Audiophile CD Player? Which One? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 661 Old 08-06-2013, 10:09 PM - Thread Starter
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My source right now sucks. I'm using a half-working PS1 "audiophile" system whose motherboard won't read discs made past 1997. Well aware of the "garbage in; garbage out" principle, I'm looking to get my hands on a killer CD/DVD player (I need DVD playback for my 5.1 audio DVDs). I've heard good things about the old Denon 2900 but I've wondered if its superior, the 2910 (or 2910B) is better. I've also heard that the Sony DVP-S9000ES is even better. I've seen great princes on all of these on Amazon and eBay but before I take a leap of faith I'd like to ask my fellow AVS audiomonks for advice. My budget is around $200.

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post #2 of 661 Old 08-07-2013, 12:50 AM
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I would recommend using a Blu Ray player. That way it can always play video as well. Just find one with the features you need.
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post #3 of 661 Old 08-07-2013, 04:43 AM
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Originally Posted by FMW View Post

I would recommend using a Blu Ray player. That way it can always play video as well. Just find one with the features you need.

BD and DVD players used to be a PITA because they were slow for loading discs and accessing tracks. That is now fixed in most of them.

Many of them are pretty hard to use unless you have a video screen to work through their menus.
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post #4 of 661 Old 08-07-2013, 09:47 AM - Thread Starter
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Clarification: I don't want something that plays "fine." I'm looking for hi-fi sound quality for a bargain.
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post #5 of 661 Old 08-07-2013, 10:15 AM
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Why do you think a fancy CD/DVD player would sound better through your system than a cheaper model? It will sound identical to an expensive model.
You have a nice modest system there, even if there were audible differences between current models of players, it is doubtful your system would resolve them. And like I said, there really is no difference.
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post #6 of 661 Old 08-07-2013, 10:28 AM
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I had the Sony ES9000 awhile back. Good player but now outdated. It is not a DVD audio player and plays only stereo SACDs. For the price and equipment you have, plays fine will be the best you get. I don't mean to be negative but trying to set realistic goals based on the info given.
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post #7 of 661 Old 08-07-2013, 11:10 AM
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Audiophile mythology aside, there really is no such thing as an audiophile CD player anymore. Or rather, there really is no such thing as a non-audiophile CD player anymore. An $80 DVD player will sound as good as $10,000 Stereophile Class A doorstop. That's why CD-only players are now hard to find in your price range. It makes no economic sense to produce a product that's so limited. IOW, don't sweat this decision.
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post #8 of 661 Old 08-07-2013, 11:15 AM
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Originally Posted by MamaKrayma View Post

Clarification: I don't want something that plays "fine." I'm looking for hi-fi sound quality for a bargain.

Ah yes, we all want something for nothing. The good news is that this is something you can do for playing CD's. Go get yourself a Samsung 5100 Blu Ray player. It should cost you around $69. It will play a CD as well as anything else in the industry. To ease Mr. Kreuger's concerns, there is no need for a screen or setup menus if all you want to do is play CD's. Buying a dedicated CD player is ridiculous. The market for them is dead so the prices are high. Blu Ray players represent a huge market and the products are cheap and readily available. All you need is a laser mechanism to read the data and a DAC. Every Blu Ray player has those and all of them come from a small number of manufacturers. None of the player makers make their own lasers or their own DAC chips. The Samsung is small, light, cheap and realiable. I have one in my bedroom system. Now that you know they all sound the same, doesn't $69 seem like a bargain? It does to me.
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post #9 of 661 Old 08-07-2013, 11:29 AM
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Originally Posted by FMW View Post

Every Blu Ray player has those and all of them come from a small number of manufacturers. None of the player makers make their own lasers or their own DAC chips. The Samsung is small, light, cheap and realiable. I have one in my bedroom system. Now that you know they all sound the same, doesn't $69 seem like a bargain? It does to me.

