Sony CDP-XA1ES CD Players

CDP-XA1ES

CD player w/ 45 bit internal processing

User Reviews (34)

Showing 1-10 of 34  
bluecrab222   Audio Enthusiast [Jan 23, 2015]

This is an edit of my recent review of the Sony CDP-XA1ES. In it, where I refer to the CDP-XA70ES and the CDP-XA7ES, what I really meant were the CDP-CA70ES and CDP-CA7ES. The CA designation indicates a Changer. Sorry; I didn't see any way to edit the original review.

OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
3
Bluecrab22   Audio Enthusiast [Jan 22, 2015]

I bought this XA1ES a few months ago on Ebay for 60 USD. I also have its higher-level cousin, the CDP-XA20ES, recently was also using a CDP-XA70ES, and prior to the 70ES, had a CDP-XA7ES. All of these share the common lineage of Sony's 8505 series DAC (8505, 8505AQ, 8505BQ). One thing you can count on from all of them is strong bass response...important to me.

The CDP-XA1ES does not disappoint in that regard, although it has something called an "Advanced Pulse DAC." This might be some kind of hybrid pulse DAC by another name. In any case, the player has the sound I associate with its 8505* cousins: good detail and as I noted, strong low end. I really have no complaints with the sound quality of the XA1ES.

So far, it has eaten no discs, as some users have reported. It has played back without fault every commercial pre-recorded CD I have put in it. However, it sometimes has issues with home-recorded (Commercial CD copied to Consumer/Computer blank CD). On these kinds of CDs, it sometimes repeats some number of seconds of what it just played. In the worst cases of this, I have had to hit FF to get the player to advance. It seems to me like this problem exists more with computer-burned CDs than with CD-R burned ones.

I know it isn't the discs themselves,because I did some tests of the problem CDs on the XA20ES, which resulted in uninterrupted playback. So it's either this particular player or it's something that might happen to all XA1ESs. For all that, I like its sound better than that of the Marantz CD-5001 that it replaced, and for that matter, probably better than the audiophile Onkyo DX-7555 (if only because the XA1ES emphasizes bass more).

The remote is simple and easy to use, although it neither powers on/off the player nor opens/closes the tray.

For 60 USD or less, I think it's a pretty good deal, if that's what you can afford. If I had to do it all over again, I'd probably consider spending a bit more money. However, for my basement system, the XA1ES is a reasonable fit.

It's not one of those "built like a tank units," being plastic, but that's OK with me. All in all, I'd recommend this unit with the caution about the CD-R issues I have experienced. These were made around 1995, so they seem to be internally pretty rugged 20 years later. Finally, it's sound far exceeds that of my CDP-XE500, although you would expect that difference between Sony XA and XE.

OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
3
alphanathan   Audio Enthusiast [Aug 13, 2003]
Strength:

I like the sound very well, but I must admit that I don't have a lot of experience listening to cd players. I also was very happy to find out that the unit was dicounted more than a hundred dollars.

Weakness:

Although the problem is fixable, I think that slope of the tray contibutes to the malfunction. I hope Sony never uses that tray again.

I write this in response to the complaints about the Sony cdp-xa1es eating a lot of discs. I have had his problem on and off, and I understand that users would feel cheated that any cd player would damage discs.(more during the emergency removal, I suspect, than the getting stuck in the first place.) After I got disgusted with the problem only happening on CERTAIN discs, I set about finding out why,analytically. I observed the operation while the unit was open, using a bad cd, and pulling it with my hand, ect. I came to the conclusion that the part that drops down, that little spindle, (I don't know what it is called), was grazing the label side of SOME discs, and the drag was enough to pull these up the slope of the tray. I removed the spindle, and looking closely a it, the center "socket" had a dent/bend in the plastic. Apparantly, some cds have a tiny burr on the edge of the hole, and it would get caught. Granted, perhaps some of the cds have a slightly larger diameter, and sit higher in the tray, but the solution for me was to CAREFULLY shave a bit off of the center. No problem since. I think that maybe, the store demos (many were sold that way) got rough treatment in the store, and the part malfunctioned.

