irk me a little. The MF, I know, is made to look like its this massive piece of steel and aluminum with industrial cues, but its just not my style. The Jolida is spartan. It's clean, but I don't acre for the convex buttons within the concave wells, nor he overall layout. Yes, it's all nit-picky, but it's what I do for a living, and I can't help but be critical on these sorts of things. The Denon is the tackiest piece. I imagine resale prices are directly related to how cheap the thing looks. It's your standard A/V fare that you would expect from Denon or Pioneer, etc. This is NOT a reflection on how any of these play, just how they look :) I dont know if it's worth noting the looksof the mac mini. It looks like a mac mini. haha. from a CDP standpoint, I don't like the looks. It's too tiny. Too unimposing. But it is not meant to be a CDP, it's a computer. And a very sleek and thoughtfully designed one, at that.

    I will also review their functionality and how they feel using them. probably tonight. The remotes are all very interesting.

    A quick mention of how the remotes look:
    EE: nice sleek thin remote. a bit too thin if you ask me. It's like the bob-barker-microphone of remotes. obnoxiously thin when youre holding it. Nicely contrasting black buttons that are, scale -wise, proportional to the remote, but disproportionate to my finger. I can barely hit the right buttons on a keyboard let alone the tiny black nubs on this thing. I'll save functionality for later. But looks wise, It looks classy.

    Jolida: Very attractive. Black aluminum with silver buttons. very sleek. not much to say here looks wise other than it looks great. And weighs a lot, which I love.

    Opera: my favorite remote. Its almost square. fits the hand so nicely. rounded edges of beautifully brushed aluminum with highly protruding perfectly round, ball bearing-like buttons that are of a more steely grey color. It's very nice. the layout is nice too as it is not a nondescript grid. there are slight variations in the pattern and in a very simple layout so one could find the buttons without looking.

    MF: plastic. PLASTIC! The shape is nice but it looks cheap. the buttons just look uncomfortable. Also, The way it's laid out is so strange. the text is hard to read and it seems very counter intuitive. The major thing is that it seems like its upside down. If there were no text or visual cues that said "this end up" youd alway be pointing the butt of the remote at the player and cursing the thing for not working.

    Denon: yuck. I wish they would've broke the mold on this one. It's disgusting. The heel is like 3" thick. and cheap plastic. I use a harmony one so this has been hidden for a while, and hen I dug into the box and pulled this out, I just about dropped it out of shock of how hideous it was.

    Mac mini: not fair. remote is the super slick VLC remote on my iphone or ipad. very nice, but again, not a fair comparison.
    design is where science and art break even.

  13. #13

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    I will try and post some pics tonight
    design is where science and art break even.

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    One other thing of note, the EE and Jolida have built in headphone amps. The Jolida's is SS and is only OK. The soundfield is located on a skewer that runs through your head horizontally just behind your ear. It's a truly strange feeling. detail is good but that sound location is very odd. I tried my AT's, Grado's, and Beyer's and that same trait was in all of them. The EE on the otherhand passes the signal through the tube output stage and have to say it is phenomenal. Probably the best headphone amp I've had in my home. My feet have been tapping all day while working and listening through it. A very nice bonus to the EE.
    design is where science and art break even.

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    Look forward to the reviews. I can tell you that Headphone sections of Jolidas are "nothing" to write home about--probably one of their weakest links.

    As mentioned above. Different tube complements make things difficult to control, but I do like Phil's suggestion of just using the "stock" units--because I can't see how else to control for all the variables (too many).

    As you can see from my sig. I run the higher Jolida model that was recently discontinued and replaced with the new JD 200.

    I had a chance to hear my "Music Van" in house during my stay in China with a pair of very nice Tannoy floorstanders and their TOTL separates the Music Envoy mono-blocks and matching pre-amp. But enough about me. On to your review. I am very interested!

    cnh
    Onkyo TX-SR 805 System #1 HT AVR
    Office Two Channel: LSi-7s (Nakamichi CA-5, NAD 214, Pioneer BDP51fd)
    Vintage Polks: Polk Monitor 5As, Monitor 7Bs [HK 730], Monitor 10As [Marantz 2265], SDA-2Bs [Jolida JD-303, Jolida MV-MK4]
    Headphones: HD600, Q701, ATH-M50s etc. Bravo Audio Ocean amp., Onkyo P-304, Adcom GFA-555, Technics Direct Drive TT

  16. #16

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    How about stock tube, and replacement tube both? Stock on stock for the shootout, if one of the SS units wins vs the tube units, then tube roll and see if it brings it up. When I got my Jolida it didnt have stock tubes in it so I have no idea how it sounds with the stock ones. From what I read the stock tubes were not so hot on it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cnh View Post
    Look forward to the reviews. I can tell you that Headphone sections of Jolidas are "nothing" to write home about--probably one of their weakest links.

    As mentioned above. Different tube complements make things difficult to control, but I do like Phil's suggestion of just using the "stock" units--because I can't see how else to control for all the variables (too many).

