Cambridge Audio CD4SE CD Players

CD4SE

User Reviews (24)

Showing 1-10 of 24  
Tom B   Audio Enthusiast [Jun 26, 2000]
Strength:

Clear, detailed, analog sound.

Weakness:

Display, Tone balance

I guess I agree basically with all the reviews that go before mine, except I feel the tonal balance of this CD Player is too high. Brass, winds, etc are pitched high or bright. I spend as much time sitting in front of live orchestras as I do in front of the stereo, so the difference is easy for me to hear. I tried different interconnects and even a different amp and speakers with the same result. For the money though I guess it is hard to beat but I like the sound of the CD4 and CD6 better. They use the same DAC, the CD6 being Dual Dacs and better power supply and capacitors.

Similar Products Used: CD4, CD6, D500
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
Sean   an Audio Enthusiast [Apr 03, 1999]

I auditioned several CD-Players in the same price range like Marantz CD-63, Rega Planet and none compared to the warmth of the CD-4SE. I highly recommend that you purchase this player, it will be the best purchase you ever make (I think that the CD-4SE is a much better deal than the CD-6 it sounds as good and is much cheaper)

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
John   an Audiophile [Mar 04, 1999]

Quite simply, this is one of the greatest audio purchases I've ever made. For the price of a new Rega Planet, I bought the CD4se AND a MSB Technologies Digital Link DAC. No only does this combo OWN the Rega Planet, but I'd put it up against other systems costing 3 or 4 times as much. I don't have much to add to the reviews from "HiFi Choice" and those posted here other than to say that I agree with all of the adjectives used to describe the CD4se: musical, smooth, liquid, etc. The MSB DAC is also an awesome piece of equipment.
The bottom line? Sure you can get a better CD player, but you would have to spend a LOT more money to beat the CD4se/MSB Digital Link combo. You have to believe that the law of diminishing returns kicks in at a certain point, and I can't believe that the incremental improvement in sound quality is justified by spending thousands more for another transport/DAC combo. Five stars in my book!

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
Wayne L   Audio Enthusiast [Oct 19, 1999]
Strength:

Detailed, natural and very musical player for the money

Weakness:

Poor LCD display

After reading several of the reviews here and in a couple of mags, I decided to go out and buy this player (£200 in the UK). The CD4SE has a very clear and detailed sound, with an impressive amount of bass through my Tannoy r2 speakers. For the money it is certainly the best I have heard. In fact it is better than some cd players costing a lot more. The sound is also quite natural and does not have that slight electronic or synthesized sound that other players have. On some CDs the instruments sound like they're being played live in your living room!
The only criticism I have is the rather poor LCD display. It's fine when you're close to it but move away and it's quite difficult to read. The backlight seems a little too bright making the characters difficult to see from a distance, and there's no way of adjusting it. I was aware of this before buying but I don't regret it, as I really enjoy the sound this player produces and that's more important to me.
So I highly recommend this player if you don't mind the display and the lack of some functions like program play (it does have random play). For the money, the sound is superb and if you want better, you'll have to spend a lot more.

I am using the CD4SE with an Arcam Alpha 8r amplifier.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Steve   an Audiophile [May 27, 1999]

I am a die-hard analog lover, so I am reluctant to admit to loving this CD player. I bought the 4SE based on a dealer recommendation combined with the glowing reviews in these pages. I was actually amazed to hear a reasonably priced CD player that I could listen to for more than an hour. Other players cause too much fatigue and sound like fake digital. This player sounds like music. You must take a listen before buying any CD player less than $1,000.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
Roger W. Stevens WA3FLE   an Audio Enthusiast [Apr 08, 1998]

I've been assembling a vintage tube system around a low-power integrated amp using 6BQ5's in the output stage using a Dynaco FM-3 and either a Dynaco SCA-35 or an EICO HF-81 (I haven't decided yet--that's a whole other discussion). I just finshed refurbishing all three and obtained a pair of PSB 800i's to use with them. Now on to a CD player, as the portable Panasonic I used as a test source just didn't have enough output, although it didn't sound all that bad, actually--MASH and all.
I read an absolutely glowing review of the Cambridge Audio CD-4SE up on HiFi Choice (www.hifichoice.co.uk), comparing it to an ARC unit at beaucoup times the price. Then I grabbed this month's What HiFi magazine at the local Tower Records, and they did a "Super Test" of--in the UK--low-priced CD players, as well as featuring a "Bass" theme that ran through the magazine. In their super test review, they gave it 4 stars, and said while it had great bass, it was a bit strident, if I recall. They gave the roses to the Marantz CD-67 Mk II (I didn't even know there was a 67 Mk. II!). In the bass section, they gave it 5 stars. I already have a CD-67SE on another (also tube-based) system, and was looking for something different, so I found two dealers up on the Net, and ended up ordering it from Northampton Audio in Massachusetts, who treated me really well. The thing goes for 200 pounds Sterling in the UK, and they were sale pricing it here for $479--go figure. I notice that Marantz gear seems to go for equal dollars/pounds when I've looked, but although this unit is built in the PRC, it's from a UK company (Richer-owned), so I guess that explains it. I swear I'm going to order a Rega TT directly from the UK someday.

