California Audio Labs CL-15 CD Players

CL-15

Single disc player, 20 bit dac

User Reviews (33)

Showing 1-10 of 33  
LAIHORNG1976   Casual Listener [Mar 25, 2012]

Just bought this piece of cd player.
I just can say excellent separation of instruments and great vocals..
Very rare to find this now. Grab it if you can find one!!

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Wut   AudioPhile [Jul 23, 2007]
Strength:

Sound quality in every details and every fequencies range at this price

Weakness:

useless display (I never turn the display light on cause even if iI turn on the display light, I still can read it from 4 meter.)

I brought this billon CD player for long time ago. (mihgt be in 2000) After that, It is only one CD player in my system. I never for the new one again! that wasn't the best player in the world but cause if I want the better one, I've to pay at lease more than twice of its price. it has very clear sound. Bass is sharp on first impact and no any booomy sound for the rest of bass range, the better cd player should just can show more power to control a very deep bass and more dynamic contrast in this range. for the midrange notthing to talk about the better cd could only show micro sound detail for a realistic ambiance and more dynamic contrast. for a high fequencies, you must have to use it with very hi-end system that you might want higher fequency respond or a little longer ambiance ot be hold in the air. all i can say just, it has all of good caracteristic of ideal cd player should be in a scale of very value compair with it price. (my CL-15 is last first hand from Thailand Dealer who want to clear it from their stock so I got it in very low price.

Customer Service

24/07/07 this morning befor I write this review I sent it to check its transport part after it read notthing. I hope it will come back to me as soon as they fix it.

Similar Products Used: many dvd player for movies but one for music (I try very hard to find ten better one cause I want to use this cd in my secound system but now, It still be my finest CD player.)
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
LoCKJaw   AudioPhile [May 02, 2006]
Strength:

Wonderful value for the money. This player was around 1700 bucks when released. If you read reviews on it, comparisons are often made with very high end players that are twice or three times the price. Yes there are differences between the elite players and the CAL but in general they are very slight and to some degree a matter of listener preference. If you have the money and the slightest improvements in imaging, base extension and detail are critical then the extra 3-4 grand may be woth it. You really need Elite equipment to appreciate the difference. Also, you must compare various players in you home, never in the store where listening conditions are very different.

Oh, it has a digital input so you can use it as an external DAC, very cool.
I tried using my old Rotel player as a transport; it was not as good as the internal one in the CAL. (slight but I could tell the difference.)

Weakness:

The display is terrible!!!!!!!!!!
You simply can not see anything even a few feet away. The light that can be turned off an on with the remote makes visualization even worse.

Plastic remote with a 1700 dollar player...
Otherwise the remote works fine, just a little disappointing

No balanced outs (that is why this player is not 4 grand)

The transport really has a great deal of trouble with CDs that are scratched or dirty. I have some burned disks that work reasonably well again so long as they are clean. On disks that skip I use my old Rotel as the transport and it works fine.

This is a really wonderful player for the money. Since CAL has been bought out and shut down, great deals can be had on some very high quality gear. I actually purchased mine on EBAY for 600 bucks new in the box.

Yes it is very important to list the gear that you are running as some components match better with others for example, an overly crisp sound from a solid state preamp can be smoothed out with a good tube amp. Also the overall quality of the equipment is critically important, the weakest link in your system theory is sadly very true. I don't want to sound like an audio snob here, but if someone trashes a high end component and lists any receiver as thier source of amplification take it with a grain of salt. Oh, the dimentions of the room are also key. If the length is a multiple of the width (6 by 12 for example), your Krell amp is going to sound like a Crell amp. A good balance of absorbtion and reflection is key.

I am running B&W N805s, McIntosh MC275, Adcom GFP 750, internal Biwired, Balanced cables preamp to amp.

Customer Service

sorry, out of luck here
I really don't know where you would have it repaired now that CAL is no more. There are a few places on the net that may do repairs.

Similar Products Used: Note, I did not actually bring a Wadia home to AB the CAL. My opinions are based on listening to many high quality players over the years.
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
Alexander Kolegov   AudioPhile [Jun 13, 2003]
Strength:

Detailed and dynamic.

