I have used several CD players over the years, ranging in prices from £900 for a Meridian 200/203 combo down to a few quid for a second hand Marantz cd5000. This cd63se is now becoming a revelation, it brings out a rich warm sound but is revealing details in cd's I not noticed before, the treble is clean and pleasant to the ear, the mids are great with a total lack of aggression or harshness and the bass lines are tight and clear. My only critics my is the inability to to on and off via the remote, plus the lack of a random button on the player itself, there is one on the remote. I bought this cd63se on eBay for a modest sum hence it is great value, whether it was worth its original rrp maybe debatable. But overall, I'm very pleased with it and would strongly recommend it to anyone wanting to hear cd's in all their glory again.
Quite a deal on Ebay, 72 pounds out of the UK. Spent probably $40 more changing back to 120 volts and other mods (see later). Most definitely a player that is good at reproducing voices, in vocals forward tracks like Kate Bush with Peter Gabriel in "Don't Give Up" from "So" and U2's Bono in "With or Without You" from "The Joshua Tree", their voices really sang at me in a way that my previous player did not. Some reviews here say the bass lacks slam, it's possible that there is a bit of truth to that but I haven't listened to any really bass heavy music yet. Most definitely, if you are handy with a soldering iron, switch out the op-amps for Burr-Brown or Analog Devices unit and preferably bias to class-A as well, this mod really does make a difference.
I also did the following but can't find the article that explains it right now:
Change RD01, RD04, RF01 for 1.0 mH RF chokes (this is to RFI clean up the noisy 5 volt rail) and added ferrite beads to the chokes
Change C120, C122, CF02, CD04, CD07, CD15, CD16 for Panasonic NHG capacitors. Some of the capacitors are actually quite good, Elna Cerafine and Silmics, don't change any of these, just maybe the regular Elnas
There's too many things run off the 5 volt power rail, so it's good to at least change out the 7805 for a better regulator.
If I was to do another mod, it would be to add new 5 volt regulators off the 10 volt rail and give the decoder and DAC their own digital and analog supplies (four in total) like they should. This would be a messy mod that might require cutting traces but worth looking at if I can leave the grounds intact. I would expect to see dedicated voltage regulators for DAC and decoder if it was a $1000 plus player, I don't know if that's the case or not.
All in all, a good used value for the dollar if you have an older player right now with a lower quality DAC
Don't listen to these people who say this player should be used with this cable or that cable to sound good.. how many of them have done a proper double blind, A/B/X listening test and have still been able to tell the difference? I've been using DH Labs Silver Sonic interconnect and Kimber speaker cables for over a year now and I think it makes zero difference. Sorbothane feet are useful for anti vibration.. just don't get the smallest ones like I did they won't fit
Ahhh, I have had this player for so long. Despised it for so long, guess I am only now at the point I can be fair to it. maybe.
For 6 years I had lived with a Yamaha CD1050 which was my first hifi purchase.
By 1995 I'd upgraded the original Mordaunt Shorts to Spendor SP2s and Yamaha receiver to an Audiolab 8000A. A very cost effective 1st upgrade ie good solid budget hi-fi, most definitely not mid fi. Particularly the SP2s
Then one foolish April day in 1995 I bought the CD63SE in the belief it would usurp the Yam and deliver that high end sound as promised by those swine who maintained source was everything.
Agggghhhh!!! to my gradually dawning horror I began to realise the drooling praise over the 63 and its 'special tweaked' version was nothing more than just SO MUCH hype by the UK hifi media. I'd been SOOOO CONNED!!!
I'd bought in to that UTTER rubbish about the source being the key component. Ivor T from Linn has a LOT to answer for in my book. *Perhaps* in the 70's sources were SO crap that his LP12 made a difference, but it was not so in the late 80s or any time since then.
Now I am a lot older, grumpier, know a whole lot better than I did when I was young and gullible. And am far less tolerant of garbage being spruiked.
The Yam CD1050 was and still is, a player I deeply respect. I still have it, now loaned out to my Dad when the newer 63SE he was using of mine, started skipping only 4 years into its miserable little life! Gadzuks!! Not only did it sound NOTHING special, it was falling apart already.
The *highly* amusing part came when I switched the 63SE over to the Yam and my Dad, who loves music but is absolutely not a hifi nut, innocently said "Gee! it sounds better" ...insert deeply evil laugh here Sam Tellig....
So my Yamaha CD1050 is now 16!! years old, has the occasional grumpy day where it wont open the draw first go, and that's it. Sonically its still as good as anything I have heard upto 10 times its original price of $500.
Why do I say that? How can I possibly say that you utter? Cos I now run a Marantz CD7 in my main system. Which was 14 times dearer than the Yamaha...Why oh why did I buy it after the fiasco with the 63SE?
Cos it looked absolutely fabulous and ever since I was too poor to buy the CD94II when it was current, (and still have regrets to this day) I swore never again would I miss out on a piece of art.
