Author Topic: Audiolab 8200CDQ review in Hi-Fi World  (Read 9908 times)

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Re: Audiolab 8200CDQ review in Hi-Fi World
« Reply #15 on: August 10, 2011, 03:20:36 PM »
Brief and amateur review of the Audiolab 8200CDQ from the ears of krlock3

Prior to this, I am looking to make me first step into "better" hi fi. I have very nice B&W CM9 speakers which I use with a Sony ES home cinema AVR with matching B&W surrounds and sub.

Having tested the Cyrus CD8SE (fantastic to my ears) together with the 8XPD (nice amp but optical input from my macbook unimpressive compared to the CDP), I was intrigued to get a test at a different local dealer out here in Switzerland.

My three main test songs are a recording of the finale of Stravinskys Firebird Suite; nightswimming from REM, and Happiness is a warm gun from the Beatles. Because I have listened to these three tracks a lot (I like them after all, I feel that I can now perceive quite well the differences to be heard with different hi fi gear). I also test with one or two of the HD tracks sample album at 96k.

We hooked up the Audiolab 8200CDQ to teh 8200P matching ampflier, fed with not sure exactly which cables into CM9s at the dealer.

First test with CD unimpressive. Pretty flat, nothing standing out. However, I must admit that the dealer had a classe setup (CD 102) with piega speakers right next door and I was also listening to my cds on this so of course no contest.

I was about to actually end the test without bothering to hook up my macbook but what the hey did so anyway. In fact, to my ears, the optical output through itunes and songbird sounded better than the CD player output. While neither CD nor macbook compared at all favourably compared to the CD8SE, the macbook input was approximately on a par with what I heard from the same input on the 8XPD.

If only the Classe were the same price!

However, all was not lost.

At the dealer suggestion, I reluctantly agreed to test the 8200CDQ with two matching 8200MB monoblock amplifiers.

First impressions from the CD player were promising, certainly a big step up to my ears and in the same ballpark if not as good as the CD8SE. Maybe 75% of the way there.  Of course, these are just my guesses.

Another test of the Stravinsky on the Classe (with Piega speakers by the way) reveal that the Classe still doesnt need to feel jealous. Although Im not much of a one for the typical audiophile terms, it really could be said that the audiolab was more neutral, the Classe more organic, and the Cyrus perhaps more detailed.

Anyhow, I noticed that we were still not using balanced cables between the CDQ and monoblock amps. I have never used or investigated balanced cabling before. To be honest I thought that the cable would go to the speaker, rather than between the amp and 8200CDQ. Shows what I know.

Anyway, an immediate step up was heard with these cables. Now, sometimes I am suspicious when this occurs... does the new and more expensive input also just jack up the volume because, you know, higher volumes are sometimes perceived as better quality. Well, that may be true here too... it did sound louder, but to my ears it also sounded better.

With both CD player and macbook optical in, I was getting very close if not equal or slightly exceeding what I heard and what I desire to hear from my test of the CD8SE / 8XPD cd playback.

Ears being fickle things, I have the following tests planned in the coming weeks before I spend the cash....

a) another test of the 8200CDQ with monoblocks.
b) a test of the QX version of the 8XPD, probably again with the CD8SE
c) a test of one of the Cyrus stream products, either the X or the XP.

This should be completed in around two weeks, then I am itching to make a decision.... time to get this damn music into my home!

About colour, Im probably leaning towards black in both the Cyrus and Audiolab. Honestly speaking, for me in aesthetics there is no contest, I genuinely like the Cyrus design very much (I am aware it also has its detractors but I personally love the form).
cd8se2, prexpdqx, mono x200, cabling by cardas, b&w cm9

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Re: Audiolab 8200CDQ review in Hi-Fi World
« Reply #16 on: August 10, 2011, 04:06:52 PM »
Thats good advice about the balanced inputs Matthew... I will consider this during my next test. It would about concur with what I heard... around 6 to 8db to my ears.

Unfortunately I do not own the Cyrus amp... this was a separate test I could make in store and with home demo at another dealer.

Overall, I think the CD8SE / 8XPD combo with CD over analogue produced the overall best sound of the bunch. But that demo was some weeks ago now so I am not sure I can trust my ears.

Certainly the monoblocks made ALL the difference with the audiolab CDQ.... way better than the 8200P but of course more expensive also.

Overall impression is that with initial test of the Audiolab, it wasnt moving me at all. With the balanced cables and monoblocks, I had again a smile on my face and WANTED to listen to more music to hear how good it was sounding... same with the CD8SE and this is the basic criteria I must match in order to lay down my cash.

Just happy I didnt stop the test after initial CD and stereo amp test.
 



