I'm not going to make this too long or in-depth because there are already some great reviews on this site of the NAD 515. I don't see myself adding much beyond the fact that this is one quality product. I picked it up used on eBay and it's much more mechanically sound than my old Denon and it's DAC is great. With my Marantaz receiver, it's best to use analog connections with the Pure Direct, which bypasses the internal processing of the Marantz. I've noticed new details and reappreciated CDs that had nearly fallen by the wayside. It's Quick Play feature sounded gimmicky, but is really amazing--I bet as fast as almost nearly single CD player. If you can find it used, it's worth. Much better than similarly priced new HK, Denon, Yamaha products.
For all you owners who may have posted but have since put your NAD in storage, HANG ON TO THAT 515.
In search of a reasonable quality mid-fi changer for a cheap price, I spent almost a year looking on the net, in brick-and-mortar outlets across the globe, and posting "wanted to buy" notices in the lobbies of places where audiophiles hang out (don't ask). My search led to 3 possible suspects, all out of production: the Nak MB10, CAL C10, and the NAD 515. I managed to listen to the NAD and the Nak, but on separate ocassions and not side-by-side. I felt both were very strong performers, to the point that deciding between the two would be based on a very superficial rating of appearance (the Nak wins). NO current production mass-production consumer product came close to either of these in pure sonic ability. Period. The CAL C10, while still available as "new" in some on-line stores, is pricey and has been plagued by reliability issues (see the reviews here, in Stereophile, and elsewhere). Who wants that from a company that no longer exists?
Anyway, while engaged in a brutal bidding war one night for a Nak MB10 on eBay, I found a NAD 515 that had been listed for all of 3 minutes, with a "buy it now" option. I left the Nak battlefield (it ended up going for almost $400) and snagged the NAD.
When I installed it in my audio-only system, I listened to a few CD's with the analog-out straight wired to my pre-amp. I was floored. Then I used the coax digital-out to run through my MSB DAC and listened to the same CD's. The DAC did nothing for the 515, and maybe even reduced it's expansive soundstage (may or may not have been a psycho thing). There are a lot of 24/96 upsampling products on the market these days, but you just can't discount the sonic capability of high-quality 20-bit processors used in some of these older machines. The 515 simply sounds better with the 8-year-old factory chip set than most of the current lo-fi products.
I won't repeat what most reviewers have said about the sonic capabilities...I'll simply say the 515 is almost without equal in the CD changer market. It's sonic performance, build quality, and simplicity is second to none. I will repeat what many reviewers of the NAD 515 have said--if you see one of these on the used market, BUY IT. If it's under $350, it's still a great deal and will provide you more musical enjoyment than most of the comparably priced mass-market products. If you're looking for a new changer, and HAVE to have it "new in the box", you can drop $1100 on a CAL C10, but make sure you do your homework first. You just might end-up like I did, with the NAD 515, and all the happier for it.
Just got my NAD 515 out of storage after 2 years. Didn't have room at my condo for all of my toys.Boy, I'm a Happy camper!
The sound is just as true as I remember it:warm,spacial,tight , good sound staging
works well with Rock, Jazz,Vocals, Classical for under $500.bucks! No it's not my $4000.00 Audio Alchemy-didn't expect it to be.But a quick, 5 disc changer to sound the way it does - for hours on end is great! I do use the Musical Fidelity X10 D in between the amp and CD with Kimber PB&J's.These extra's do , of course , add cost, but I already had them , so I've put them to great use. The CD's sound even more real-more of a great vinyl sound and of course greater sound staging , even thru my little Lineums.Took me only a few hours of tweaking the speakers to achieve the soundstage - comparing notes I'd made with my hi-end system.I can now hear the subtle nuances, live performers moving around the stage,breathing,a real person performing!
Also, I must tell readers that I did use the Reference Recordings XLO Test And Burn In CD(24K Gold disc;I love that tweak!)for about 12 hours,all my equipment has warmed up for at least 4 days straight and I made sure no speaker cables were wound, no interconnects were touching and kept all away from power cords and sources!
