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  1. #1

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    Default CD Player Technology - Myth or Reality?

    Over the past 5 years, technological improvements in CD players has occurred. CD players are being introduced with higher sampling rates, low jitter, higher output voltage, better opamps, etc. My question is -- do these improvements actually lead to better sound quality, in general, or is mainly marketing hype? In other words, if CD players made 5 years ago were upgraded to today's technology, would they sound better?

    Which factors are most important when evaluating the purchase of a CD player?

    Thanks.
    HT/2-channel Rig: Sony 50 LCD TV; Toshiba HD-A2 DVD player; Emotiva LMC-1 pre/pro; Rogue Audio M-120 monoblocks (modded); Placette RVC; Emotiva LPA-1 amp; Bada HD-22 tube CDP (modded); VMPS Tower II SE (fronts); DIY Clearwave Dynamic 4CC (center); Wharfedale Opus Tri-Surrounds (rear); and VMPS 215 sub

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  2. #2

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    I feel this is a great question. What this would mean is that the industry didn't exactly know how to replay a cd correctly. I find it to be bull crap.

    Now advancements in replay that someone discovered errors and found a way to correct it, I would be intrigued to compare one with and one without the new technology.

    the quest for absolute sound is always in effect so I would at least check it out.

    Dan
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  3. #3

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    Nope, low sampling rates and high jitter sound better.

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    The comeback of NOS says much about what sounds good.
    They keep trying to solve sound problems with new chips, rather than
    building good basic power supplies and analog sections.
    This is why even older "high end" DACS are still popular.
    Good analog design kicks ass!
    "The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg." --Thomas Jefferson

  5. #5

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    Bryston BCD-1 the proof is in the pudding. My Xbox didn't sound as good as my Oppo 981HD and my Oppo 981HD didn't sound as good as my Raysonic CD128 and the my CD128 can't hold a candle to my BCD-1.

  6. #6

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    The best player technology is called a turntable.
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  7. #7

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    I think you need to focus on the combination of components. Some people like Upsampling, some don't. Some prefer NOS. Some like tubes, some like SS. The technologies may be a gimmick, but for companies that know what they are doing like Bryston . . . they have found a combination of components that blows away players made five years ago at this price point.

  8. #8

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    What about DACs? Can you deny there have been improvements here?

  9. #9

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    Drag your old CDP out of the closet and hook it up. How does it sound compared to the one you're currently using?
    "He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you." Friedrich Nietzsche

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    This past weekend I upgraded my MCD201 CDP for a MDA/MCD1000 combination. There is no myth to my ears. There is an absolute night and day difference between the stand alone CDP and seperates.

    The CDP always seemed to have the digital "edge" if you will. The DAC smoothed out the edge I did not care for and is very smooth now. The width and depth expanded to a large degree and the silence is just stunning.

    So, I don't think it is marketing in totality while I'm certain there is some involved.
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  11. #11

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    Bingo! I bought Rotel's top of the line RCD 850 18 yrs ago. I replaced it 2 yrs ago with their top of the line RCD 1072. I figured that the newer technology just HAD TO BE BETTER... I couldn't tell a difference & the specs were practically identical.

    Get a well made cd player and you are all set.




    Quote Originally Posted by Face View Post
    Drag your old CDP out of the closet and hook it up. How does it sound compared to the one you're currently using?
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  12. #12

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    It's pretty subjective, but there are differences in the sound signature of the different players. I also have the Rotel RCD-1072 Cathy references, and I can tell you that it sounds much different than my Jolida 100 or my NAD 521BEE. Where does the CDP technology end (ie. is it just the drives, optical reader?) or does the output stage also count? I'm not sure CD drive technology has really improved that much. The selection of different output sections (ie. op amp configurations, DAC configurations, tube vs ss) has definetely improved as far as number of choices available. I would rate some of these as a definite improvement over a couple of older Onkyo and Marantz CDP's I had.
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  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by PolkThug View Post
    Nope, low sampling rates and high jitter sound better.
    :-)


    Quote Originally Posted by sucks2beme View Post
    The comeback of NOS says much about what sounds good.
    They keep trying to solve sound problems with new chips, rather than
    building good basic power supplies and analog sections.
    This is why even older "high end" DACS are still popular.
    Good analog design kicks ass!
    I would concur (whilst minimizing donkey abuse) that the analog part of the chain is probably/generally more important than whiz-bang in the digital domain.
    all the best,
    mrh

  14. #14

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    im poor, i don’t have a new cd player (yet) i use an old Marantz cd52 mk2 (early 90's so probz as old as me). Apparently this cdp sounds "harsh" compared to the newer cd5001 but it has better ability to bring out elements or rhythm and beat? It definitely sounds different compared to my Cambridge audio 540d (dvd player but according to what hi fi it gives similarly priced cd players a run for their money.)

