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new cd player ??

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by lil old me, Oct 1, 2004.

  1. lil old me

    lil old me
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    Hi all,
    I'm looking for a cd player for my system. Looking at a budget or around £300

    Currently I play my cd's either on my dvd player a sony DVPNS930 or using the cd drive on my computer a Plextor PlexWriter Premium I realise this will hinder the quality somewhat, so I definitley want an improvement for my money.

    The rest of my system is as follows.

    Pioneer VSX D912
    Acoustic Energy Aegis Evo 1's 5.1.

    TIA L

    __________________
     
  2. Knightshade

    Knightshade
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    Would you be prepared to buy second hand? You'll get a lot more for your money this way.
    How is your PC/DVD connected to the amp at the moment?
    Depending on your situation an external DAC may be an option.
     
  3. lil old me

    lil old me
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    thanks for your reply,

    Yes I would be willing, but in that case i have even less idea what to go for! My computer is currently connected using the analogue inputs from an audigy 2 to the 7.1 channel dvd input on my amp.

    Sorry being very noobish but what is an external DAC? I understand it will be a digital to analogue converter of some sort? How would it connect to my amp and pc ?

    TIA L
     
  4. Kish Kash

    Kish Kash
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    lil,

    there are dozens of posts on the forum relating to offboard DACs. First place to look though, is the DAC "sticky" at the top of this page.
     
  5. Knightshade

    Knightshade
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    Hi Lil,
    Like Kish Kash says there are some very usefull links on this forum.
    I have experimented with using a PC as a CD player with a RME DIGI96/8 PAD sound card with fairly (IMO) dissapointing results. I must say there are others who have had excellent results. I for one don't like the idea of all the unwanted electrical intereference that comes with a PC. This may all have been down to a poor choice in PC!
    However a half decent sound card connected via optical/toslink cable to an external DAC and then to an amp via RCA analogue connectors may sound good to you.
    Some will say it sounds better than a standalone CD player, others including me are not so sure.
    Pound for Pound a DAC should give you a bigger improvment. If you went for something like the TAG DAC20 you could connect your PC and DVD player to it plus several other digital sources. There are, of course, many other DAC's to choose from.
    You would still have the option to add a CD player at a later date if needed.
    HTH
     
  6. JH1

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    Hi Lil,

    I'm still learning a lot myself at the moment experimenting with options in order to try and improve my system. However, I would think that for your budget, it would be unlikely that you would get a marked improvement by spending this on a dedicated cd player. I have a "cheap" DVD player which cost me £70 (new) 2 years ago. I bought it as a "make do" until I could afford something better. I since decided I wanted to upgrade my (stereo) audio first and have since bought an Arcam CD73 player, which is a five star rated machine at its price point (£400) and new accompanying equipment. Whilst I am pleased with the sound of the Arcam (which I hasten to add, I have not heard a better player until listening to players costing twice as much) I have conducted a test between the Arcam and my DVD player with rather embarassing results. The £70 DVD player actually produced quite a reasonable sound and I only noticed marginal improvements when I placed the same discs on the CD73.

    What I am trying to say is that, in my experience, you may not be able to gain a great sonic improvement over your DVD player by buying a CD player at this price unless you get a very good second hand deal. That is not to say you won't get any improvement, but you may have to hunt around a bit first.

    In my experience, you would probably need to spend £600-£800 (new) on a dedicated player to start getting a marked improvement with which you would be happy that it was an "upgrade". (But this is just in my experience - you may find different!!)

    If you can, I would recommend taking your DVD player and using it as a comparison when trialing any CD player to see what, if any, differences you can hear. The other option, of course, is that already recommended...using an outboard DAC, which would probably give you a better sonic impovement. Again, this would be in theory. I'm finding this HiFi lark an interesting game!!!!! :suicide:

    Good Luck !!
     
  7. lil old me

    lil old me
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    Thanks for the replies guys :)


    So atm I'm probably looking at an external DAC solution. How I didnt manage to see the sticky in the first place ill never know!
    In this case what can anyone recommend? I have looked on superfi.co.uk and can't find them anywhere probably me being dumb again.

