Understanding CD Player Quality and Price

saisuman

Novice Member
Good day, everyone.

I was hoping to understand how CD player price correlates with quality. I've seen a number of Marantz and Denon CD players that go for anywhere between 200 and 800 dollars. I can imagine that in a system that has analog outputs, the quality of the DAC components and amplification correlates with price.

But if all one wanted was a pure digital solution, why would, say, a small form-factor computer (or even say a Raspberry Pi) attached to a CD drive producing a digital output (over HDMI or optical) be outperformed by a high-end CD player? I'm purely interested in features that impact audio quality and playback. Naively, one would assume that there's only one way to read digital data off a disc and only one way to transmit that digital signal through an output (even though there are probably a million ways of converting that digital signal into an analog one). So where's the value-add from an expensive CD player? Are they more robust to scratched CDs? Good skip protection used to be a thing for CD walkmans, but I'm not sure that's relevant here.

I can be easily convinced that analog outputs, ergonomics, visual aesthetics, and playback features (creative shuffle / favourites modes) etc. are better in the high-end CD players, but those aren't things I care much about.

Warm regards,
S.
 

phil t

Well-known Member
If you're considering a CD drive hooked up to a small computer, why wouldn't you consider ripping the CD to FLAC?

A good CD player will have good error correction and can handle read errors without glitching. Remember, CD players mostly extract the data in a single pass.
 

saisuman

Novice Member
Thank you for your reply, Phil T.

Yeah, ripping to FLAC is indeed an option. It's more a usage pattern thing. I just want to pop a CD and let it run. If it's FLAC, I'll need a UI to pick files, or use my phone, both of which I'm not a huge fan of.

I was indeed idly thinking that the error correction might be better in more expensive players. Just found an article that explains this a bit more. How to Evaluate CD Players -- and How NOT to Enhance Their Performance Thanks for the hint; let me dig more into it. I'm wondering if the error correction is just built into some super-commoditized component that's in every single cheap CD player; let me see what I find.
 

phil t

Well-known Member
Thank you for your reply, Phil T.

Yeah, ripping to FLAC is indeed an option. It's more a usage pattern thing. I just want to pop a CD and let it run. If it's FLAC, I'll need a UI to pick files, or use my phone, both of which I'm not a huge fan of.
Each to their own.

I'd rather browse my cds on my phone, much easier.

Flac on phone.JPGcd collection.JPG
 

gibbsy

Moderator
DACs on CD players will do the very basic job that they are designed for which, when reading 1 and 0s should sound the same. When the quality and cost of CD players increase then that is usually down to build quality, the drive mechanism and how the analogue circuits are built. Chassis design and built again increases the cost and performance by eliminating vibration.

Does a £2000 player sound better than a £300 player? In my experience they do but it's more than likely that is the in the analogue domain.
 

Superaintit

Standard Member
@saisuman : there is technically no reason why a cd player connected to a dac would sound better. In fact my experience is that a ripped cd has a more stabile image and details compared to the original cd (unless you have a really top notch, high-end cd player). All this because digital is digital and less on the fly reading and processing gives a more accurate result (to my ears).

However, not all technical solutions are implemented equally good. Case in point that I am very satisfied with the sound from a chromecast using the app Hifi Cast but not at all with a raspberry pi Allo Digione and playing with volumio software. YMMV but I find the latter very fatiguing to listen to over a high quality dac.
I find a mac mini playing to a dac excellent, indistinguishable to a cyrus cd player playing over the same dac.

Best pages to read up proper knowledge and have fun while reading is earfluff and eyecandy
 

The latest video from AVForums

Podcast: LG C1 OLED + JBL Synthesis SDR-35 First Thoughts, plus TV Show & Disc Reviews & more
Subscribe to our YouTube channel
Support AVForums with Patreon

Top Bottom