Another Happy Audio Research CD9 Customer

AUDIO_RESEARCH_CD9We recently received this testimonial from another satisfied Audio Research CD9 customer:


“My journey to the Audio Research Reference CD9


It’s been a long and interesting journey to where I am today. I’ve been fortunate to have very good digital play back for a very long time. Ok, so my very first player was so-so, but it was the best sounding Phillips that I could afford in 1984. I still have my first two CDs: The Outfield, “Play Deep” & Cat Stevens, “Footsteps in the Dark: Greatest Hits, Vol. 2.” Of course they sound very different today, but I was pretty happy with my early player. Mind you, I wasn’t going to be giving up my turntable any time soon, but the Phillips was not nearly as bad sounding as the pundits claimed.

My next player was a highly modified Pioneer Elite PD-73 which later became my transport for a number of DACs including the Meridian 565, 568, and G68 (a surround processor that handles up to 24/192). I also threw in a few players along the way, the Meridian G08, Esoteric X-03SE, Lindemann 820S, and the very well-reviewed Lindemann 825 CD/DAC.

One day I was talking to Jon and lamenting that my system just wasn’t getting the job done anymore and that it was sounding very precise but not particularly musical. Jon suggested that I bring my electronics to the store on a Wednesday and that we’d spend some time trying to identify what was up.

The next Wednesday I dismantled my system and loaded up my SUV with electronics and cables, and headed down to North Avenue with a quick stop for a giant iced tea. When I arrived, Jon and Bob had the Ultra Fidelis system warmed up and ready to go. The first thing that we did was put the Lindeman 825 into the system… It sounded detailed and clean, and we thought that it sounded pretty good until we played the same music through the Audio Research DAC-8… Oops, are you sure that that’s the same CD? Where’d all of that openness and warmth come from? Hmm, and that was a completely updated 825 just recently back from Lindemann, too.

Well, next we threw in my amp- no problems there. And then we swapped in my pre-amp. Again, similar to what we heard from the CD player, very detailed and clean, but very dry – almost sterile. Back to the Ref. 5 SE. Holy sound stage Batman! There was no comparison. The REF 5SE outperformed my almost identically priced pre-amp across the board.

The verdict: The amp was good to go, but the pre-amp and the CD player had to go… away. They now reside in my bedroom and are part of an excellent Sonos system that may be the best MP3 player setup in the city. I checked with Jon to see if we could cancel the REL sub-woofer that I had on order. He quickly called Sumiko and was able to cancel the order – he then called ARC and ordered a Ref 5 SE and a DAC 8 for me. I was in audio hog heaven. I later added a dedicated CD spinner to the system and thought that I was done.

And then… the CD9 arrived in the store. I was running some errands and popped in to say hi, and Jon said to me, “Have you heard the CD9 yet?” With some trepidation, I asked, “What’s the CD9?” Jon replied, “It’s Audio Research’s latest reference CD player/DAC.” So, we listened for a while and I left thinking that it sounded great, but not a lot better than my drive and the DAC8. Over the next few months, the more I listened, the more I started to hear subtle differences, but still thought that my DAC 8 and transport was close enough.

A few months later I as was getting ready to have a number of friends over for an evening of music and good cheer, I started thinking about the CD9 and wondering what it would sound like in my system, in my home. On a whim, I called Jon, and after telling him to be free to laugh at me, asked if I could borrow the CD9 that evening. He didn’t even hesitate and said yes… I promised to have it back by opening the next day and drove over to the store where he helped me load it, and an Audioquest power cable, into my car. After getting home and moving my turntable out of the way I plugged the CD9 in to let it warm up. Before the gang showed up I played a favorite track on my DAC 8. Yep, sounds great; how’s the CD9 going to beat that?

You know what’s next don’t you… I hooked up the CD9 and played the same track as I walked back to the kitchen to finish getting ready. I was out of the room, and almost dropped my wine glass. Everything sounded better! It was like the CD9 reached down into the bits, dug deeper into the soul of the music and brought it forth. I quickly walked back into the music room and sat down, my wine glass now forgotten, and spent a few minutes doing some serious listening. My first impression was correct, everything was better, even better sitting in front of the system than standing in the kitchen.

When the gang arrived, who had all heard my system many times before, I explained that we would be listening to the generously loaned CD9 from Ultra Fidelis, and put on the first selection of the night from one of my friends, Dan. When the song finished there was a moment of silence and then Dan said, “Apparently, I have never heard that song before.” That was the theme for the rest of the evening as everybody played the music that they had brought over. The CD9 was a resounding success. Dan was still talking about it the next month, wanting to know if I kept it.

The bottom line is that I have been enjoying my very own CD9 for the past few months and my DAC 8 has moved on to make a new owner happy via Jon’s help. If you haven’t heard the CD9, you owe it to yourself to do so. If you have heard it, you owe it to yourself to compare it to your current player. You may find that like me, you need to figure out what you can sell to get one. Many thanks to Jon and Bob for the assist on this very musical journey!

My system: ARC REF 5SE, ARC CD9, ARC PH-8, SME 20/IV Vi/Lyra Delos, Pass Labs 30.5, Adam Gamma semi-active speakers, REL R-528SE sub, Audioquest interconnects, speaker, power cables, Furman power conditioning.” – Bob F.

Thank you Bob!

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