Cary Audio Design CD-306 CD Players

5/5 (11 Reviews) MSRP : $5000.00


Product Description

Inputs for external digital signals, AES/EBU, Toslink or composite connections, HDCD decoding, 96 kHz/24 Bit processing, CD-306 can process any digital source from 32-96kHz, from 16-24 bit data from internal or external digital sources, fully shielded transport, power transformer, fully regulated power supplies.


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Reviews 1 - 5 (11 Reviews Total) | Next 15

User Reviews

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

Date Reviewed: October 5, 2007

Bottom Line:   
I upgraded from a Cary CD-303/200 which in turn was chosen over many units costing more. Please see my review of the 303/200 as comments concerning the exceptional design and build quality also apply here.

The 303/600 is a noticeable improvement over the 303/200 but my opinion of the latter remains unchanged. Either model constitutes an exceptional value at the price point on the used market. What I notice with the 306 is a touch more smoothness in the midrange and a little less bite in the upper treble – a bit more tube-like if you will but without the distortion and loss of detail. The lower octaves are very dynamic convincing in both cases. About the only negative I can think of is the upsampling. I found that the 96 kHz upsampling almost always improved the sound with the 303/200 but when I use the 192 kHz upsampling on the 306/200 something sounds amiss, as if the dynamic range were compressed somewhat. No matter as the 306 without upsampling outperforms the 303 with upsampling. While redbook reproduction is truly excellent HDCD takes it to another level and approaches the Holy Grail of CD playback – namely LP fidelity without the noise.

As far as accessories go the one I can most heartily recommend is Symposium Rollerblocks II, which I found to work best when installed with the bearings on the bottom and the blocks up against the component chassis. This vibration management gear improves the focus which comes across as better imaging and more detail. The Rollerblocks are even more effective when used in conjunction with a Symposium Svelte Shelf. I went a little overboard and have a Symposium Ultra platform under inverted Rollerblock II’s.

Finally this review would not be complete without tipping my hat to the excellent folks at Cary who were kind enough to answer my questions about both units before and after purchase despite the fact that I bought both used on AudiogoN.

System: PSE HL-1 FET/tube hybrid preamp, BEL 1001 MkV amp, BEL P-1 The Wire interconnects, BEL S-24 The Wire speaker cables, Vandersteen 2Ce Signature loudspeakers, Vandersteen 2Wq subwoofer, custom crossover, Symposium Acoustics vibration management equipment on all components (including subwoofer but excluding loudspeakers).

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Used product for:   3 Months to 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   2001

Price Paid:    $1800.00

Purchased At:   AudiogoN



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Rabby a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: July 11, 2005

Bottom Line:   
Best player I ever had. Replaced my GamuT CD-1 and what an improvement!

Associated equipments:
GamuT C2R preamp and D200 Power amp.
Monitor Audio GR-60 Speakers.
Monitor Audio 212 subwoofer.
Cardas Neutral Ref cables (balanced all the way).

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Used product for:   3 Months to 1 year

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile

Product model year:   2003



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by JDS a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: July 11, 2003

Bottom Line:   
Cary blew away Nuvusta 3D, meridian 508.24 & was a little better overall than krell KPS25sc 24/96, all of which I have owned. On HDCD this machine is startling. This player is the best that I have ownwed or auditioned & is in a class of its own for bass tightness/pitch & dynamics & equals the best in detail & soundstage: no digital edge or sibilance whatsoever. I have lost the urge to go hi-end vinyl. Forget SCAD/DVDA with a sound like this. New all-silver unit is very sexy & stunning.
You will be permanently smiling with this player: especially me because I have put the £££ saved on selling the Krell on a new Eclass.
I have not heard the Audio Aero capitole mk2 P4 chip version which was next on my list (not so good build quality I gather & I've already got a reference preamp)& now don't really care about listening to any other Cd player.
NB the company do not guarantee CD players out of the USA whatsoever.

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Used product for:   1 to 3 months

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by sky1 a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: November 14, 2002

Bottom Line:   
The Cary 306 is by far the best CD player I have ever heard regardless of price. I was looking for a new CD player and I auditioned the 306 against a number of different players including the Arcam FMJ23T, Musical Fidelity NuVista, Linn Ikemi, Linn Genki, Krell KAV 250, Sim Audio Moon and the 306's baby brother, the 303.

The Krell CD player sounded so harsh that despite the fact the dealer was willing to offer a 40% discount (the 250 was soon to be replaced with the 280 -- an equally pathetic CD player I might add) and the Krell's solid good looks (in that 1950's Russian tank sort of way), I decided to look elsewhere.

The FMJ23T came highly reccomended, but was quite dissapointing -- especially in the low frequencies. The Linn and the Sim Audio players were never really serious competition.

I was quite torn between the Nuvista and the 303. Both players sounded quite good. The 303 was exceptional accross the entire spectrum, but the NuVista was exceptional when it came to high frequencies (its bass performance was somewhat lacking). All said, I almost bought the NuVista, even though it was $5K while the 303 was only $3K -- I kinda bought into that whole limited edition thing. And thats when the dealer suggested that since I was willing to spend $5K, I should listen to the 306.

The 306 sounds like the 303 and the NuVista taken together with the veil removed. Its absolutely exceptional accross the entire frequency band. Its reproduction of the bass frequencies is better than any CD player I have ever heard and its treble performance is even better than the "SACD-like" NuVista. Every note sounds so open (almost LP-like) and un-CD like. Once I heard the 306, it was absolutely impossible to go back to any of the other CD players. The only CD players that even come close to matching the 306 (like Wadia, Accuphase and dCS cost considerably more -- the dCS system is great if you have the cash), cost considerably more. Combine that with awesome build quality and looks, you have the last CD player you will ever need to buy.

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Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   2001

Price Paid:    $4500.00

Purchased At:   Sound By Singer, NY



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Steve Huff a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: July 8, 2002

Bottom Line:   
Well, I bought the version with the built in analog volum control, which is a $500 option and i hooked it up dorect to my Cary V-12i tube amp. This is the best CD player under $10k in my opinion. I have owned the Mark Levinson No39, Shanling CDT100, Sony SCD-1, SOny SCD777, Wadia, etc. The Cary 306/200 is built like a TANK, remote is machined aluminum and backlit, and teh players sound is amazing. Upsampling to 192 is incredible and adds depth to yoru old CD's. I never really thought CD players made much of a difference, but the Cary 306/200 has made a HUGE difference. Analog sound, and LEAGUES better than teh SOny SCD-1 for CD playback. Actually, The 306/200 sounds better with my Cd's than the Sony did in SACD. At least in my system. This will be the last CD player I ever buy. If SACD ever matures and becomes a standard, only then will I upgrade.

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Used product for:   Less than 1 month

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   2001

Price Paid:    $4200.00

Purchased At:   Upscal Audio




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