After reading a few reviews of the CDT-100, I thought I'd put my two cents in...
These are just observations--
First, I bought this player after having owned many different cd players; I admit, it was my first experience with Tubes. I have owned too many cd players to list at length, but the likes of Linn, Naim, and Rotel, and Music Hall, as well as many analog turntables have been in my stereo for varying lengths of time.
The biggest and best help I can offer, is this: When I had this unit home, I did not have anything other than headphones hooked with a "Y" rca to 1/4" jack, to the Tube RCA outs. I had listened only for approx. a week this way, when I asked my wife to come take a listen to a disc of choral Christmas music by John Rutter/Cambridge Singers ("On Christmas Night"). I knew she liked the song "In the Bleak MidWinter", and so I cued that up, and had her put the headphones on. Mind you these things: My wife hates the headphones for listening. She also has seen so many audio pieces come and go that she doesn't much care about anything I bring home--just figures it will come and go. She has never taken to anything I've ever bought. Now, back to where I was....I cued up "In the Bleak Mid Winter", and had her put the headphones on. When I pushed play, she listened....and started to cry. She has never had a reaction like that ever, to anything I have owned, however long or briefly.
Fast forward to 2008: I am interested in building a stereo again. I haven't had any money to put towards anything of quality (true audiophile!--no money and expensive taste!!), but now have a little bit of savings each month; so at the risk of bugging her, I wanted to ask my wife's opinion about this whole thing, so I asked her if there were _ever_ anything in my 20 year history with her, any stereo piece that she felt connected with--that she wished I had never sold. Her response? "I liked that 'space-age' looking blue cd player you had." I have owned probably 30-40 different combinations (at least!) of cd players, turntables, pre/power/integrated amps, mini-monitors, floor standers, etc., and I had owned this tube CDT-100 for all of about 3 weeks total, before I got the bug, and traded it. It has also been 4+ years, since I played that piece of music for her. She could not tell you anything about the names of any of the audio gear that have graced the places we've lived. But she remembered this one!
I have to admit, I regret, in retrospect, letting it go also. I did not have any fancy audio gear to run it through in the month or so I owned it; however, I had a solid sounding stereo, simple as it was, with the CDT-100, running through simple rca to 1/4" cable, into a pair of Fostex PM 0.5 active mini-monitors, which I bought at a Music Instrument store (and which remain, in my humble opinion, one of the great untapped secrets in high end audio--any of the various music recording _active_ mini-monitors) on stands. Even now, I can still hear Jane Siberry's "Maria" cd, her lilting and apologetic voice in all its glory, and with warmth and detail exuding from the cd player/speakers combination. I recall I had not liked to listen to Jane Siberry's music much, prior to owning the CDT-100. But after hearing this cd played by the Shanling, it became a definite keeper! I wanted to hear more! I also recall I listened to all my cd's from beginning to end--glad to hear the emotion of the entire performance on each cd...and my cd collection grew in leaps and bounds, even in the short time I had it.
The good news is that the lesson is learned; and I can still own a Shanling CDT-100, or, if I have the dough, wait until I can afford a newer CDT-1000SE, which I believe takes the upsampling from 24/96, to 24/192, and might add a few other goodies into the mix. I honestly can't wait to add one of these players back into my life. The enjoyment it gave me is too much not to save for one. I think-? I might even have gotten my wife interested in this crazy hobby too--something that thrills me more than anything. If history has taught me anything, it is that the better a stereo piece is, the more accurately it interprets, and also the more emotion it interprets and conveys from the music source. The CDT-100's ability to convey the meaning of music is, in my opinion, truly convincing. And for an unbiased "testimony", my wife--a complete neophyte when it comes to audio gear/lingo--was so moved by a piece she is very familiar with, that it just makes sense to adopt one of these cd players (again), as a big part of our permanent home stereo.
I heard them last night in a friend’s place, he was very happy with it’s good looks off course. I was little bit excited about this payer and wanted to listen to them for long time. After listening about one hour, I had ask him to stop, as I could not listen to it anymore. It was a disaster. To describe it, in one line, I must say, Chinese has long way to go in Hi End Audio, borrowing Sony and Phillip’s parts is not it’s all about. What I meant is they think putting Sony or Phillips parts will make them like Audio Aero or Cary etc. But that’s not all folks, there are so many things you do have to learn.
Farley good sound for a cd player among the beginners, but for serious listener it is more than a decoration piece than a cd player. Very Very Good looking, 5 star for that.
Good effort and keep trying and someday you might reach to the level where we will listen to you but not today sorry.
I have to confess that I have yet to hear an unmodified Shanling, so when you are reading this review please keep in mind that I am talking about a 3D Sonics hot-rodded version and not the stock model.
Like other readers of these virtual pages I was looking for the best player that could eek out the very last drop of information from the now "ancient" medium of red book cd.
