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Digital playback with analogue sound ?


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G'day folks !

Well, the above title is probably ridiculous and improbable ( impossible ? ), but in my ongoing search for a more analogue - sounding CDP, I would like some advice and suggestions please.

I'm currently using a Rega Apollo from around 2005 -6, which is PDG ( pretty damn good ). I recently also acquired a Cambridge D500 " Special Edition " which had been modified by someone else  by the addition of tubes in the output stage. I was hoping  this would result in a more analogue sound, but turned out ( for my ears ) not to be as musically involving as the Rega.

So, you " experts " out there, would you like to espouse your ideas about an analogue - sounding player ? I'm on a budget of less than $1K ( used of course ).

Cheers,

Dennis

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How about offering a suggestion that the OP asked for?   Oh, you can't? and instead offer something that is not what he asks for, and instead is a soap box narrative of something off topic.

Yes folks I did buy it. The seller accepted $250, which was generous, and will deliver to me tomorrow evening. I'll use it over the w/end and report back. I may still look for something else, but

Interesting opinion. A few years ago I bought several dacs to compare, all above $500. There were differences which presented differently on my two systems. In the endI kept the two that I liked

Thanks Luc, especially for your prompt reply ;

 

I'm surprised because I've had a few Rotel components in the past, and have mostly found them rather bright.

Having said that though, I'm now running a Rotel  RC 1070 pre amp, which is great !

 

I forgot to mention in my initial post, I would prefer a player with the character described, which can also play SACDs. Not essential though, as I only have perhaps 6 or so SACDs ..... even though I believe the format is superior to standard CD. If you reckon that Rotel will fit the bill, I'll check it out.

 

Cheers,

Dennis

 

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I love my Denon DCD3000.  Can find them at great prices, and there’s the bonus of “digital in”, so I use mine to both spin discs and as a DAC fed by an old iPhone for streaming Spotify and digital radio.  Has a great “not digital” sound!

mat

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7 minutes ago, davewantsmoore said:

LOL.

I thought the opposide.

All sound is "analogue".

 

 

(sorry)

 

What a disingenuous comment, Dave.  :(

 

Sure, sound into our ears is analogue ... but our ears (well, perhaps not yours?) are able to distinguish whether that sound came from a digital source - or an analogue source.

 

And I'm not talking about "ticks n' pops" which reveal it is coming from an LP.

 

Andy

 

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This all comes down to the type of DAC used in the CD player and how that DAC has been configured. I have an EAR Acute CD player Mk 1 which does a magical job of analogue sound using a Wolfson DAC. In comparison I also have a Cambridge Audio CXN Mk 1 DAC that uses a pair of Wolfson DACs. It sounds nothing like analogue.

 

My advice here is to go vintage and get a unit from the 1990's fitted with a tube buffer output stage. The TDA 1541A's on a Marantz or Philips with a Philips early version CDM transport will do you proud. There is an eBay seller in the UK who modifies old units such as these with a tube output stage within your price range. Can share further details offline if required. Another option to consider is a base model second hand Audio Note Analog Devices DAC 1.1 kit that will require your existing CD player to act as a transport.

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3 hours ago, fordute said:

Something like this would do the trick.

 

https://www.ebay.com.au/c/16007972525

The RC-855 and 955, pretty much the same inside, are very nice sounding players and have that analogue signature of the TDA1541/A. They are well built and are littered with Black Gate caps.

 

1 hour ago, xlr8or said:

My advice here is to go vintage and get a unit from the 1990's fitted with a tube buffer output stage. The TDA 1541A's on a Marantz or Philips with a Philips early version CDM transport will do you proud. There is an eBay seller in the UK who modifies old units such as these with a tube output stage within your price range. Can share further details offline if required. Another option to consider is a base model second hand Audio Note Analog Devices DAC 1.1 kit that will require your existing CD player to act as a transport.

I'm with Kirk here, but might be biased looking at my signature.

 

My pick would be the Marantz CD-85 given the Philips TDA1541A-S1 (Single Crown) and

Philips CDM-1 Mk II transport mech', maybe the best mech' Philips made.

and then look at a recap and modification adding a tube output stage to replace the existing one.

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I doubt any person distinguish any reasonably-designed DAC (let's say >$200 AUD) from another in a blind test. And if a person claims he can, let him prove it under blinded conditions. Otherwise, it is merely marketing doing its work on the gullible

 

If you want to stimulate a more "analogue sound" (which I take to mean the sound of vinyl) you could use digital processing to add in pops and clicks, lessen the channel separation, increase noise, create harmonic distortion, etc. Would be easy to implement it and you could adjust to heart's desire

Edited by tma
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1 hour ago, tma said:

I doubt any person distinguish any reasonably-designed DAC (let's say >$200 AUD) from another in a blind test. And if a person claims he can, let him prove it under blinded conditions. Otherwise, it is merely marketing doing its work on the gullible

 

Interesting opinion.

