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Progress of CD's?

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by General Skanky, Nov 6, 2002.

  1. General Skanky

    General Skanky
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    How have CD players improved in the last 5 years? I'm not interested in SACD, DVD-A etc, but in the mainstream analogue CD.

    HDCD is the only improvement that is more mainstream than the rest, but still not commonly available on discs.

    I ask as My Marantz KI63 II is about 5/6years old now, and just wondered what's come along to dislodge this 'What HiFi King' of the time?

    (I've read some of the older posts here and am braced for the Arcam fan club to appear.:D)
     
  2. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    General S. the 63 KI is/was a fine CDP, I considered getting one myself dude, but I opted instead for a DVD+DAC at the time, Im a firm believer that CD replay technology does not move on as quickly as the industry would like you to believe, they have a vested interest in getting us punters to keep changing & upgrading players. The right implimentation of CD technology is what matters IMHO, I currently use a TAG DAC based on the Audiolab 8000 DAX and even though the Tag DAC is now “dated”, it competes very well with most recent CD players & DACs that Ive heard (Ive heard a truckload BTW). As you say the best change Ive heard is via HDCD CDs, now would this for example be “better” than your 63KI, It may well be but you will have to decide, it will have a different sonic character that you may like. Im not saying all CDP/DACs sound the same far from it, but the industry held view that technological progress marches on is horseplops IMHO, if it were as painted out we would be listening to players that have improved on the 63KI by 40-50% in sound terms, since the 63KI was in its heyday. Another way to look at it is to think of the “Flavour of the month” CDPs/DACs that are now consigned to history, these were lauded at the time as the “Best Yet”, a prime example being MFs Nuvista 3DCD @ £3000, this is no longer lauded as the leader in its field, now available for 2/3 of its original rrp, the Chord 64 will follow the same fate IMHO. There are loads of high end players that are available these days that are truly fantastic in their own right.

    BTW I know a fairly large number of dudes who have added the TAG DAC 20 to the 63KI on the HFC forum and felt it has been a noticable improvement so yes it can be improved/changed but its purely personal, before anyone tells you to get an Arcam CDP (which sound fine BTW) think of whether you want to rebuy the transport section again, Im not advocating you add a DAC (The 63 KI may still be fine for your needs) but when you consider what you are buying at that level of the market, has CD replay really improved so much.
     
  3. General Skanky

    General Skanky
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    Aha, CJ, somehow I knew you'd crop up here.:D ;)

    I agree with what you've said. A little while back I almost bought the Tag refurb DAC, (which you advocated back then too). But my DVD is purely cinema only.

    My HiFi is in another room with the KI. I would expect to hear a big enough improvement over my KI now, with, let's say an Arcam 92 to justify the outlay. Plus the silver/graphite or whatever looks much nicer too. Must be better.:) I just wondered how much without actually moving from my chair.:)

    I demoed an Arcam Alpha 8 I think it was called then, along with a Trichord Research and one from maybe Sugden. The KI was to me, the most neutral. I've always remembered the Arcam for sounding really bad. It was disjointed and just didn't flow. Ok, in that system to me it wasn't right, but it left me underwhelmed with Arcam CD players of the time. The hype didn't match what I heard. Was that me or just bad luck?

    If DACs have improved enough today, I'd buy the whole lot again to keep it in one box. Space limited.

    The only difference would be a higher budget, say to the £900 Arcam 92 level. It would be inrteresting to get off my arse and go find out.:rolleyes:
     
  4. buns

    buns
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    Guy........ this is getting quite shocking.......we must have nearly the same set ups! I have the old KI too! :D

    Anyhow....... i think the progress is somewhat slower than we may be led to believe. I certainly had a listen to the latest 6000KI (i think thats what it was termed) to compare with the old cd63 version........ in 3 year it took to release that model, the sound seemed to have changed for the brighter, perhaps becoming more appealing to the bass fiend or dance lover, i certainly didnt think it was better. This is obviously only one example so not terribly fair, but i wouldnt be surprised if the general evolutionary trend was that the sound changed rather than really improved.

    I was tempted a while back to get a 2nd hand naim cd3.5, which was supposed to be very good. But...... i didnt feel it offered anything much beyond what the KI did. Hence no upgrade.

