Cary Audio Design CD-306 CD Players

CD-306

Inputs for external digital signals, AES/EBU, Toslink or composite connections, HDCD decoding, 96 kHz/24 Bit processing, CD-306 can process any digital source from 32-96kHz, from 16-24 bit data from internal or external digital sources, fully shielded transport, power transformer, fully regulated power supplies.

User Reviews (12)

Showing 1-10 of 12  
Hxd   AudioPhile [Jul 24, 2015]

The one I got is 306 Pro (mark II) which my brother sold it to me after he went to dCS Scalatti. How to write about its sound? In my music CD & SACD Collection, there are several CDs which are unlistenable. However, I repeated to hear these albums on this CD player, Honestly this CD Player is incredible! My brother stopped by my home one day & listened it back and you know what. He wanted it back & pay me more extra $200 for what I paid him ($3000). And I said back to him that how's about extra $1k ? And he replied Yes. Come-on, pack it up...

You can not go wrong with this Cary 306 Pro CD/SACD Player! Period.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Discriminator   Audio Enthusiast [Oct 05, 2007]
Strength:

Redbook playback
HDCD playback!
Build Quality
Customer Support

Weakness:

192 kHz upsampling does not enhance playback in my system/experience.

I upgraded from a Cary CD-303/200 which in turn was chosen over many units costing more. Please see my review of the 303/200 as comments concerning the exceptional design and build quality also apply here.

The 303/600 is a noticeable improvement over the 303/200 but my opinion of the latter remains unchanged. Either model constitutes an exceptional value at the price point on the used market. What I notice with the 306 is a touch more smoothness in the midrange and a little less bite in the upper treble – a bit more tube-like if you will but without the distortion and loss of detail. The lower octaves are very dynamic convincing in both cases. About the only negative I can think of is the upsampling. I found that the 96 kHz upsampling almost always improved the sound with the 303/200 but when I use the 192 kHz upsampling on the 306/200 something sounds amiss, as if the dynamic range were compressed somewhat. No matter as the 306 without upsampling outperforms the 303 with upsampling. While redbook reproduction is truly excellent HDCD takes it to another level and approaches the Holy Grail of CD playback – namely LP fidelity without the noise.

As far as accessories go the one I can most heartily recommend is Symposium Rollerblocks II, which I found to work best when installed with the bearings on the bottom and the blocks up against the component chassis. This vibration management gear improves the focus which comes across as better imaging and more detail. The Rollerblocks are even more effective when used in conjunction with a Symposium Svelte Shelf. I went a little overboard and have a Symposium Ultra platform under inverted Rollerblock II’s.

Finally this review would not be complete without tipping my hat to the excellent folks at Cary who were kind enough to answer my questions about both units before and after purchase despite the fact that I bought both used on AudiogoN.

System: PSE HL-1 FET/tube hybrid preamp, BEL 1001 MkV amp, BEL P-1 The Wire interconnects, BEL S-24 The Wire speaker cables, Vandersteen 2Ce Signature loudspeakers, Vandersteen 2Wq subwoofer, custom crossover, Symposium Acoustics vibration management equipment on all components (including subwoofer but excluding loudspeakers).

Customer Service

Excellent

Similar Products Used: Adcom GCD-550
HHb CDR-800 Pro Burner w/Pioneer Stable Platter transport
Cary CD-303/200
cheap Sony SACD player (ick)
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Rabby   AudioPhile [Jul 11, 2005]
Strength:

Bass... Deep, authoritive and FAST, this is most noticeable with my Monitor Audio GR-60s which have ceramic/metal cones. IMO most players with big bass sound "fat", not the case with Cary 306. Midrange... A killer, you wonder there are tubes in the box, not the case with Cary 306. Treble... extended, natural, and slightly (not overly) sweet. Harmonica never sounds harsh even at top octave. Lots of inputs/outputs, balanced XLR.

Weakness:

Optional analog volume control... The quality is not as good as digital volume control found in other hi-end machines. I'd rather use a preamp. The tray could be smoother and quieter.