And the CD 7 is capital 'A' Art. As beautiful looking a player as ever been built, to these eyes. An Accuphase for the man who cant afford those obscene prices. Beautifully built and finished, it is the CD94 I could never have. And the cachet! Only the very worst of those intolerable elitist audio snobs I've met deride it. So many more just give me quiet when I mention it. I am sooooo sick of those hifi sales goons who ask you what you have merely so they can stick it to you...and I'm not talking about mass market low fi folk who tend to be ignorant but pleasantly so...no, I'm talking about those stuffy conceited idiots who should know better cos they DO sell good stuff, but cant see any further than their tiny noses and enormous brand prejudice.
Anyhow, back to the CD7...
Lately, I've come around to thinking that sonically, its not such a bad player either. Its just that it DOES NOT, I repeat DOES NOT, deliver the same kind of bang for your buck as when you spend 14 times the price of your original amp or speakers. This is why I loathe that ridiculous source first argument. Its such a BIG FAT *devastatingly ugly* LIE.
If you have, say, 20000 units of anyone's currency, here's how an Ivor or a similarly minded UK reviewer might split it:
12000 for the LP12 or CD12 (grrrrr !!)
4000 for the amp
1500 for speakers and 2500 for cables.
grrrrr the monstrosity and perpetuation of the lie really boils my blood
here's how I'd spend it:
2000 CD player (forget the myth of vinyl). get an Arcam. they belong to the great player and fair value school - c.f Wadia and Esoteric types, they belong to the "ridiculously and obscenely expensive is more" school.
10-12000 floorstanding speakers (be daring and avoid the hifi reviewer's current top 10 list of small, bass devoid, but tonally accurate super-minimonitors) think people who've been around forever eg Spendor, Monitor Audio, Harbeth, Vandersteen, Legacy or not so long..Osborn (Aust)or anything else with a quality 12 inch driver but not emanating from the nouveau extortioneet darlings of the hifi press
6000 amp (think UK pre/power eg AVI, MF or Italian - Unison Reseach, or classic Americana like a Mac 2275 power amp with volume control)
ask salesman to throw in free cable, then 4 weeks later when you have another pay and 200 spare, go buy some Supra cable
This will transform your system like you could not believe. All for far less than the price of one half of a pair of Wilson or MLevinson mega blocks
Anyhow, this was and is a review of that beastly 63SE..
I'm posting this review as I audtion this player's potential replacements. This has been an excellent player for the last seven years, but it's developing problems. I've been using it with an MSB Link DAC, which I originally thought was a great improvement. But the DAC recently started having a hard time locking on to the Marantz's coax output. I'm not sure what the problem is. If I jiggle the cable it sometimes recovers. Also the analog outs of the CD player are sensitive and sometimes one channel will die. If I touch the connecion, it sometimes recovers. I probably have a grounding problem, but it's been this way in the three houses I've lived in in the last year.
So I thought now would be a good time to upgrade. I arranged to borrow the new Meridian G07 from a local A/V consultant. I expected to be blown away by this $3,000 player. I was in fact blown away by my old Marantz. The Meridian is no better and sometimes it's worse. I don't know if it needs to burn in more or what, but most music, which I should mention is predominantly rock, is more enjoyable on the old Marantz, through its own analog outputs. (The DAC or its cable failed during my audtions, so I'm using the Marantz's internal DAC. Also, I'm suing the same interconnects on the candidate players as I am on the Marantz, so it's a level playing field.)
I'm pretty disappointed in the Meridian. I've been anticipating hearing one of these famous machines for years. I really wanted to like it. It is built well, and looks cool, but so what? I would hate listening to it if I had had to pay for it.
I will be auditioning a Naim CD5X this weekend. If it fails to impress, too, I'll be sticking with my Marantz. I certainly will be keeping it around for my second stereo. I may open it up and see if I can fix its output jacks.
This CD Player has left many with mixed feelings and I am no different from the rest. When I first lsitened to the CD-63SE, I immediately found it harsh, fatiguing, and thin sounding. It was very detailed, but coldly so. I do nearly all of my listening via the Sennheise
r HD600s (which I highly recommend). At the time, I was a Grado SR125 owner and I was accustomed to my music with more warmth and body. The CD-63SE was everything I didn't want in a CD player, though it had a surprising dynamic range.
After much time and self discipline, I was able to take a liking to the Marantz. In fact, today I would say that I love it, though it wasn't always so. When I gave up my Grados for the Sennheiser marvels, I took another step in the direction of "very detailed, thin, yet neutral" sound quality. That too took a lot of time for me to accept.
I could argue that the Marantz CD-63 and the Sennheiser HD600s are one of the best combos in the search for a budget system of superb quality, but this is coming from a headphone fanatic. The sound is so uncolored, favoring classical music. The amount of detail, especially the treble, is not what you're supposed to get for products at such a price. In addition, the CD-63SE uses a high-definition amplifier module (HDAM) which, for any headphone user is great if you don't want to add a headphone amplifier and interconncts.
Somehow, I've turned this almost into a review for both my CD player and headphones-sorry about that. The bottom line is that the CD-63SE is a solidly built, clean and crisp sounding unit. The treble is brilliant and open, the midrange slightly behind the treble, and the bass is lush in my opinion. Why anyone would spend twice as much or more, for not all that much more, is beyond me. This player has earned it the spot as the center of my system.