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Are CD Players becoming obsolete?

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14 replies to this topic

#1 of 15 OFFLINE   Rick_Brown


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Posted December 31 2002 - 01:21 AM

I'm seeing more and more of my friends, who aren't particularly into audio or video in a big way, buying cheap DVD players instead of CD players. They figure that because a DVD player plays both formats "why bother with a CD player?" One friend even hooked up a DVD player to a TV in the basement - no receiver or amplifier - just TV and DVD. He watches videos and plays music CD's, listening only through the TV's speakers. He thinks it's just great! Others have stereo or cheap home theater setups with no CD players, just DVD.

I think that CD-only players are destined to become a niche high-end product only, if they aren't already. Comments?

#2 of 15 OFFLINE   DanaA



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Posted December 31 2002 - 03:44 AM

I think you're right to an extent. It is becoming niche to a degree. Nonetheless, the market will remain strong for quite a bit longer - if you consider that most cars will not go the DVD route and the fact that a large market segment still eats up things like boomboxes, discman type CD players, etc. And then there are people like me who will always want a dedicated CD player, if it offers better features and performance. A lot of the DVD players offer performance on a par with separate CD players now, so it has become an interesting choice. Let's say a DVD player costs $200 and a CD player costs $125 - with both offering similar performance. A lot of people will want to just save that extra money or sink it into a better DVD player. The jump from a $200 to a $325 DVD player might yield better all around bang for the buck than stand alone units.

#3 of 15 OFFLINE   Rachael B

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Posted December 31 2002 - 05:11 AM

It proably hinges on the success of SACD...?
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#4 of 15 OFFLINE   KeithH


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Posted December 31 2002 - 05:34 AM


Scary thought, huh? Posted Image


I think you are right, unfortunately. DVD is the king format these days, and since DVD players play CDs, most consumers and retailers prefer to buy or stock "do-it-all" DVD players instead of DVD players and dedicated CD players. I said "unfortunately" before because at a given price point, a dedicated CD player usually sounds better than a DVD player playing CDs. I am considering use of the analog outputs here to compare the players' DACs and analog outputs stages. Regardless, I think we will see fewer and fewer budget CD players as manufacturers continue to polarize their design and production efforts to DVD players.

The shift to DVD players appears to be happening already with SACD. In 2002, Sony discontinued the SCD-CE775, and 'C555ES changers in the US and Canada and the 'XE670 single-disc player in Canada without releasing replacements (an 'XE680 is now available overseas). There is also word that the 'C222ES has been phased out. Perhaps replacements will be released in 2003, but that is hardly a given as some of these players were discontinued months ago. The only non-DVD SACD that Sony definitely has in production right now is the MSRP $3000 'XA777ES. This is sad. At Circuit City stores, 'CE775 changers that were paired with Sony home-theater receivers in demo kiosks have been replaced by DVD/SACD/receiver "Dream System" integrated components. Sony has further "dumbed down" its product line by releasing two integrated DVD/SACD player-receivers in its ES line. It really is sad. Posted Image

Getting back to CD players, I think we will continue to see dedicated units from the higher-end companies at $500 and up. At least, I hope so.
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#5 of 15 OFFLINE   Adil M

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Posted December 31 2002 - 11:52 AM

I am perfectly content using the DAC's in my receiver by hooking up the dvd player w/ a digital connection. If I did this, explain to me why I would bother w/ a separate CD player? I've done the comparisons and it almost always sounds better in the receiver.

#6 of 15 OFFLINE   Robert Standefer

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Posted December 31 2002 - 04:32 PM

Something tells me companies like Classe, Mark Levinson, Krell, and so on will not abandon CD players anytime soon, at least not in favor of a DVD player.

Sony may release duo-SACD/DVD players along with standalone SACD, since both would be backward-compatible with CD.

To Joe Consumer, a separate CD player makes as much sense as a separate amplifier. Why do it when one box can handle it all? As an audio enthusiast (not quite an audiophile), I prefer a separate CD player, partly because I have it hooked up to a 2ch only system. Posted Image To some people, dedicated circuitry is important.

I miss the integrated amplifier CD players like the Theta Miles. That was an awesome unit.

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#7 of 15 OFFLINE   John Royster

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Posted January 01 2003 - 10:23 AM


Once you get to around the 250 dollar price point for CD players the analog outputs of the player and DACs inside the player will outperform those in the receiver.

results vary of course but I've found that CD players do a far better job with audio than receivers.

But most consumers want more for less - that means CD players will be fewer in number. Remember we're not most consumers though and want, nah...demand so much more.

#8 of 15 OFFLINE   Rob Rodier

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Posted January 01 2003 - 03:41 PM

It is ironic that the cd has long been considered a non-reference source of playback (in audiophile land at least), and now the future of the stand alone boxes are depenedent on the consumers looking for a reference source.

I can see scenarios were the cds demise comes more quickly than one might imagine. For instance, if SACD really takes off in a year or two, music lovers/audiophiles will abandon the standard cd. On the other side, people who are not compelled by the higher resolution or multichannel aspects of the new formats will abandom the cd for the more convenient mp3.

I know one thing for sure; When I can get any piece of music I want on sacd or dvd-a I will have no problem ripping my entire 16-44.1 collection onto a hard drive, and never looking back.


#9 of 15 OFFLINE   Yee-Ming



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Posted January 02 2003 - 03:30 PM

interesting discussion.