Best player I ever had. Replaced my GamuT CD-1 and what an improvement! Associated equipments: GamuT C2R preamp and D200 Power amp. Monitor Audio GR-60 Speakers. Monitor Audio 212 subwoofer. Cardas Neutral Ref cables (balanced all the way).

Similar Products Used: Sim Moon Eclipse, Audio Analogue Maestro 192, Theta Gen Va, GamuT CD-1
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
JDS   AudioPhile [Jul 11, 2003]
Strength:

with the elite for musicality & detail, a class leader in bass

Weakness:

no guarantee out of USA at all

Cary blew away Nuvusta 3D, meridian 508.24 & was a little better overall than krell KPS25sc 24/96, all of which I have owned. On HDCD this machine is startling. This player is the best that I have ownwed or auditioned & is in a class of its own for bass tightness/pitch & dynamics & equals the best in detail & soundstage: no digital edge or sibilance whatsoever. I have lost the urge to go hi-end vinyl. Forget SCAD/DVDA with a sound like this. New all-silver unit is very sexy & stunning. You will be permanently smiling with this player: especially me because I have put the £££ saved on selling the Krell on a new Eclass. I have not heard the Audio Aero capitole mk2 P4 chip version which was next on my list (not so good build quality I gather & I've already got a reference preamp)& now don't really care about listening to any other Cd player. NB the company do not guarantee CD players out of the USA whatsoever.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
sky1   Audio Enthusiast [Nov 14, 2002]
Strength:

Reproduction of the bass frequencies Reproduction of the high frequencies Open and airy midrange Build quality and looks

Weakness:

Nothing of note

The Cary 306 is by far the best CD player I have ever heard regardless of price. I was looking for a new CD player and I auditioned the 306 against a number of different players including the Arcam FMJ23T, Musical Fidelity NuVista, Linn Ikemi, Linn Genki, Krell KAV 250, Sim Audio Moon and the 306's baby brother, the 303. The Krell CD player sounded so harsh that despite the fact the dealer was willing to offer a 40% discount (the 250 was soon to be replaced with the 280 -- an equally pathetic CD player I might add) and the Krell's solid good looks (in that 1950's Russian tank sort of way), I decided to look elsewhere. The FMJ23T came highly reccomended, but was quite dissapointing -- especially in the low frequencies. The Linn and the Sim Audio players were never really serious competition. I was quite torn between the Nuvista and the 303. Both players sounded quite good. The 303 was exceptional accross the entire spectrum, but the NuVista was exceptional when it came to high frequencies (its bass performance was somewhat lacking). All said, I almost bought the NuVista, even though it was $5K while the 303 was only $3K -- I kinda bought into that whole limited edition thing. And thats when the dealer suggested that since I was willing to spend $5K, I should listen to the 306. The 306 sounds like the 303 and the NuVista taken together with the veil removed. Its absolutely exceptional accross the entire frequency band. Its reproduction of the bass frequencies is better than any CD player I have ever heard and its treble performance is even better than the "SACD-like" NuVista. Every note sounds so open (almost LP-like) and un-CD like. Once I heard the 306, it was absolutely impossible to go back to any of the other CD players. The only CD players that even come close to matching the 306 (like Wadia, Accuphase and dCS cost considerably more -- the dCS system is great if you have the cash), cost considerably more. Combine that with awesome build quality and looks, you have the last CD player you will ever need to buy.

Similar Products Used: Arcam FMJ23T Musical Fidelity NuVista Linn Ikemi Linn Genki Krell KAV 250 Sim Audio Moon Cary 303
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Steve Huff   Audio Enthusiast [Jul 08, 2002]
Strength:

Build, Looks, remote, sound, upsampling

Weakness:

Huh? Well, it is a bit pricey, but can be found used at audiogon for $3k

Well, I bought the version with the built in analog volum control, which is a $500 option and i hooked it up dorect to my Cary V-12i tube amp. This is the best CD player under $10k in my opinion. I have owned the Mark Levinson No39, Shanling CDT100, Sony SCD-1, SOny SCD777, Wadia, etc. The Cary 306/200 is built like a TANK, remote is machined aluminum and backlit, and teh players sound is amazing. Upsampling to 192 is incredible and adds depth to yoru old CD's. I never really thought CD players made much of a difference, but the Cary 306/200 has made a HUGE difference. Analog sound, and LEAGUES better than teh SOny SCD-1 for CD playback. Actually, The 306/200 sounds better with my Cd's than the Sony did in SACD. At least in my system. This will be the last CD player I ever buy. If SACD ever matures and becomes a standard, only then will I upgrade.