    Of al my system, the KI still feels like my most solid and trusted item....... i just really like it. I cant see myself changing for less than a couple of thousands.......which will be a couple of years away yet!

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  5. General Skanky

    General Skanky
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    Almost. But obviously mine is far superior.:D

    I have no real complaints about mine either. I'm a bit twitchy, for want of a better word, for a change. Since I was looking at AV amps, Arcam CD players caught my attention,along with Naim, Tag and Densen.

    All very different too!

    I think we do think aong the same lines. What amp do you have in your hifi set up? My Densen is a lively performer, it biamps the A1's which, as you know are a bit warm and full with the neutral (I think), KI. I'm looking at also getting a Densen Beat 300 power amp to biamp separately.

    As for the CD, maybe I just want a bit more life, the KI being too neutral. Maybe?

    I ditched vinyl a while ago as CD is convenient and can get close to the vinyl sound. The only other source is my NAD 414 tuner which I love.

    I'm just thinking out loud.:)
     
  6. karkus30

    karkus30
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    Are you sure about that, convenience of a CD player I can agre with, but the sound quality from a well set up turntable still leaves CD lacking.


    This is where the improvements are at the moment, SACD is amazing on a good player, only problem is the lack of software and the indecision over which format .

    SACD is the first CD system which made me think about selling off the vinyl, it might be worth waiting till the format wars are over and buy the winner.

    I had a 63 KI and replaced it with a CD17, neither of these is an exciting listen, but the CD17 just has a bit more of everything and is not quite as ragged.

    I have listened to the latest Marantz players, what have the done ? no longer laid back but very strident.

    for excitement try the Naim, but like all their other equipment it has a lack of top end, but makes up for it with a driving rythmic sound which suits rock.

    Anothe alternative , if you can find one, is the DPA renaicance ( sorry cant spell ). A very interesting listen and very exciting.
     
  7. General Skanky

    General Skanky
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    Sure about the vinyl front. I know that vinyl sounds better, but we found that we only ever played CD's all the time. We've still got the Dual turntable in the spare room, unused. Doubt it'll ever be used again. I'm not willing to buy a better turntable either as it'd go unused, no matter how good it sounded. For me/us vinyl has gone.

    Until SACD is as mainstream as a typical CD, there's no point buying into it. I buy music from the charts and rock etc. It's not speacilised enough to 'ever?' be SACD or the like. Sad fact is that commercial music IMHO will not ever become mass market SACD etc. Digitally remastered albums, (whatever that means) is our lot.

    In the grand scheme of things, how many millions of CD's are sold with these great advancements? Not many, hence why I'd be after a good 'ordinary' analogue CD player.
     
  8. karkus30

    karkus30
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    As I said, convenience is a big factor, pity really. There was a time I was going to junk all my vinyl, but my wife persuaded me to keep it, so I felt justified in purchasing an Oracle delphi. Once I had listened to a few of the albums on this, no way was I giving the vinyl up. But, I tend not to use it for day to day use, more for special albums, bit like opening a bottle of vintage Champagne. The rest of the time a decent wine will do.


    I really hope this will not be the case, if it is then we have reaching an end of an era for hi fi, the improvements in the last few years have been minimal, particularly at the source end. Convenience has given us mini disc and MP3, which are great for downloading and recording, but are hardly hifi. Maybe theres more hope for broadcast media.
     
  9. buns

    buns
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    :D i actually consider the KI is quite a forward sound! Has tendencies towards frequency extremes.......slightly. But i guess it isnt the most colored of sounds. Compare it with linn and it certainly is quite forward, beside audiolab it is colorful, beside naim and it is positively slow! Al depends on your refernce! But it is a lovely machine.

    I have the big korato powering my A1's. I decided against the biamping, the gains were really very small, presumably because the single power amp is so good. But the A1's do like some juice, the korato certainly has a load of that, plus it has a fairly neutral sound which i like.

    If you were going to do an upgrade....... im sure the cd player should be the first to be changed......but to what!? :D

    Having thought since my 1st post....... i know of one particular 'old' player which is still a gem....... micromega solo ........it would better the KI to my ears....... something i dont often say!