I presently use a entry-level Pioneer DV233 as a transport and use the Marantz SR8200 receiver DACs. whilst this is already a quantum leap over the mini-compo systems I've been used to in the past, I've been itching to break out the wife's spare NAD C521 (I think that's the model) from the storeroom and hook it up to the receiver via analog outputs/inputs, then spin the same disc in both players and then switch back and forth to A/B compare them.

I recently went with a friend who was auditioning the NAD C521i, NAD330BBE integrated amp with KEF Q35s (they were doing a special deal, all in about S$850, that's only about US$485). boy did it sound good! that's partly what got me thinking about hooking up the standalone CD player to my HT system.

but if I want to use processing, e.g. ProLogic II or Circle Surround 5.1, does it still make sense to use a separate CD player to DAC to 2-channel analog stereo, then apply pseudo-surround sound processing, which suggests to me that it would take the analog input, convert ADC, process, then reconvert DAC and output to speakers? or in those circumstances should the PCM output be kept digital and you let the receiver do all the work?

#10 of 15 OFFLINE   Jeremy Hegna

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Posted January 02 2003 - 06:31 PM

Bummer...looks like we all need to buy turntablesPosted Image

Seriously though...

For the niche market, as mentioned earlier, and those that realise the benefit sound-wise...Stand alone CD players will remain...IMO. Who knows how long though. With the production of better and better DACs, their time may be limited. Transports and seperate DACs or highend DVD transports with out board DACs may be tomorrow's digital playback system.

But the day after tomorrow, we may be dusting the cobwebs from our CDs asking..."Remember these?"Posted Image


#11 of 15 OFFLINE   KeithH


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Posted January 03 2003 - 01:07 AM

Yee-Ming, if you are interested in applying surround modes to your CDs, you are better off using the digital output on the player. As you said, if you use the analog outputs, the receiver will do an A/D conversion before applying the surround mode.

Break out that NAD CD player and try it with the analog outputs. Based on the previous paragraph, make sure you engage the receiver's analog bypass mode when doing this. Compare the sound using the analog and digital outputs and then compare the NAD and Pioneer units as transports. I'd be interested to hear the results.

The dealer in your neck of the woods had a great price on that NAD/KEF combination. All of those components have garnered high praise in the British magazines. I recently read some very favorable reviews of the NAD C 320BEE integrated amp.
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#12 of 15 OFFLINE   Craig Morris

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Posted January 03 2003 - 05:14 AM

Well, I just bought a Linn Genki CD player, so I hope CD players aren't obsolete. Posted Image

I've been contemplating upgrading my source for a while now. I was previously using a Sony ES changer as a transport connected optically to my Marantz SR-18.

The difference a good CD player made shocked me. What have I been missing?! Soundstage is bigger, instruments are better defined in their own space, details I never heard before are apparent, etc. The only thing I haven't quite been able to discern is the timing/pace improvements that my dealer (and reviewers) suggest I should hear. I guess my ears aren't quite trained enough yet.

I absolutely do not regret dumping a significant chunk of money on a stand-alone CD player. Call me crazy. Posted Image

#13 of 15 OFFLINE   Yee-Ming



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Posted January 05 2003 - 06:27 PM

Keith: good idea. hadn't thought of using the CD as a transport only either, at least for music. but yes, using analog, I'd get to properly try the Marantz's much-vaunted "Source Direct" mode.

as for the NAD/KEF package, yes, I knew it was a hell of a deal, just that I wasn't in the market for that stuff having already dropped a bundle on my HT system (my friend in contrast has an HTiB, set up in a small annex off his bedroom, not in the main living room). apparently, the dealer is a subsidiary of the ultimate owners of KEF, a Hong Kong company called GP. although I'm not sure if KEF or GP also own NAD.

as another example, on the same auditioning trip, at another shop (my usual shop), the salesman demoed a Rotel RA-02 with Acoustic Energy Evo Ones. the killer, though, was the CD player, don't know the model but it was a Marantz retailing for S$5,000 or so. absolutely amazing stuff.

#14 of 15 OFFLINE   KeithH


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Posted January 05 2003 - 11:28 PM

Yee-Ming, sounds like you have had some fun at your local shops. Be careful, though. Playing with all those high-end components can make it difficult to listen to your own. Posted Image

If you do break out the NAD player, I'd be curious to hear how it compares to the Pioneer DVD player, both using the analog outputs and as a transport. It's a shame to have the C 521 in storage. Give it a spin! Posted Image
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#15 of 15 OFFLINE   Don Bingaman

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Posted January 06 2003 - 01:12 PM

I had a Pioneer PD-65 for 8 years and it served my system well, however when I decided to go into multi-channel / Home Theater, I replaced the PD-65 with a DV-38a. The new DVD player has better sonics than the PD-65 for CD and plays DVD-A to boot. I have complemented this player with a Sony SCD-555ES for multi-channel SACD, and it sounds even better than the DV-38a for CD. I use the coaxial digital output of the DV-38a to drive my Sony surround processor for movies, but the processor is sonically inferior to the dedicated player DAC's for CD. I suspect the new generation of universal players, such as the Marantz 8300 and the Pioneer DV-47 will leave most CD player's in the dust......pickups and DAC's are getting better all the time. The secret is finding a player with a good analog audio section.