Are all CD players created equal?

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by Mikel.S, Jul 30, 2003.

  1. Mikel.S

    Mikel.S Extra

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    I need a cd player, no dvd etc, just a plain old cd player. Can I just get a cheap one from Circuit City etc or will I notice a sound quality difference?



    -----------------
    Klipsch RB-35 bookshelf speakers
    Harman Kardon 3375 Receiver
     
  2. Jagan Seshadri

    Jagan Seshadri Supporting Actor

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    Not unless you want to hear a difference. If you need a simple functional CD player, then anything will do. Remember that this place is filled with people who can hear the color green if they try hard enough.

    -JNS
     
  3. John Royster

    John Royster Screenwriter

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    Absolutely.

    Just remember that all CD players are exactly alike and sound the same. Get the cheapest you can find otherwise you are a sucker.

    -sarcasim off-

    Your source is the most important part of your system next to speakers/room. Listen first and pick one you like. Nice ones start around 400 bucks.
     
  4. ChrisAG

    ChrisAG Supporting Actor

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    If you are tone deaf you won't hear a difference.
     
  5. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    If you're talking major difference, I'd say not. Consider that the CD is dead and we're starting to see the rereleases of probably anything that can sell in DVDA. The technology has come pretty far over the last couple of decades both in the players and in studios figuring out how digital works. Even DVD only has a couple of years left of usefulness before the industry moves onto something different like blue lasers. Personally I'd look for something fairly inexpensive from say Pioneer, Sony, Marantz, etc. and give some consideration to the players that do multiformats. I don't know what format is going to prevail and I don't think anyone does with any great accuracy. The obsolesence factor is very great right now and you may even find high end (priced) models from last year at bargain basement, let's clear this crap out, prices.
     
  6. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Mikel, CD players certainly make a difference when comparing them with the analog outputs. People who say otherwise either have no experience with higher-end players and/or have not listened to music on a revealing system that brings out the differences. (Revealing should not be equated with a megabuck boutique-store system. My mid-fi stereo system with $1000 in amplication and $1100 speakers is very revealing.)

    Could you list your system? Also, what is your budget for a player? Answers to these questions will help identify an appropriate CD player and whether the player will make a significance difference.
     
  7. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Chu said:

     
  8. Scott_N

    Scott_N Second Unit

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    A used Sony 222ES would be a good choice. You would get a nice CD and SACD player.
     
  9. Jason Wilcox

    Jason Wilcox Supporting Actor

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    give the marantz refurb models a try over at AC4L.com
     
  10. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    [​IMG]
     
  11. DanaA

    DanaA Screenwriter

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    All CD players DO NOT sound the same. A Rega Planet has a very different sonic signature than an Arcam, for instance. Does that mean that certain players color their sound in one way or another? Sure it does. We're all after a sound that suits our particular tastes, aren't we?
     
  12. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    I would think we're all after a "sound" that reproduces as accurately as possible the signal fed into it.
     
  13. DanaA

    DanaA Screenwriter

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    Yes, Jack, that is ideally so, but we also have to factor in individual preferences. For instance, someone may like a more forward soundstage, others may like a recessed soundstage. There's a reason why some people like the Klipsch sound, as an example, while others can't stand it. I'm sure you've heard the cars with their 2000 watt bass system come down a residential street late at night, shaking all the houses along the way. Probably to you or me, that might be an obscenely bloated bass. To the owner of the vehicle, it might be audio utopia. [​IMG] It certainly ain't accurate.
     
  14. Jeffrey Wiffen

    Jeffrey Wiffen Stunt Coordinator

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    I just bought a NAD c541i. Check out www.nadelectronics.com for more info.
    I was shocked and amazed at the noticeable difference in quality CD playback. Especially with HDCD encoded discs. It uses a 24-bit Burr-Brown Sigma-Delta DAC, which is a bonus for a player at this price point. I used a demo CD (Lyle Lovett's Joshua Judges Ruth) to compare between the NAD and my Toshiba SD4800. Simply outstanding! I had the disc playing on both players at the same time to accuarately do an A/B comparison. The NAD was so much more of an improvement that even my wife couldn't wipe the smile off her face. The soundstage opened right up (wide baby!). The player isn't as colourful (sonically) as some other players, but I find it compliments my B&W speaker setup. I paid $540 CAD (approx. $385 USD) for the NAD and do not regret it for a moment. NAD's c541i has a very good reputation and is often touted as one of the "Best Buys" in the Hi Fi world. In fact What Hi-Fi? named it their Product of the Year in 2002. This is the player to beat for the dollar. I was a skeptic, until I brought this bad boy home. Now I'm a believer. Don't let anyone tell you that all players are the same, or that their $199 DVD player is even close in quality. These guys haven't done their homework.
     
  15. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    Does the 4800 do HDCD?
     
