Is there a CD player that won't hurt my ears?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Bob_L, May 6, 2002.

  1. Bob_L

    Bob_L Supporting Actor

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    Bob Lindstrom
    While running my Outlaw 950 through its paces, I've been playing both LP's and CD's and realizing all over again how FATIGUING it is to listen to CD. They just make my ears ring.
    I no longer have a high-quality CD player (My ex-wife DOES however. Sigh.) I'm just using either my Panny RV80 DVD player or my Pioneer CLD-703 LD player.
    Can anyone recommend a CD player -- or combo player, whatever -- that overcomes CD listener fatigue? It would also be nice if I didn't have to mortgage my left gonad to afford it, too. (Because my gonads don't bring much on the open market these days. [​IMG] )
    Thanks!
    Bob
    PS -- I should add that I created a new thread because I was too lazy to search today. Wadda bum.
    I guess I also created a thread because I wanted to hear opinions on just this narrow "fatigue" issue and not let the thread turn into an LP vs. CD rant.
    To add more detail -- I'm one of those listeners -- former professional musician and classical music critic -- who just lost interest in listening to music after the LP era but never really consciously identified a problem. A couple months ago I bought a phono stage and concluded that, compared to LP, it was subconsciously something in the CD sound that turned me off. (I ended up concentrating on movie viewing instead of music, interestingly enough.)
     
  2. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Bob, in comparison to LPs and SACDs, many people often comment that CDs are fatiguing. My main issue with CDs is that they often sound harsh or bright in the treble in comparison to vinyl and SACDs. That said, there certainly are better CD players out there than the Panasonic DVD player and Pioneer LD player you are currently using. No offense. If you state your budget, folks here will be able to make some appropriate suggestions. All I will say is don't rule out getting an SACD player. SACD is considerably less fatiguing than CD, and as an example, Sony makes a number of SACD players at various price points that function as excellent CD players.
     
  3. Mike Matheson

    Mike Matheson Second Unit

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  4. Mike Matheson

    Mike Matheson Second Unit

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    BTW Bob, were you using the 950's DACs or the LD/DVD's DACs?
     
  5. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Mike, good point. For some reason lately, I've forgotten to mention the use of outboard DACs. I think it's because I have gotten so used to using the analog outputs on all my front-end components to my stereo amps. I've forgotten the old days when I used the digital outputs on CD players to my A/V receiver. [​IMG]
     
  6. Bob_L

    Bob_L Supporting Actor

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    Using the 950's DAC's. But it isn't the 950's fault. PCM and I have never really come to terms with one another.

    I'd go SACD or, perhaps, DVD-A but the range of program material is just so lame with those two formats at this point. Clearly, however, they represent an improvement on PCM and may be a long-term solution. Near-term, it's a PCM CD world...

    I'd like to stay under $500. I don't know if there is a solution, much less a solution at that price point or below. But I figured some of you would have thoughts and opinions that would point me in a few directions.
     
  7. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Bob, $500 or thereabouts can get you a good CD player. Examples include, but are not limited to:
    * NAD C 541i (see www.nadelectronics.com for more info.; for a good price, check Sound City at 1-800-370-3156)
    * Ah! Njoe Tjoeb 4000 ($579 at www.upscaleaudio.com)
    * Music Hall MMF-CD25 ($550-600; see www.audioadvisor.com for more info.)
    * Used Rega Planet (check eBay and www.audiogon.com)
    * Used Pioneer Elite PD-65 (check eBay and www.audiogon.com)
    * Sony SCD-C222ES ($380 at J&R Music World, 1-800-221-8180)
    * Sony SCD-C555ES ($600 at J&R Music World)
    * Arcam DiVA CD62
    All of the models above are single-disc players, except for the Sony models, which are carousel changers. The Sony models play stereo and multi-channel SACDs. I have two 'C555ES changers in my house, and it is a wonderful CD player for the money. SACD is a bonus. I also have the Pioneer Elite PD-65 and Ah! Njoe Tjoeb 4000. They too are very good players, but I would go with the 'C555ES in terms of CD performance and SACD capability. Note that Upscale Audio might be offering some new upgrades to enhance the performance of the Ah! Njoe Tjoeb 4000. Check their web site for details. I'm interested in these upgrades.
     
  8. Jeff

    Jeff Supporting Actor

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    Cambridge Audio D500. Every review I have ever read says it has a nice warm sound.

    Jeff
     
  9. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Jeff, the D500 has been replaced by the D500SE. I assume you meant the D500SE. Most reviews I have read of the D500SE have been positive, however, What Hi*Fi? out of the UK gave it a poor review a few months back. I posted the content of this short review in the following thread last month:
    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htfo...threadid=61548
    That review surprised me since, as I said, most reviews of the D500SE have been positive. Everyone has their opinion. Were I shopping for a $500 single-disc CD player, I would consider the D500SE.
     
  10. James RD

    James RD Supporting Actor

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    I have the Cambridge Audio D500SE and IMO it is outstanding. For the money, I think it can't be beat. One questionable review out of many shouldn't deter someone from purchasing this player. It is well built, attractive and has performed flawlessly for the six months I have owned it. [​IMG]
     
  11. Thomas Newton

    Thomas Newton Screenwriter

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    Early CDs were sometimes improperly mastered with the equalization intended for vinyl LPs. That could lead to harsh sound on the affected recordings.
     