Similar Products Used: Once I bought a fancy player (I can't remember the name) and upon finding that the "damper feet" were just plastic, and that they only bothered to mold the FRONT halves, I promptly returned it. Althou
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
zivayalon   Audio Enthusiast [Feb 11, 2002]
Strength:

Good sound for the price.

Weakness:

Loading tray could be designed better. No other for this price.

For it''s price it''s the best that money can get with very clear and deep sound. I''ve experienced no technical difficulties using it for over than a year, it''ll play any CD-R and even badly scratched cd''s without nodding. Though comparing it to my Sony PS-LX5 turntable, showed me that the crystal clear and deep sound reproduction can''t cover up for the seriously lack of resolution and some what slow response time. Unfortunately since the $$$ isn''t at my pocket and I can''t afford one of those $1000+ cd players. I''ll have to stick to this one and to the old vinyl. My verdict if you''d like to get a good sound for your money and don''t have too much to spend, go with it! you can''t find any better for this sum. If you are more interested in music than crystal clear sound, brush the dust off of your good-old turntable or get one for $40 (Vinyls are so cheap these days, belive you''ll thanks me for this tip).

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
J. Tucker   Audio Enthusiast [Jul 25, 2000]
Strength:

Sound quality, clarity of signal

Weakness:

Does have a tendency to eat certain discs

I bought this about a year ago from Netmarket after seeing it advertised in Crutchfield as a "Sterophile Recommend" product. The previous reviews have been for the most part honest, but perhaps a bit on the harsh side. True, it may not be the "heaviest" built piece of audio equipment I own, particularly in comparison to the two pieces of Musical Fidelity product I own. But what do you expect? Once in place in my audio cabinet it doesn't need to withstand gale force winds or an NFL linebacker.

Sound-wise the signal provides clear, smooth treble, and well-defined,tight bass with plenty of spacial separation. All-in-all a musically pleasing unit to own, particularly for approximately $250. I don't have the cash to throw into my audio system quite the way I'd like so I feel this unit for the money is the best one.

Regarding the eating of discs that has been the topic of discussion in so many of the previous reviews I have found, based on my experience, the following:

1) the player tends to eat discs after long sessions of playing (i.e.--it is "warmed up")
2) the occasions on which it has eaten discs (five occasions over the year), the discs were discs that were painted completely on the top surface, as opposed to the lighter paint of screening (i.e.--you can see the aluminum or gold disc at least partially).

I didn't check this website until after I purchased this item, so I wasn't privy to the information here. After the player ate the first disc I then checked Audioreview.com. Basically this is a unit that provides a sound well above the standard Circuit City/Best Buy level of player for about the same money. Just be aware of the potential areas of sensitivity in operation and you hopefully will be pleased with the unit.

5 stars for value -- name another player that sounds this good for this price
4 stars for overall -- in my book I still haven't found the perfect player at any price, but it may be out there!

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
John Geelan   Audio Enthusiast [Jan 03, 2001]
Strength:

Excellent cd sound, detailed, spacious, deep bass

Weakness:

average build quality, cd tray can be tricky.

Bought this player 2 years ago over the web as a used demo from a dealer in CA. for only $199.00 I was looking for a new improved cd player to replace my circa 1986 Sony cd player. Stereophile gave this one rave reviews and basically said it is the best for its rather low price point.
I've been very happy with the player these past 2 years yet that cd eating did occurr back when I first got the unit. Since it was shipped from CA. I took it to a local authorized Sony repairer and they corrected the problem for free. It hasn't eaten a cd since but you do have to be careful to corrrectly place the cd in the tray plus the cd has to be level, not warped (cds can have a slight warp to them).
Overall the player sounds great and is easy to use.
I pair it with a DENON 3300 and use Pinnacle speakers with a Velodyne subwoofer.
This will probably be my last cd player as DVD-Audio is almost here and those players will replace the dedicated cd player in the future.
I give the unit 5 stars for sound.
4 stars for build quality and its wierd habit of sometimes eating a disc.