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Re: Audiolab 8200CDQ review in Hi-Fi World
« Reply #17 on: August 11, 2011, 09:35:42 AM »
Reading a review on 6moons of the audiolab, one of his conclusions is....

"The Audiolab can drive amps and active speaker directly over RCA or XLR. Signal attenuation during my review showed clear advantages on clarity and precision for the digital rather than analog control. Minor compromises for the analog route were concomitant with competing solutions in this price range."

Can someone tell me what this means? Did he not prefer the use of XLR balanced cables?
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Re: Audiolab 8200CDQ review in Hi-Fi World
« Reply #18 on: August 11, 2011, 09:42:41 AM »
Reading a review on 6moons of the audiolab, one of his conclusions is....

"The Audiolab can drive amps and active speaker directly over RCA or XLR. Signal attenuation during my review showed clear advantages on clarity and precision for the digital rather than analog control. Minor compromises for the analog route were concomitant with competing solutions in this price range."

Can someone tell me what this means? Did he not prefer the use of XLR balanced cables?

I think he's saying that the digital volume control in CDP is better than analogue volume control in a pre-amp.  I've just bought soem XLR cables for my DACXP/MonoX system as most people seem to prefer them.
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Re: Audiolab 8200CDQ review in Hi-Fi World
« Reply #19 on: August 11, 2011, 09:47:40 AM »
Ah I see, that makes sense.... in other words, using the 8200CDQ volume control rather than attaching another amp and using that?

How are you finding the XLR cables on your Cyrus setup Mr Angelface?

Which cables did you buy exactly?
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Re: Audiolab 8200CDQ review in Hi-Fi World
« Reply #20 on: August 11, 2011, 10:10:34 AM »
Reading a review on 6moons of the audiolab, one of his conclusions is....

"The Audiolab can drive amps and active speaker directly over RCA or XLR. Signal attenuation during my review showed clear advantages on clarity and precision for the digital rather than analog control. Minor compromises for the analog route were concomitant with competing solutions in this price range."

Can someone tell me what this means? Did he not prefer the use of XLR balanced cables?

The Audiolab has the capacity to attenuate volume in both the digital and analogue domain. As far as I remember all the reviews I read favoured the digital volume control on this unit. 

When used with its own mono blocks XLR cables would make sense as I believe that the Audiolab 8000 CDQ is a balanced design.

PS:  If you get mono blocks these can be placed very close to your speakers thereby requiring very short speaker cable runs.  One of the benefits from using XLR connections is that they work well over long distances.
« Last Edit: August 11, 2011, 10:19:23 AM by realoldfart »
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Re: Audiolab 8200CDQ review in Hi-Fi World
« Reply #21 on: August 11, 2011, 12:54:13 PM »

How are you finding the XLR cables on your Cyrus setup Mr Angelface?

Which cables did you buy exactly?

I also run XLR's between my DAC-XP and Mono X's and have found them to be preferable to RCA's. I've tried two sets, Graeme Dench's 'Green' XLRs and a pair of ML Alaqeia's bought from Purpleaardvark back in June. Both he and I agreed the ML's veiled the sound somewhat and we were both surprised by this. I may end up sending them back to ML for them to have a look at. In the meantime I've stuck with Graeme's cables and am very happy with them. Graeme's web site is still offline so if you're interested then it'd be best to PM him.
Main System: CDXTSE2 + Stream X2 + DAC-XP+ & PSX-R + Linn Sondek LP12 (Basik Plus & AT440MLa & Khan & Lingo 2) --> Trichord Dino & Dino+ --> PP10 Passive Pre-amp --> Hypex nCore NC400 --> Focal 1008Be
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Re: Audiolab 8200CDQ review in Hi-Fi World
« Reply #22 on: August 11, 2011, 12:59:26 PM »
Thanks, the dealer mentioned this about having the monoblocks close to the speakers, but said that for cable runs of around 3m it shouldnt make a difference either way.

I cannot say that I like the design of the audiolabs.... much prefer Cyrus.

However a lot of glowing reviews out there.

I still have to wait two weeks until I can get my hands on any more Cyrus gear for further testing.
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Re: Audiolab 8200CDQ review in Hi-Fi World
« Reply #23 on: August 11, 2011, 04:01:39 PM »
Hey Krlock3,

I read some reviews and they state that they always found the best sound with the 8200CDQ or DQ was with the digital filtering set to 'optimal transient' - in fact they go as far as saying that if you have it on any of the other settings (e.g. optimal frequency) then it would only be a 4star product not a 5star one....

SO optimal transient and digital volume control is the way to audition - apparently !

jules.
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Re: Audiolab 8200CDQ review in Hi-Fi World
« Reply #24 on: August 11, 2011, 04:54:02 PM »
Thanks for the tip Jules, I have also read as much elsewhere too.

