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How much of a difference in sound quality is there amongt CD players?


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#1 of 122 OFFLINE   Randal

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Posted December 17 2001 - 09:27 AM

Sorry 'bout the typo in the title. I didn't notice it until it was too late.

I'm new to the improved audio game. I'm not into H/T yet but I just bought a H/K 3370 receiver and have it married to my new Mirage frx-7's. I only have a single disc, Sony CDP-197 CD player. How much of an improvement in sound would it be to upgrade to a better CD player? Would I go, "holy mackeral, what HUGE improvement" or would it be more like, "uh, I think I can tell the difference?". If it's the former, I may start looking at better players. If so, how bought some suggestions on better CD players in the 3-4 hundred range.

#2 of 122 Guest_John Morris_*

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Posted December 17 2001 - 09:37 AM

Randal: Since I know nothing about your current CD player, a specific answer would be hard to give you. However, I switched from using my Pioneer DVD player for CD playback to a Denon DCM-370 and the performance improvement was easily noticable. Then I changed from the Denon to a Sony c555es SACD player and when I played back a regular CD, I said, "Holy Cow, that is nice!" Both changes were easily identified as big improvements. YMMV.

#3 of 122 OFFLINE   Randal

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Posted December 17 2001 - 09:41 AM

Thanks John. What's an SACD player?

Everyone else, keep those opinions a comin'.

#4 of 122 Guest_John Morris_*

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Posted December 17 2001 - 09:53 AM

Randal: SACD - Super Audio CD Player. Check one out HERE

#5 of 122 OFFLINE   Randal

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Posted December 17 2001 - 09:59 AM

John,
Checked out the link AND the price.........OUCH!!!!

So, in order to hear the benifits of "super audio" CD players, does one need to listen to specially coded "super audio" CD's? Or do they also improve the sound of regular CD's. Any super audio players in the $500. range?

#6 of 122 Guest_John Morris_*

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Posted December 17 2001 - 10:13 AM

Randal: the 555es sells for about $800. The 222es sells for around $500 or so and the non-es Sony SACD player sells for somewhere around $250 or so. Well, IMO, compared to what I was using prior, it improved the regular CD output as well. My guess that that is only because of the quality DACs that Sony uses in this player and its' overall build quality. Still, if you don't want to invest in SACD, I can heartily recommend the Denon 370 player. It uses Burr Brown DACs and sounds sweet for a $200 carousel CD player.

#7 of 122 OFFLINE   Howard_S

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Posted December 17 2001 - 10:17 AM

SCDXE670
SCDCE775
SCDC222ES
SCDC333ES
SCDC555ES

How much difference in quality is there?

#8 of 122 OFFLINE   KeithH

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Posted December 17 2001 - 10:23 AM

Randal, yes, there can be a significant difference in the sound quality of CD players. I am quite confident that if you replaced your Sony '197 with a $500 CD player, you would be amazed by the difference in sound quality.

The SACD format uses a different digital encoding scheme than CDs, so we are talking about different discs here. Note, however, that all SACD players play CDs. SACD is a higher-resolution format.

The Sony SCD-C555ES carousel SACD changer that John mentioned retailed for $1700 when it was released in April, but Sony dropped the retail price to $1200 in October. Authorized Sony mail-order dealers such as OneCall (1-800-340-4770) and Oade Bros. (1-229-228-0093 or 1-229-228-4480) sell the 'C555ES for $800. I bought a 'C555ES about six weeks ago, and it is one excellent component. It is a wonderful CD player, and SACDs sound even better. Build quality is excellent.

I realize that at $800, the 'C555ES is outside of your proposed budget. The next SACD player down from Sony is the 'C222ES, which is also a carousel changer. It retails for $800, but I know that Oade Bros. sells it for $600 delivered, which is a bit closer to where you want to be. The 'C222ES isn't built as well as the 'C555ES inside or out and doesn't sound as good either, but it is still a well-regarded component. No doubt, the 'C222ES is a better CD player than your current unit.

Note that Sony is the only manufacturer making SACD players for less than $1000. SACD was developed by Sony and Philips, the inventors of the CD format. Marantz, which used to be part of Philips, manufacturers SACD players, but they are much more expensive than the Sony 'C222ES and 'C555ES.

If you want to go with a straight CD player, you have a number of options at $500 and under. However, I think if you willing to spend $500, you owe it to yourself to take a good look at the 'C222ES for $600 in order to get SACD.

By the way, check www.crutchfield.com for good information on Sony's SACD players. Note that Crutchfield's prices are high, but their web site is informative.
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#9 of 122 OFFLINE   KeithH

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Posted December 17 2001 - 10:39 AM

Randal,

One more thing. Like John, I can comment on the relative quality of the Denon DCM-370 and Sony 'C555ES, as I own both players. As John said, the '370 is a good CD changer for $250, but the 'C555ES is in a completely different league. I'm not talking about the sound quality of SACDs here. The 'C555ES is a significantly better CD player than the '370. Of course, there is a significant difference in price between the two players. Posted Image


Howard,

First off, the 'C333ES, unlike the other models you listed, doesn't play multi-channel SACDs and was discontinued some months ago. Some dealers may still have it, but supplies are dwindling fast.

The ES models are much better than the non-ES players. The difference in external build quality is readily apparent. Also, the non-ES players are built cheap on the inside. Smaller power supplies and other cheap parts. The ES players cost significantly more, and there is good reason for that. Still, the non-ES models are capable SACD players for the price and represent a good value. If you can swing an ES model, you owe it to yourself to go that route.