The big problem for me is that there is not a lot of opportunity to test drive most of the equipment I like the look/reports of. There are very few REALLY decent hi fi shops on this island(I am open to correction), three by my reckoning. So I have relied heavily on sites like audioreview for information and a guy who I know who could have bought a house with the cash he has spent on hi fi. The Shanling did well in the reviews I read apart from a few gripes about lack of bass etc... So I did a bit of looking around.
A company called 3D Sonics operating through Real Hi Fi were offering a much upgraded player and also the opportunity to get a standard player hod rodded. I had read about similar modded players on the 6 Moons site and decided to bite bullet. I got a 2nd hand player from Shadow Audio(Scotland) - great folks to deal with and had it sent to Real Hi Fi, again a steep and valuable learning curve, thanks Matthew. The player was then given the "treatment" by Thorsten Loesch(the guy who reviewed the Shanling for Enjoythemusic.com).
I was told it would take up to 6 weeks to burn in. I left it playing on repeat for roughly 2 weeks solid and noticed a big difference over that period. Things appear to have settled down.
This player is the best I have ever heard. It simply whips the ass off any other player I have yet heard, even a £4000 Audiomeca player played through a Graaf GM20 etc....
The way this player can lift out every detail and expose the smallest nuance in playing amazes me. The sound stage is huge in both width and depth. The sweet spot for the best listening has been expanded into most of the side of the room opposite to the speakers. I have heard instruments in tracks that I did not even know where there. It is possible to work out how many backing singers there are and where they appear to be standing. The highs are convincing without a trace of sibilance or hiss. The lows are powerful and true to the instruments. Voices sit well out on their own and are completely legible in a way I have never heard before.
Any one of the reviewers who had any doubts about this player in earlier postings ought to check out the possiblity of having their player modified before diving into the arena again and buying a new machine.
This player is not only visually a stunner, especially with the lights low and all the red valves glowing against the blue light of the acrylic platter, but a sonic masterpiece. It produces real music, not a close copy of it. The band is really just through the wall. It has brought back an enjoyment of the sounds of music that I have not had since I was a teenager. Wild!
It does however ruthlessly expose the less than perfect mastering of some cds. Ah well, that is a fault of the disc and not the player. Nothing is left to hide behind.
This is a subjective endeavor and circumstances will always color opinions. However, I have had many confirmations of an early lesson in buying audio: listen but don't look. This is a lovely unit BUT.
I speny many hours listening to this unit with a friend who hoped to sell it. It actually made mu Rega Jupiter sound a tiny bit harsh but where does it send all the bass? It wasn't just short on bass- it was nearly lacking. On some recordings (eg.Patricia Barber's Modern Cool) this deficiency actually changed the character of the recording. Some of the bass was a rumble and not musical but mostly it was an error of omission and not just interpretation. There were three of us listening and I clearly pointed out the problems with the Shanling which the others recognized. The Rega and even a $400 Sony did not have this problem.
I believe too much has been made of its GOOD LOOKS and so mediocre performance is forgiven. Yes, the highs are smooth and clear but you simply can't ingore so much of the musical content. THese works of art were MEANT to be heard a certain way. Sorry to those who are in love buit she's still a bad girl.
If you're reading this review the Shanling CDT100 has obviously stirred you to find out more about it. As with so many other people maybe you are drawn by it's looks, it's quality or it's (for the most part) rave reviews.
So much has been written about this player that maybe this review won't help you make an informed choice about buying (or not buying) one, but one thing is for sure - this pretty little CD player will be talked about in years to come as one of the most beautiful pieces of "hi-fi furniture" ever made.
However, for the most part looks alone don't cut the mustard with serious audiophiles. At the end of the day it's the sound quality that counts.
I've owned this player now for over a year. Initially, I was underwhelmed at it's sonic performance. I bought this player along with a Pathos Logos integrated amplifier (valve preamp and transistor power amp combined in one box) and on initial comparison with my TEAC P30 & dcs Purcell I felt the Shanling was lacking a little in mid to low bass response. Also, and of more deep concern, whilst there were the occasional flashes of brilliance, in particular whilst playing Cassandra Wilson's "New Moon Daughter" these were all to fleeting and were gone as quiclky as they arrived.
In fact I was so disappointed I was one the verge of selling it. Then, I took my annual leave from work and spent it renovating part of our house. As I was home most of the day I played the Shanling pretty much from dusk til dawn. After ten days or so the machine took on a whole new personality. It left me breathless with it's exqusite tonal range, sensativity and openness. The previous lack of bass response was replaced with a rich, tight, low down orgasm of a sound. The lovely voice of Cassandra Wilson wafted through my house like cigarette smoke on a still summer's day. The smoothness, tonality, richness and clarity of this pretty little player cannot be underestimated.
It's a real shame that reviewers like jandl100 and Gilbert Farla marked this player so badly. I'm sure they gave an honest review, but I doubt they gave this player the time needed to flower.
I've tried friends Wadia and Mark Levinson CD players in my system and they are remarkable, but the Shanling holds it's own even in such exhalted company.
Buy one, give it a hundred and fifty hours or so and enjoy it.
It's worth the money on looks alone, but give it a springtime and it'll return you with an endless summer of beautiful music.