    I'll be intrigued to know what you would change to....... try the guys at tnt and see if they can come up with a bargain from someone you have never heard of........thats how i got my amps! ;)

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  10. karkus30

    karkus30
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    If you think the 63KI is forward, get a listen to the latest crop of marantz players.

    Listened to a Micromega stage 6 the other day, very nice, but the build quality and reliability are always at the front of my mind.

    The DPA rennaissance is definitely worth a listen ( if you can find one, if you can and you dont want one then I would be very interested, well once Ive paid for my rugs !) its totaly different to any player I have ever heard, bit like a CD version of the early Roksan Xerxes:eek:
     
  11. General Skanky

    General Skanky
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    I did all my hifi learning here- http://www.signals.demon.co.uk/

    At first I was dead against a Densen amp. Taught otherwise.

    Crazy to try out an Arcam CD, proved wrong.

    It was only the A1's I prefered and he didn't. Personal taste.

    Point is, he's the local man to me who could come up with something. Problem is, he likes ££££££££££££££££'s.:D
     
  12. buns

    buns
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    i have listened to the modern crop, well one of them.......if you read back, i commented that it sounded different and not better. So i agree with you totally!

    I havent heard the dpa, in fact i havent heard that many high end cd player..... i havent heard much beyond £1000.....except the linn cd 12...... personally i didnt think it was worth the cash.....except for the immensely smooth cd drawer!

    have either of you guys tried the pc cd route? Their are those on here who really think it is good. Im not sure about that, but i havent really listened to a really top class sound card yet.

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  13. dood

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    I currently use a TAG DAC based on the Audiolab 8000 DAX and even though the Tag DAC is now “dated”, it competes very well with most recent CD players & DACs that Ive heard (Ive heard a truckload BTW).

    I have an at least 10 year old Arcam Cd player which I bought as an upgrade to my Rotel CD player which was part of my first separates system. The Arcam was warmer and fuller sounding. However after a few years I found that it was too dull and lifeless and bought a Wadia 12 DAC to liven things up. This completely transformed the sound , but amp and speaker partnering are important to avoid the sound becoming too clinical.

    CJCROSS I have been following your threads on DACS quite closely. I'm interested to know if you've tried out the Wadia 12 and if so how does it compare with modern DACS and CD players, and in particular how does it fare against the TAG DACS? I don't have access to these in my country so I can't just go out and listen.
     
  14. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    Dudes (& Dood )
    Speaking of DPA there is an Enlightenment DAC curerently going for £295 at Heathcote or Heatherdale Audio from HFN IIRC. Just another word to say that there are loads of DPA fans over on the HFC forum as well.

    Dood Im not personally familiar with any Wadia DACs, they are a bit out of my price range NEW although they are available secondhand quite regularly, I know of a few users over on the HFC forum they all swear by them in fact in relation to your query I posted over there and got this in reply : http://forum.hifichoice.co.uk/viewtopic.php?p=23791

    Hi, CJ the Wadia 12 is the direct decendant of my 15 The emporium have one for £650 it's very good and has a digital pre-amp(worth the money alone in my book got to use that way to get the best out of it(IMMHO)
    It's big and heavy 18 pounds dac alone yes it is better than the dac 20, (but bear in mind the dac was £3k+when new) but be warned listen to it first the Big 'W's' have a very anlogue sound that is big and full and organic, but you do need to use it with good kit to get the most out of it(IMMHO) it don't take too kindly to medieocre kit It is an aquired taste although very one seems to like it hope that helps Tone


    Funnily enough the place Tone mentions has a couple of Wadia DACs in stock, a Dac 12 for £650 a very good price IMHO, and a Wadia DAC 64.4 @ £1250, again this is another bargain I know a dude who bought one for £1500 from Midland Audio Exchange and was more than happy read ecstatic. Just goes to show what is out there in DAC land, funnily enough Im more than happy with what the DAC 20 can do but as in life there is always something better out there. As an aside check out the rest of the inventory at Emprioum, there are some total steals here IMHO. Anyone saying that changing from a Marantz 63KI to one of the current standard £400 ish CDPs is a good move should check out what that amount will buy you from a list below be it Int. CDP or offbaord DAC.