The sound quality is dependent on the quality of the DACs. hence, they do NOT all sound the same. Using an Oppo-95 (or 105) will give you high quality DACs that will blow that Samsung, and other of its ilk, away. The caveat is you need a system to exploit those benefits or it is indeed a waste of money.
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post #10 of 661 Old 08-07-2013, 12:04 PM
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The sound quality is dependent on the quality of the DACs. hence, they do NOT all sound the same.
Like I said, audiophile mythology. No one has been able to demonstrate the ability to distinguish between brand-name players, regardless of DAC used, for a couple of decades.
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The caveat is you need a system to exploit those benefits or it is indeed a waste of money.
The caveat is that you shouldn't let other people's vivid imaginations and careless comparisons govern your purchasing decisions.
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post #11 of 661 Old 08-07-2013, 12:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Gary Seven View Post

The sound quality is dependent on the quality of the DACs. hence, they do NOT all sound the same. Using an Oppo-95 (or 105) will give you high quality DACs that will blow that Samsung, and other of its ilk, away. The caveat is you need a system to exploit those benefits or it is indeed a waste of money.

You picked the wrong guy. I'm one of those people who has actually done the bias controlled tests. Your comments get nothing but a knowing smile and nod from me. Go do the bias controlled tests and then come back and tell me how one blu ray player's DAC outperforms that of another. If find something it would floor me and I'd certainly be interested in knowing about it. Until you do that, however, you need to give this sort of information to others who don't know better.

I assume you are aware that no blu ray manufacturer makes their own DACs. They all buy them from the same sources.
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post #12 of 661 Old 08-07-2013, 12:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Gary Seven View Post

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Originally Posted by FMW View Post

Every Blu Ray player has those and all of them come from a small number of manufacturers. None of the player makers make their own lasers or their own DAC chips. The Samsung is small, light, cheap and realiable. I have one in my bedroom system. Now that you know they all sound the same, doesn't $69 seem like a bargain? It does to me.

The sound quality is dependent on the quality of the DACs.

Largely so. There are analog buffer stages that usually follow the DACs and the buffers could potentially affect sound quality as well.

But here's a problem for people who want to spend tons of money on music players.

There is a general rule, which is that the sound quality of a system is generally maximized if you keep the audio in the digital domain as close to the speakers as you can. For most of this this means using a digital connection between our music player and our AVR. The sound quality of the DAC in the music player then becomes moot because it is not in the active signal path.

It is possible to avoid the DAC in the AVR's that have a Direct or Bypass mode. However, this usually disables other very useful features of the AVR such as bass management and automated system optimization such as Audyssey, MCACC and YPAO. The bass management in most music players if it exists tends to be inferior or certainly no better than the bass management in the AVR. Generally a bad idea.

Bottom line is that a music player with a digital output, and no to minimal analog outputs, is overall your best choice for sound quality.
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Using an Oppo-95 (or 105) will give you high quality DACs that will blow that Samsung, and other of its ilk, away.

I've been hearing claims like this for decades and having them actually prove true in a well-run listening test just doesn't seem to happen. In short, hyperbole like that is indicative of someone who has never ever done a listening test of music players that is level matched, time synched, allows listeners to switch rapidly whenever they want to, and is double blind.
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The caveat is you need a system to exploit those benefits or it is indeed a waste of money.

I've heard that too for decades, and the solution is to actually follow up and do the DBT in that person's listening room with as much of his equipment as possible. Frankly, a lot of people who talk that way don't have the best systems. For the rest, the home court advantage gives them no joy.
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post #13 of 661 Old 08-07-2013, 02:35 PM
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It is possible to avoid the DAC in the AVR's that have a Direct or Bypass mode. However, this usually disables other very useful features of the AVR such as bass management and automated system optimization such as Audyssey, MCACC and YPAO. The bass management in most music players if it exists tends to be inferior or certainly no better than the bass management in the AVR. Generally a bad idea.

