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Fun with DACs and transports. (1 Viewer)

Philip Hamm

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Jan 23, 1999
Messages
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One of the things I was hoping to accomplish with the new Technics DVD-A player was to get good sound from CDs. I'm not interested in the "remaster" function, just good sound. I've been using my CLD-99 through the optical input in my Onkyo Integra 919 receiver. The combo sounds perfectly fine to me, but I'd rather not put the hours on the CLD-99 motor. My LD collection is vast and not being replaced. I need to conserve.
So tonight I burned a couple CDs of some demo music, including some well recorded stuff and some not so good stuff and went to town. Cables are Audioquest turquoise and the signal is going in the "right" direction. Speaker cables are generic O2 free copper 12 gague.
So... .. .. . let's get ready to rumble!!!
The contenders...
In this corner!! The current champion... The Pioneer CLD-99 transport using the internal DACs in a vintage 1995 $1800 super receiver the Onkyo Integra TX-SV919THX! Pioneer LD players (even the cheap ones) are fantastic low jitter transports. Comparing a LD motor to a typical DVD/CD player transport is like pitting a Dodge Viper V10 against a Nissan Sentra 2 liter. "CD-Direct" is selected, eliminating the video circuits.
In this corner!! The new kid on the block, the Technics DVD-A10. Considered equivalent to a dedicated $600 CD player in reviews I've read, with extremely low jitter itself, it should hold up quite well against these older machines. "Audio Only" is selected, eliminating the video circuits.
The wild card!!!!!! My Sony JB-920 MiniDisc machine with its Sony ES Current PULSE DAC. Connected to the output from the Technics player. A respectable performer in its own right.
Track 1: Steely Dan: Aja.. Just getting used to the sound and how to flip. I hadn't thought yet of including the JB920 so it's not in contention yet. Both sound fantastic, I can't tell the difference. The source is the MFSL disc, which I understand is not their greatest work.
Track 2: Sam Phillips: I Need Love Still getting used to the concept of "critical listening". Both sound great. For shits and grins I decide to try the Pioneer Elite 99's "Legato Link" DAC. Big mistake. It is thoroughly trounced by both other contenders.
Track 3: Donald Fagan: Tomorrow's Girls: Both still sound great. Starting to think I may be hearing a slightly more airy quality to Fagan's nasaly voice on the Technics. The Sony finally enters the fray, and makes a surprisingly respectable showing.
Track 4: Miles Davis: So What: The JB920 loses very minor points on imaging. Both others sound fantastic. A fantastic recording. The piano may seem to be more "real" sounding using the Technics but it's probably in my head and incredibly slight.
Track 5: Flim & The BBs: High Wire: Can't tell the difference.
Track 6: Steely Dan: Time Out Of Mind from the just purchased "Gaucho" remaster (finally replacing the LP). All sounds fantastic. Wonderful.
Track 7: The Who: Bargain: Sony loses more minor points. The dynamics sound significantly better on the Technics and Onkyo DACs.
Track 8/9: Saigon Kick: Intro/Russian Girl The Sony ES Current PULSE DAC is on the matt and the ref is counting. This incredibly well recorded and dynamic track really showcases both the Onkyo/Pioneer and Technics units while dramatically bringing out the limitations on the Sony unit. Its harsh high end and inability to cope with the thudding percussion have it completely overwhelmed. Body blow!!!!
Track 10: T-Bone Burnett: River Of Love: Both of the remaining conteders sound equal on this beautifully recorded piece. It's a toss-up. Imaging is ever so sligtly more precise on the Technics, but once again, it could be my imagination. The guitar on the right sounds more real, barely perceptible, but I think it's noticable.
Track 11: Peter Hamm: Cruel Earth: My brother recorded this himself in his home studio using nice equipment. It sounds beautiful on both contenders. I can't tell any difference at all whatsoever.
And last but not least Track 12: Queensryche: Breaking The Silence" from perhaps the single most dreadful sounding CD I've ever experienced, Operation Mindcrime. It sounds like total dogshit compared to everything else I've auditioned tonight.
The Descision: It's a draw, but the Technics wins. I think I've heard a few very subtle differences in a few tracks. However, everything was similar enough that I'm not willing to say that the Technics is a better CD player on my system. The fact that I'd like to save the play time on the precious CLD-99 transport means that the Technics is my DVD player of choice!!!
The real surprise is how well the Sony DAC held up. It really hung in there except for just a few very complicated pieces where it fell short. I was very surprised at how well it sounded considering that I paid only $220 for the MD machine! (original retail: $500)
Postscript: I tried the "remaster" function on that dreadfully bad Queensryche track. The difference was inperceptible to me. Maybe a little more bass. I'll leave it "off" and enjoy good ol' un-fucked-with 44/16.
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Philip Hamm
AIM: PhilBiker
[Edited last by Philip Hamm on August 01, 2001 at 09:54 PM]
 

Andrew Pratt

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Dec 8, 1998
Messages
3,806
Sounds like a fun evening...now if you really want to have some fun try a different interconnect b/t the technics and the Onyko...I've AB's that interconnect with one of from IXOS and we all (3 of us incl Jay Mitchosky) all prefered the IXOS one. If you're really up for something fun try one of the silver cables
wink.gif
Trust me you'll be very surprised at what you hear
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http://www.attcanada.ca/~itisi
[Edited last by Andrew Pratt on August 01, 2001 at 11:39 PM]
 

Saurav

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Feb 15, 2001
Messages
2,174
I'll leave it "off" and enjoy good ol' un-fucked-with 44/16.
You sound like a perfect candidate for vinyl. Have you ever given that a thought? A couple of months ago, I was at exactly this same spot (in terms of viewpoint, not in terms of the equipment I own :)). Today, I barely listen to my CD collection. Agreed, I have a $200 CD player, but then, I have a $25 turntable. I bought a cheapo to see if I'd like vinyl or not, and now I'm hooked. Of course, there's the whole convenience issue - if that's a big deal, then you're probably better off staying away.
Anyway... all I'm trying to say is, it might make you realize how fucked-with even 44/16 is :)
 
J

John Morris

Hey, I love albums too... yet, just tell me where I can find the latest from Sugar Ray on vinyl? We don't need to worry about any insipid copy BS which mars the original mastering on that media... Do We? Hmmmm, maybe I ought to just buy back all my old gear to REALLY hear what the artist intended???
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Take Care,
merc
 

Philip Hamm

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Jan 23, 1999
Messages
6,874
You sound like a perfect candidate for vinyl. Have you ever given that a thought?
ht_2t.jpg

I love vinyl. Got hundreds of albums, listen to them regularly. Record them to MiniDisc using the JB-920. They sound fantastic. An average ATRAC 4 MD recording of a well mastered LP sounds better than most CDs.
I'm not a big "believer" in interconnects. I'm perfectly happy with my mismash of AudioQuest and Radio Shack Gold interconnects.
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Philip Hamm
AIM: PhilBiker
 

Andrew Pratt

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Dec 8, 1998
Messages
3,806
I'm not a big "believer" in interconnects. I'm perfectly happy with my mismash of AudioQuest and Radio Shack Gold interconnects.
I didn't believe either until I did the blind test with Jay and we both could easily pick out the different cables...I was actually a little surprised at how big a difference we heard. since then I've now tried the SilverCats and they litterally floored me
------------------
http://www.attcanada.ca/~itisi
 

Samuel Des

Supporting Actor
Joined
Feb 7, 2001
Messages
796
Hi Philip!
Nice setup. I'd like to know the name of the gear you've got in that picture.
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SAM
 

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