Similar Products Used: ML No39 Sony SCD-1 Sony 777ES Wadia Shanling CDT100
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
ianrmack   AudioPhile [May 17, 2002]
Strength:

Sound, looks, features for the future.

Weakness:

Remote sucks. When you go directly to a track, the first second of the song sometimes gets cut off. There''s a work around.

This player is just fantastic. I can''t give you tech data on why it is good. It just met my criteria for a CD player I can live with for a long time. It is very musical while maintaining accuracy and tonality. Oh yeah, my criteria: 1. Front loading - so I can put it in shelves. 2. Good company, trusted reputation. 3. Gotta have a player that will guard you against the future. The Cary can be used as a DAC with other digital components. IF SACD, or DVD-A, EVER catches on, I can buy a good, inexpensive transport and plug it into my Cary. I do that now with a 5 disc changer. 4. Obviously sound...... 5. Looks; sorry, have to say it. This unit is gorgeous. My system: Cary 306/200 Hovland HP-100 Berning ZH-270 amp Merlin VSM-Ms Cardas Golden Ref Cables TG Audio and Empirical Power Cords PS Audio P300

Similar Products Used: Levinson 39.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Mike   Audio Enthusiast [Apr 06, 2002]

Oh my......traded up to this from my Theta. All I can say is that is the best player I have ever had, and that list is long. I drive my VAC amp directly from the 306. I cannot believe this player! Forget the linestage or pre-amp if you don''t need the switching options. System is very simple. The 306 into a VAC PA 100/100, PS Audio 600, Synergistic Research Designer''s Reference cabling throughout except a fatboy 2000 power cord to the VAC and SR Designer''s Ref. Squared to the 600. SR Control Center II used with active shielding on the interconnects. Audio Physic Virgo III speakers.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
William   Audiophile [Feb 22, 2001]
Strength:

Build Quality, Sound Quality, Remote Switching, Flexibility

Weakness:

Front panel lights do not dim

This is a remarkable product, remote controlled activation of upsampling is great to play with to see just what upsampling of the digital siganal does to the sound. Normally in my system upsampling increases the width of the soundstage, tightens up the bass, and gives more detail. It is interesting to hear just how much information in on the old CD's.

This unit is also HDCD compatible and it does an excellent job of HDCD decoding, better than a number of free-standing processers I have played with have done. Mostly I am impressed by the sound quality of this player it is amazing, I think it sounds better than a Theta Casablanca II with superior dacs and their Voyager transport throught balance digital cables. Highly recommended

Similar Products Used: EAD, Theta, CAL
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Gerald Green   Audiophile [Feb 13, 2001]
Strength:

Best Damn one box cd player on the market under $10,000. Of course the Burmester DAC and Transport beat it but at $35,000. Levinson 39, etc. just don't sound as musical and accurate. I was going to get a SACD player, but CD section sucks. This is my last CD player, period. Then I will wait till the so called format wars are over. I thought that upsampling doesn't help cd's sound better, boy was I wrong, wow CD is not as bad after all. Plus, don't you think that one should have the right to go to his or her local record store and have a variety of music to choose, etc. A definite 5 stars, especially when the retail price of this unit is 5 thou, I bought one perfectly new, return for an awesome 3 thou.

Weakness:

None

Buy this player, sounds phenomenal with both ss and tubes, I'm running it with Pass Labs X1 pre-amp and X250amp. This should be your last CD player and in (3-6 years) maybe you can buy a DVD-A or SACD, whatever format wins out, makes sense for you, etc. DAmnit, now I can finally enjoy the music, ahhhhhh.

Similar Products Used: Everything under the sun under 7 thou
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Showing 1-10 of 12  

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