Weakness:

It can sound dry with some interconnect cables.

In its balanced version, it sounds great with proper interconnect which proved very hard to find. It sounds detailed and dynamic (albeit a bit dry) with my old Monster 1000 MKIII interconnect. It showed better results with the old Straight Wire Gold interconnect.

Similar Products Used: Dynaco CDV-1, CAL CL-15 (unbalanced).
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
Frank   Audiophile [Apr 25, 2000]
Strength:

Has great liquid smooth sound. Has built
in outboard DAC. Fit & Finish Exc.
Cd loadng and tracking time superb!

Weakness:

Only weakness is front panel display is
hard to read when viewed off center.
Variable volume control has no display
of increments on panel.

A superior player,20-Bit processor,
and incredible value with few weaknesses
except for the display inadequecies.

Hopefully new DVD models by CAL
Labs will be of the same quality
due to being bought by Go-Video's
parent company which was Samsung.

Similar Products Used: Meridian 506, NAD S-500, Pioneer DV-09
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
clark   Audio Enthusiast [Oct 28, 2000]
Strength:

tremendous detail, especially in the midrange

Weakness:

display is very difficult to read, cheap remote

The CL-15 is a great player. Very crisp, defined soundstage, liquid midrange - wonderful for acoustic music. On certain recordings the detail is a bit much sometimes, tending to be etched or analytical almost separating the instruments into compartments. This is epecially evident when comparing to a player like the naim 3.5 which lacks the detail but is extremely musical and involving. The display on the CL-15 is simply unreadable for me from my listening chair, about 10 feet away. It would also be nice if there were a display of the volume setting (as long as I could read it). The remote is a typical bank of buttons, all the same size.

Similar Products Used: krell 250, naim 3.5
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
Dave H   Audiophile [Oct 18, 1999]
Strength:

Great detail; cost is in-line with quality.

Weakness:

No major faults

Overall, a nice player with high quality parts and good sound. The CL-15 presented a little too forward for my system at home but for those who need great detail without glare, this is their player.

Similar Products Used: Auditioned against Classe CDP 1.5 and Acoustic Research CD-2 (see review of AR for more details)
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
John G   Audio Enthusiast [Jun 11, 2000]
Strength:

Fabulous Sound

Weakness:

Absolutely nothing

A wonderful musical instrument! This cannot be classified as a piece of electronics. It is like an organ or a guitar, or a violin (a Stradivarius). The unit gets out the way and lets the music play. I have been an advocate of listening to live music for over 40 years, so I consider myself to have a well tuned ear as to live music. The CL-15 delivers the sound of real instruments, in spades! Superlative.. even better with HDCD. Enough said.
My system is rounded out with A NAD T770 serving as a preamp, going to 4 Marantz MA-500 monoblocs in a bi-amp layout to B&W CDM7SE's through Tara labs 33i cables and van del Hul D102 interconnects.

Similar Products Used: Marantz 6000SE, Rotel 971
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Peter   Audiophile [Feb 16, 2001]

In response to Scott's response to my review:

I tested the CAL versus the other CD players in my review (including the Adcom) in two ways. The first was through the identical amp and preamp (both Classe--don't remember the model numbers)with the CAL's volume controls set at maximum. The second was with the CAL directly into the Classe amp, using the CAL's volume controls, and the other CD player through the preamp. The speakers used were B&W N804's. In both tests I found the CAL player to be, to my ears, better than the Adcom. It just had a more musical presentation.

I did not notice any real difference in the CAL's performance when put directly through the amp versus through the preamp. If anything it sounded a little cleaner when run directly through the amp. While the volume controls clearly require the signal to go through another set of circuits which has the potential to degrade the sound, it avoids the need to go through a preamp which (even with a good preamp) has at least as much potential to degrade the sound.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Adam   Audiophile [Mar 22, 2001]

In response to Jack's response to Mr. Christopher's Review:


I have to agree. Although handmade is best it just doesn't always mean it will sound better and some companies train people in foreign countries pretty good. For example I love rotel and think it sounds great. It is made in Asia.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Showing 1-10 of 33  

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