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Expensive CD Player - why bother!!!

Discussion in 'Hi Fi Systems & Separates' started by Tony8377, Dec 6, 2005.

  1. Tony8377

    Tony8377 Member

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    I finally got hold of a new CD player which I have been looking for second hand for about two years. My previous CD player was the Myryad T20 (£600 in 1998) which I bought second hand for less than £250 about 3 years ago. I've always loved the Myryad with it's detailed, slightly forward presentation. I've previously also owned an Arcam DV89 and I preferred the Myryad (I partly bought the Arcam as a one box solution so that was a waste of money and now own a pioneer 575 which I am more than happy with for DVDs).

    Today I took delivery of a second hand Classe CDP10 CD Player. I've wanted one of these for ages as it got the best and most consistent reviews accross the globe that I have ever seen for any CD player (see here, here , here and here for sample reviews). I set the player up using a decent power cable, isolation and interconnect into £3.5k worth of stereo amplification and speakers. I sat the Myryad on top with a standard mains cable and much cheaper £40 interconnect, to give the Classe every advantage.

    Once the player had warmed up for an hour or so I began listening to some of my test CDs which I know very well. I have to say I was somewhat gutted, sonicaly they both sounded virtually identical. I kept getting up to change CDs between the two players trying to hear differences between particular instruments but they had very similar characteristics. Normally you can say that guitar or piano or bass sounds different even if you are unsure exactly which is better but these sounded soooo similar.

    To be fair (phew) the Classe is slightly more laid back and creates a slightly bigger soundstage but it is quite subtle. I will say this, it is just a more enjoyable listen and a lot less fatiguing I'm just stuggling to know why. Had it not been on my own system which I've had for years I'm not sure I could have chosen between the two in a blind test.

    The Myryad was always a massively underated CD player and better than any sub £700 player I had heard on my system but even so.

    So the question is why bother!!! I could of spent the money on better amplification, replacement speakers or even speaker cables/interconnects and I'm sure I could have got a more obvious improvement if I could have found something to buy.

    My point is if someone said to me here's two grand build me a second hand system I would buy a £200 player, spend £950 on amplification and £850 on speakers and this would thrash any system where equal amounts were spent on each component (i.e. upgrading to the next model up on speakers or amplifier gives a more noticeable upgrade than on the CD player).

    Just my thoughts (and heh I just bought the CD player so I'm not trying to justify my position :rolleyes: )
  2. shahedz

    shahedz Active Member

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    what a disapoint ment for you, i have a myryad cd player i bought from these forums for £100 , and am a very happy bunny with the performance, i realy enjoy listening to cds on it and think it was a bargain!
  3. alexs2

    alexs2 Senior Moderator

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    I think the problem lies in being able to try before buying....it's not often possible buying used/ex-dem gear,but can sometimes be done,and can also be done via the occasional friendly dealer.

    As it is,both are good players,and another consideration is the difference a new DAC could have made in place of the Classe...just to make it worse!
  4. Gullanian

    Gullanian Guest

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    If you really are that dissapointed with it, can't you swap it from where you bought it with something else?

    And if it's new, give it time to burn in, might make a slight improvement.
  5. SKA.face

    SKA.face Guest

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    I've been pleased with my CD upgrades without spending a fortune,and somet¡imes the differences arn't worth the costs.To me after years of flaffing about,the biggest difference is speaker to room acoustics and analogue turntables.
  6. Knightshade

    Knightshade Member

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    Most CDP's (For Me) fall into roughly 2 catagories. The sub £1500ish bracket which all sound very similar (with the few exceptions of valve output CDP's) and the other ones.
    A £90 DVD player and a good DAC and you've got your £1500 - £2000 CDP for a fraction of the price. Start going beyond that and you get into the realm of great players and very big disapointments. The biggest that i've ever heard to date was the Chord Blu/DAC 64. The most lifeless, clinical sounding combo i've ever heard. Give me a DVD player and a NOS dac anyday.
    Whilst I agree with SKA Face, room acoustics are very important. If it's not there in the first place. All you'll do is tweak 60% of what the CD really is.
  7. Tony8377

    Tony8377 Member

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    I bought it second hand over the web (thankfully I lost the one I was bidding for on eBay as I got this one a lot cheaper). Whilst I was slightly dissapointed and could shift it without losing money I am going to keep it anyhow(maybe the last pure CD player I ever buy). I like everything it does and I've never heard one better it's just I don't think you can squeeze too much more out of CDs than a good mid priced CD player does(the Myryad was just a great match for my system given the price). I think the thing that surprised me most was how similar every element sounded it's just the Classes does it slightly better, more open, slightly better seperation. Think I have to accept that it's not something I can test by player swapping to test how a certain guitar sounds but instead have to listen to the overall presentation - re-educate myself on how to test hi-fi ;) . Or perhaps after 12 years I have reached by HFi threashold and should sit back and just enjoy :rolleyes:

    I've never found a good hifi dealer where I've felt comfortable listening to stuff in their showrooms, they're all too pushy and annoying. At this level it's really pointless demoing in store anyway as your home and equipment makes all the difference. I have a good mate who buys a lot of second hand hifi just to listen to and knows his stuff so I normally buy equipment from him having listened to it first.