    L
     
  8. Kish Kash

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    No, they're very hard to find these days. The second-hand market is your only option. The only DACs sold new at retail these days are high-end jobs like the DAC64 and MF Tri-vista. DACs have gone out of fashion recently because the jitter brigade has determined that integrated CDP's give better performance. Cyrus & MF will be launching mid-range DACs fairly soon though.
     
  9. CJROSS

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    I agree totally dude, Kish this is an area I feel very strongly about after many arguments Ive had on hifi for a, I simply don’t buy the effects of jitter from cabling or connection types or from varying degrees of transport quality, Ive had many an argument with the golden eared brigade FWIW. DACs have actually always been available just that the mag press coverage of them is quite low – neglibile in fact, it is then left to actual users on the ground (you would be surprsied how many BTW) having tested them in their systems to advocate their usage, many people use them off DVD players & the best all round digital replay system (pound per pound) IMHO seems to be a universal player hooked up to a DAC of some sort (Give me a £500 Universal player with £500 of DAC than a £1000 CD player anyday), this gives the best of the hi-res formats and CD is catered for too (oh and you can stream audio from your PC, use digital TV etc etc). It should be noted too that your jitter point above : is that Int CD players suffer from it too a nice facet always ignored IMO, a well designed DAC IME simply handles whatever its sent in data form or jitter terms and competently deals with it IME anyway. A large section of this hobby are so concerned with every nook & cranny, ie chasing the jitter dragon et al, that they have missed the fact many audiophiles settle or are content with their kit a lot sonner than them.

    Anyway heres my DAC going full blast with a HDCD going through it :

    http://evildonut.34sp.com/systems/cj/graphics/system1_CJ_3.jpg

    I can honestly say I noticed no jitter effects from my DVD-V player transport or cheapo cabling and I classify myself as an audiophile. There are DACs appearing now closely tied to the PC industry, Sonfifex does a DAC in their “Redbox” range which looks very well specced connection wise and is available for £400 new. :

    http://www.sonifex.co.uk/redbox/rbdac1_ld.shtml

    M-Audios SuperDAC gets rave reviews, and of course then there are the estoric DACs of yesteryear that have been “superceded” with newer technology, the time has never been better to invest a digital convertor IMHO.
     
  10. Kish Kash

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    Another jitter issue I also find it quite peculiar, is how integrated CDP manufacturers can slag-off dvd+dac combinations when their integrated designs can suffer from HUGE amounts of the evil J.

    HFC october reviews 6 cdp's from GBP600-1600 and provides Jitter figures for all of them. Some, like the Naim CD5i & Roksan Kandy Mk3 are very good, measuring just 100ps. Others though, like the Inca Katana and Quad 99 measure 700ps & 1100ps respectively!! And some people recommend using these as transports - Mad!!!!

    A cheapo dvdp like the pioneer 565 has measured jitter of just 185 picoseconds. The Very popular budget toshiba 330 measures around 220ps. Does that make it a superior transport to the GBP1,000 quad? I think so, when you consider the sole function of a transport is to read the 0's & 1's as accurately as possible. when you consider that some DACs re-clock the incoming bitstream to help reduce/eliminate jitter even further, you have a very convincing argument for dvd+dac.

    The re-clocking ability of DACs is a contentious point and strongly argued. Consider this though: You have a Pio 565 at 185ps and a TAG DAC20 that re-clocks. Even if the re-clocking is only 50% effective, you have a lower final jitter figure (92ps) than the GBP1600 Meridian G07 (100ps)!!

    Not saying it will sound any better, of course ;)

    KK
     
  11. Kish Kash

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    Actually CJ, I've noticed in your jpeg that you use an integrated amp (albeit a very good one)!! Sticking to our guns here, can we argue that 2-box source is the way forward when we use integrated amps further down the chain?!?!?!?

    Just kidding man!!

    KK
     
  12. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    KK I think I agree with every point you put above FWIW, FYI you should go and read this thread from a while back you will find Page 2 of great interest from the letters page of HFN earlier on in the year :

    http://www.avforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=131106

    Note the shift away from the perennial favorite of “jitter” towards “circulating electrical interference” one barrier is knocked away in the hobby and a new one is erected, quite laughable – that letter highlights what a few of us have been saying for years on DAC and DVD transports into them. On your vibes of reclocking DACs I particulary like highlighting to audiophiles hellbent on telling others that DACs (good reclocker designed) are available that feature non-high end “jitter laden” connection types and that sound superb, I give you MFs ranges of DACs from day one to this they have carried the “audiophile derided” inferior connections of RCA SPDIF & Toslink yet they seem to have managed to make very sweet sounds. Im fairly convinced the further audiophiles go down this hobby the more obsessive the hobby becomes as I mentioned earlier. Does not make them right FWIW far from it my IMPE.