    http://www.emporium.dircon.co.uk/CD and DACS.htm

    CD & DACD & DACS

    ALCHEMY DAC IN THE BOX, boxed 80
    ARCAM ALPHA cd player, cheap and cheerful 100
    ARCAM DELTA 70.3/BLACK BOX(MK1 )this used to be state of the art if you can remember that far back 1200 300
    ARCAM DELTA 70 cd player, even older but still going strong 100
    ARCAM ALPHA 9 CD,a year or two old, has rhythm if a little bright 900 450
    ARCAM CD72 TEXT boxed 250
    AUDIOLAB 8000DCM AND DAC excellent 2300 800
    AUDIO NOTE DAC 2 1200 750
    AUDIO NOTE DAC3 SIGNATURE excellent dynamic dac,recommended but good transport essential, boxed 2500 1150
    AUDIOMECA MEPHISTO mk1 transport, black acrylic with gold accents, very late 90s high end de rigeur styling
    before champagne made its come back 2350 850
    AUDIO RESEARCH DAC 1 upgraded to 20 bit- stereophile class A recommended component in its day great antidote to digitalitis 3500 1000
    AUDION VALVE CD PLAYER -new laser fitted , wild valvey looks 4000 1600
    AVI 20 bit dac , boxed 1000 375
    CEC TL1 BELT DRIVE CD TRANSPORT,black 5000 2000
    COUNTERPOINT CD 10 transport boxed 2000 800
    DENSEN CD PLAYER beat 400 with gizmo system remote 1550 900
    HIFI SOUND cd transport- chinese made, no frills good sound 400
    KRELL Ks20T transport 8000 3000
    KRELL REFERENCE 64 DAC,two box the best ever 14000 4000
    MARANTZ CD67 SE 150
    MARANTZ CD63KI SIG 200
    MARANTZ CD94 mk1 very good 350
    MARANTZ CD6000SE black, boxed 300 150
    MERIDIAN 200 transport 380
    MERIDIAN 207 CD PLAYER/LINE PRE 400
    MERIDIAN 203 DAC, boxed 150
    MERIDIAN 508 20 BIT WITH REMOTE 2000 1000
    MERIDIAN 208, 209 boxed, cd player/pre 1500 500
    MICROMEGA DRIVE ONE transport 250
    MISSION PCM 7000 ancient cd player 700 100
    MUSICAL FIDELITY X-RAY 24 BIT, BOXED 500
    NAKAMICHI DRAGON CD AND DAC, boxed another awesome set. I was loath to see the last one go so I've got another to play with 8500 3333
    PINK TRIANGLE ORDINAL DAC 400
    PINK TRIANGLE 1307 filter 100
    RESOLUTION AUDIO CD50 4x 20 bit dacs twin toroid transformers computer controlled stepped attenuator volume control 1year old boxed 3000 1800
    ROKSAN DP1 transport- upgraded with DAC 1 & PSU 1 2500 600
    SHANLING T100 crazy valve cd player, rave USA reviews , this has up sampling (to 24/96khz) and a volume control NEW 1400 in soon
    SONY X77ES old high end player 1500 350
    SONY 333ES tweaked as a transport 800 plus 800 spent 250
    SONY 777ES sacd player champaign boxed 1250
    STAX TALENT DAC 1400 400
    SUGDEN au51 DAC, upgraded with extra analogue toroidal transformer and extra inputs/outputs 1250++ 450
    TEAC T1 transport reclocked and groovy mains cable 350
    TECHNICS SLPS70 cd player quite swish 150
    THETA PRO BASIC 3A dac 3500 1200
    TRICHORD TRANSPORT AND PULSAR ONE DAC with psu and upgraded with oscons 2800 1000
    TUBE TECHNOLOGY FUSION valve cd player 1200 700
    WADIA 861 latest chipset UPGRADED by wadia dealer, excellent boxed 8500 4500
    WADIA 64.4 DAC 1250
    WADIA 12 DAC 650 :) :)
     
  15. Gambit

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    Wise man, I'm using a Stage 3 and it sometimes starts skipping and won't stop till I open the tray and start it again:rolleyes: Worst part is that they don't exist as a comapany over here anymore, so no service I'm afraid.
     