Anyway, I figured the as-described sonic qualities of the SE would play well in my tube-based system. In particular, while the SCA-35 has somewhat weaker bass than the HF-81, it seems better controlled (that ultralinear thing), and has a smooth high end, unlike the somewhat sparkling HF-81 (also nice, and with major league balls--especially for a 35-watter). So today the SE arrives, and onto the SCA-35 it goes, which has, by the way, Amperex Bugle Boy 12AX7's I had on hand in the preamp, new RCA NOS 7199 drivers, and a matched quad of new Tesla 6BQ5's in the output--thanks to Ned at Triode Electronics. Oh, and a 1-meter pair of RS-Gold interconnects (I know, but I don't care).

Initially, the SE sounded a little hard, as described. But after maybe 2-3 hours, it started to loosen up, in maybe the quickest run-in I've heard in a modern piece of electronics gear. The toughest bass test has been for me Holly Cole's Enhanced CD ("28"?), which it handled with suitable aplomb (like that, Steve?). And the rhythm section on Robben Ford's "Talk To Your Daughter" had a perfect balance, with exceptional kick drum reproduction. Quincy Jones' "The Dude" was crystal clear, and with great pace and excitement, and Bonnie Raitt's "Nick of Time", which has also been a tough test, sailed right on through, with a beautiful naturalness. Everything sounded fatigue-free, with superb bass-handling, and that "turn-it-up" factor you always look for, but only seem to find in some tube gear (well, not always).

It makes me wonder--do these magazines really break the stuff in before they do the reviews--especially when doing comparos? Some talk of the "out-of-phase pink noise facing-each-other" speaker break-in move, but little is said about component gear. A lot of the criticisms I read about components I've ended up really liking went away after a suitable run-in. And stuff I've had that I hated never got any better, so it's not a cure-all, but should be taken into consideration.

I haven't run the CD-4SE against the CD-67SE yet, so no opinions there, but I can say it's probably the best under $500 player available right now, at least that I've heard. I think Rega Planet candidates ought to take a listen.
BTW, in addition to gold-plated RCA analog outputs, the CD-4SE has a gold-plated BNC coaxial digital output, a hard-wired two-wire ac line cord, no headphone out, a metal case and front panel, a small-ish remote (no volume control), and a "quiet" LCD display. Features are spare, but the guts are there. It uses a new Crystal Semiconductor DAC chip in a dual differential configuration--the next model up (the CD-6) uses, I believe, the same DAC type as in the earlier CD-4, but has balanced XLR outs--Northampton says they are selling a lot of them (the CD-6's) to Krell 300i buyers.

I like the CD-4SE a lot--it has the major boogie factor going on. Five starskis, and it still isn't fully broken in yet.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
Paul Wright   an Audio Enthusiast [Mar 02, 1998]

Wow!This player is simply unreal. Hi-fi Choice and What Hi-Fi? in the UK raved about this player a while back and i couldn't afford one at the time. Now i know what i have been missing. Forget the so called "great" players out there such as the Marantz KI Signature, Cyrus, Audiolab etc., etc., this is the real thing.
It reveals so much that i have never heard before in my life on a CD.
When i read the Hi-Fi Choice review and it said that it compared with Audio Research's U$4000 player i thought they were joking. They're not... take it from me! Go and audition one today. Five stars, no, better make it TEN!!


OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
Anthony A   an Audio Enthusiast [May 02, 1998]

Lovely piece of equipments for its price. Good tonal balance, offer good staging, slightly on the warm side, favouring the british sound.
Smooth operator. Better than what Rotel/NAD is offering.
Short running in period.
Poorly built transport.
I am not able to hear certain details on high end recordings.Hey, not to be complained for its price.
I listen this system on;
audio research 7 preamplifiers.
NAD 100 watts power amp
Zaplink interconnects.
100% wooden Mission bookshelf speakers

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
Gabriel   an Audiophile [Jun 06, 1998]

I bought a Cambridge Audio CD4se cd player a week ago and think it is the best cd player I have ever had. It is partnered by a Pioneer A300R Precision amp and Royd Minstrel speakers with Chord cables. The sound is smooth, warm and highly musical.My only problem is that it has difficulty reading certain discs, especially when just switched on.
Has anyone else had problems with their CD4se?

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
George   a Casual Listener [Jun 21, 1998]

Well worth the money.At the moment, it is paired with Cambridge Audio A3i integrated,
the result is very open, natural and musical. The bass is esp
good. Go and give it a try.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
Showing 1-10 of 24  

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