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Classe Audio CDP-3

20 Bit Compact Disc Player

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Classe Audio CDP-3


Disc format: CD

Digital converter: PCM1702, 20 bit

Frequency response: 1Hz to 20kHz

Signal to Noise Ratio: 100dB

Channel separation: 100dB

Digital outputs: coaxial

Dimensions: 482 x 327 x 95mm

Weight: 10.9kg

Accessories: RC model 9 remote control



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Reviewed May 16th, 2019 by hifi_lc

I also bought this one second hand. Even the belt was loose and the tray won't open by itself. However, the sound is noticeably broader and deeper with authority. I have OPPO 105 with Modwright modification. I also have LH Geek Infinity headphone amplifier/DAC. Notice that LH is the company contracted to make premium sound systems for Tesla model 3. To my ears, the LH Geek beats OPPO's sound obviously in headphone output. However, if I used LH Geek's line out, it sounded softer and therefore became not really preferable to OPPO's line out and certainly lost to OPPO's modwright modified output. This Classe CDP .3, with older DAC component, sounds firmer with great depth. Although its resolution lost to OPPO 105 or LH Geek (both OPPO and LH Geek use ES9018 chips), the Classe sounds smoother with improved clarity. You may think of it as a 2012 best Panasonic's 1080P plasma vs today's non top of the line 4K TV. On the very detailed textures of each note, you may find OPPO with slightly more textures. However, the Classe would provide you better separation between instruments and singers, would still deliver fine details like very faint triangle from distance or a light scratch from a violin. The disadvantage of lesser in resolution has been smoothed out by Classe so the sounds actually feel cleaner, not edgier. I guess that's why some people described Classe as tube-like-sound. I have the tube Modwright modification output from OPPO, so I know that Classe's sound is not a true Tube sound. However, it does have some characteristics (good ones) of the tube sound. For example, the sound from Classe has sense of smooth, blooming, thicker, deeper, like tube. But it does not have warm, more sustain like tube. As a matter of fact, this specific Classe sounds on the cold/hard side, but the hardness is not on lower highs. Instead, the hardness is on mids. Compare to OPPO's DAC, the Classe sounds more like a tough male, with strength and authority. Or say, Classe sounds more pro like and OPPO sounds more home-made like. No matter what, I prefer the sound directly (via analog out) from Classe to the sound from OPPO's ordinary out or LH Geek's line out. I use Classe CAP-151 as preamp/amp setup. Maybe Classe intentionally designed CDP .3 so that it sounded good through Classe's own CAP-151, I don't know about that. I had Denon's DVD 5900 before. I do not recall it sounded as well as Classe. I had Classe TEN to drive DVD 5900 but I did not have a good 2-ch preamp to totally show off DVD 5900's potentials. So, lessons learned. A $5000-$10,000 HT processor is usually not good for 2-ch listening. My Anthem D2 may get close. But my later 2nd hand Krell HTS 7.1 obviously trumped D2. Krell HTS is really a good analog preamp. However, this Classe CDP .3's analog stage seems more superb. I have not directly compare Krell's analog out (If I use Krell as DAC) vs Classe's analog out yet. But Krell's DAC seemed inferior to OPPO 105's DAC. My Krell HTS is a pure analog preamp now (in corporate with OPPO Modwright). Classe CDP and Classe CAP are in another system.

Reviewed Jan 12th, 2018 by TomCav

I recently purchased this CD player second hand, replacing my excellent Arcam player.
The CDP .3 is a massive improvement on the Arcam.
The CDP .3 has great sound and a soundstage that I thought was only available on vinyl. Previously I used CDs for background music and vinyl for more serious listening. This CD player gets me involved in the music.
The downside is that the CDP .3 will not play some home recorded CDs.



re: CDP-3

This is the follow up for the original review by hifi_lc. In the previous review, I compared the CDP-.3 with LH Geek via different outputs. I thought the XLR outputs are generally better than single-ended outputs. However, in this case I was wrong. My current Classe CDP-151's XLR output is actually inferior to its RCA outs. This is an old unit, so don't want to judge the model CDP-151. If I compare CDP-.3's analog out with LH Geek's analog out on RCA terminals of this CDP-151, I found that LH Geek's sound is superior. It has fuller mids and slightly more details. And its bass is slightly more apparent. By comparison, Classe's RCA out sounded on the thin and cold side. However, on musical instruments separation, both CDP and LH Geek did an excellent job. Using the CDP-.3 as a transport, it does sound with more details and clearer than OPPO's digital out. OPPO plays CDs with slightly more punch at lower mids/upper bass but its highs sounds almost like muffled compare to those from CDP-.3 (which reminds me the output from Musical Fidelity's CDT transport I own.) Therefore, I will listen to CDP-.3 together with LH Geek from now on. LH Geek will serve as an excellent headphone amp too.

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