California Audio Labs DX-2 CD Players

4.15/5 (27 Reviews) MSRP : $650.00


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Reviews 1 - 5 (27 Reviews Total) | Next 15

User Reviews

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by keith baker a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: February 21, 2014

Bottom Line:   
Compared to a 1982 $99 Magnavox & $2,100 Creek Destiny (2007), sounds noticeably better than the Magnavox, not quite as good as Creek on its own.

But wait, I also can run them through a Parasound D/A converter ($1,000) with trivial differences, but Creek marginally beats CA Audio Lab which marginally beats Magnavox.

Here's where life gets interesting. The Creek failed in Sept 2013; the laser burned out. I queried creek: Why did your laser fail in 5 years when I've been using a 1982 CD player since 1982 with no problem? Creek replied that the laser makers have dumbed down the product, and greatly reduced reliability to keep initial costs down.

If we take Creek at its word, rather than concluding they are incompetent, the lesson is to NEVER buy a new CD player. Buy old stuff, like CA Audio Labs, & couple it with a modern D/A converter. You will save $$$ and get a more reliable product.

Associated equipment: Quad ESL-63 speakers; Struss Model S integrated amplifier, McIntosh integrated amp, Marantz PM-32 integrated amp, and a mid 1980s Luxman integrated amp.

Cost: $15 at a thrift store-- a steal.

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Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile

Product model year:   1997



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by tjvan a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: October 13, 2003

Bottom Line:   
I have owned this player for 6 years and, over time, have upgraded the surrounding components. It really is a great machine.

Recently, I wanted to update the oldest part of my system (the DX-2), and brought home several units to demo including the Arcam FMJ 23. I was very surprised that the DX-2 still sounded as good or better than many more modern and considerably more expensive players. This really is a great player, although it does look quite cheap! Wish CAL was still in business.

system

preamp and amp- bryston
cables- tara labs
speakers- legacy audio

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Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   1997

Price Paid:    $320.00

Purchased At:   esoteric ear- housto



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Zocky a Audiophile

Date Reviewed: September 10, 2001

Bottom Line:   
Good velue for the money

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Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audiophile

Product model year:   1999

Price Paid:    $550.00

Purchased At:   KORATO,Belgrade



Overall Rating:1
Value Rating:1
Submitted by Michael a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: May 31, 2001

Bottom Line:   
Took the thing home all exited that I'd be getting a high-end CD player, and it sounded worse than my previous Onkyo $200 player. Also, the remote didn't work from the getgo. Returned it within a week--Harvey was cool about the return. Later bought the Marantz $500 player used for half the price. No comparison, the Marantz is clear detailed and lifelike.

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Used product for:   Less than 1 month

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   1999

Price Paid:    $500.00

Purchased At:   Harvey



Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Jason a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: April 17, 2001

Bottom Line:   
I bought the unit in 1997 when I was trying to find a sub-$1000 player that didn't sound harsh or strident. I'm still a big fan of analog, and wanted something that sounded kind of like my Rega Planar 3, and not like the cheaper, harsh-sounding Sony I was using at the time. A significant amount of time auditioning the alternatives led to the narrowing of the choice to three candidates: the DX-2 (the ICON Mk 2 was a bit too expensive for me then), the Rega Planet and the Creek (forgot the model #). Although, sonically, they were quite similar - with perhaps the creek and rega offering a slightly warmer, more analog-like sound, I found that the DX-2 was the only player of the three that would play all the disks I auditioned. The other two would skip and simply refuse to play some tracks.

So, the DX-2 came home, and was placed on the top shelf of my rack. Admittedly, the player looks cheaper than it is, but on the other hand, the DX-2 has performed reliably and solidly for nearly four years now. As a side note, when I first brought the player home, I auditioned a number of interconnects, and found that a pair of MIT Terminator 2's served to keep the highs smooth and the mids detailed - the way I like them.

Recently, I made a significant upgrade in my amplification and speakers - from a Carver C-1 and M1.0t driving Boston Acoustics T-1000's to a Linn Kolektor driving a pair of Linn Ninkas actively through two LK-85 power amps. I was initially apprehensive that the increased resolution of the new system would show weakness in the DX-2. Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the same detailed and smooth sound that I heard before was still there, except that the Linn gear let me hear more of what I liked.

Sure, there are better sounding players out there: the Linn players, for instance, would show an improvement in detail, smoothness, sense of 'air' and overall musicality. For the price, however, I think the DX-2 offers excellent performance, and does so in a reliable package. I have no immediate plans to upgrade this unit, and I'm sure it will perform well for me for the next couple of years, at least (I think it'll take that long to save for a Linn player).

I'd give the player 4.5 stars overall if I could. 5 is overkill because there are better units out there, but you have to pay a lot more to get them.

Expand full review >>

Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   1997

Price Paid:    $650.00




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