    Never been convinced by the DAC route, did briefly have a decent Toshiba DVD player hooked up to both a Pink Triangle Ordinal DAC and a Trichord Pulsar DAC but frankly when I bought the Myryad it trounced the pair of them (it also sounded better on its own than with the Ordinal and just different with the Trichord which was great because selling them netted a lot more than the cost of the Myryad).

    I would agree with that, after recently moving house I spent ages on another forum trying to get the room acoustics right having suffered from a complete base dropout. Ended up having to fire the speaker accross a completely different axis - worth it in the end though (much better but by no means perfect). I found this to be a useful starting point and well worth a play.
  8. overkill

    overkill Active Member

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    Agreed. My best ever sound (bizarrely) was in an modern, early 80's built place, we rented for a while in 94'. Those walls, for some reason, produced terrific acoustics that I've never been able to reproduce.

    As for TT's, unlike my own experience with CD players which echoes Tony8377's, the law of diminshing returns doesn't kick in until VERY high up the chain. Even then the sound of each marques components make for a very different sound. Each upgrade I make has made huge leaps in performance.

    CD wise, spending a small fortune (as Tony found) hasn't reaped any really monumental improvements. I was cut to the quick after spending £1,500 on my Primare 30 only to find it wasn't that much better than the Micromega it replaced. And no, I don't have a 'thing' about French CD players......... ;)
  9. alexs2

    alexs2 Senior Moderator

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    Much depends on the transport and DAC,but to be honest,hooking a DVD player up to a DAC isn't the best way to test one,as a number of DVD players have such high levels of jitter as to make comparisons between DACs meaningless.

    A really good off board DAC can make a huge difference,with a decent CD as transport.
  10. Knightshade

    Knightshade Member

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    A half decent DVD player (you shouldn't dismiss them just because they are DVD players) and a good DAC will happily take on the lower priced (>£1500) CDP's. Agreed it won't match the higher end equipment. And of course, the better the transport, the better the result.
  11. speedy.steve

    speedy.steve Guest

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    This is very interesting.

    I have the ~£800 (when new) Musical Fidelity A3 CD player. It's 5 years old now and plays very well. Nice warm, involving, detailed enough sound.
    Having heard a friends Copland on my amp and his speakers I know there are better CD players out there. Ok at £3K or there abouts.
    I think if I spent £1500 on one now I would probably be dissapointed - not a big enough leap.
    Same with the speakers I just bought. Auditioning speakers for a little more money than the ones I had did not work at all. I had to go several times higher to get that improvement in authority, detail, pace and range I was looking for.

    Could this be where you are now?
  12. dynamic turtle

    dynamic turtle Member

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    I think you have to be very, very careful about spending big money on cd source "upgrades". At the end of the day, the difference between good DVD players (say, the Philips 963SA) and premium, dedicated CD players (say, the Densen B400), is worryingly small.

    Many of us here use either DVD+DAC, or straight DVD for CD playback, with very satisfactory results. Not all dvd players make good cd players of course - some of them are a bit harsh/glassy in the treble (i.e. Pioneer 565) or perhaps flat/dull sounding (Denon 2900).

    However, there ARE some very good CDP's out there that do justify their price tags and offer a significantly "different" presentation to warrant attention. i.e the Ah! Njoe Tjoeb spinners and Quad CDP's sound very different from the pack, to my my ears. NB - I said "different", which does not necessarily equate to "better"!!

    Although I'm an advocate of DVD players from a VFM standpoint, unlike some, I'm not slavishly dogmatic in my belief. There is, in fact, a £500 Chinese CDP that I'm very close to ordering. Many folks (whose views I respect), profess it is not a giant killer, but an out & out titan-slayer! My curiosity has got the better of me, so I'll be trying one to see what all the fuss is about.

    For those of you interested, you really ought to check it out - it looks too good to be true, even by Chinese standards!!: http://www.cattylink.com/CAT-E5eued.htm

    Rgds,
    DT
  13. CJROSS

    CJROSS Active Member

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    Ive had some interesting experiences with digital replay systems in my time (reading the sticky at the top of the page will testify to that), and have come full circle to using DVD players as sources. Ive owned a few DACs and enjoyed them all but what Im hearing from DVD sources in both mys sytems well it does me, Im currently use an old DAC also for Freeview Digital – Ive also hooked it up of a PS2 toslink wise and it sounds excellent with CD too. Ive heard a couple of DVD players being used in systems way in advance of what I own namely a £500 Sony NSV900 commonly available for £100 these days and I will say it blew my socks off. Just as my current Toshiba blows my socks off. If the Tosh evers dies, Im buying the £100 Sony.

