Do high end CD players actually make a difference?

Saurav

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I've seriously seen the "who cares about measurements, ears are all that matter" attitude expressed a number of times.
I think it makes a lot of sense. When was it established that an objectively accurate system is more fun to listen to? AFAIK, no one has established that connection. An accurate system is better to analyse the sound by. So if you listen to flat frequency response and get a kick out of low THD and high SNR, measurements are the perfect vehicle for you.
I think most of the typical subjective positions are equally silly. Liquid midrange, airy highs and a wide and deep soundstage? Everything to do with the sound, nothing to do with the music. These people seem to enjoy listening to guitar picks sliding on strings and saxophonists breathing, they don't really seem to care about what the musicians are playing.
Don't listen with your ears, because that means you're being analytical, whether you do it in the "objective" or the "subjective" way. Listen with your heart, corny as that sounds. If the music touches you emotionally, then it's a good system in a good room playing a good recording. That's the only way to judge it, everything else is so far off the mark it borders on the absurd. If you don't like the color of the LED on the CD player and that bothers you, then it's not a good system for you. If you looked at the specs and the distortion numbers make you uncomfortable, then it's not a good system for you. If you don't care and can ignore all that and just enjoy the music playing on the system, then it's a good system for you.
Just my very opinionated opinion, of course, but that should be understood
All of this is opinion only, none of it is meant to be presented as fact and should not be construed as such
 

RobertR

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I think most of the typical subjective positions are equally silly.
I was mainly poking fun at the idea of a subjectivist getting excited over objective measurements that happen to support his position, which is difficult for him to do if he routinely deemphasizes the importance of measurements.

I think both listening and measurements are important.
 

Larry B

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Saurav:
Liquid midrange, airy highs and a wide and deep soundstage? Everything to do with the sound, nothing to
do with the music. These people seem to enjoy listening to guitar picks sliding on strings and saxophonists breathing, they don't really seem to care about what the musicians are playing.
I respectfully disagree. Just because one uses the terms "Liquid midrange, airy highs and a wide and deep soundstage" does not mean that one is focusing on the sound (as you put it) and not the music. Rather, it is just as likely that those terms are being used to express what it was in the reproduction that was so moving. Admittedly, the reproduction is not the music but if weren't important, we would all be using boomboxes.
I have been listening to music for a long time (actually, longer than you've been alive, but I'd rather not think about that
), and most of that time was with pretty poor equipment. I give you my solemn word that the better equipment I now use has not in any way diminished my appreciation for music and if anything, has enhanced it (since it now sounds more like the real thing).
My 2 cents.
Larry
 

Manuel Delaflor

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RobertR,
I was mainly poking fun at the idea of a subjectivist getting excited over objective measurements that happen to support his position, which is difficult for him to do if he routinely deemphasizes the importance of measurements.
Huh, if that was for me, then I have to jump. How many times, just how many times do I have to explain to you that Im not a "subjectivist"? Heck, Im beyond anything you can think.
I just hope that at some point you will learn to not label people... talking about that "politician" Saurav!
Mike,
I have read on some forum (maybe even this one) about DBT's with CDP's. People have reported that some can pass them easily, at least regarding the CDP's on test, that is not to say that they can pass on every CDP. Of course, if you are interested run a search on the forums you visit.
 

Lee Scoggins

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I'm pretty skeptical of the "bit is not bits" argument. If all the vibration control and jitter were SO critical in getting the data off a CD without error, it would be a MAJOR challenge to get data off a CD ROM in a computer.
Mike, in the spirit of the Forum I will set aside my initial shock and amazement that we are debating the existence of jitter and refer you and Robert to my friend Bob Katz's page on jitter at his website:
www.digido.com
Also see:
http://www.stereophile.com/shownews.cgi?70
There is a story on Stereophile in the archives about Bob Harley's groundbreaking work in measuring jitter in CD transports from the early 90s.
I am also about to post a recap of a recent recording session where we added a Gen-x master clock device which greatly lowered jitter from around 200 picos to 25-50 picos which greatly illuminated individual voices in a choir.
I hope this helps Mike. In short, "bits is bits" only when they arrive uncorrupted and at the same time.
 

Lee Scoggins

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You will not reduce jitter by buying a 3000 dollar CD player rather than a 300 dollar CD player, if you plan on hooking the player to a receiver. You will not reduce jitter by choosing different digital cables.
Ian, I beg to differ as some cable do exhibit lower jitter characteristics and the receiver-CD interaction of the receiver can benefit from high end players depending on configuration and whether the receiver reclocks all incoming time signals. It depends on the receiver and CD players on a case by case basis. If you eliminate jitter effects, the high end player will also allow better reproduction via use fo better chips, etc.
 

Lee Scoggins

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I think both listening and measurements are important.
Aha middle ground!!!

I agree with this but I think our differences on a matter of emphasis of each of the two parts.

Robert, I do not want to limit your ability to object in purely scientific terms...however I do feel it helps the thread stay on topic if we don't have to debate the objectivist versus subjectivist thing everytime someone makes a claim on some sonic difference. It is distracting at best and at worst sidetracks the whole discussion.

That's fair right?

Maybe we could have separate threads for evidence for and against a particular topic like high end CD sound from objective terms.
 

