cd player sound quality

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by Tom_Price, Oct 23, 2003.

  1. Tom_Price

    Tom_Price Stunt Coordinator

    Mar 4, 2001
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    I'm in need of a new CD player and I just can't decide which one to get. I was set on the new Onkyo 6 disc carousel DX-C390 which has mp3 playback. Then the sony CDP-CX455. The sony is a 400 disc megachanger with mp3 capability.

    At first, I was put off by the idea of a megachanger, but then I decided that I could store my entire CD collection in the player and call each disc as I please. The sony features a keyboard input on the front to name discs and to eliminate confusion of which disc is which.

    Then a thought occured to much difference is there between sound quality and transports between these two players? Will it be significant or noticeable? I have always been fairly partial to Onkyo's products and have thought many of the basic Sony products (non-ES) have felt flimsy or cheap at times.

    I need some opinions from you guys.

  2. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

    Aug 5, 1999
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    Katy, TX
    Real Name:
    Unless you’re dealing with high-end equipment, generally you’ll find that CD players pretty much sound the same. About the only way you’d notice any difference at all (if any) would be to do an A/B comparison.

    Speaking of, I once did an A/B between a very early Pioneer player (built like a tank, metal chassis, transport, etc.) and a upper-mid-line Yamaha that was several years newer (lightweight, lots of plastic being used by that point). I connecting them both to separate inputs on my integrated amp, cued up and sync’d a CD I had two copies of, and switched inputs between the two of them. There were slight but noticeable differences in sound between the two, but I wouldn’t have even been aware of them without the direct A/B comparison. Irrespective of that, I really couldn’t point to one as actually sounding better than the other – just slightly different.

    Bottom line, get the CD player with the features that best suit your needs. I would concur with your assessment that the Onkyo is probably better built than the Sony, so if you can find an Onkyo mega-changer, that would definitely be a contender in your case (given your history with Onkyo). Personally I prefer to stick with brands I’ve been happy in the past with, too.

    Wayne A. Pflughaupt
  3. AaronJB

    AaronJB Second Unit

    Nov 2, 1998
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    The Philips 963 has well-regarded SACD playback, strong DVD-V picture quality performance and solid CD playback, including upsampling of CDs to 24bit/96khz and 24bit/192khz.
  4. Cooper_B

    Cooper_B Agent

    Sep 26, 2002
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    Hi Tom,

    While CD players interact very little with the receiver when using digital outs (in other words, digital transports sound pretty similar to each other), the analog outs very substantially. On this point I would respectfully but strongly disagree with Wayne. This is mainly due to the DACs and the quality of the units.

    Specifically, my Panasonic RP-82 DVD-A player sounds pretty bad with CDs compared to my CD changer. You may or may not notice it right away, but over time you will become more acutely aware of the differences. The way I look at it is that it would be appropriate to match an RP-82 as a CD source with lower-end speakers like Paradigm's ~$200 Atom, and with a $300-$400 receiver. Upgrading to much better speakers will not give you much of a gain if your source remains mediocre.

    I bought a Yamaha CDC-775 CD changer a couple years ago, and I am very happy with it. I may have bought a Denon unit if they had the Disk-Exchange feature that lets you swap disks while playing. The resolution of this player was clearly revealed when comparing my original Paradigm Mini Monitors to my Grado SR60 headphones, and eventually my Axiom M22 bookshelves. I highly recommend it.

    I don't know much about megachangers, but wouldn't be surprised if they use pretty cheap DACs: there is an awful lot of mechanical engineering going into those things, which doesn't leave much for sound quality. My two cents.


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