    All down to the pre-amps ability IMO KK when it comes to 2 box scenarios, I just think that below rrp £2000 for example in stereo terms you are better to focus on an integrated design than a pre-power effort, For example I don’t know many pre-powers at the same price bracket as say integrated designs from Bow Wazoo/NAD S300/Primare 30/Moon I-3/AVI Lab Series/Copland and more that offer the same quality of sound per pound, especially when you consider that most of these integrated aboves offer an upgrade path with Pre-outs facilties, ie a biamping future. As I say my vibes have always been to get to the best amplifcation in one package rather than 2 to a certain price point, and I cant see me changing to a pre-power for a number of reasons. IMHO of course. New Digital PAs may change all that TBH very high power clean cheap PAs are not that far off, in fact they are here already, these allied to say passive valve pre-amps opens a whole new genre in audio AFAIC. Interesting times ahead amplifier wise.

    Back to DACs though and the 2 box scenario, Ive long felt the simple idea of separating PSU & shielding DAC circuitry in a separate case away from transport induced “noise” in int. CDP design is a good move, the first beneficial factor of DACs as it were, akin to the vibes Naim CDP owners get from external PSUs.
     
  13. Kish Kash

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    Yeah, I hope digital-capable pre-amps take off. They seem like a really good idea. The April Music Stello (DP200 or something??) has generated plenty of interest in the press. Maybe it'll start a new trend?

    Also, I think its worth mentioning compromises using a DAC in terms of DTS & DD material. Most users will have to set their dvdp's to PCM downmix with this material because DACs can't process those formats (you'll need an a/v amp for that).

    In this case, the quality of your dvdp's internal processing and downmixing capabilities will affect the outcome greatly. This is not a problem, of course, if the dvd has a two-channel PCM soundtrack, but due to space constraints, not enough dvds do :(

    The results can be a little underwhelming once the original DD signal (a "lossy" format to start with), has been downmixed by the dvdp, and then processed again by the DAC.

    KK
     
  14. wokeye

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    A while ago I bought a Pioneer DVD 565A DVD player for about £150 with the idea of using it to replace my Marantz CD6000OSE LE CD player with a view to saving space. The Pioneer is a great DVD player but playing CD's it can sound very harsh with some CD's and also a bit confined, I was really not happy with it.

    In the end I decided to keep the Marantz for playing CD's as it is vastly superior to the Pioneer, I just had to find space for it somehow. But I think even for your £300 you will get a good standalone "new" CD player that will knock the socks off your current DVD player ;) Look at Marantz they are very good for the money and I am sure you will get a cracking player for £300 :smoke:
     
  15. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    Yep good point all covered in the sticky above FYI, FWIW its worth Ive always my DVD-V + DAC combo in a stereo hifi setup, have been very happy living with my DACs abilities to downmix 5.1 to stereo PCM output from my DVD transport. What grates me to no end though is that many DVD-V user when looking for better CD replay are directed towards integrated CD players as if they are superior. These users generally have an AV amp or 5.1 system and are lookig for more musicality from their CDs.

    Well as a 2 channel man all my days, Ive got plenty of music DVD-Vs that contain Linear PCM & DD 5.1 mixes, I actually think the quality of the processor (offboard DAC or onboard DVDP DAC for anlgh output) has a huge effect on the quality of how 5.1 downmixes are re-processed towards stereo, Ive heard some pretty stunning 5.1 DD mixes downmixed to stereo (Peter Gabriels Growing Up Live DVD for example) for use via 2 speakers [+sub].

