...Instead, I rolled the dice and bought a no-name brand tube CD player made in China from a guy in the US who distributes them. The guy's company is Specialty Audio Source (SAS) and he sells them on ebay and audiogon. The cost is $500 vs. the $900 I planned on spending for the modded Jolida that I really wanted. There's a 30 day money back guarantee, so I figured I'd give it a try. The player arrived today and here are my first impressions:
The CD player arrived double boxed. It's 18 lbs. and appears to be well built. The transport is definitely high quality. It opens slowly and smoothly. It comes with gold-plated connectors, remote control, and generic power cord, but no manual. This CD player replaces a Cambridge Audio 640C CD player. This is my first tube purchase.
I popped in a few of my favorite selections and listened. One thing that was readily apparent was this CD player has a cleaner sound than the Cambridge Audio. This allows for a bit more detail to shine through. Instruments sounded slightly more natural. The soundstage widened, too, although for my room and listening preferences, I kinda like the soundstage to be a little more compressed. The bass is about the same for both units. Here's what won me over -- when I listened to one of favorite songs by Dianne Reeves, the music was more captivating. I can't really explain it, but it appeared to be more emotionally impactful than I ever heard it before. Simply stated, it put a smile on my face. I expect everything to sound better over time due to break-in.
Bottom line -- I like it and plan to keep it for a long time. It is not exponentially better than the Cambridge Audio because the CA is an excellent CD player. However, the SAS CD player is definitely considered an upgrade for me. I have already ordered some GE 5670 tubes to replace the stock 6N3 tube. Based on other owners, this tube replacement really improves the sound in every way. Is it as good as the Jolida 100? Hell, I don't know. It would be nice to do an A/B test someday to see what I may or may not be missing, but right now I'll just enjoy my music.
Preamp - Musical Fidelity A3CR
Amp - ODL (Odyssey) Stratos
Speakers - Polk Lsi7's
Sub - Onix Rocket UFW-10