    This cd player is popular among the modders I think, I have no idea why.

    On a quick comparison with Madonna Drowned world/substitute for love listening to the first 2 minutes I found that;
    The 540d , had a much sharper and more spacious soundstage. However it almost (sometimes) sounded a little thin and brittle compared to the cd52mk2. As the song picks up there are multiple reverberations of Madonna’s voice these are easily heard.

    The cd52mk2 has more bass, it is detailed bass but with my headphones on it was a little too obtrusive and hid some other parts of the music. The cd player has a less spacious soundstage. It sounds warmer and more reinforced than the 540d. Those reverberations on Madonna’s voice were not as clearly heard especially the “sss” sounds on the speech at higher frequencies. this leads me on to say there is less high frequency extention with this player. Also there was more hiss with this player.
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  15. #15

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    I'll stick with my modded CD8b. Some mods DO help. Haven't heard anything quicker or better sounding, for under $2k, yet.
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  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ricardo View Post
    The best player technology is called a turntable.
    hehe :)

  17. #17
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    Im a firm believer that it is the analog stage and power supplies that feed them is what separate the good from the great as far as DAC and CD players are concerned.

    IMO If one were to use one of the excellent older generation DAC chips like the 15-ish yr old Burr Brown PCM 63 or Analog Devices AD1862 and put an excellent analog stage at it's output (like Bryston does in their DCD1 and BDA 1) then I think you could achieve near SOTA performance.

    On the other hand if you mate one of the new higher spec DAC chips like the BB PCM1792 or Cirrus CS4397 with an an average IC op amp for the analog stage it will not perform as well.I have proved this to myself atleast a number of times when doing my CD/SACD player mod's and when comparing my DIY dac's.

    http://www.polkaudio.com/forums/showthread.php?t=72911
    Last edited by GV#27; 11-25-2008 at 06:21 PM.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by sucks2beme View Post
    The comeback of NOS says much about what sounds good.
    They keep trying to solve sound problems with new chips, rather than
    building good basic power supplies and analog sections.
    This is why even older "high end" DACS are still popular.
    Good analog design kicks ass!
    Ding, Ding, Ding! we have a winner... ;)

    parts are cheap right now for anything that makes up a CD player.. and they know it. you'd be surprised just how little $ most of the parts inside most player actually cost.

    whereby in the late 80's and 90's I think CD players actually were still being toyed and tweaked to get the best sound. Some of the early Pioneer Elite CDP's for example were built like tanks. as well as the old CAL (California Audio Labs) were massive, well built machines.. that sounded quite good. They weren't cheap, but they were built to last using at the time quality parts instead of el cheap-o parts used today.

  19. #19

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    In part, the reason I'm asking is because Emotiva will soon introduce a new CD player with the following specs and I wanna know if it's worth exploring. The price will only be $399:

    1. 24 bit processor with 384 x oversampling. (Most 'high end' players are 24 bit with 192 x oversampling)

    2. Frequency response is 5hz to...absolute daylight. from 20hz to 20khz, it's flat as a board.

    3. 4 independent power supplies, to drive each section of the unit separately. (1. CD carriage/2. digital portion/3. analogue portion/4. display) This prevents the different sections from interacting and causing noise.

    4. The CD drive mechanism and the digital portion of the audio is encased in a steel substructure that shields it 100% from the audio stages. No noise from the mechanism or digital portion can get into the audio.

    5. The audio board itself is fully isolated from the power supply and digital poritons and offers a fully discrete output stage, capable of producing 7 volts of output (no wimpy 2 volt output here!).

    6. Sexy slot-load system with halo lighting.

    7. Halo lighting brightens during functions like fast forward, next, previous, etc., them dims to low setting within a few seconds.

    8. Remote control.
    HT/2-channel Rig: Sony 50 LCD TV; Toshiba HD-A2 DVD player; Emotiva LMC-1 pre/pro; Rogue Audio M-120 monoblocks (modded); Placette RVC; Emotiva LPA-1 amp; Bada HD-22 tube CDP (modded); VMPS Tower II SE (fronts); DIY Clearwave Dynamic 4CC (center); Wharfedale Opus Tri-Surrounds (rear); and VMPS 215 sub

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  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by GV#27 View Post
    Im a firm believer that it is the analog stage and power supplies that feed them is what separate the good from the great as far as DAC and CD players are concerned.
    GV -- can you elaborate on the "analog stage" and power supplies a bit for those of us who aren't technically proficient? How do we identify them and how do we determine the quality of those parts in our own CDPs? Got pics?