A few years ago I bought several dacs to compare, all above $500. There were differences which presented differently on my two systems. In the endI kept the two that I liked and moved on.

But 

it is not about blind tests or double blind tests

it is about a sound that you like on your system.

Many of us like a "warmer" sound, as many of us  find certain dac's or digital music on some systems a bit bright/glaring/cold.

All the OP wants to know is which cd players or dacs were designed for the type of sounds he like.

I agree with the replies giving him advice re certain models.

 

Edited by Jventer
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10 hours ago, tma said:

I doubt any person distinguish any reasonably-designed DAC (let's say >$200 AUD) from another in a blind test. And if a person claims he can, let him prove it under blinded conditions. Otherwise, it is merely marketing doing its work on the gullible

 

If you want to stimulate a more "analogue sound" (which I take to mean the sound of vinyl) you could use digital processing to add in pops and clicks, lessen the channel separation, increase noise, create harmonic distortion, etc. Would be easy to implement it and you could adjust to heart's desire

How about offering a suggestion that the OP asked for?

 

Oh, you can't? and instead offer something that is not what he asks for, and instead is a soap box narrative of something off topic.

 

OK.

 

Pops and clicks? really! have you ever heard of clean records before? :lol: Seems you have never heard vinyl done right.

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Just my humble 2c, but a digital source can never really sound like an analogue source. They just don't have the imperfections that gives analogue its charm.

 

The best you'll probably get is a tube preamp setup.  Vinyl rumble or tape hiss is just a function of the medium. No CD player sounds like that, but you can certainly "Warm" it up somewhat.

 

I wouldn't recommend a Rotel CD player BTW. If you want a decent new CD player these days, you unfortunately do need to spend a bit. Cheaper CD players are made with really nasty components these days and in my opinion the Rotel is a prime example of this.

 

I've had 3 let go on me over the years, all for laser/mech reasons. I'd never buy one again.

 

The higher specced Yamaha's are quite nice if you don't want to spend big money. CD-S1000 is a nice choice. There's been a few minty used ones show up on here lately.

 

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12 minutes ago, TDK said:

Just my humble 2c, but a digital source can never really sound like an analogue source. They just don't have the imperfections that gives analogue its charm.

 

The best you'll probably get is a tube preamp setup.  Vinyl rumble or tape hiss is just a function of the medium. No CD player sounds like that, but you can certainly "Warm" it up somewhat.

 

I wouldn't recommend a Rotel CD player BTW. If you want a decent new CD player these days, you unfortunately do need to spend a bit. Cheaper CD players are made with really nasty components these days and in my opinion the Rotel is a prime example of this.

 

I've had 3 let go on me over the years, all for laser/mech reasons. I'd never buy one again.

 

The higher specced Yamaha's are quite nice if you don't want to spend big money. CD-S1000 is a nice choice. There's been a few minty used ones show up on here lately.

 

The Rotel that member linked is a RCD-855, hardly a new player, and uses the TDA1541 dac and CDM4 mech', like I mentioned is a decent build and has black gate caps everywhere in it.

I had the model it was followed by recently here for some modding, and the RCD-855 was that good they changed nothing when they introduced It's successor the RCD-955, apart from case cosmetics, internals are the same. The CDM4 is very reliable in the old Philips line up.

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26 minutes ago, muon* said:

The Rotel that member linked is a RCD-855, hardly a new player, and uses the TDA1541 dac and CDM4 mech', like I mentioned is a decent build and has black gate caps everywhere in it.

I had the model it was followed by recently here for some modding, and the RCD-855 was that good they changed nothing when they introduced It's successor the RCD-955, apart from case cosmetics, internals are the same. The CDM4 is very reliable in the old Philips line up.

Looks like it sold

that's not the original listing.

Hope the OP bought it. Ticks every box mentioned.

Edited by fordute
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Yes folks I did buy it. The seller accepted $250, which was generous, and will deliver to me tomorrow evening.

I'll use it over the w/end and report back. I may still look for something else, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.

 

Dennis

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30 minutes ago, muon* said:

The Rotel that member linked is a RCD-855, hardly a new player, and uses the TDA1541 dac and CDM4 mech', like I mentioned is a decent build and has black gate caps everywhere in it.

 

 

Interesting. I clicked the link and it took me to a listing for a RCD1572..

 

I had one of those and it sucked. The mech died after a couple of years, and during those couple of years it got used less than my exercise bike.

 

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2 minutes ago, Berkel said:

Yes folks I did buy it. The seller accepted $250, which was generous, and will deliver to me tomorrow evening.