Similar Products Used: previous Sony cd player
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
Eriq   Audio Enthusiast [Mar 15, 2001]
Strength:

Good imaging and sound quality, Variable Line Out, Digital Optical Out.

Weakness:

Transport could be better (Especially for an ES component), Not the best built CD player out there.

For a component catering for the aspiring audiophile on a budget, the sound quality of this CD player ranges between good and excellent. It's transport mechanism however does not lend itself to being overused. On on notable occasion I had to take it apart to retrieve a disk that had gotten stuck inside. It is also picky about what CD-R's you put in, and often fails to track some. If you are one of those types that is willing to put up with an occasional inconvinience for good sound quality then by all means put up with it until DVD-Audio becomes more prevalent, otherwise there are excellent Denon and Marantz CD players that cost about the same but are a little more reliable (at the cost of sound quality).

Similar Products Used: Various Denon, Onkyo and Marantz budget players.
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
Steve   Audiophile [Sep 10, 2000]
Strength:

sound, reliability, value

Weakness:

drawer could be tougher

I got the XA1ES this spring. I have since used it a great deal--usually everyday a couple of hours a day. I have experienced NO disc eating problem. The unit works flawlessly each and every time. I have a friend that has the XA20ES. At twice the price it does not sound twice as good--in fact the XA1ES sounds as good as his 20. I would reccomend this to anyone looking for great sound in a single disc player. The only thing I do not like is the automatic start feature.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
gene   Audio Enthusiast [Jan 24, 2001]
Strength:

good imaging and detail, tight bass, low price.

Weakness:

average aesthetics, not built very stoutly

I'VE READ ALL THE REVIEWS HERE AND HAVE NOT EXPERIENCED ANY OF THE MECHANICAL DISC EATING OR TRAY LOADING PROBLEMS OF THE OTHER REVIEWERS...MAYBE THEY NEED TO LEARN HOW TO OPERATE A CD PLAYER CORRECTLY...AS FAR AS SOUND FOR THE MONEY, IT'S GREAT...FOR $300 YOU CAN'T BEAT IT...I HAD ALSO AUDITIONED THE NAD C521 AND DID A LOT OF SIDE BY SIDE...THE NAD HAD GREAT VOCAL IMAGING AND A GREAT MIDRANGE...THE BASS SEEMED DEEPER AS WELL...BUT THE SONY HAD MUCH BETTER TRANSIENT RESPONSE AND EVERYTHING SEEMED MORE DETAILED...FOR FASTER MUSIC, THE SONY BLEW THE NAD AWAY...THE HIGHS WERE CRISP, THE BASS WAS TIGHT AND FAST, AND GENERALLY PLAYED WITH GREAT DETAIL, YET NOT HARSH...THE NAD IS GENERALLY SMOOTHER, BUT MUCH LESS DETAILED...I THINK THE SONY HAS BETTER SPATIAL IMAGING AND THE NAD HAS BETTER VOCAL IMAGING...BECAUSE OF MY MUSICAL TASTE...I WENT WITH THE SONY...GREAT PRICE...GREAT PLAYER!

Similar Products Used: NAD C521
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Gerald Crum   Audio Enthusiast [Nov 04, 2001]
Strength:

Very clean natural sound, love the 20 track select buttons.

Weakness:

Extremely cable sensitive

This is a 3 year follow up to my original review. The fact I still have it speaks volumes in its favor. For a while it was a love/hate relationship, until: 1) I got an NAD C350 with its easy to drive inputs, and 2) I found the Sony demands short, low capacitance cables. I am currently using a 1/2 meter 25 pico Farad cable I built myself. These two changes made a magical difference in the Sony. The XE-500 needs the same kind of cable, by the way. Now, the two players are very natural sounding with accurate instrumental and vocal timbre, fine detail, excellent imaging, and no trace of edginess or grit.

Given that this is now a discontinued model, and therefore, discounted, it is a best buy. It also outperformed both the Rotel 971 and the Arcam 7SE; both of which I found to be colored. Making this a Giant killer.

Similar Products Used: Onkyo DX-220, Sony CDP-XE-500, Arcam Alpha 7SE, Rotel 971
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Showing 1-10 of 34  

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