    I don’t think the kit has ever been bad, looking at my own history in hifi in retrospect, what has been different has been my attitude to it. As such Im off the merry go round of the next best source digitally, some CD/DACs etc burn brightly as never before, only to be replaced the year after by a new emperor. Knighshade highlights how things are changing in audio/hifi with the simple £100 NOS DACs, these are basic devices with scant attention paid to incoming jitter et al, have “old” designs and yet with those “flaws” are making a few people very happy – even with historically flawed CD transports. There will always be an old guard clnging to the latest digital device or DAC, but truth is quite a few are finding enjoyment lower down the scale.

    To the original poster enjoy your cheaper CDP, you are about to enter a period of enjoyment of your system where worry and looking for the next improvement are long gone. Ive come to the condlusion, that the kit does not have the biggest impact on a person hearing it, more that they do. Having been at both ends of the spectrum I see it was me. Not the kit I listened to that made the biggest difference to what I heard.
  14. mobily

    mobily Member

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    Is it possible to use a DAC with a freeview box and a DAB as well as a CDP?

    I always thought external DACs only had one input and output. Do they have multiple inputs to allow you to hook up a number of different kit?
  15. MartinImber

    MartinImber Member

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    Have you read what the US people have done to your DVD player - turning it into a fantastic CD player?
  16. CJROSS

    CJROSS Active Member

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    My old TAG DAC 20 had 7 digital inputs :

    1 AES/EBU 110 ohm XLR
    1 BNC 75ohm Coaxial
    2 RCA Coaxial
    3 Toslink Optical

    +

    1 Digital RCA Coaxial output.
    2 sets of RCA anlg outputs

    Current CA one has

    2 BNC 75ohm Coaxials inputs
    1 Toslink Optical inputs
    1 BNC Coaxial output
    1 RCA anlg output
    1 XLR Balanced output

    Most bits of kit I had connected digitally to the TAG was :

    DVD player (CD & DVD use) Coaxial
    Freeview STB Coaxial
    Minidisc Deck Optical
    PS2 Optical
    M-Audio Transit USB Soundcard Optical
  17. Knightshade

    Knightshade Member

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    After saying how good cheaper options are and how good transport/DAC combinations are. I have to say that it is worth getting the best CDP or combination that you can. I've been trying to better my CDP with other combinations. I have to say I don't even come close.
  18. Tony8377

    Tony8377 Member

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    I would agree with that, pound for pound I've never heard a transport/DAC that betters the equivalent one box. Whilst there is a lot to said about building a system from different manufacturers I find it hard to believe that the manufacturers can't add a decent DAC to their transports thus forcing you to do it yourself.

    Worryingly small as you say although the Densen was a very good player if not a bit too clinical in my system with an atc pre, the xs was even better. It's a shame the Densen's were just hugely unreliable and the gizmo so costly. Three of the four Densen's I've seen broke within a month including one that I bought which broke in 5 minutes. Nice player but I refused to risk it again, especially second hand. The B100 on the other hand was a great intergrated amp and served me well for a few years even if a bit suseptable to earthing noise in my old place.
  19. overkill

    overkill Active Member

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    Just out of interest CJ, what did you think of the NSV905? Did you ever get to compare the 900 with it? I ask as friend has been offered the 905 for a reasonable sum (£90).
  20. Knightshade

    Knightshade Member

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    I had the B350 monoblocs for a while I thought they were excellent amps. The lower end integrateds are certainly worth a listen as well. I was never hugely impressed by the CD players. The XS was nice but nothing really special and too many people warned me about the reliability issues to risk buying one. Do they still offer lifetime warranty???
  21. CJROSS

    CJROSS Active Member

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    Not heard it OKill, Have heard the NSV900 a few times, its was the last QS range player of the Sony range to have universal good reviews, saying that I did buy the MIL a Sony £90 355 DVD player and was suitably impressed with its CD replay. I rate Sony quite highly, there is a Sony 930 QS CDP - Fixed pickup mechanism, CD Puck for sale on HFC just now for £120.

    Mind you I think my Pioneer 717 sounds very enjoyabel these days so you may wish to add some salt to my views.
  22. CJROSS

    CJROSS Active Member

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    If were talking here of say a set budget - I would take a DVD Transport + DAC over any CDP any day.

    Ie £500, I would spend £200 on DVD player + £300 worth of DAC, that would see off many £500 CDPs. Look at the comments given all over the net about the £150 NOS DACs.