Lee Scoggins

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Overview comments from Bob Katz:

A properly dithered 16-bit recording can have over 120 dB of dynamic range; a D to A converter with a jittery clock can deteriorate the audible dynamic range to 100 dB or less, depending on the severity of the jitter. I have performed listening experiments on purist, audiophile-quality musical source material recorded with a 20-bit accurate A/D converter (dithered to 16 bits within the A/D). The sonic results of passing this signal through processors that truncate the signal at -110, -105, or -96 dB are: increased "grain" in the image, instruments losing their sharp edges and focus; reduced soundstage width; apparent loss of level causing the listener to want to turn up the monitor level, even though high level signals are reproduced at unity gain. Contrary to intuition, you can hear these effects without having to turn up the listening volume beyond normal (illustrating that low-level ambience cues are very important to the quality of reproduction). Similar degradation has been observed when jitter is present. Nevertheless, the loss due to jitter is subtle, and primarily audible with the highest-grade audiophile D/A converters.
This is someone who has won Grammies (okay not such a big deal) and produced some of Chesky's most beautiful recordings. Actually now that I think of it, there may have been a recording we did for a Chesky sampler where there was high and low jitter. I will search for it.
 

Saurav

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Larry,
I was being extra-obnoxious on purpose
I'm sure you knew that though.
 

mike_decock

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These people seem to enjoy listening to guitar picks sliding on strings and saxophonists breathing, they don't really seem to care about what the musicians are playing.
I think all those minute elements in the performance add to the illusion of experiencing the "real thing".

-Mike...
 

RobertR

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I do feel it helps the thread stay on topic if we don't have to debate the objectivist versus subjectivist thing everytime someone makes a claim on some sonic difference.
If someone makes a claim on some sonic difference, it is very much on topic to discuss the basis for his perception of that difference. No matter how much you may want it to be otherwise, Lee, simply stating "I heard a difference" does not make its objective existence a given.
 

mike_decock

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I hope this helps Mike. In short, "bits is bits" only when they arrive uncorrupted and at the same time.
Thanks for those references, Lee. The Bob Katz article was particularly informative. I never denied the existence of jitter, I just question it's audibility.

I still see no evidence that stable platters and vibration control do anything to reduce the amount of jitter in the transport mechanism unless the goal is to reduce vibration reaching the XO.

-Mike...
 

mike_decock

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I do feel it helps the thread stay on topic if we don't have to debate the objectivist versus subjectivist thing everytime someone makes a claim on some sonic difference.
I agree that it isn't necessary to debate the objectivist vs. subjectivist "thing", but it IS reasonable to question the validity of a claim.

-Mike...
 

Yogi

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simply stating "I heard a difference" does not make its objective existence a given.
It does exist for him, so you'd be doing all of us a huge favor by giving up your crusade and making it an enjoyable and insightful discussion for all the others. Why dont you carry on your discussion and your thoughts in your own thread about 'discussion on hearing' that incidentally no one seems to care about
.
 

RobertR

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There is a relevant AES paper from Dolby labs that sheds quite a
bit of light on the issue of jitter. You might want to check out
AES preprint 4826 available from www.aes.org. by Eric Benjamin and
Benjamin Gannon named "Theoretical and Audible Effects of Jitter
on Digital Audio Quality" . The paper describes a number of
experiments, recounted in Stereophile 1/1999 pp 37-39. I have read
the paper and can generally confirm Stereophile's evaluation of it.
Stereophile wrote of the Benjamin and Gannon paper:
"The experiments consisted of varying the amount of clock jitter
added at the digital interface using a DAC known to be susceptible
to jitter, and gathering listener responses. The source was a CD
player with low jitter in the audio band (80 picoseconds RMS). As
it turned out, this level of jitter proved to be so far below the
level of audibility that the player itself did not limit the
results of the test.
BTW, its hard to find modern DAC's that are susceptible to jitter.
They now often have anti-jitter circuits right on the DAC chips that
come from the vendors.
"For sine wave signals, the threshold of audibility of jitter in
the experiment was 10 nanoseconds RMS at 17 kHz and 100 nanoscecond
RMS at 4 kHz. (One nanosecond = 1000 picoseconds.)
The period of a 4 kHz tone is 250 microseconds, so, expressed as a
percentage, we are talking 10 nanoseconds divided by 250,000
nanoseconds, or 1/25,000. This is 1/250th of a percent, or 0.004
percent. Expressed as a dB ratio, this is 88 dB.
So, when you are looking at the jitter plots at www.pcavtech.com,
(example being the one at
http://www.pcavtech.com/play-rec/Pan...dex.htm#JIT_DA ), and
see jitter that is way below -88 dB at 7 kHz and 15 kHz, you are
talking about jitter that is essentially inaudible.
This plot does not show what is happening at 7 kHz and 15 kHz. The
reason for this is that nothing different is happening at 7 kHz and
15 kHz (not shown) than what is happening at 10 kHz and 12 kHz
(shown). It is all about -110 dB down, and that is just random
noise.
So, we have an example of a $69 CD player that has jitter that is
about 20 dB better than what Dolby Labs found to be audible.
It would seem that both the AES and Stereophile disagree with you.
 

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