I'll use it over the w/end and report back. I may still look for something else, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.

 

Dennis

Great pickup

I'm sure it will give you what your looking for.

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Just now, fordute said:

Great pickup

I'm sure it will give you what your looking for.

Thanks Luc ; I'll keep you informed.

 

Dennis

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34 minutes ago, TDK said:

 

Interesting. I clicked the link and it took me to a listing for a RCD1572..

 

I had one of those and it sucked. The mech died after a couple of years, and during those couple of years it got used less than my exercise bike.

 

Ah, original link is dead

Edited by muon*
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I added a pair of Miflex caps to a 955 (same) and took the signal from earlier using just the output from the first half of the op amps in this one through the caps to the RCA sockets, provided a nice little improvement.

 

20190901_141116.jpg.d94379d592cefbda796086ca3cc4820c.jpg

 

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31 minutes ago, TDK said:

 

Interesting. I clicked the link and it took me to a listing for a RCD1572..

 

I had one of those and it sucked. The mech died after a couple of years, and during those couple of years it got used less than my exercise bike.

 

Now it does it for me no matter what.

 

Bloody ebay, ad is gone so they link that crappy one.

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I had an old Sony ( forget the model ) which had 2 TDA 1541s, which was not too bad, but nowhere as detailed or involving as my current Rega. Sold it to another SNA member. My original intention was to have it modified perhaps by the " Lampizator " guy, or someone who does similar work, but I lost interest after a few years of storing it in a cupboard.

 

Dennis

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Change of thinking on what the contributing issue is. 

To soften digital annoyance, the most cost effective way to deepen the sound and tame high frequencies is room treatment. Especially on the wall behind your equipment, first reflection point on the sides, and then rear wall. 

And it’s educational subject as well and ytube is your friend to explain it all with great explanations and graphics.  Plus StereoNET forum posts are helpful. 
 

The above will help significantly.

I would also check the interconnects against another brand (loan some) just to see if there not contributing to a lean sound. 

 

Good luck. 

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Hi @Berkel, I am following this thread as my is my interest in particularly Cd replay. How's your "new unit" sounding to you? I happen to have bought one of those cd players modded by the UK fellow mentioned above in Kirk's post, though one without tubes. I am very satisfied with it, and this particular unit has also a usb input, so can use as a standalone DAC. 

Anyhow, I have been astonished really at some older CD players and their ability to sound decent or excellent Unmodded even though the electronics are not up to par because of age: capacitors etc.. post 20 years will (ahem usually) start aging rapidly at some point.  

Of particular note a nice mod is to add a power receptacle so you can use a reasonably shielded (low cost) power cord. Makes noticeable difference. 

Enjoy the tunes. 

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Hi Akjono,

 

I'm just starting with critical listening this w / end.

So far, the Cambridge with tube output sounds pretty good although I had to alter the setting on my pre amp's " contour " control. I suppose this is a bit like an all in one treble & bass control, going from neutral to + _ 1 & 2. With my Rega, I had it set on -2 which sounded just right ( slight bass boost and treble roll off ), but with the Cambridge I've had to move to +1. Prior to that, it sounded somewhat dull and uninteresting, but now has a lot more life. I still don't think ( and it's early days of course ) it has the correct " timbre " of instruments.

I briefly listened to the Rotel 855 which I bought a couple of days ago, but kept the contour on -2, which resulted in a muddy sound. I must try it again tomorrow and raise the contour in the treble.

Cheers,

Dennis

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With the Cambridge D500, is the tube stage a buffer added on after the stock output stage? or does it replace the stock output stage?

 

Edit: as it uses a voltage out DAC chip (CS4391) with about 1.1v output, it is hopeful they are using the tube stage straight from the dac chip via a pair of caps, and not from the output of the existing stage.

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Sorry gentlemen, but I can't answer those questions as I  haven't opened the case and don't have any electronics knowledge.

 

Dennis

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Good afternoon all ; just thought I would give a progress report and impressions.

You may think it strange, but I spent the last 2 hours playing the same piece of music ..... on 2 cdps and tt.

It's one of favourites : Tam O'Shanter by Chadwick, played by the Czech State Phil. orch. conductor Jose Serebrier. Reference Recordings.

A very dynamic piece with lots of percussion, with a beautiful, peaceful ending.

 

Decided to listen via headphones ( Audio Technica ATH AD700X )as I didn't want to disturb my neighbours.

All my doors and windows are open due to a quite warm afternoon.

 

Compared to my speakers, the phones tended to accentuate the mid - bass.

To shorten the story, the music didn't sound right through either the Rega or modified Cambridge, but surprisingly, a bit more listenable on the latter. The Rega reproduced strings well, but not so much the brass, whereas the opposite was true on the Cambridge. Didn't hook up the recent Rotel RCD855 acquisition.