    Or even better by a decently designed and perfectly adequate DVD player as your CD source. Ive long felt there is a large mysticism given to CD players, there good dudes, but not good. I mean, hifi quality ever improving is a self perpetuating scenario that keeps the industry turning.
  23. Tony8377

    Tony8377 Member

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    CJCross,

    I can tell you have strong opinions on this matter :) . Just to clarify I take it peformance wise you think an equivalent priced CD player + DAC would on average out perform a similar DVD player + DAC combo? You're not saying a DVD players transport is better than the CD players?

    Not sure what you mean when you say NOS Dacs? I assume this isn't a particular DAC but the generic Non-Oversampling term or are you particularly refering to this / this dac?

    Also, I couldn't see one in your system list? Given the price I'm tempted to try one just to have a listen and then resell - see what all the hypes about.
  24. Knightshade

    Knightshade Member

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    I have one that I run a DVD and Freeview box into. Can't see it in the photo as it's hidden away behind some DVD's (I'm still working on a suitable alloy case). In truth, for the money you can't get better. It will match up to some very fine CDP's whether on a DVD or CD player. It's an easier DAC to listen to than say the DAC 64. The only thing is, the Gain isn't as high as you would get on the DAC 64. Can be a bit annoying if you can't set your amp to compensate.....
    I think it's all a bit of a compromise. In the lower end price range I don't think the transports in DVD players are that great but neither are the ones in Cheaper CDP's. And of course, CDP's won't play DVD's.
    But don't expect to beat the best. It won't.
  25. CJROSS

    CJROSS Active Member

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    Tony, I was saying that given £500 I would buy :

    A DVD player + DAC.

    Not a £500 Int CDP.

    I don’t buy into all the hype about transport quality so DVD for me is perfect, have used many different DVD players into DACs they all sund the same. That includes a £2000 (40 jitter spec) Toshiba and a £90 Sony 355.

    When you consider how many people are now using these cheap NOS DACs off a variety of transports with scant attention paid to incoming jitter its another reason to forget about “jitter” IMHO. Its an old audiophile hoodoo re. transports & DACs, but in reality many modern DVD players have lower than 200 spec of jitter (Pioneer 185 – Toshiba 150 IIRC), a figure I recall from reading from HFC yonks ago as being a very decent in CD Transports.

    I don’t have a NOS DAC dude, but Im using an elderly Cambridge Audio DAC, purely for the reason it has XLR outputs, I use my Toshiba for CD, DVD-V & A.

    FWIW Note KS comments about the NOS DAC against a DAC 64, there is a famous case on the net of an owner of a DAC 64, who loved it beyond reproach, then tried a NOS DAC sold the DAC 64, and unfiarly was pilliored by the audiophile crowd who could not accpet he would like a £150 DIY DAC over a £2000 unit.

    Things like this make me sceptical of the whole area of digital replay.
  26. rowlandhills

    rowlandhills Member

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    Knightshade,

    I seem to remember that you had a CD12 at one point, but it was then stolen. Is another of these what you are currently "trying to better"?
  27. dynamic turtle

    dynamic turtle Member

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    Overkill, NS900V's pop-up occasionally, so tell him to bide his time and wait for one. I've never heard an NS905 - it might be fine (or maybe even better than the 900V!), but your friend really should be patient. The wait will be worth it - its a very smooth, unfatiguing spinner.

    DT

    Unless you feed it something like the new, heavily {cmpressd}, Pro-Tooled-to-within-an-inch-of-it's-life Madonna album. Its good, but its not a miracle worker :rolleyes:
  28. CJROSS

    CJROSS Active Member

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    IIRC the old codger had an CD12, then bolted a DAC 64 onto it (which Ive heard a couple of CD12ers doing so in the past also). Kit stolen, Then went to a £100 NOS DAC IIRC. The chaps gets top kudos IMHO as he uses CAT5 as speaker cable, even in the estoric realms of the kit he owns and did own. That to me speaks volumes re. his common sense.
  29. Mr_Sukebe

    Mr_Sukebe Member

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    Ref the transport with NOS Dac combo.
    I have a NOS from DS, infact I've owned both a v1 and v2 so probably have more experience than most.
    I found that replacing a basic DVD player with a dedicated transport (Meridian 500) to give a useful improvement, and sticking a quality power cable on the 500 to improve things even more. So I'm really not convinced by the argument that NOS Dacs are transport independant.
  30. dynamic turtle

    dynamic turtle Member

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    Regarding non-oversampling dacs, the 963SA has selectable upsampling and I have to say that 16/44 is noticable rougher on vocals and treble than 24/192. The difference is between 24/96 & 24/192 is much less audible though.

    And, IMHO, its not as if the music had any more "flow" or "organic-ness" about it in straight 16/44. Just sounded harsh, glary & digital. This is just one example of course, dont for God's sake think that I'm anti NOS dacs. The popular Shek offboard jobbies might actually sound very good (the reports would seem to suggest so).

    DT

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