Cary Audio CD 303/300 Upsampling CD Player w/Selectable Tube Output Stage, Stereophile Recommended



I wish there were more tube CD players available on the market. I know I'm not alone on this as McIntosh just released a brand new tubed unit that goes for $12k.

This example not only features a switchable tube output stage, but has upsampling features taking standard CD's to the highest level.

The output stage can also be switched from solid stage to tube via the remote from the comfort of your listening chair.

It also has built-in decoding for HDCD discs which we confirmed was working properly using several different HDCD discs.

This player was long-term tested in house where it performed flawlessly.

Your purchase includes the remote, manual, and cone feet which can be screwed into the existing feet.

Review from Stereophile:

Recommended Cables:

Kimber Kable - RCA Interconnects - Better

Kimber Kable - RCA Interconnects - Best 

Kimber Kable - BALANCED XLR Connectors - Better

Kimber Kable - BALANCED XLR Connectors - Best

Kimber Kable - Coaxial Digital Interconnect

Kimber Kable - Optical Digital Interconnect

Kimber Kable - Digital AES/EBU (XLR Connector) Interconnect

Kimber Kable - Power Cords - Better

Kimber Kable - Power Cords - Best


  • Weight: 38 lbs.
  • Dimensions: 4" H x 18" W x 15" D
  • Transport: 3 Beam CD/DVD ROM drive
  • Frequency Response: 2 Hz - 384 kHz (768 kHz Fs)
  • Signal-to-Noise Ratio: 127 dB (1 kHz)
  • Total Harmonic Distortion (THD): 0.004% (1 kHz)
  • Channel Separation: 109 dB (1 kHz)
  • Power Consumption: 60 Watts (15 standby)
  • Digital/Analog Converters (DAC): (2) Burr Brown PCM1792u 24 bit DAC chip sets
  • Sample Rate Settings: (Fs) 44.1, 96, 192, 384, 512 or 768 kHz sample rates for CD, CD-R or CD-RW disk playback to the analog output, digital output Fs of 44.1, 96 or 192 kHz
  • Audio Output Level: Single-Ended 3.0 Vrms, Balanced XLR 6.0 Vrms
  • Analog Outputs: (1) pair balanced via XLR connectors (1) pair single-ended via RCA connectors
  • Features:
  • 48 bit DSP digital buffer circuit, bubble level balance on the chassis top panel, adjustable metal cone feet, variable analog volume control, vacuum tube and solid state output sections with remote selection or front panel button, dimmer light control for display, C-core power transformer, fully regulated power supplies, RS 232 port control for custom installation systems, chssis top removable panel above the 12AU7 vacuum tubes in the output stage, HDCD decoding with Cary DSP-300 digital filter
  • Digital Outputs: (1) Balanced (1) Coaxial (1) Toslink

Link to Manual:

The SkyFi Testing Process for CD Players:

We start with a visual inspection of all internal components to make sure that there are no signs of heat stress or damage. Capacitors are checked for telltale signs of predictive failure including bulging, shrunken wrappers, or physical leakage. We also inspect resistors and other passive components for signs of overheating. When the unit is first powered on we check the drawer mechanism function.

After the visual inspection we connect the CD Player’s RCA outputs to our Sencore PA81 Power Analyzer which simulates a real world input impedance and allows us to monitor the output on an oscilloscope. We start with a test CD with precision test signals to verify proper output on both channels. If the CD player has balanced outputs these are also tested at this time. If this check passes, we move onto evaluation with actual music CDs. We listen for clicks, skips, and drops during playback. At this time we also check the transport functions including skip, ff, rw, play, pause, repeat, and programming if applicable. If the unit has a remote control, all remote control functions are verified.

If the CD player is capable of SACD playback we test its ability to read SACD layers on multiple discs including standard and hybrid SACDs. At this time we also check the unit’s digital outputs where applicable. If SACD layers are being properly read we should see the digital outputs mute during playback. On redbook CD playback we verify that each digital output maintains proper lock on our bench DAC.

After bench testing is completed, CD players are set up for testing on our long term test rig. During extended testing we make sure that unit can play through several different discs from beginning to end with no skips or lock ups.



Original Box

Not Included


Yes Included


Yes Included


Yes - Power Only

Physical Condition (Info Here)

8 / 10

Working Condition

10 / 10

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