I have not had the opportunity to listen to ES and non-ES SACD players side-by-side, but the many comments I have read on Audio Asylum (www.audioasylum.com) say that the bigger difference lies in CD playback quality rather than SACD playback. Thus, a number of owners of non-ES players on Audio Asylum have commented favorably about SACD playback, but have said that CD playback is lackluster. I know an owner of the 'C333ES and 'CE775 who frequents this site and Audio Asylum who has said just that.
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#10 of 122 OFFLINE   Howard_S

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Posted December 17 2001 - 10:57 AM

Thanks Keith. I wasn't reading too much into the SACD posts before because I was thinking of an all in one but now that I'm not I'm paying more attention to John and your posts. So you guys think the 555 is definately worth the extra over the 222?

#11 of 122 OFFLINE   DanaA

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Posted December 17 2001 - 11:06 AM

I have three CD changers, an old Adcom, an even older Onkyo, and a new Harman Kardon 8380. There is definately a very noticable difference in the sound of the 3 changers. My favorite, by far, is the Onkyo. It is very dynamic, which, and this is only my use of the word, means that the CD's do things like jump from lows to highs very dramatically, but in a controlled and defined way. I'm not sure if what I just said made sense or if others would like characteristic in a CD changer, but, for me, it is great. Another suggestion I would make is to look out for CD players/changers that have a more difficult time reading the CD. The HK sometimes skips on CD's that neither the Adcom or Onkyo have difficulty with.

#12 of 122 OFFLINE   KeithH

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Posted December 17 2001 - 11:06 AM

Howard, I think it's definitely worth spending $200 more to get the 'C555ES over the 'C222ES. Recall that the 'C222ES and 'C555ES sell for $600 and $800 by mail, respectively. I feel the 'C555ES is a steal for $800.
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#13 of 122 OFFLINE   DanaA

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Posted December 17 2001 - 11:09 AM

And one more thing, as soon as the SACD players come down in price, that's what I'll be buying next.

#14 of 122 OFFLINE   RicP

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Posted December 17 2001 - 01:42 PM

Quote:
I feel the 'C555ES is a steal for $800.
That's not an understatement. The C555ES is a steal at that price.

Like Keith mentioned, if you're only interested in Stereo music (Stereo SACD in particular) then see if you can find a C333ES floating around anywhere. You may be able to get one for $400-500 and it is at minimum the equal of the C555ES in terms of Stereo SACD and Redbook CD playback. Some even say that the C333ES is a better Redbook player than the C555ES is. Because it was built specifically for 2-channel -- a lot of C333ES owners on Audio Asylum feel this way.

I own a C333ES player that I've since had modified by Dan Wright at www.modwright.com and I absolutely love the player...adore it. Posted Image


#15 of 122 OFFLINE   Randal

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Posted December 17 2001 - 02:05 PM

Man this place is great ! Thanks everyone for all the info. If my next CD player is as much of a sonic improvement as my new H/K 3370, Mirage frx-7's, and the rope I'm now using for cables is, then your gonna be seeing some mighty huge grins on this guys face.Posted Image

#16 of 122 OFFLINE   Brian OK

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Posted December 17 2001 - 02:24 PM

As Ric mentioned, you may want to seek out Dan Wright for one his modded units (i.e Pioneer DVD 343 -- I believe this is the current "low end" unit he mods at this time) which literally transform a decent transport into a very impressive dedicated CDP.

Dan modded my Pioneer DV414 DVD player over a year ago and turned it into one helluva dedicated CDP transport.

Dan re-worked the power supply and digital out completely (among the other things he does to the unit) and I am still impressed to this day. One impressive CDP Dan turns out. One would have to pay MUCH more to reach his modded level.

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#17 of 122 OFFLINE   AvinashM

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Posted December 18 2001 - 09:47 AM

if you use the digital out (toslink) of the CD player
to connect to your receiver. then it woudn't matter
what player it is right ? since all the DAC stuff is
being done in the receiver...

-avinash.

#18 of 122 OFFLINE   KeithH

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Posted December 18 2001 - 10:03 AM

Avinash, this is a common question that is asked, and the answer is, no. Not all CD players sound the same when using the digital outputs. Some components act as better transports than others. One key factor that better transports handle more effectively is jitter, which is the ability of the player to deliver the 1s and 0s at the proper time in the output bitstream. This is a timing issue, and some players do it better than others. The better the transport, the lower the jitter, and the better, or shall I say more properly, the more accurate the sound. The better the timing of the transport, meaning the better the clock, the more data from the disc that is transferred as intended, so the more accurate the sound reproduction. Better transport have better clock mechanisms.

Also, build quality contributes to the sound quality of a transport. The better transport usually have stronger chassis and well-designed disc-handling mechanisms for stability.
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#19 of 122 OFFLINE   Chip E

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Posted December 18 2001 - 10:17 AM

"So you guys think the 555 is definately worth the extra over the 222? "



As "Stone Cold" Steve Austin says...

Can i git a Hellllll Yeaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh! Posted Image
- Chip

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#20 of 122 OFFLINE   Alex Prosak

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Posted December 18 2001 - 10:27 AM

There is definitely a difference in the sound of CD players. I used to have a Denon DCD 1520 which was quite a fine player. About two years ago I bought a Rega Planet and WOW what a difference! It is so much more musical! I can sit for hours listening to music and never would have done that with the Denon. It truly makes my Maggies sing. I know the Planet was recently updated and I don't know if the price has changed but I got a great price on mine from Galen Carol Audio (gcaudio.com). I paid $650, I don't know what your budget is but if it's close, spend the extra, you won't regret it. It doesn't have SACD or HDCD or any other special formats but it is really a gem of a player.




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