The Cary Audio
CD 303T SACD Pro is one of those pieces of gear that fill multiple roles in a high end stereo system and can do it well. The proliferation of high resolution digital audio files has lead to the current, and often spirited conversations or whether CDs (and SACDs) will remain relevant. Whatever the outcome of today's version of the age old tube versus solid state debate, the Cary Audio CD 303T SACD Pro has you covered. The CD 303T not only plays CDs and SACDs but also serves as a DAC for digital sources ranging from old CD transports to computers with high resolution digital files (PCM only), as it has a complete set of digital inputs (yes, including USB and even AES/EBU) that will accept and decode signals up to 24/192 kHz.Additional Resource
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While the CD 303T eschews the beautifully finished milled aluminum top plate of its more expensive sibling, it does maintain the heavy and finely finished aluminum face plate and adjustable aluminum feet. The CD 303T has an attractive and understated front panel available in either silver or black finishes; my review sample is silver and fit and finish are top-notch. When I first loaded a disc to break the player in, I noticed that Cary used a custom-milled aluminum disc tray rather than an off-the-shelf unit. Looking inside the unit I was impressed by the tri-part assembly with each section physically shielded from the others. The left section houses the power supply with multiple C Core transformers. The center section houses the transport and digital circuitry and the right section houses the analog circuitry, including the four 12AU7 tubes which are conveniently located under an access panel for easy tube rolling. So not only does the CD 303T accommodate both sides of the digital audio file vs. disc debate, but also the tube vs. solid state debate as well by allowing the user to switch between tube and solid state outputs.
The CD 303T is full of many features, too many to go through them in this quick review, but some of the highlights include: selectable up-sampling of digital signals received through the digital inputs; selectable up-sampling of CDs to 96, 192, 384, 512 or 768 kHz; HDCD decoding; SACD word clock frequency of 22.5792 MHz. The CD 303T utilizes four Burr Broun 1792u digital to analog converter chips in a balanced parallel configuration. Read about the high points and low points on Page 2.