If only it didnt resemble a CD player from 1992 (in my mind at least).

However, it seems to tick all my other boxes....

a) happy with the SQ from macbook
b) Home theatre bypass
c) seems to work well with my macbook
d) good CD player more or less thrown in.
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Re: Audiolab 8200CDQ review in Hi-Fi World
« Reply #25 on: August 12, 2011, 07:09:51 AM »
So, now I have two choices for what I buy....

The audiolab 8200CDQ with 8200 monoblock amplifiers
or
Cyrus.

The problem I am having now is, exactly what Cyrus equipment should I be comparing against the audiolab?

Until now, I have been looking at for example a Cyrus integrated amp and perhaps either a CD player or Streaming product.

However if I buy the cyrus CDP and amp, I feel I might be missing out on the benefits of monoblock amps. I mean, the 8200MB's must be doing something, right?

On the other hand, I am not sure that a streaming product is for me when I am happy with a solution where I plug my computer directly in to either the audiolab or the integrated amp. Audiolab seem to share my view because when connected by usb, the audiolab can actually take some control of itunes. Also, I have taken note of some of the teething troubles a few members are having with the stream products in another thread here.

The audiolab has these balanceds connections which are interesting. To get something equivalant with Cyrus, it would seem I would need to look at the DAC XP+ with two Monos..... quite an expensive trip and I have ALSO read the recent thread on the DAC seeming slightly out of date. While it may well sound great, I do not find it a compelling solution... a new DAC product from Cyrus could certainly solve that, but... hmmm.

On the side of Cyrus, the Stream products come with the decent remote and are built as streamers from the ground up. When I get to test one in a few weeks... if i should find that overall sound quality is as good as people suggest, I could well be swinging away from audiolab again.

In the end, for me, sound quality is king, but not at any price of course. I know I know, i must listen with my own ears and see what makes me happy. However, for the moment, my internal pendulum is swinging in favour of the Audiolab (even though as I have mentioned, I am loathe to buy something that I do not like the exterior design of).

Oh my, what ... to... do! Perhaps soon I will be decamping to an audiolab forum rather than this nice place... would be a shame... I like you guys!
« Last Edit: August 12, 2011, 07:14:52 AM by krlock3 »
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Re: Audiolab 8200CDQ review in Hi-Fi World
« Reply #26 on: August 12, 2011, 08:04:30 AM »
Seems like you have already decided hey  ;) You dont have to leave you know as MANY on here dont have Cyrus kit.
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Re: Audiolab 8200CDQ review in Hi-Fi World
« Reply #27 on: August 12, 2011, 08:42:23 AM »
Remember to compare like with like. The Audiolab 8200MBs are about 2k a pair (new) but there's lots of Mono X floating around second hand for around 1.3k.


Indeed, Kipper offered used Mono X's at 1350 a pair only a day or so ago.
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Re: Audiolab 8200CDQ review in Hi-Fi World
« Reply #28 on: August 12, 2011, 08:58:25 AM »
Thanks all.

Im not keen on buying second hand, nor on mixing brands.

I have now demoed the Audiolab, I did a small review earlier in this thread... with balanced cables into the monoblocks I had a positive reaction.

Remember to compare like with like. The Audiolab 8200MBs are about 2k a pair (new) but there's lots of Mono X floating around second hand for around 1.3k.

You should also be able to find a DAC-XP second hand for similar or a bit less. Personally I like with sound of the 8200CDQ a bit more and of course it's cheaper.

I assume you don't want to mix brands?

Make sure that you demo if buying new, who cares what the reviews say if you've got a chance to decide with your own ears!

With regards to streaming if you're only partially interested in it then there's lots of cheap solutions which don't require big dollar... USB from PC, Sonos, Squeezebox.

Matthew.
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Re: Audiolab 8200CDQ review in Hi-Fi World
« Reply #29 on: August 12, 2011, 09:24:11 AM »
I'm not keen on buying second hand,

Kipper is offering a 12 month warranty on the Mono X's and has been in business for 30 years. Moorgate Acoustics wouldn't have survived in business this long if they didn't provide excellent customer service. Many here will testify to this. By excluding second hand units you could easily be missing out on a bargain. Many here, including me, have bought pre-loved, re-processed or ex-demo kit and have benefitted from the savings we've achieved. The only items I've bought brand new are cables and my Stream X, and I got a good discount on that. 
Main System: CDXTSE2 + Stream X2 + DAC-XP+ & PSX-R + Linn Sondek LP12 (Basik Plus & AT440MLa & Khan & Lingo 2) --> Trichord Dino & Dino+ --> PP10 Passive Pre-amp --> Hypex nCore NC400 --> Focal 1008Be
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