  16. dave48

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    I've tried a slightly different upgrade route ... for £300 I now have a CD player capable of upsampling to 24/96, full balanced output, multiple outputs for multi-room set-ups, HDCD decoding, some of the best DACs on the market, microscopically low jitter levels. Oh and it also has recording capability to record my vinyl at 24/96 and play it back - can't hear the difference from the original.

    So what is it?

    My PC, a M-Audio Delta 1010 soundcard and Windows Media Player 9. Using Exact Audio Copy to record CDs error-free to the harddisk, then playback jitter-free over the IDE bus to the soundcard. Balanced output into my Primare A30.1.

    Sounds pretty damn good.

    Dave48
     
  17. General Skanky

    General Skanky
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    Just reading over this one again.

    Update.

    Sold the Marantz and bought an Arcam CD72 which we really did like. Massive improvement over players of old. Really liked it.

    As fate would have it, I needed to upgrade the AV side, so sold it.

    However, a Densen CD Beat has appeared for £400!!!!! Bargain. So just waiting for that to come back, (being serviced), to integrate it into my system. Nice.

    Now all we need is a 2nd hand/ex dem Densen Beat power amp to bi amp the speakers and we'll be very happy indeed. Anyone have one to sell? My local dealer won't bend to my begging for his dem one just yet. :laugh:
     
  18. alexs2

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    Personally,I think the improvements that have really made a difference are close attention to jitter,and more importantly,well implented upsampling and interpolation.....the end result is a much smoother and more spacious sound,without the harshness or loss of detail that used to plague CD as a medium some years ago.

    The prices of good quality equipment are also dropping rapidly,with some recent DACs at the £1-2k mark approaching or bettering the quality of £10k DACs a few yrs ago.
     
  19. puddleduck

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    I just bought a Marantz CD-63 mk2 KI Signature on Ebay for £140 - seem to have got a good price, as they seem to go for nearly £200 - so I just used BuyItNow to grab it at £140 :)
     
  20. ukaudiophile

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    Hello,

    It's interesting that the Wadia 64.4 has been mentioned here. I used to own one of those and befrore that I had the Denon DCD 1500 MK II (remember those old boys with 4X oversampling). Needless to say the Wadia was a massive upgrade, but to be honest the standard Perpetual Technologies P-3A just smoked the Wadia in every respect, it's like comparing a Michell Gyrodeck with an RB-300 and an At95E cartridge against my Basis Godl Debut with Graham 2.0 arm and Lyra cartridge, to me the differences were massive. I'd say now a good £1K CD player like the MF A3.2 surpasses the sound quality of the Wadia 64.4. I know that later Wadia equipment used improved versions of their curve fitting software with faster DSP's so I know there were many improvements made, but digital technology is still improving so much and moving so fast that I've no doubt that something sooner or later will come along that will blow the Perpetual out of the water, but I've no idea how it's going to be done.

    Best wishes,

    Dave
     
  21. alexs2

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    Have to agree,Dave...priot to buying the P3A/P1A,the best DACs I'd heard were Levinson's top model and the dCS Elgar/Purcell.....the Perpetual Technologies combo comes so close to the dCS that in price terms alone there's no contest.
     
  22. robfitzp

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    What do you guys think of the Perpetual against the Chord Dac64? Heard the latter in quite a nice system (tag transport, chord 3300 integrated and dynaudio contour 3.3speakers) and was very impressed and these are available for about a grand now. Have read good things about the perpetuals but never actually heard one.

    Cheers
    Rob.
     
  23. alexs2

    alexs2
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    Actually had the opportunity to hear these 2 when I took along my P1A/P3A when auditioning a set of speakers last yr.....the amp was a Chord integrated....being honest the DAC 64 is a very good,clear sounding DAC with good clear bass etc.....to my ears anyway,and not just because I'd bought it,the P3A edges it in bass extension and image depth,and leaves it behind when partnered with the P1A.
    The Chord integrated is also a very good amp,and seriously underrated.
     