  12. John Tompkins

    John Tompkins Supporting Actor

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    Bob,

    I've always had the same issue with cds, etc. I have a lex dc-2 for ht and also recently acquired ta-p9000es. Music from my cambridge 500se cd player. I love the lex for movies and the ta-p9000es is crystal clear for two channel yet it is fatiqing plus it sorta makes my ears ring. I cant turn it up very loud or listen very long, but having said that the ta-p9000es is a hell of a wow (demo) system for music..Crystal clear but not pleasing to me.

    I recently added a cheap bottlehead foreplay tube preamp into the chain going in between the cd player and the ta-p9000es bypass. All I can say is WOW, THATS MUSIC! warm, inviting, non-fatiging and I love to crank it up and can listen all day. It is also very forgiving of badly recorded cds. I have never been a tube guy but after this I would say its criminal to spend alot of money on a good ss amp just to mate it to a ss preamp. I have always been a nay sayer to having tubes in the chain somewhere but alas I was dead wrong.
     
  13. PhillipC

    PhillipC Stunt Coordinator

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    I recently compared a Rega Planet 2000 and an Arcam 72T CD player. The Rega is a more laid back sound but I found the dynamic range lacking. The Arcam was more forward and detailed. I listened to these two players during a weekend marathon and did not find them fatiguing at all. I ended up going with the Arcam. You can't go wrong with either of these players. Just a matter of preference.
     
  14. Mike Matheson

    Mike Matheson Second Unit

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    Bob,
    Until recently I was using a Granite Audio Model 657 CDP with a tube output stage (unfortunately, a little over your stated budget). Compared to using digital to my processor or even analog via the player's own quality DACs, the output from the tube section was simply astounding. And it could drive amps directly, with volume control, to really simply the signal path. To my ears, it sounded very "analog" and had near SACD detail.
    I made some changes in my system and am now using a Sony 555ES outputting to a Theta Casablanca II. On redbook playback the sound is again unusually liquid/smooth, and detailed--or "analog" like. Almost as good as the 657 had been. I attribute the quality of the sound here to the Casablanca's Xtreme DAC (unfortunately again, kind of pricey).
    Wanted to mention these two stories to support the ideas that (a) tube output sections on CDPs [such as found on the Ah! Njoe Tjoeb 4000 Keith suggested] may give you a type of sound you don't normally associate with PCM/CDs, and (b) that a really good DAC may manage something similar.
    With a $500 budget--and given that I like playing/tweaking, etc.--I'd probably try out an Art DI/O (which is around $140) with Bolder mods ($235, www.boldercable.com), and a Bolder cable ($65).
    Audio Asylum has a lot of info on the DI/O if you're interested. For example: Thinking of getting an ART DI/O to try out. What do I need to know?
     
  15. Sihan Goi

    Sihan Goi Second Unit

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    Yes, perhaps a new CD player with a tube output stage would certainly help. In addition to the Ah! Njoe Tjoeb player suggested, Sonic Frontiers/Anthem also make(or used to make) CDP's with tubed components in them. You might wanna check them out.
     
  16. Bob_L

    Bob_L Supporting Actor

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    Thanks very, very much for the info, guys. Extremely helpful.
    As usual, all you have to do is shake the HTF Tree and the fruit of knowledge starts piling up around your feet.
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Bob
     
  17. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

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  18. Will

    Will Guest

     
  19. Sihan Goi

    Sihan Goi Second Unit

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    Its not a dumb question. Its a FAQ that continues to be controversial. My take is that it matters. Because the S/PDIF format doesn't control the timing very well, jitter can raise its ugly head, and depending on the quality of the digital output of your CD player, you can experience different results. In my case, I compare my HTPC with a Pioneer DVD-116 DVD-ROM drive with an M-Audio Audiophil 2496 audio card, and my standalone Eleptone FCD-1241 CD Player, and I hear a discernible difference. The imaging is more stable, the soundstage wider and the sound just less harsh and clearer on my standalone CD player.

    Oddly, 256Kbps CBR mp3s encoded with LAME 3.9x encoder and CD sound coming out from my HTPC sound less different than CD sound from my HTPC and that from my standalone CD Player, so the difference is there, at least for me.

    For those of you who are wondering, no, this isn't a double blind test, nor is it 100% level matched. I have however tried to level match both sources as close as my ears allow, but admittedly my ears are not as accurate as perhaps an RS meter. I do however believe that the differences that I hear are real.
     
  20. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    The transport does matter. Back when I used my Sony STR-V444ES A/V receiver for music, I compared the sound quality of a Sony CDP-CA80ES carousel CD changer and Pioneer CLD-D406 LD/CD player as transports. I used optical digital connections for both players, and it wasn't even close. The 'CA80ES was much, much better than the 'D406. In fact, the 'D406 was absolutely awful. I was using $250 Energy e:XL 16 speakers, so even on a mid-fi system, the difference in transports was obvious.

    Regarding tube players, I wouldn't absolutely assume that they will reduce digital fatigue. I have an Ah! Njoe Tjoeb 4000 (Siemens 7308 tubes) and Sony SCD-C555ES SACD/CD changer. The highs are smoother on the 'C555ES. The Ah! is warm in the mid-range, but actually I think a bit too warm at times. The 'C555ES is a more dynamic player, as it is not fatiguing in the mid-range. Of course, while the Ah! has always sold for $579, the 'C555ES originally retailed for $1700, so one could argue that the comparison isn't fair. Still, the two players are comparably priced now, and this is still an example of a solid-state player that is less fatiguing than a tube player.
     

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