Does CD player quality matter when using digital output?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Jason Allan, May 5, 2002.

  1. Jason Allan

    Jason Allan Auditioning

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    Hi everyone,

    If I understand things correctly, when using the digital output from a CD player the receiver is the one doing the digital-analog conversion, correct? And if this is the case, then does the quality of the musical reproduction have anything to do with the player? i.e. would there be any difference between a $200 player and a $2000 player assuming both were using digital output?

    Thanks,

    Jason
     
  2. John Sully

    John Sully Stunt Coordinator

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    Some will say that there is a big difference, personally I don't think the difference will be that big if there is any difference at all.

    Cheaper players *may* have a more jittery output, but many, if not most, digital inputs on a modern receiver will have jitter resistant inputs. If your receiver has Analog Devices DACs you are in big luck since their DACs have an input circut which is provably immune to jitter which originates from the input source. Note that jitter is the only thing which can cause a difference in sound between transports. Other than jitter, it is just 0's and 1's so the main determinat will be the resistance to jitter of the DAC's on your receiver.
     
  3. Jason Allan

    Jason Allan Auditioning

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    Thanks John, that's what I figured since as you said "it is just 0's and 1's" so I couldn't see how one could differ from another.

    One other question though - how would I know what kind of DACs are used in my receiver since that can be a factor? I'm putting together a new system and haven't settled on the receiver yet but I'm leaning towards the Denon 3802 or possibly an Onkyo 797 or 898.

    Thx,

    Jason
     
  4. Marc Rochkind

    Marc Rochkind Second Unit

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    Well, I personally couldn't say, but I can repeat what lots of other folks say, which is that there definitely is a difference. And, many, many people report that it is very obvious, not requiring A/B tests or anything of the sort. A closely related issue is dedicated CD player vs. playing CDs in a DVD player, and again what I hear over and over is that if the CD player is pretty good the difference is easy to spot.

    Of course, there are diminishing returns. The difference between a $100 CD player and a $500 one would be greater (all else being equal) than that between $500 and $9,000.
     
  5. John Sully

    John Sully Stunt Coordinator

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    The Denon uses Analog Devices DACs which are immune to jitter. I have the 4802 and am happy as a pig rolling in dung with it.

    I highly disagree with Marc's statement. If jitter is eliminated as a factor from the digital data stream, then it really is just 0s and 1s since there can be no source of time-based distortion at the input of the DAC. On DACs which are not well designed (i.e. cheap DACs) any jitter in the output of the player will contribute to time-based distortion at the output of the DAC.

    As far as substantial differences in the sounds of various CD players, I highly doubt that they exist except in the cheapest players. My favorite objectivist magazine, The $ensible $ound, has not found any differences in DBT tests which they have conducted.
     
  6. Marc Rochkind

    Marc Rochkind Second Unit

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    OK, John, but I wasn't saying there was a difference. I was only saying that "lots of other folks" say there is.
     
  7. Mike Matheson

    Mike Matheson Second Unit

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    John,

    Just trying to be clear in my own mind--the DBT in $ensible $ound--was this for the digital outputs, coax and optical, of CDPs? Or for analog outputs?

    I'm a (fairly recent) subscriber, but I must have missed that issue.
     
  8. John Sully

    John Sully Stunt Coordinator

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    That was several years ago, and quite frankly I can't remember the details.
     

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