    Thanks.
    HT/2-channel Rig: Sony 50 LCD TV; Toshiba HD-A2 DVD player; Emotiva LMC-1 pre/pro; Rogue Audio M-120 monoblocks (modded); Placette RVC; Emotiva LPA-1 amp; Bada HD-22 tube CDP (modded); VMPS Tower II SE (fronts); DIY Clearwave Dynamic 4CC (center); Wharfedale Opus Tri-Surrounds (rear); and VMPS 215 sub

    "God grooves with tubes."

  21. #21

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    Here'a pic of the guts of the Emo prototype:
    Attached Images  
    HT/2-channel Rig: Sony 50 LCD TV; Toshiba HD-A2 DVD player; Emotiva LMC-1 pre/pro; Rogue Audio M-120 monoblocks (modded); Placette RVC; Emotiva LPA-1 amp; Bada HD-22 tube CDP (modded); VMPS Tower II SE (fronts); DIY Clearwave Dynamic 4CC (center); Wharfedale Opus Tri-Surrounds (rear); and VMPS 215 sub

    "God grooves with tubes."

  22. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ricardo View Post
    The best player technology is called a turntable.
    Yeah but all it does is scratch my CDs:D



    I do love to listen to records. Even on my low end TT:)

    A note on new CD Players is that yesterdays high end OpAmps are at much lower prices, and are filtered into cheaper players.
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  23. #23

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    Why does the BCD-1 have so little in it compared to the Emotiva?

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Early B. View Post
    GV -- can you elaborate on the "analog stage" and power supplies a bit for those of us who aren't technically proficient? How do we identify them and how do we determine the quality of those parts in our own CDPs? Got pics?

    Thanks.
    On paper atleast it looks like the EMO designers did some nice engineering for the money.A discrete analog stage at that price is almost unheard of.
    The analog stage is the section that takes the converted analog signal from the DAC chip ,filters/conditions it then sends it to the pre amp.It could be an IC op amp,discrete transistors (or tubes).Ideally it should be designed like a hi quality preamp.IC op amps are easily identified by the # stamped on them.You can see the discrete op amp in the right side of your EMO pic.I like how they placed it on the other side of the chassis away from the transformer.

    The power supply for the analog stage should be completely separate from the digital supply aswell having low noise voltage regulation.
    Last edited by GV#27; 11-25-2008 at 09:06 PM.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by SolidSqual View Post


    Why does the BCD-1 have so little in it compared to the Emotiva?
    It uses surface mount parts for the op amps so parts spacing and board size can be reduced.The EMO uses to92
    style transistors which require more PC board space.

  26. #26

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    Hmmmm . . . . I hope the Emo out-performs this thing so I can save some cash.

  27. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by SolidSqual View Post

    Why does the BCD-1 have so little in it compared to the Emotiva?

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  28. #28
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    The BCD1 is excellent,a while back I was able to try one for a weekend.It's the best Ive heard from Redbook CD .

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lasareath View Post
    Double Sided Circuit Board?
    No surface mount top side only.

  30. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by GV#27 View Post
    Im a firm believer that it is the analog stage and power supplies that feed them is what separate the good from the great as far as DAC and CD players are concerned.

    IMO If one were to use one of the excellent older generation DAC chips like the 15-ish yr old Burr Brown PCM 63 or Analog Devices AD1862 and put an excellent analog stage at it's output (like Bryston does in their DCD1 and BDA 1) then I think you could achieve near SOTA performance.

    On the other hand if you mate one of the new higher spec DAC chips like the BB PCM1792 or Cirrus CS4397 with an an average IC op amp for the analog stage it will not perform as well.I have proved this to myself atleast a number of times when doing my CD/SACD player mod's and when comparing my DIY dac's.

    http://www.polkaudio.com/forums/showthread.php?t=72911
    I agree 100%. The analog stage, isolation and properly regulated power supplies make or break a DAC or cdp. Many companies still use the venerable PCM 63 Burr Brown chipset. I think the "PK" designation is the most up to date and the best for audio.

    You can take all the other hype of bits, upsampling, non-upsampling, bit stream, etc and if you don't design an excellent analog section and proper isolated power supplies.................who cares.
    "Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not".--Nelson Pass

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