    Again it varies KK, remember that if you send the DD data from a DVD disc via PCM method, the data is sent in its whole data rate amount towards the DAC, at that point how the DAC downmixes to create a 2.0 mix varies on quality of sound mix IME. All I know what Ive heard from my stereo orientated system even listening to 5.1 DVD-Vs has never convinced me to get an AV 5.1 setup (the music comes first for me ie CD & Vinyl), this DVD-V downmixing quality has everything to do with the DACs ability to create a wonderul stereo image. Im pretty sold on TAG digital processing TBH.

    Anyway interesting discussion IMO.

    And for that £300 you could have bought a standalone DAC that would have knocked the socks off a 6000OSE, think of it this way, IMHO a very large wedge of that £300 went towards re-buying a transport section you already had in the shape of your Pioneer DVD player, why not spend the monies on a DAC alone ? added to which you could also enjoy boatloads of music DVD-Vs via your DVD+DAC that would outshine CD quality, if you ever get a chance to listen to Dave Gilmours Live concert @ Linear PCM 24-48Khz DVD-V you will hear what I mean. No doubting your 6000OSE sounds good just that you could have went another route and got more “sound per pound” as it were. Especially if you own a DVD player you can use as a transport already.
     
  16. Kish Kash

    Kish Kash
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    Wokeye, we're not really discussing the merits of the 565 as a cd player, but simply as a transport. With suitably warm amplification & speakers, it can sound ok though (I use one without a DAC in the bedroom - partnered with a class "A" MF amp, it sounds pretty good IMO). Your right that treble-heavy rock is a difficult listen on the 565, but even very, very expensive dvdp's can sound harsh & mechanical.

    CJ,

    "I have been very happy living with my DACs abilities to downmix 5.1 to stereo PCM output from my DVD transport."

    ?? I didn't know my DAC20 could process 5.1! Believe me, I've tried it! I thought that DD/DTS was downmixed to stereo by the pioneer before being sent to the DAC20 digitally?

    "Again it varies KK, remember that if you send the DD data from a DVD disc via PCM method, the data is sent in its whole data rate amount towards the DAC"

    Confused again. If the Pioneer does no DD/DTS processing whatsoever, how does my DAC20 decode the incoming datastream without using DD/DTS algorithms (unless they included it serupticiously to avoid their licensing fees :laugh: )? The Pioneer MUST be processing the 0&1's in some way before sending it to the DAC20?

    Hope I'm not embarassing myself here :rolleyes:

    KK
     
  17. Kish Kash

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    Wokeye, don't just take CJ's word for it. Max Townshend of Townshead Audio (who probably know a thing or two about these things ;) ) had this to say about the Pioneer 565 in HFC's October issue:

    "I think its the most advanced player on the planet. Its the same basic engine that Pioneer uses for all its universal players, and most of the other manufacturers use a Pioneer engine in their universal players. The transport is one of the best transports currently available on any player ever, probably one of the best transports ever made. If you use it with an external DAC it sounds better than most high-end transports"

    OK, so Max has a vested interest in promoting the 565 transport, as it is used in his new TA565 player, but it just goes to prove our point.

    KK
     
  18. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    Right a couple of things to highight about the DAC 20 (sorry if you know these already) :

    If you send a stereo DAC like the DAC 20 a DD 5.1 signal it will downmix it to a stereo 2 channel mix and send out via its L & R anlg outputs this is part of its function in conversion to anlg, It cannot decode a DTS signal of any sort as it does not have DTS decorder onboard. The Pioneer has nothing to do with downmixing here it sends these signals “fully” as it were towards the DAC 20 either Bitstream or PC wise, to highlight this the DAC 20 can :

    Send out any signal it recieves via the Digital output loop onwards to a AV processor for example, so for instance if it recieves a DD 5.1 mix it will receive data, reclock it and send out via the Digital output loop, it will also do this with DTS signal IIRC even though it has no DTS decoders (ie almost like a bypass), you could in effect use the DAC 20 in between a DVD-V player and a AV 5.1 amp. A few people have tried it and done it, worth doing a search above for DAC 20 im sure one poster called Dood IIRC. So you see nothing from the Pioneer is downmixed per se that’s done in the DAC section prior to anlg output, Bitstream data as it suggest sends bits of data streamed (packets you will see reffered to), PCM sends a continous data rate as it sends signals, but data as a whole arrives “fully” at whatever processor is used to decode/downsample/convert.

