Unit under test : Shanling CD 300 CD player
Listening panel :
- Jocelyn Jeanson, audiophile and music lover,
- Marq Doyon, audiophile and music lover,
- Marc Philip, editor, magazine-audio.
- Preamplifier-Bent Audio TAP passive with remote,
- Amplifier-Pass Aleph 5, Class A, 60 w/channel.
- Speakers-DIY 3 way based on the Wilson Audio Watt Puppy.
- Cables-Kimber Silver Streak + KCAG with Eichmann Silver Bullet plugs;
- Goertz MI2 speaker cables with Rhodium connectors, tri-wired,
- AC cables-Wireworld Electra 5, Isoclean 3030 Autofocus, PS Audio XStream Super Punch, inovaudio Silver & Rhodium,
- AC wiring-2 x 3 dedicated lines of 4 x 12 gauge BX, one breaker per line terminated by a 20 amp hospital grade AC outlet.
- PS Audio Power Plant 300 for the digital equipment.
Racks, shelves and supports
- « Eva » Tripod support in stainless and maple wood, one double decoupled modular shelf, both by inovaudio Marc Philip Design.
- Preamplifier-Conrad Johnson Premier Two, modified,
- Amplifier- Classé DR2, modified, for the HF drivers,
- Amplifier- Classé DR2 for the LF drivers,
- Speakers-Acoustat model 6, custom modified,
- Cables-Furutech and Peterson interconnects, speaker cabling in 4-0 copper,
AC wiring-dedicated line, steel-jacketed, shielded, feeds a remote panel with one breaker for each piece of equipment.
The packing is impeccable. Everything is there, the remote and batteries, the puck and the AC power cord. Our first impression is that the player is very well-built and even beautiful. Although beauty is of course subjective, the three of us are unanimous on these two points.
The component layout is carefully done, it is clearly excellent work.
Philips CDM-12.10 and CD7 II servo system, integrated physically with the aluminum top plate and so hyper-rigid.
The Shanling CD-300 is a top-loading design.
The drive mechanics are tightly fixed to the aluminum top plate and braced with a number of double posts made of aluminum.
192KHZ/24bit upsampling conversion with a SRC4192 chip,
Two PCM1794 DAC chips,
Four OPA627 op amps,
RCA and XLR outputs,
Two EH6922 tubes.
Two transformers, one for the analog circuitry and one for the digital side.
Weight is 12.5 kg, not really surprising considering the quality of the machining and the thickness of the chassis plates as well as the two transformers.
I can only say that (with Chinese gear) we are seeing the same thing our parents’ generation saw with Japanese electronics between 1960 and 1990. The difference is that we are watching in « fast forward » this time.
Get the CD 300 out of its box and you see that its maker is not fooling around. Its construction is exemplary, worthy of a much higher-priced unit. You load it from the top; the mechanics are a Philips CD-7 II servo-system.
There is 192kHz/24bit upsampling, and conversion is done by a pair of Burr-Brown 1794s, one per channel.
Note that two 6922 tubes are used as output buffers on this player.
I had the Shanling CD 300 in my system for a good week.
The first thing that comes to mind is the dynamics and especially the bass that come from this unit.
Image and depth are all there, without drawing attention to themselves the way they do with some players.
I tried the CD 300 with several power cords; the player gains a lot if you take care with cabling.
I got the best result using the Isoclean Auto Focus, but this cord costs half the price of the player.
We experimented with different antivibration footers like Black Diamond Racing Cones and Isoclean Isotips.
The CD 300 was most comfortable with the Isotips under it, worth trying if your rack doesn’t seem to do the job. We tried a Van den Hul The Second RCA interconnect, and with this we found an almost perfect synergy between the CD 300 and our Naim amplification.
My conclusion is that the CD 300 is an honest player, it doesn’t add or take away anything. No glorious mids, no shimmering highs, just what’s on the disc and that’s all. I suggest you listen to the player in your own system before you make up your mind.
In the last few weeks I’ve had the good fortune to try the Shanling CD 300 at home. Taking the component out of its box you see you’re dealing with an aesthetically very nicely-designed player with a very rigid aluminum chassis which recalls the Marantz SA 11. Discs are loaded from the top, which means that the door of the player is a sliding type made of aluminum. There is a pressure puck to keep the CD on the spindle.
Like all components using tubes in their design, this one needed many hours of running in. After over 150 hours the player’s sound became more accurate and dynamic.
The highs were better defined, the mids were all there.
The bass was imposing but a bit confused, at least in the context of my setup.
Isolating the unit and changing the AC cord for a better one brought a significant improvement. The stereo image cleared up and hung together better as a whole. A replacement interconnect cable brought the final, decisive touch, so that it was easy to say either you liked the result or you didn’t.
