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What makes a CD player good or bad?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Chris Svencer, Mar 20, 2002.

  1. Chris Svencer

    Chris Svencer Stunt Coordinator

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    Besides little features like howmany programable tracks or how fast a changer can change disks or how well the remote works...What makes a CD player good or bad? What seperates a $100 player from a $1000 player? Thanks in advance.

    Svence
     
  2. Dave Crigna

    Dave Crigna Stunt Coordinator

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    Two words, sound and construction...[​IMG]
     
  3. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Chris, Dave summed it up very well, and in only five words. I'll add a few thoughts. Regarding sound quality, a $1000 will typically have a better digital-to-analog converter (DAC) than will a $100 model. Furthermore, the more expensive player will have a better analog output stage, which is just as important as the quality of the DAC employed. Of course, the quality of the DAC and analog output stage only matter if one is going to use the analog outputs. Other factors that influence sound quality do so whether one uses the analog or digital outputs. These factors are discussed below.
    Build quality, both inside and out, is important. A more robust chassis is less susceptible to signal deterioration due to vibrations. Also, a higher-quality transport mechanism helps to minimize jitter, which is the ability of the player to transfer digital information (1s and 0s) to the DAC or digital output "on time". Higher-priced players usually have lower jitter specs. than due budget players.
    Higher-priced players will have better power supplies than will a cheap player. In fact, some players at the $1000 price will have separate power supplies for the analog and digital circuitry, which can help to minimize interference. A $100 CD player will have one measly power supply for everything.
    I might not have covered every issue, but these are at least some of the key factors to consider. Others will certainly have good info. to share on this subject.
    In short, with CD players, you often get what you pay for. [​IMG]
     
  4. Chris Svencer

    Chris Svencer Stunt Coordinator

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    Keith-

    Well that pretty much covers it all. Thanks alot. Now I just have to find the money for a more "quality" CD player.

    Svence
     
  5. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Chris, no problem. Glad to help. Just note that you don't have to spend $1000 to get a good CD player. $100 won't cut it, but there are many good players between $500 and $1000 in my opinion. For example, consider the Sony SCD-C222ES CD/SACD changer. It retails for $800, but Oade Bros., an authorized Sony mail-order dealer out of Georgia (1-229-228-0093 or 1-229-228-4480), sells it for $525. The 'C222ES is a well-built carousel changer and is a good CD player. It also plays stereo and multi-channel SACDs. In case you are not aware, SACD is a new format developed by Sony and Philips that sounds better than CD. The following link is a good starting point to learn about SACD:
    http://www.sonymusic.com/sacd/
    For more on the 'C222ES, go here:
    http://www.crutchfield.com/cgi-bin/S...CDC222&o=m&a=0
     
  6. AaronD

    AaronD Stunt Coordinator

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    Chris,
    Keith mentions some nice players, all will certainly perform nicely. However, there are some options in the under $500 price range that I think are very fit. My personaly favorite is NAD, I currently own an older CD 522 that is an excellent performer. The NAD's in this price range do not have separate power supplies per-se, but they have separate voltage regulators for the analog and digital stages and employ some top end DAC's.
    The current incarnation is called the C521i. NAD also offers the C541i which is the bigger brother and adds some things like HDCD decoding, and a toroidal power transformer.
    -Aaron
     
  7. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Aaron, there certainly are other quality players for under $1000 besides the Sony ES SACD players. These include the Cambridge Audio D300SE and D500SE, the NAD C 521i and C 541i (assuming they build off the qualities of the C 521 and C 541, respectively), the Ah! Njoe Tjoeb 4000 (www.upscaleaudio.com), and the Heart tube players (www.fsaudioweb.com).
     
  8. Chris Svencer

    Chris Svencer Stunt Coordinator

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    Just to throw in a twist...how about some changers. Or does that change the whole ballgame?

    Svence
     
  9. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Svence, generally speaking, at a given price point, a single-disc player will be better than a carousel changer. A single-disc player is typically simpler to design, as it requires fewer parts than does a changer. Thus, the single-disc player has a shorter parts list, so for a given budget, the designer can use better parts for the single-disc player than the changer. Likewise, a carousel changer will typically outperform a megachanger (jukebox) at a given price point.

    The above represents what is often observed, but it is not an absolute. As I said, the Sony 'C222ES SACD/CD changer is a very good CD player for $525, and the 'C555ES SACD/CD changer at $800 is even better. You could compare them to various single-disc players in the same price range to see what you prefer, but I think the Sony changers will hold their own.

    Finally, the design elements that I mentioned in an earlier post that make one single-disc player better than another certainly apply to changers. DACs, power supplies, analog output stages, chassis design, transport quality, etc., etc., etc. These are all important factors in designing a quality changer.
     
  10. Chris Svencer

    Chris Svencer Stunt Coordinator

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    Keith,

    Thanks for all the info. I am going to take a look at the Sony SCD-C222ES. One more question (if you don't mind) do you think it is worth going with a SACD player, it is going to spread or is DVD-A going to hit it big. I have seen a lot of threads about it, just wondering your side of the story.

    Svence
     
  11. Scott H

    Scott H Supporting Actor

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    I'm likely about to move from NAD to the Cambridge Audio D500se. Staying under $400 remains the game.

    To jumpstart your research it is a Stereophile Class 'C' "Recommended Component" as well as a British Hi-Fi Choice "Best Buy". Features a 24-bit Delta-Sigma dual-differential DAC from Crystal, boards are modular for easy upgrades, a control chip designed by Sony exclusively for Cambridge Audio, dual mono topology, regulated power supplies for digital and analog circuits, copper shielding, BNC digital output and optical TosLink. And IMHO is beautiful with the silver faceplate option.
     
  12. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Chris, no problem. SACD sounds wonderful in my opinion, but I am not sure it will gain appeal with the masses. Still, I feel SACD is worth having. I have to say that, seeing as I have four SACD players. [​IMG] Anyway, I feel SACD has a better chance of making it with the masses than does DVD-Audio because SACD is easier to operate and has far more titles. Things could change, but I would recommend SACD over DVD-Audio. Finally, if you are happy with the Sony SCD-C222ES as a CD player, look at SACD as a bonus.
     

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