    Does that make any sense ? Im by no means an expert but that’s laymans language in effect about downsampling HTHs

    Im not up in what DVD-V players do when sending out signals KK from DVD-V, for example I have a DVD-V player that allows me to toggle output from PCM to Bitstream or vice versa (mines is always set at PCM because I listen in stereo 2 channels even from 5.1 mixes), I think some current players either auto detect or also allow you to select, now how you send DVD-V 5.1 DD data to the DAC 20 is up to you, for example Im not sure if the Pioneer player downsample a Bitstream 48Khxz 5.1 mix into 2 channels of PCM then the DAC 20 recieves that and samples 2 channels from that signal, all I know is that if the DAC 20 recievers a DD 5.1 signal or DTS 5.1 (this would have to be bitstream) it simply run its through to the output digital loop intact. The other point to remember is that the DAC 20 receiving a 5.1 DD mix will still downmix that signal to its 2 channel anlg outputs, again the Pioneer is out of the equation, So my money is on the DAC 20 downsampling to stereo rather than the Pioneer. Whatever way it does it Im happy with it TBH. Being a PCM based device it wont process DTS signals (I had a nightmare experience of a DTS signal being played via an old DAC, nearly blew my tweeters to kingdom come). I don’t think your embarrassing yourself that’s more my deal. I think the thing to remember here with 5.1 DD DVD-V sound is the final 2 channel processing in stereo from the DAC, if its sent 5.1 Bitsream wise its downmixed at the DAC to 2C, PCM wise I just think all the data is combined and shoved down the line, where its downmixed at DAC stage (Im happy to be told otherwise if anyone knows better FWIW) to 2 channels.

    So you have a Pioneer DVD player + a DAC 20 you nice taste dude, what else you running stereo wise ?
     
  19. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    KK

    Just to nail my colours to the mast Im very happy for the 565 to be labelled one of the best transports ever made, but my vibes are that there were plenty of DVD players before that equally up to doing this task, no doubt the 565 will sound great as a transport. But I think there is a risk to hold it aloft as some audiophile benchmark (no slight at you BTW) Ive seen these Max T vibes quoted as if truth on a few forums, this sort of behaviour is oft used to belittle other perfectly adequate DVD based transports. For example I would love to know what makes the 565 better than a Toshiba SD-900 acting as transport is it purely jitter spec? Nope for me the action happens at the DAC, if it cant cope with what most DVD players throw at them then they are not designed to function properly. In a recent test at home, I could not tell the difference between a £90 Sony 355 and a £500 Pioneer 717. No difference at all FWIW. The DAC dealt with both even handedly. IMPE of course and you dont even want to know the digital cable setups for both DVDPs.
     
  20. Kish Kash

    Kish Kash
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    Oh yeah, I'm not saying the 565 is the best thing since sliced bread, or that its the last word in transport terms, just giving an example. Hell, if i had cash to burn I'd be tempted to buy the Tag CDT20r (for aesthetic purposes if nothing else), or something better looking and more solidly constructed than the 565. Even if it gave slightly inferior performance!!

    Thanks for the explanation about the DAC20's capabilities. You've cleared up a lot of things for me. I didn't know it could handle DD or pass-through (and re-clock) DTS. You learn something new every day!

    Maybe I should :rtfm: !!

    KK

    (as you ask, I'm using rotel pre-power amps and tannoy revoltion 2 speakers. Overall, I would describe the sound as neutral and "unfatiguing". Very good with classical and acoustic music, less so with rock. The DAC20 digs up plenty of detail lost on the 565 DACs and gives the music a pinch more life).
     
  21. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    No worries KK, as I said the search facility above is an excellent resource for information, I know when the DAC 20 was being sold end-of-line from TAG this was mentioned in a couple of threads worth reading :

    http://www.avforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=34284&highlight=DTS

    FWIW im not sure about DTS signals being reclocked (Im not up on DTS), but DD 5.1 are reclocked in the DAC 20 and sent onwards if required. This is an area that is rarely ever discussed FWIW as most DVD-V players have 2 digital outputs, so if a stereo DAC & an AV Amp were to be used together you would simply :

    DVD > Coaxial output > DAC
    DVD > Optical ouput > AV Amp

    Keeping both signals separate as it were.

    BTW Thats a nice system you have there FWIW.
     

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