    As you can see from my sig. I run the higher Jolida model that was recently discontinued and replaced with the new JD 200.

    I had a chance to hear my "Music Van" in house during my stay in China with a pair of very nice Tannoy floorstanders and their TOTL separates the Music Envoy mono-blocks and matching pre-amp. But enough about me. On to your review. I am very interested!

    cnh
    Thats exactly as I had intended to do originally, so I am glad others believe that is appropriate. Any subsequent tube rolling down the road will be a footnote. I really like Jolida gear. Fit and finish is superb, and any encounter with their gear has always been at least impressive.
    design is where science and art break even.

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    Let me know when your back definitely. I also want to hear the CS2's!!

    I called Holm Audio also about the Rega's I heard and instead of me bringing my JM Labs there, they are going to let me take the Rega's for a weekend. Actually a little longer than a weekend. I pick them up on a Saturday,and bring them back on a Tuesday.

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    The Denon is going to mop the floor with all those players....

    Ok so i'm biased....I have one. Looks like a nice lineup, very curious as to the results since I need a new player now to compliment the B&K, a dvd player is just holding it back.

    The 2910 can hold it's own but looks to be outclassed with this group.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gmcman View Post
    The Denon is going to mop the floor with all those players....

    Ok so i'm biased....I have one. Looks like a nice lineup, very curious as to the results since I need a new player now to compliment the B&K, a dvd player is just holding it back.

    The 2910 can hold it's own but looks to be outclassed with this group.
    I'm not prepared to give a verdict, but I think you will be intereted in my opinions. All I will say is that the I have new appreciation for the Denon. For the ~$150 they bring in, they're a steal performance-wise.
    design is where science and art break even.

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    Just for the record, that MF cd/pre is probably the worst representation of a MF cdp. Just saying is all.

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    I'm definately interested.....hopefully you can save me some $$$...:)

    I have held out on a dedicated cd player because it does work well, but after diving into the rabbit hole I'm on the hunt.

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    Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on these!


    If you end up selling any of these at the end of your review. I'll take the Jolida off your hands!!





    Nik

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    As has already been suggested it makes sense to initially test the 2 tubed players with stock tubes, if they don't stack up against the SS units then rolls some tubes and try again.

    I will say this - the psvane tubes I'm using in my Jolida JD-100 were quite an improvement over the stock Chinese tubes.
    2-Channel System
    Analog: VPI Traveler TT, Audio Technica 150MLX, Pro-Ject Tube Box DS
    CD Player: Jolida JD-100 Preamp: Cambridge 840E Amp: Odyssey Kismet Stereo
    Spkrs: Tyler Acoustics Linbrook Signature Systems

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    Quote Originally Posted by tonyb View Post
    Just for the record, that MF cd/pre is probably the worst representation of a MF cdp. Just saying is all.
    Tony, I heard this unit back to back in direct comparison with a Nu-Vista and an a3.2 and the pre approached the level of the Nu-Vista, and handily beating the a3.2 in clarity and coherence. I, and several other reviewers feel quite differently than you do.
    design is where science and art break even.

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    Quote Originally Posted by newrival View Post
    Tony, I heard this unit back to back in direct comparison with a Nu-Vista and an a3.2 and the pre approached the level of the Nu-Vista, and handily beating the a3.2 in clarity and coherence. I, and several other reviewers feel quite differently than you do.
    Just a matter of opinion I guess. I heard it too and was not that impressed though may have had something to do with associated gear.....which more than likely seems to be the case. Carry on.....

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    Quote Originally Posted by gmcman View Post
    The Denon is going to mop the floor with all those players....

    Ok so i'm biased....I have one. Looks like a nice lineup, very curious as to the results since I need a new player now to compliment the B&K, a dvd player is just holding it back.

    The 2910 can hold it's own but looks to be outclassed with this group.
    I think the EE will turn some heads.
    JC approves....he told me so. (F-1 nut)

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    rolling the tubes AND replacing the power cord made a BIG ++ difference in overall SQ for my Jolida. I do think the remote is poorly designed and not user friendly.

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    I'm pretty sure that almost all Jolida CD remotes are pretty similar if not the same. Simple controls, pretty straightforward. And so heavy that they could be used as a murder weapon. lol Black aluminum...!

    Now back to the issue at hand!

    cnh
    Onkyo TX-SR 805 System #1 HT AVR
    Office Two Channel: LSi-7s (Nakamichi CA-5, NAD 214, Pioneer BDP51fd)
    Vintage Polks: Polk Monitor 5As, Monitor 7Bs [HK 730], Monitor 10As [Marantz 2265], SDA-2Bs [Jolida JD-303, Jolida MV-MK4]
    Headphones: HD600, Q701, ATH-M50s etc. Bravo Audio Ocean amp., Onkyo P-304, Adcom GFA-555, Technics Direct Drive TT

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    Hey are you back yet? Did you have a shot to ab any yet? Besides all that, I want to hear the Emerald Physics CS2's LOL

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