Since I just got this puppy really working(I'm sure I'll try more tweaks tho)I've only been listening to R2D4's (or CD's).I had my mom , who's 78 and a former big band vocalist, listen to some and she wouldn't stop listening to the music! I played "Keith Jarrett at the Blue Note"on ECM,Terry Evans' " Puttin' It Down"on Audioquest, Art Davis'"A Time Remembered" on Jazz Planet and oh yeah,BB King/ Dianne Schuurs'"Heart to Heart" on GRP(not sure if that's a R2D4)- she and I both had a blast! We were listening at reference levels too- which is so cool to do with a 78 year old!
The NAD 515 is very cool and sweet. No boloney to it -just all about the Music.
By the way , had to take a Bose Lifestyles Cd/radio into the shop today,a man I've known awhile(in his 60's)is the owner.I told him about the NAD and before I could say NAD 515 he said "I hope you have the 515!" Yup!He went on and on about it- loves it and owns one himself that he got from a customer.
If you can get one, pay the price if it's in top condition - the 515 is worth it!
After having the 515 sitting boxed up in storage for two years, I finally brought it back out the other day. I had recently sold some equipment which freed up some coveted shelf space in my audio rack. I was debating between using my single disc Sony DVP-S7700 with 24/96 DACs as my player and dusting off this "older" 5-disc changer.
Let's just say I'm happy that I took it out of the box and didn't just decide to sell it without giving it another listen. Even 2+ years later the 515 with its 20-bit Burr-Brown delta sigma chips outshined the 7700 when using each players internal DACs. I was really impressed by the soundstage and the dynamics using either the digital or analog outs.
Overall I preferred using the DAC in my Sony TAE-9000ES. When I did an A/B comparison between the digital out for the 515 and the digital out for the Sony 7700, I still found the 515 digital bitstream to be superior in almost every aspect. The only time I preferred the 7700 digital output was during "live recordings" of concerts on CD, for some reason the 7700 gave a better 3-D listening experience.
I would have thought that the extra 3 years that the 7700 had in technology would make up for the fact that it was a DVD/CD player instead of a dedicated CD player (although I believe it does have separate lasers for DVD vs CD playback), but the 515 with its "rustic" charm and good "old-fashioned" musicality won out in almost every way.
If you can find a cheap used one, I'd highly recommend it over even some of the latest changers.
Related Equipment Used:
NAD 208THX Amp
B&W DM604 S3
Audioquest Bedrock speaker cable
Audioquest Coral interconnects
Audioquest VSD-2 digital coax
Panamax 5100 AC noise-filter
I had the pleasure of owning the 515 changer for 8 wonderful months before I was forced to sell it due to car repair costs. This player was outstanding sonically, putting to shame some single-disc players in the same price range. I can't really describe it as anything but rich, full, and MUSICAL (but not DIGITAL) sounding. It was extremely balanced in tone- nothing outweighed anything else. But what got me the most about it was the way it brought out details in the music- it was as if it widened the soundstage for the express purpose of letting you focus in on different details at the same time, instead of crowding it all together (does that make any sense?) In searching for a replacement for the 515 (since this unit is no longer available), I came across the Onkyo 6 disc changer for a good price ($100) at the local pawn shop and decided to try it out. Let me just say I had the Onkyo on ebay before the night was over. It had been a month since I sold the 515, but I could still tell that the sound I was looking for was not there with the Onkyo- it sounded way too thin, especially in the higher frequencies, and just did not have that fullness the NAD did. I have thought about trying out the 523, which i can still get, but I am kind of disuaded from others' reviews that say this unit is not as good (although I have not heard it personally.) So, for the time being, I will stick to my plan to try to find another 515- if you own one, you know why I say that. (And if you own one and want to sell it, EMAIL ME!!) :)