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eviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Source: Zanden Audio Model 2000P/5000S; Ancient Audio Lektor Prime; AMR CD-77 [on review]; Raysonic CD168 [on loan]; Raysonic CD128
Preamp/Integrated: ModWright SWL 9.0SE; Wyetech Labs Jade; Melody Hifi I2A3; Supratek Cabernet Dual; ModWright LS-36.5; Coda 0.5X [on review]; AMR AM-77 [on review]; Trafomatic Audio Experience One [on review]
EQ: Rane PEQ55 active merely below 40Hz; Gallo Acoustics Reference SA amp/xover; WLM Sys V
Amp: 2 x Audiosector Patek SE; Yamamoto A-08S; FirstWatt F3; Bel Canto e.One S300; Eastern Electric M-520; Coda CX monos [on review]; FirstWatt F4 [on review]

Speakers: Zu Cable Definition Pro in custom lacquer; Mark & Daniel Ruby and Maximus Monitor with Omni Harmonizer; DeVore Fidelity Nines; Rethm Saadhana; Esoteric MG-20 [on review]
Cables: Crystal Cable Ultra complete wiring loom; Zanden Audio proprietary I²S cable; Crystal Cable Reference power cords; double cryo'd Acrolink with Furutech UK plug between wall and transformer
Stands: 2 x Grand Prix Audio Monaco Modular four-tier
Powerline conditioning: 2 x Walker Audio Velocitor S fed from custom AudioSector 1.5KV Plitron step-down transformer with balanced power output option for 120V lines; Furutech RTP-6 on 240V line
Sundry accessories: GPA Formula Carbon/Kevlar shelf for transport; GPA Apex footers underneath stand, DAC and amp; Walker Audio Extreme SST on all connections; Walker Audio Vivid CD cleaner; Walker Audio Reference HDLs; Furutech RD-2 CD demagnetizer; full-house treatment of Franck Tchang's Acoustic Resonators; IsoTek Full System Enhancer & Rejuvenation Disc
Room size: 16' w x 21' d x 9' h in short-wall setup, with openly adjoining 15' x 35' living room
Review Component Retail: $1,595 stock, $3,390 as reviewed

Mention the words Shanling and CD player. Eyes will light up. Comments to the effect of "that cool-looking top loader with the tubes and transformers on deck" will follow. Indeed. The CD-3000 packs everything Shanling has learned since into a 13kg/28.7lbs chassis with rounded corners. That recalls Raysonic, Ayon and Plinius. The top-loading transport meanwhile uses a sliding door for a rather less dolled-up trophy appearance than the robotic T3000, Shanling's current 'triangle in a circle' statement on gonzo machining and UFO styling. See upper left.

6922 tubes do remain for the CD-3000, albeit below deck vented through perf openings and active only for the RCA outputs. The XLRs offer a transistor flavor for variety. At $1,595 stock, the CD-3000 "easily outperforms the $2700 SCD-T200 player you are probably aware of." This according to Underwoodwally, the nome de retail of Walter Liedermann. His Underwood HiFi venture combines walk-in audio sales in Atlanta/Georgia, Internet retail of select lines and performance modifications. Most of the latter rely on Chris Johnson of Canada's PartsConneXion. Having sold stock and modified T100s and T200s ever since they first launched, Wally's unbridled enthusiasm for the new CD3000 is easily forgiven. Call it the voice of experience. And not just skin deep:

"The CD-3000 uses the best Burr Brown DAC, the PCM-1794, the Burr-Brown SRC1492 24-bit/192kHz upsampling processor and a very fine Phillips CD7 MKII top-loading transport that is coupled to a better clock than most units at twice its price. This lowers jitter. The balanced output employs 4 x Burr Brown OPA-627 opamps, the best made. Tubes are two Electro Harmonix 6922s. These are dramatically better than the cheap Chinese tubes used in most offshore players. Digital and analog sections are powered by two separate transformers.

"We love this player. We thought it would be $2500-$3000 when we first saw it at the January 2007 CES Show. The stock player is a steal. I fully expect that its price will be raised in the near future. We have designed multiple modifications for it which, at their respective price points, make it the machine to beat in our opinion." Entrust your stocker to the Liedermann hotrodders and 8 hours of labor plus shipping time later, its list of ingredients for the full-bore mod will read very upscale indeed. There's 29 BlackGate capacitors from their STD, FK, NX and N ranges. 20 Riken Ohm resistors. 8 International Rectifier Hexfred ultra-fast soft recovery rectifier diodes. Four Burr-Brown OPA-627s in the I/V conversion stage. Additional MultiCap, Rel-Cap and Auricap units. DEXA Super Clock. 6H23p-eb Reflektor NOS bottles. Silver HiFi Tuning fuses. New connectors. Chassis damping. In short, the works.

The CD-3000 platform chucks SACD playback. For most, this won't be a loss but instead, greater reliability. DSD software after all requires higher spin velocities. Former Sony engines in Shanling's dual-format top loaders suffered high failure rates for eventual mistracking or outright read refusal. Now cue up customer satisfaction. Underwood HiFi prides itself on a spotless AudiogoN record where transactions are tracked. Dealing with this established entity in the Wild West of online sellers and questionable changers (not all are credible modifiers) means peace of mind especially in the current climate of mass recalls over Sino-sourced goods. As an aside on that subject, with the exception of a handful of top models, the vaunted ScanSpeak drivers are manufactured in China these days. Pro driver specialist Eminence builds in China. Peerless has a plant in India. Quad has a state-of-the-art People's Republic plant. And so on ad infinitum. It is the current business mode. It involves many high-brow brands at least partially. It's only sensible to acknowledge that in turn, China's got to have its very own hi-end audio brands. It's the distribution of said products that's been the issue. Shanling's stern consumer warning on their website confirms as much.

On the other side of that same coin, word of mouth is the currency upon which long-term business success spins especially for a one-man retail operation like Underwood Hifi. Many makers (or their importers) honor their original manufacturer's warranties for Underwood modifications. That alone speaks volumes. For those who don't, Underwood carries the warranty for their mods or for the full machine when purchased new with preinstalled mods. This would seem a case of eating your cake: scoring a high-value Chinese product blessed by Sonic Frontier's ex president and engineers with a decade of high-end tweak experience; and backed by Underwood Wally with reliable support. Like a hungry lion, Liedermann is always on the prowl to identify equipment that overachieves. He's selective. He only cherry-picks certain models. Those get shipped to Chris Johnson to develop a mod package or two. Walter has not been this excited over a machine in a long time. The tea leaves thus suggested that the W man was on to something. Curiosity not having killed our cat yet, he requested a loaner to lay eyes and ears on this something. Alors, today's assignment.

The CD-3000 mounts its transport well to the top cover and thus removes entirely when the latter is unbolted, with its two ribbon cables disconnected from the mother board [transport/servo logic board below].

Telltale signs of the Underwood Hifi makeover are various luxo capacitors.

The analog outputs and footers are replaced as well.

The digital RCA remains Shanling issue.

The transport latch locks magnetically which auto prompts the TOC read-in. Except for 'play', no further commands are required to kick off the tunes. You'll have fitted the CD clamp already of course. And that's mostly all she said on the subject of usage - with a thanks for the display's black-out option on the remote. Some of us girls like to listen in the dark. Be advised however that this function does not automatically revert once you load the next CD. Its read-in will occur against a blank display. This could have you think that the player couldn't read the CD. Not. Simply relight the display. The total track count will already stare at you. Alas, no time remain modes. Perhaps that's because the remote doubles for a Shanling tuner with the press of a button to shift certain functions.