  16. Jeffrey Wiffen

    Jeffrey Wiffen Stunt Coordinator

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    No, unfortunately the SD4800 does not have an HDCD decoder. My last DVD player (Toshiba SD5700) did do HDCD decoding. It was a pretty decent CD player at first, but became inconsistent and therefore had to replace it. I miss it alot. I was my first foray into the world of HDCD. The SD4800 is essentially the same player, but without the HDCD decoder. The A/B test I did with my NAD c541i and my Toshiba SD4800 was not with an HDCD encoded disc.

    Ps. I can't wait to get home and throw a disc on my new CD player. Is that sad?

    Pss. I also just purchased a pair of Grado SR125 Headphones. These are downright amazing! If anyone is looking for a decent set of cans, then these should foot the bill.
     
  17. Jason.Soko

    Jason.Soko Stunt Coordinator

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    I never realized how much of a difference a quality cd player would make in sound quality. After I picked up a Cambridge Audio D500SE I wonder how I have ever listened to music without it. It was THAT much of a difference.
     
  18. John Royster

    John Royster Screenwriter

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    It goes back to the basics of audio reproduction...

    What are your pre-amp, amplifier and speakers doing? Nothing more than making the speakers produce what the source gives it.

    So no, not all CD players are created equal. In fact your source is one of the most important parts of any stereo. Second only to speakers.
     
  19. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    My good friend Mr. Royster (we are friends, no?), I quite agree with you although I don't think it's an especially difficult task to find a competent player for reasonable amounts of money. My definition of competence though is taking a signal and amplifying it without audible distortion or coloration. In that sense, I take a contrary approach to DanaA. While I appreciate the desire of people to tailor their systems to suit their particular preferences, I personally don't like the idea of having the player do that task. Nor the amp, nor the preamp. If I really feel the source material just isn't right as it comes off the disk, I'd rather have individual control over how I want to distort or alter or process the signal to suit my tastes. Buying into a Wadia or other brand means accepting someone elses idea of 'distortion du jour' and having it applied, whether I want it or not, to everything.

    I don't know about the Rega Planet other than it's been out for a number of years...6 or 7 I think. If that's the case, and it hasn't been updated along the way, then that's an awful long time in the digital world and I'd find it hard to recommend a device that's so long in the tooth as to be a couple of generations behind in circuitry. I don't follow the Rega particularly carefully, so if I'm wrong regarding the age, then I hope someone corrects my error. There was a review of it back in 1997 in HFNRR and it seemed to have some design shortcomings in that the clock was susceptible to modulation by any power supply noise. I'd have a hard time justifying spending substantiable amounts of money for a product that may well introduce a form of FM distortion into the signal, euphonic or not.

    Now Mr. Wiffen has evaluated an HDCD disk in a player that supports this and contrasted it to a DVD player that doesn't support this. Yet, there are DVD players, even from Toshiba, that do incorporate HDCD decoding. In this case, a preference for the NAD is not especially surprising considering there was no equal footing. As far as not doing their homework, running a comparison where you've tied a hand behind the back doesn't sound like you established anything except that your DVD player can't do HDCD. More interesting would've been a level matched comparison between the NAD and something that also did HDCD. Perhaps the audible differences might prove a bit of a challenge to differentiate?

    Keith, I think plans are in the works to release or re-release thousands of selections on DVDA over the next year. I'd imagine As far as the death of CD, your points are valid, but consider also the technology is old hat and the audio industry will once again introduce the churning machine as they move to some format that'll survive whether it's technically superior or not. Got to make some money after all! Consumers have a funny way of influencing those decisions. As we see more and more machines that have DVDA and other formats built in, my take on it is like backwards compatability with DOS programs.

    Getting back to Mikel.s' post, my overall recommendation is to buy something with a bit of flexibility for the type of music you like. Competent DVD players that do well at playing CD's are out there as are other hybrid devices. If HDCD is your thing, I'm sure players exist that have this capability. Define your price point, define your overall listening and viewing needs, and buy something that doesn't shoehorn you into the 1980's. And if you get HDCD, then at least Lyle will love you for it.
     
  20. DanaA

    DanaA Screenwriter

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    Actually, Chu, maybe not as contrary as you think. I ended up choosing the Arcam over the Rega and a host of others because I felt it did present the most accurate reproduction. My point is twofold: (1) CD players can and do sound different from one another, and (2) I can't make a decision for someone else as to what sounds they prefer. For me, whatever floats their boat is best for them personally. I may disagree, but it is their system and their tastes and their ears.

    I will say that I agree with John that, aside from speakers, the source is the next most important component. Even if they didn't say so, I'm not going to be taking a giant leap to say that a lot of people in this thread who did move up in the quality of their CD player not only notice a difference, but spend a lot more time listening to and enjoying their music which, afterall, is the point. As perhaps the greatest philosopher of the 20th centure, Alfred E. Neuman, said, "What me worry."

    By the way, Rega has updated the Planet to the Planet 2000.
     

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