 

Last of all, I played the same recording on RR vinyl on my Technics SL10 with AT 81CP cart. ..... JUST RIGHT ! .... as it should be.

The whole orchestra was nicely balanced with a good sense of ambience and LOTS more detail. I even heard a percussion instrument ( if you can call it an instrument ? ) the spinning rattle, which had been completely absent on the CD.

 

Conclusion : seems like I need a cdp with MORE detail ( to match the LP version )and not particularly smoothness or warmth. Of course digital glare / harshness needs to be avoided too.

 

To me, it reinforces my opinion ( as well as many others ) that CD is an inferior medium for music reproduction. SACD was getting closer, and I have one HDCD ( bought in Singapore ) which is terrific.

 

So, where to from here ? I have a collection of about 500 CDs, so obviously NEED a CDP.

 

I have a limited budget, so can't go overboard !

 

Further advice / recommendations would be gratefully received.

Dennis

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Nice write up @Berkel btw, and no, I do not find it strange to listen to just a few musical pieces when comparing equipment. The CD players have their own Pro's and Con's, and nice to hear that you compared it to spinning the LP. Very good comparison. I also enjoy vinyl, though it is not in my setup at the moment. Very engaging way to enjoy music.

     I DO WANT to know how the Rotel RCD855 sounds! (And others do too!) So please to put that in the mix this week and let us know. Remember too that the Rotel is 30 years old in January. So if it sounds to your liking, as many of us here do, the Aural characteristics will be enhanced with some new caps, volt regulators etc.. . Not a total rebuild but a spiffing up if you like. Cheers, Jonathan

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Thanks Jonathan,

 

I haven't really done much evaluation of the Rotel yet, but will try over the next day or two.

Initial BRIEF listen sounded dull, but lets evaluate some more.

Interestingly, the Cambridge ( with valve output ) has remarkable imaging and soundstage, but as usual, NQR for all music. I'm a pipe organ enthusiast and have heaps of recordings !  Cambridge is very good with these, but not with orchestral .

 

Cheers,

Dennis

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1 hour ago, Berkel said:

Thanks Jonathan,

 

I haven't really done much evaluation of the Rotel yet, but will try over the next day or two.

Initial BRIEF listen sounded dull, but lets evaluate some more.

Interestingly, the Cambridge ( with valve output ) has remarkable imaging and soundstage, but as usual, NQR for all music. I'm a pipe organ enthusiast and have heaps of recordings !  Cambridge is very good with these, but not with orchestral .

 

Cheers,

Dennis

I'd like to add just a small caution when comparing CD to vinyl - some of the detail missing from CDs isn't due to a limitation of the format, it's due to the overly compressed mastering that occurred on a lot of 1990-onwards discs.  Some of them are almost unlistenable (rock/pop worst affected) - I wouldn't dismiss CD so lightly on the basis of a single piece of music.

 

Having said that, the suggestions about room treatment are worth investigating although for me the best way to tame CDs is speakers more than anything.  Then, reach for that good old tone control.

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The problem with comparing the 3 CD Players is It's far from a level playing field, if the Rotel had the advantages of a valve output stage and better more modern regulators and basically better design practices that come from the decades since It's design it would surely lead, definitely in naturalness and without a lack of detail.

 

Some of the older DAC chips are capable of heaps of detail with modern design and thoughtful implementation. A case in point is the Chinese DAC @MattyW has that I listened to in my system that uses the original 14 bit TDA1540D chips, even in non over sampling mode it is very rich in detail, and I would put it up against any modern chip in CD Player or DAC of a comparable pricing.

Edited by muon*
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Yes,  the NOS implementation of the TDA1540D is just magic and with better detail than anything else I've experienced..... It even beats the Abbas Audio DAC2.2SE TDA1541A R1 in that sense. Both have significantly bettered the best modern chips I've heard. They're the reason I no longer believe in hi-res playback. :)

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On 18/11/2020 at 9:56 PM, andyr said:

 

What a disingenuous comment, Dave.  :(

 

Sure, sound into our ears is analogue ... but our ears (well, perhaps not yours?) are able to distinguish whether that sound came from a digital source - or an analogue source.

 

And I'm not talking about "ticks n' pops" which reveal it is coming from an LP.

 

Andy

 

 

Andy - with all due respect, if you can actually achieve that as you claim you can, then you should either go and see a doctor (a very good one) or send your equipment for a service check. Maybe even better - get a job in a radar development facility. I am sure they will be happy to employ your skills.

 

This assumes (as you said) that your digital detective skills are based on perceived imperfections of a digital recording and/or a media, NOT the lack thereof.  

Edited by Decky
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