  24. grey torq

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    Having just upgraded from the Marantz cd63 mk2 KI to the Shanling CD-T80, I can highly recimend this player as an improvement.

    I bought the Shanling off ebay (genuine UK model not a dodgy one) with the intention of selling it if it was not an improvement.

    This is a remarkable player for the money and definitely worth a demo if you can track one down.
     
  25. Mr_Sukebe

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    Just to be different, I'm going to suggest that I don't think that a massive amount of progress has been made.
    Strikes me that two real changes have happened:
    1. The move to upsampling. Yep, that has changed the sound, apparently giving more "air" to a recording, though often resulting in slightly less "body". Which you chose is down to personal preferences.
    2. Re-voicing of kit. I do think that CD sounds different to LP and my belief is that amplifiers/systems can be "optimised" for one or the other, or compromised to deal with both. In the example of Naim kit, my personal view is that it was previously very synergistic with LP (particularly LP12s), and has been re-voiced to work better with CD.

    As for real advances, I'm not so sure about that.
    For example, I have a Meridian 203 dac which I use for AV duties (taking inputs from my freeview box and DVD player). I previously had one of these and compared it to a Arcam CD7se. IMO the 203 murdered the 7se, despite being 10 years older. Another example would be the use of DACs. I understand that some of the top CD players are still using DACs such as the 1541 chip, which is fine but the 1541 is ancient (in technology terms). So are we really saying DAC chip technology hasn't improved, whilst the application of say power supplies may now be better on some kit?
     
  26. dynamic turtle

    dynamic turtle
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    Whilst I agree with Sukebe that the technology may have moved on ever so slightly in the past five years (or at least, become cheaper to acquire, thanks to good ol' China), the general quality of recording & mastering has taken a precipitous dive over the same period.

    The last two pop albums I purchased sound absolutely dire (Jamiroqai & Madonna) - and these are high budget productions.

    IMO any improvement made in playback technology has been negated by the move towards pro-tools/computer based mastering & "MP3 optimisation". Anyone who is into pop & rock should think twice about spending thousands of pounds on a fancy cd player.

    Those companies producing & manufacturing your music do not appear to take quality control seriously - undermining your (substantial) investment in the latest playback technology.

    Very sad state of affiars.

    DT
     
  27. alexs2

    alexs2
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    Congratulations to you both for exhuming a thread this old!

    Whilst it's been disinterred,I thought I may as well add to the point that DT made....top seliing CD's are aimed mostly towards the lowest common denominator in terms of playback,i.e.portable or other low-fi items,and are often heavily EQ'd to sound "good" on those.

    The end result of course is that when played back on anything like a decent system,they sound exactly as they were engineered...heavily EQ'd and compressed.

    I think a good deal of progress has been made,and a lot of the top-end ideas etc are filtering down to the rest of the market(upsampling,better PSU design,better DACs etc)but the end result is often limited by the software,as was(and remains) the case with vinyl as well.
     
  28. Peter Baker

    Peter Baker
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    Whilst I believe some progress has been made, and indeed a number of people are now able to get great results out of offboard dacs which really weren't available a few yaers back, I also believe some areas have remained pretty static. For example, the quality of the transport is, in my opinion, extremely important, but nothing seems much better than the TEAC VRDS system used by many high end makes, including my 10 year old WAdia.
     
  29. alexs2

    alexs2
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    The TEAC VRDS was a big step for transport mechanisms,and remains a reason why I still have my VRDS T1 now....I can appreciate why you also keep your Wadia.

    The saying is true though that "if it aint broke,dont fix it".....the VRDS system works so well that it doesnt really need to be tinkered with,other than to improve it,as has been done along the yrs since its introduction.
     
  30. dynamic turtle

    dynamic turtle
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    Briefly, on the subject of transports, I find it gauling that my parents 15-year old mass-market Philips midi system (cost about £400 back then) has a bomb-proof, ultra-reliable, quick-read mech that has NEVER failed, despite being used by four very destructive children!

    Todays "high-end" cd & dvd player mechs seem to barely last 6 months (take a bow, Sony & Denon) before needing replacement. And most of them are cd/dvd-rom, designed to operate at 40x read speed!!

    Crap!

    DT
     

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