I have to say it: the Cary is simply the best solid-state CD player in anything like its price range that I have heard to date. In my experience, you would have to buy the solid-state Ayre DX-5 at $9995 to better the performance of CDs on the Cary. The Cary is much more realistic and musical than any of the mass-produced Japanese brands, and more solidly built (at 23lbs.) than most. Filled with exotic parts and sporting a terrific transport, it sounds like it looks. In addition, almost none of the Japanese brands have HDCD™ decode, which is superb! The CD-500 is part of Cary's "Classic Line" of components, and these are the ones to own. The folks at Cary have great musical taste, and it shows!
Sonically, the Cary is even natured from top to bottom. I did not hear any lumps or bumps at any frequencies with any source material. The highs are open, extended, and natural, and never forced or etched. The mids are smooth and generous with colorful vibrant textural cues. The bass is deep and solidly detailed, with bold dynamics. The smoothness and inner warmth of the overall sound tells me that jitter is not an issue with the CD-500. Unlike most solid-state CD players, the Cary never ever sounded cold and detached or, conversely, warmly muddy and rolled off. It is involving, extremely neutral and slightly sweet, allowing long listening sessions.
Robert H. LeviPositive FeedbackJan/Feb 2011
$ 2,995 USD @ USA