Yes... you have to go direct, which is what I do, and the higher end players do have bass management, cross-over settings, etc. In addition, I calibrate myself using an SPL and avoid equalization when listening to music (movies are a different matter) and send the analog signals to the amp. A bad idea? A matter of opinion.

As for the others, I have done comparisons and found the differences in sound quality. It is not difficult to swap out players. While it is not something that shows up in A/B testing, it has shown up for me when listening to music over a length of time in the form of ear fatigue.
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post #14 of 661 Old 08-07-2013, 03:09 PM - Thread Starter
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Two things:

1) All Blu-ray players sound the same??? I actually have a Sony Blu-ray SACD player in my setup and it sounds very harsh using analog which is why I use HDMI. From my research I conclude this:

Analog connection: uses source's DAC
Digital connection: uses AVR's DAC

So, what happened? Why are there a crowd of people on Amazon praising these old DVD players and proclaiming how they got twice the fidelity with such? Have DACs become so good that every player out there has the same "master DAC"?

2) Why use a digital connection? I thought using analog bypasses digital crap-mixing and therefore givers you a much more natural sound, which is why a good dedicated source is so important.
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post #15 of 661 Old 08-07-2013, 03:41 PM
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1) All Blu-ray players sound the same???
Probably. No one can test all of them, but every published test of CD players using standard scientific controls over the last two decades has concluded that the test subjects were unable to tell the difference between various players. By the mid-1990s, this fact was so banal as to be included in college textbooks. The differences between DAC chips are simply too small for humans to detect.
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I actually have a Samsung Blu-ray SACD player in my setup and it sounds very harsh using analog which is why I use HDMI.
It's just barely possible that there's something wrong with your Samsung, but it is much more likely that either 1) the output levels are different depending on which connection you use, and the differences you hear are a function of that output difference (even if they sound like they're equally loud), or 2) you've got it in your head, maybe just subconsciously, that digital connections are better (they are, but not for this reason), and that influences what you think you hear. That's not a criticism of you. That just means you're human like the rest of us.
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So, what happened? Why are there a crowd of people on Amazon praising these old DVD players and proclaiming how they got twice the fidelity with such?
They have likely made the same uncontrolled comparisons you've made, and come to similar conclusions.
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2) Why use a digital connection? I thought using analog bypasses digital crap-mixing and therefore givers you a much more natural sound, which is why a good dedicated source is so important.
I have no idea what you're trying to say here, but the reason to use a digital connection has nothing to do with the relative quality of the DACs in the source vs. the AVR. It has to do with the fact that the AVR has worthwhile features (room correction, bass management, etc.) that can only be applied to digital signals, and so keeping the signal digital into your AVR let's you take advantage of all its capabilities.
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post #16 of 661 Old 08-07-2013, 03:42 PM
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Originally Posted by mcnarus View Post

Probably. No one can test all of them, but every published test of CD players using standard scientific controls over the last two decades has concluded that the test subjects were unable to tell the difference between various players. By the mid-1990s, this fact was so banal as to be included in college textbooks. The differences between DAC chips are simply too small for humans to detect.
If you keep repeating a thing it does not become magically true...
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post #17 of 661 Old 08-07-2013, 03:55 PM
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Yes... you have to go direct, which is what I do, and the higher end players do have bass management, cross-over settings, etc. In addition, I calibrate myself using an SPL and avoid equalization when listening to music (movies are a different matter) and send the analog signals to the amp. A bad idea? A matter of opinion.

As for the others, I have done comparisons and found the differences in sound quality. It is not difficult to swap out players. While it is not something that shows up in A/B testing, it has shown up for me when listening to music over a length of time in the form of ear fatigue.

I get ear fatigue sometimes, and sometimes I don't get it, when listening to the exact same system. Ear fatigue could be brought on by a number of things: Room temperature and humidity, the music you are playing, the levels you're playing that music at, what you ate for breakfast, whether or not you blew your nose, how much water you drank that day, and whether or not your wife moved the extra blanket that she sometimes keeps on the couch.