After breaking in and with the right setup the Shanling deserves a listen considering its very competitive price.
Over the weeks, as I listened to many different musical styles, the player turned out to perform very well and I had fun tweaking the setup. It’s really very pleasant to know that you can apply your personal touch to the performance of a unit, and this one will let you play so don’t be shy.
The Shanling CD 300 is a player whose robust appearance suggests reliability. It deserves a serious listen once you’re sure it has been broken in long enough. For anyone who wants an honest-sounding, top-loading player at an affordable price the CD 300 is an option.
In favour :
Solid and good-looking,
Honest and frankly enjoyable sound.
AC cord could be better considering the unit’s potential.
In the first hours, a first chill in the relationship: the sound is lifeless, the midrange is veiled and the dynamics have gone missing.
The unit is new and we decide to run it nonstop for three days and nights before we listen again. At the end of this period we add four extra days in « play » mode to make sure all parts are properly broken in. In all it took 300 hours of play to get satisfactory results. This was not the first time we’ve seen how a long period of running-in can allow a player to show its potential.
We recall our test of the T+A D10, a high-end unit costing $11,000 which only really revealed itself to our ears on Saturday, five days after we plugged it in.
Curious to get an idea of the potential of the CD 300, I connected it to the Aurum Acoustics system, using the preamp built into the integris player.
I noted one characteristic: the sound was « fleshed-out », there was substance to the voices, the lower midrange and the bass were robust, the highs relatively soft. Only the bottom octaves seemed withdrawn.
It’s a component that will certainly appeal to music-lovers, especially tube aficionados. Personally I prefer a more detailed sound, my audiophile side is showing here but a leopard can’t change his spots.
With the player under my arm we went to visit Marq and his « Wappiti » three-ways.
In this setup I heard the high midrange reproduced in the same way as in mine, but the bass gained extension.
The CD 300 finished up its maiden voyage at Jocelyn’s place, between the two magnificent 8-foot Acoustat panels (completely modified by their owner) to which we will return in a report devoted to them.
The CD 300 was at home in this system, and I noted the same characteristics as before although the sound was airier than on our « conventional » speakers.
The match with Classé electronics was interesting. As an experiment we replaced the original power cord with our reference inovaudio Silver Rhodium.
The result was positive, the sound was much more musical. Don’t hesitate to try different power cords on this player, it’s really worth the effort.
The sound of the unit is by no means transformed but the right cord can bring that little extra something which makes a lot of difference, more « guts », more detail, tighter bass. In short, the benefit of this kind of fine tuning can be felt right away and it is not subtle, it’s flagrant.
List price CDN$ 1,899.00.
Recordings used in these sessions
- Hommage à Claude Léveillé,
- Hommage à JP Ferland: Le petit Roi,
- Richard Desjardins: Abbitibi,
- Sheffield Lab Test disk: Drum & Track,
- Dave Brubeck at Carnegie Hall 1963, band 4,
- Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon, Digital Master 24K Gold,
- Aznavour 2000: Qu’avons nous fait de nos 20 ans,
- Rutter Requiem band 7, Reference Recordings HDCD,
- Véronique Sanson et Paul Personne (Live),
- Véronique Sanson (Quelques mots d’Amour),
- Martin Xavier (Scène de la vie pastorale),
- Dire Straits (Private Investigations),
- Du temps & de l’instant, by the Montserrat Figueras ensemble with Arianna, Ferran and Jordi Savall,
- Karen Young: Live in your living room,
- Coral Egan: My favorite distraction.
and many other albums, too numerous to list.
The Shanling CD 300 is good-looking, remarkably well-constructed and it will please tube lovers above all. To me the sound can be called « tube type » because of the two EH 6922s used as output buffers.
I preferred listening via the XLR outputs, especially with Kimber KCAG cables.
Remember too that your listening experience can be improved by replacing the stock power cord, and while you’re at it you might try different kinds of interconnect cable, both RCA and XLR. I’m sure you’ll find some you like more than others, for long hours of listening with this very realistically-priced top-loading player.
So don’t deprive yourself of a listen-just make sure the player has run in for a few hundred hours before you do it.
- Top-loading, with stabilizer puck,
- Affordable price for many people,
- Impeccable build quality,
- RCA and XLR connectors.
- None worth mentioning at this price point.
Manager : Bernard Li
4261, Highway 7
Canada L3R 9W6
Telephone: (905) 470-0825.
Cet article a été rédigé par Marc PHILIP rédacteur indépendant, tous droits réservés, copyright 2007/2010, les textes et photos sont la propriété de l’auteur et du magazine.
Bonne journée et bonnes écoutes.