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  • ATC CDA2 MK2 Review

    My CDA2 MK2 arrived a couple of days ago. I hooked it up to my SCM150asl speakers using Mogami Gold cables.


    First impressions are:


    Build quality: Excellent. It was nicely packaged. The connections at the back and the controls on the front appear to be of very high quality.

    Appearance: The aluminum front panel oozes quality. The design is somewhat industrial looking - but it is an ATC product after all.

    Cost: For what you get, it seems to be relatively inexpensive. For a little over $5000 (Australian) you get a quality CD player (the mechanism is made by TEAC), a very high quality analogue preamplifier, and an AKM DAC. If you do the math when comparing separates of similar quality, you will pay much more money.


    Sound quality: I'm not sure how ATC does it, but this thing is stunning. Sound-stage, dynamics and detail retrieval are out of this world. This is the first time I have heard what my SCM150asl speakers can really do. I reckon there's nothing magical in the recipe - just solid engineering and attention to detail. With the CDA2, you genuinely get what you pay for.


    Last edited by Bulldog; 10-02-2022, 01:23 AM.

  • #2
    An excellent review with which I entirely agree.

    I got my CDA2 MK2 in early 2018, just a short while after ATC announced it, and it drives my SCM50ASL classics. I have an unobtrusive Raspberry Pi wireless network bridge attached to the USB port which listens to my server. My server serves up music files, Internet radio and Qobuz to the DAC. I still have my FM tuner attached to one of its analogue inputs and my AV equipment goes through the other digital inputs.

    It's an ideal box to go with active loudspeakers. My view is that digital audio transport technology changes too often to incorporate into a box from which you expect a long lifetime. I did my research on the TEAC CD mechanism and IMHO it has a good likelihood of being supported for some time to come for playing my CD library.

    I like simplicity and especially simplicity that works as well as a system does, centred around the CDA2 MK2 with such a breadth of capabilities and such excellent sound.

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    • #3
      Hey, jophill. I'm glad there's another happy CDA2 MK2 customer out there. The CD mechanism is surprisingly good and it needs to be - I've been giving my CD collection a good workout since it arrived.

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      • #4
        thanks for your report.

        I recently thought about buying the device for my ATC as well.

        I still have an old Marantz CD player for mine (about 1000 CDs) but I played the last CD about 4 years ago.

        All of my music has only been streamed via roon for more than 6 years and controlled with a tablet. I love that.

        That's why I've swapped the streamer and the RME ADI Dac for the Elac DDP-2.
        A roon endpoint is integrated.
        There is also a dual AKM DAC chip installed like in the CDA2 and a very good preamp that sounds a bit "analog" and goes very well with ATC.

        I think. It now sounds significantly better than with the RME ADI Dac, so I think the sound will probably be similar to the ATC CDM2

        I had to pay 1750€, which is the half price of the CDA2 here in Germany.
        So i think its a very good alternative for those who dont need a CD player anymore.
        Of course there are also inputs for it, it has 13 inputs and also bluetooth and airplay)​

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        • #5
          When I got my CDA2 MK2 I used the CD player a lot. My CD collection also got a good workout. However, after I connected a network bridge to its USB port and installed a server with Qobuz streaming, I found that of about 1,000 CDs perhaps 10 to 20 were not available streamed. These are now on the server, so I rarely use the CD playing capability today.

          Similarly, I used a CDA2 analogue input frequently for my FM radio tuner. Now I have apps on the server to listen to Internet streams of all of the radio stations I used on FM (and more). With important ones, at 320 kbit/s AAC without FM pre-processing, of better quality (IMHO).

          I don't any longer have a vinyl playback system.

          Hobbies evolve. The CDA2 still pleases me greatly. Today I would probably look at getting a good DAC with multiple digital inputs, a volume control and maybe an equalization facility. I would add a commodity USB CD player to my server for the few occasions necessary and as a back-up in case streaming goes down.

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          • #6
            I have no evidence to support my unease other than what I hear, but there is subtle difference in perceived quality with certain so-called HD streamed music and the equivalent CD. Since I took delivery with my SCM150s and then added the CDA2 MK2, thus has become more apparent. It's not bad per se. Just different. The CD seems to have more air than the equivalent CD. Although the CD equivalent still sound pretty good, and at first listen, even 'better' than CD. I am wondering if certain streaming services add some flavor or enhancement to their streamed music tracks. I do not find this on HD Tracks.

            I believe the majority of so-called HD music that is offered by the streaming services these days actually come from CD and they are up sampled and offered as HD music for the masses.

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            • #7
              I see it that way, the recording quality is more important than the resolution.
              Some analog records from 1957 sound better than those from 2019, HD resolution doesn't change that much.
              But I also have recordings that sound better than before with internal upsampling (in roon or in the DDP-2). But some don't either.
              Whether HD brings something is probably always very dependent on the recording.
              I have DSD records too (as dff files) and they do sound more analog and natural (mostly) So HD can be good, but sometimes it's just a trigger for new sales.
              But my old CD player always sounds worse than when I stream via roon.​

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              • #8
                That's why I stick to my CD collection. Grabbed a Rega Isis Valve last year, which is a first-class spinner. Also, I enjoy sometimes listening to analog FM, uncompressed, and live classical concerts (through a Magnum Dynalab MD106T). Bref. ATC asks for 1st class sources and good cables, in order to reveal what ATC can really do

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                • #9
                  SolarMusic, my old player wasn't up to scratch either. The CDA2 MK2 is much better. I know it uses the Teac mechanism, but it probably has more to do with the AKM dac and it's implementation rather than the player itself.

                  saureign, I'm with you. I'm still very happy listening to my CD collection. There's something more satisfying about using physical medium to listen to music. Now that my CD player can give most streaming platforms a run for their money, and sometimes sounding better than them, is icing on the cake.
                  Last edited by Bulldog; 10-06-2022, 11:21 PM.

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                  • #10
                    I enjoyed my time with the CDA2 mkii when I had one. The simplicity yet enough inputs was perfect. If I were not so into surround sound, I’d properly still have one. Enjoy!

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