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Do expensive cd players sound much better than basic ones?

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Thank you. I won't add to my earlier comment, other than to repeat the key part, "Beyond ensuring good general engineering quality, I cannot see a scenario where you have another $X to budget on hifi and it would not give you bigger improvements to spend it elsewhere in the system.".

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I don't know if expensive CD players necessarily sound any better but I do know that CD players can and do sound different from each other.  I have a retired electrical engineer cousin, who will tell anyone who asks that bits are bits so it makes no difference.  In other words he believes all CD players sound exactly the same.  I guess that he has made up his mind "logically" so not actually bothered to prove it by doing an AB listening test on audiophile amps and speakers.

 

When I got my 1st CD player back in the 90s (I suspect), I sat in Duratone's listening lounge and had the same track played on about every CD player model in the shop.  Some were supposed to have a really flat response but sorry to say, had no expression.  Some had dynamically expressive in the low range, others in the high range.  One and only one was dynamic throughout the whole spectrum and that was an AMC CD8A.  It is still my all time favorite player, though unbalanced discs show its state of wear, those that are  balanced still sound absolutely superb.

 

In recent years, I bought a BDP but as I have had a spate of DVD etc players that gave problems reading some discs after only a year or 2, I decided I didn't trust transports anymore, certainly not enough to shell out on an Oppo anyways.  So I decided to go with a cheaper transport and a put the bulk of my investment in a DAC.  I got a cheap Sony BDP S6700 which has no analogue out at all.  As family members refuse to use my vintage HiFi due to the lack of remote volume control and will accept the TV onboard sound for that convenience, I looked for a DAC with this feature and eventually settled on an Essence HDACC (digital control centre).  One of the 1st things I wanted to find out was how this compares with my old AMC CD8A.  I set up the 2 signal paths for the CD8A, Coax to HDACC to Amp or CD8A via RCA to Amp.  I tried to match volume from both paths as best I could.  I asked my sons opinion while I switched between paths without indicating which was which.  We both came to the same conclusion and gave a very slight nod to the AMC CD8A.  I have read reviews stating that combining the HDACC with an Oppo 103 is a sound quality upgrade.  To me, the cheap Sony and HDACC sound as good  as the CD8a HDACC combo.

 

Hmm what to make of this?  Sorry I just don't have any theories, I can only report how I found it to be.

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My 2c worth: I have owned a few CD players over the last 25 years.

Every new machine was purchased because it was audibly better in my system.

In every case every new player cost more than the machine it was replacing.

My digital pathway over the last 25 years looks like this:

1983    ROTEL (NESCO Made in Iceland) CD

1989    DENON DCD 610 

1990    DENON DCD 1520

1991    MARANTZ CD80

1991    MARANTZ CD94MkII

1992    MARANTZ CD94 transport + CDA94 DAC

1993    TEAC T1 + Audionote DAC 1

2006    ESOTERIC X-01 SACD (S/H Japan)

2007    ESOTERIC P-03U Universal Transport + D-03 DAC

2010    ESOTERIC P-03U + D-03 DAC + G-0s Rubidium Master Clock.

2017    ESOTERIC GRANDIOSO K1 SACD.

2018    ESOTERIC GRANDIOSO K1 SACD. + MUTEC Ref10  Master Clock.

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Posted (edited)

I had a Sony cdp-xa50es which took 7 days to run in.

 

I had a Sony scd-1 which took 2 months to run in.

 

I had a emm lab xds1 which took 4 months to run in.

 

I am having the dac2x v2 which replaced the original dac2x and it took bloody 6 months for the v2 to start sounding anywhere near the original.

 

I think the moral of the story is - when you are playing at this level, buy 2nd hand so that someone run in for you and you get to enjoy optimum sound straight away...

Edited by jeromelang

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My experience, i had a Mark Levinson n39 cd transport dac volume control digital preamp and thought i could not find anything better. Just a way to justify the 10k spent on it.

I blew it up, went for a cheaper Cambridge Audio as a quick fix. Was quite happy with it but when i hooked it up to a decent modern DAC, a Rotel 1580, i found the SQ as good as the 20 years old extravagant Mark Levinson. What does it say ? Maybe a cheap second hand cd player coupled to a decent (2000$) dac worth a 10k old cd player...

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On 29/07/2018 at 10:42 AM, Grant Slack said:

"Beyond ensuring good general engineering quality, I cannot see a scenario where you have another $X to budget on hifi and it would not give you bigger improvements to spend it elsewhere in the system.".

@Grant Slack Synonyms for "good" are satisfactory, acceptable, passable, tolerable and I could go on.  Surely we are all about  some thing better than just good.  Expense is about the pursuit of excellence or perfection.  We may never get there but for me it is all about the chase or the pursuit of the goal or overall objective of best musical listening experience. 

"Good, better, best. Never let it rest. 'Til your good is better and your better is best."

 

Great CD players like all audio equipment can be very very expensive.  Quality comes at a price.

John

 

 

Good, better, best. Never let it rest. 'Til your good is better and your better is best.
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/st_jerome_389605

 

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Thank you for your reply. I take good engineering to encompass all that. Everything that is needed and nothing (including price) that isn't. Going beyond that is a kind of over-the-top Veblen good, and is not better engineering, is not best engineering; indeed it is worse engineering. Any price is possible, almost any specification is possible, (certainly any weight is possible), but humans are strictly bound in sensory reality. Only our daydreaming isn't. Excellence is about matching the engineering to the reality, and not to the dreaming.

Regards

Grant

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5 minutes ago, Grant Slack said:

Thank you for your reply. I take good engineering to encompass all that. Everything that is needed and nothing (including price) that isn't. Going beyond that is a kind of over-the-top Veblen good, and is not better engineering, is not best engineering; indeed it is worse engineering. Any price is possible, almost any specification is possible, (certainly any weight is possible), but humans are strictly bound in sensory reality. Only our daydreaming isn't. Excellence is about matching the engineering to the reality, and not to the dreaming.

Regards

Grant

Hi Grant not sure exactly who your reply was directed to but I am not sure I understand what you mean about what constitutes "best engineering" ?

Many of us here are interested in upgrading equipment, intending such changes to generate advances in sound quality.  

To that end,  there perhaps can possibly be need to continue  innovation required in engineering terms to produce better sound quality outcomes ? That has certainly been my experience with the list of CD players I have owned over the last 25 years which in engineering terms represent a steady improvement clearly aligned to improved sound quality.  One can only improve what one is hearing in a sound system (reality) if one can imagine (daydream) that the reality can be improved upon in the first place – which for audio playback systems using CD/SACD players as a source, has proven to more often than not, rely upon advances in engineering.

Cheers

Chris

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The Sony CDP 715 circa 1995 which cost $700 then is an extremely good sounding player.It may not be as good as the very best but it comes very close and is  plenty good enough to use with expensive systems.

 

 

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15 hours ago, Aperalim said:

Hi Grant not sure exactly who your reply was directed to but I am not sure I understand what you mean about what constitutes "best engineering" ?

Hello Chris, I was actually replying to the post above mine, by member Assisi (John), and his use of the terms good, better, best, in relation to engineering of CD players.

 

15 hours ago, Aperalim said:

Many of us here are interested in upgrading equipment, intending such changes to generate advances in sound quality. To that end,  there perhaps can possibly be need to continue  innovation required in engineering terms to produce better sound quality outcomes ?

Yes, I understand. I have already commented on that in my initial comment in this thread, link. I am probably in the minority, I don't know.

 

Regards

Grant

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