Ear fatigue is simply not a good measure of .... much of anything.
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post #18 of 661 Old 08-07-2013, 03:56 PM
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If you keep repeating a thing it does not become magically true...

Exactly right. So why do you keep repeating that you can hear differences in DACs, yet you have not participated in actual controlled listening tests?

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post #19 of 661 Old 08-07-2013, 04:05 PM
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I did my own tests, measurements. I know what to "look for". I did my own ABX to see if is meaningful. I don't need nobody control to know what I heard.
Your "controlled" tests will show nothing useful. The are the same like saying that holding a hand in ice and the other in boiling water, in average you feel good.
Statistics without 'population standard deviation' understanding means squat. If only 1 person in 100 hears the difference, the difference exists, indifferent if the rest 99 can't hear it.
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post #20 of 661 Old 08-07-2013, 04:08 PM
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Originally Posted by SoNic67 View Post

I did my own tests, measurements. I know what to "look for". I don't need nobody control to know what I heard.
Your "controlled" tests will show nothing useful. The are the same like saying that holding a hand in ice and the other in boiling water, in average you feel good.
Statistics without 'population standard deviation' understanding means squat.

Gotcha. You have golden ears, by gawd, and you know it, you just can't prove it in controlled testing because......?

If it's so easy for people like you to hear differences in DACs, wouldn't it be even easier to hear the differences when the DACs are level-matched and you're allowed to switch quickly back and forth? I've never understood the counterargument at all.

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post #21 of 661 Old 08-07-2013, 04:09 PM
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I did my own tests, measurements. I know what to "look for". I did my own ABX to see if is meaninfull. I don't need nobody control to know what I heard.

Details, please.
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Your "controlled" tests will show nothing useful.

If this is an admission that your tests lacked the controls specified by the ABX procedure, then you have no business calling your uncontrolled sighted evaluations "ABX".
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The are the same like saying that holding a hand in ice and the other in boiling water, in average you feel good.

Please explain how this is relevant.
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Statistics without 'population standard deviation' understanding means squat.

Please explain in more detail.
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post #22 of 661 Old 08-07-2013, 04:11 PM
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Because then your brain cannot discriminate the required sounds (that I look for) in short time. It takes effort and time to adapt to the sounds, to filter what I need to filter and the switch-over pause triggers the brain adaptation mode - that has less mental resolution.
I don't have golden ears, any regular musician can sense the same differences. But rapidly switching between sources will confuse them too.
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post #23 of 661 Old 08-07-2013, 04:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Gary Seven View Post


As for the others, I have done comparisons and found the differences in sound quality. It is not difficult to swap out players.

It's not difficult to do component swapping, but the delays involved are well known to destroy listener sensitivity to audible differences. However, it has no effect and may even enhance imaginary differences.

[/quote]
While it is not something that shows up in A/B testing, it has shown up for me when listening to music over a length of time in the form of ear fatigue.[/quote]

If it doesn't show up in A/B testing how are we to interpret your claim that:

" I did my own ABX "

Or are you saying that you have proven to yourself that the imaginary audible differences you perceive in sighted evaluations disappear when proper experimental controls are added?
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post #24 of 661 Old 08-07-2013, 04:17 PM
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Originally Posted by SoNic67 View Post

Because then your brain cannot discriminate the required sounds (that I look for) in short time. It takes effort and time to adapt to the sounds, to filter what I need to filter and the switch-over pause triggers the brain adaptation mode - that has less mental resolution.
I don't have golden ears, any regular musician can sense the same differences. But rapidly switching between sources will confuse them too.

We already know you haven't really done any bias controlled testing. Why not try it and take as much time as you like to "adapt" to the sound before switching? I don't see any problem with that. It is time consuming but it isn't difficult. I guarantee you will learn from the experience.
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post #25 of 661 Old 08-07-2013, 04:30 PM - Thread Starter
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Why the heck was there a market for "hi-fi" CD players then? Was everyone fooled for decades by believing that there are superior DACs? And I'm actually more of an analog supporter. As such, I'm beginning to think that the articles I've read are propaganda, stating that pure analog always gives purer music. And dedicated CD players have always had cheaper DACs than any low-end receiver today? What am I missing here? Or is this just a lot of junk that poor people say to make themselves feel better about having low-end systems?
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post #26 of 661 Old 08-07-2013, 04:30 PM - Thread Starter
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Why the heck was there a market for "hi-fi" CD players then? Was everyone fooled for decades by believing that there are superior DACs? And I'm actually more of an analog supporter. As such, I'm beginning to think that the articles I've read are propaganda, stating that pure analog always gives purer music. And dedicated CD players have always had cheaper DACs than any low-end receiver today? What am I missing here? Or is this just a lot of junk that poor people say to make themselves feel better about having low-end systems?
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post #27 of 661 Old 08-07-2013, 04:30 PM - Thread Starter
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Why the heck was there a market for "hi-fi" CD players then? Was everyone fooled for decades by believing that there are superior DACs? And I'm actually more of an analog supporter. As such, I'm beginning to think that the articles I've read are propaganda, stating that pure analog always gives purer music. And dedicated CD players have always had cheaper DACs than any low-end receiver today? What am I missing here? Or is this just a lot of junk that poor people say to make themselves feel better about having low-end systems?
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post #28 of 661 Old 08-07-2013, 06:05 PM
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Why the heck was there a market for "hi-fi" CD players then?
Because there were consumers who either convinced themselves otherwise or wanted to believe otherwise. If you do sloppy comparisons, you'll "hear" differences. If you do careful comparisons, you won't. But almost nobody does careful comparisons, so it's pretty easy to fool themselves. Especially if they want to be fooled—if they want to believe that they are among the elite who can hear these differences that ordinary mortals cannot.
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As such, I'm beginning to think that the articles I've read are propaganda, stating that pure analog always gives purer music.
Well, analog certainly won't give you more accurate reproduction. That's a simple statement of fact. But people can certainly prefer analog, despite its limitations.
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Or is this just a lot of junk that poor people say to make themselves feel better about having low-end systems?
There are plenty of people here who can afford much more expensive audio systems than they have. But they know what makes a difference, and what doesn't. Whereas there are people who are trying to cover up the fact that they've wasted a boatload of money on things that really don't make a difference. You have to decide who you want to believe.
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post #29 of 661 Old 08-07-2013, 06:56 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by mcnarus View Post

Because there were consumers who either convinced themselves otherwise or wanted to believe otherwise. If you do sloppy comparisons, you'll "hear" differences. If you do careful comparisons, you won't. But almost nobody does careful comparisons, so it's pretty easy to fool themselves. Especially if they want to be fooled—if they want to believe that they are among the elite who can hear these differences that ordinary mortals cannot.
Well, analog certainly won't give you more accurate reproduction. That's a simple statement of fact. But people can certainly prefer analog, despite its limitations.
There are plenty of people here who can afford much more expensive audio systems than they have. But they know what makes a difference, and what doesn't. Whereas there are people who are trying to cover up the fact that they've wasted a boatload of money on things that really don't make a difference. You have to decide who you want to believe.
Thanks for the insight (same to the rest of you). Excellent to know before I wasted cash on, well, a waste. So are components made by say, Oppo, a rip-off?
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So are components made by say, Oppo, a rip-off?
Absolutely not. They play numerous audio formats. They handle video extremely well. If you need a machine with those capabilities, they are the right tool for the job. And there's nothing wrong with buying something because it's extremely well-made, or novel in some way, or just old-school.

For that matter, there's nothing wrong with buying something because you think it sounds better, even though it really doesn't. The only problem comes when you try to give other people advice based on your own faulty comparisons. Then you're going to get push-back, at least in forums like this one where all viewpoints are allowed.

If you can't explain how it works, you can't say it doesn't.—The High-End Creed

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