Is There an Audible Difference Between High End CD Transports and Modest/Cheap CD Players? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 177 Old 10-05-2013, 11:22 AM - Thread Starter
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I have been told that CD player is just that - a CD player. No matter how much you pay for a player (well let say starting at $100 and up) the sound will remain the same. The manufacturers will claim redefining laws of physics and all that nonsense. But still, there will be no AUDIBLE difference between a garden variety $100 Sony CD player and the likes of these $12,000 beauties below.





Is this true? Provided we are sampling the same CD/SACD and audio system is of an elite level to pickup the difference, if there is any.
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post #2 of 177 Old 10-05-2013, 11:33 AM
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Basically. It's possible to screw up anything, and of course defects happen, but even the least expensive DACs have such low distortion that they can't be distinguished from the original source—and therefore, from each other—in a good listening test.

Of course, there are lots of naive audiophiles who want to believe in the perfection of their ears. That's why those $12,000 items exist.

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post #3 of 177 Old 10-05-2013, 01:40 PM
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Hilariously, some of those ultra high end units literally have a much cheaper players' guts inside the case.
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post #4 of 177 Old 10-05-2013, 02:50 PM
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Originally Posted by bradman View Post

Hilariously, some of those ultra high end units literally have a much cheaper players' guts inside the case.

They all do. No manufacturer that I know of (except perhaps for Sony) make their own laser mechanisms. I say that because I once had a high end CD player that had a Sony mechanism inside. They all buy them from an OEM supplier. These units won't even play DVD's or Blu-Rays.
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post #5 of 177 Old 10-05-2013, 02:58 PM - Thread Starter
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Even if win the next Powerball or Jackpot of lottery, I cant imagine paying twelve grand for something that does the same job as any other player.
Then again, what is twelve grand if you happened to win a few hundred million? Would you guys buy that Accuphase CD player if that sort of fortune befalls on you?
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post #6 of 177 Old 10-05-2013, 03:26 PM
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No but I would buy a spectacular set of speakers.
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post #7 of 177 Old 10-05-2013, 03:57 PM - Thread Starter
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I think you are right. Speakers are the most important factor in the process of listening. Upgrading other components (amplifier, wiring, CD transport, etc.) will not result in a dramatic improvement. Next to the speakers I would mention the quality of original master recording, but this is beyond our control.
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post #8 of 177 Old 10-05-2013, 05:49 PM
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12,000$ is way too much. CD players do have their differences but this was in the 90's and 80's when DAC technology was still improving. Today DACS have a very good SNR and extremely low THD that there is really no point of spending more than 100$ on a CD player. Now there might be a difference between different CD players because you have an analog output stage that outputs the signal although most CD players sound the same. Back in the 90's and more so in the 80's these output stages affected the sound quit a bit and the DACS sounded different too. I have two Sony players my one cheaper player sounds muddier same DAC but different output stage.

Today's players output stages and DACS are pretty much all the same, I actually think the older players sound better especially the ones from Denon.

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post #9 of 177 Old 10-06-2013, 12:23 AM - Thread Starter
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Not to make this thread even more convoluted than it already is, what about the difference between PC CD/DVD/BD drives? Are there better ones and worse ones?
Again , I am taking about an audible difference while listening to music . Thanks.
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post #10 of 177 Old 10-06-2013, 05:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grigorianvlad View Post

Not to make this thread even more convoluted than it already is, what about the difference between PC CD/DVD/BD drives? Are there better ones and worse ones?
Again , I am taking about an audible difference while listening to music . Thanks.

No difference.
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post #11 of 177 Old 10-06-2013, 06:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grigorianvlad View Post

Even if win the next Powerball or Jackpot of lottery, I cant imagine paying twelve grand for something that does the same job as any other player.
Then again, what is twelve grand if you happened to win a few hundred million? Would you guys buy that Accuphase CD player if that sort of fortune befalls on you?

First thing on my list when I win the lottery is a house with rooms designed for ht/audio enjoyment! Then speakers. smile.gif
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post #12 of 177 Old 10-06-2013, 07:39 AM
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The dwindling supporters of "high end" cd players have, by and large, been forced to concede the point on DACs or at least have become more willing to de-emphasize the importance of the DAC chips. But they've collectively retrenched their position to emphasize the "analog stage". This is where they claim the magic happens, where one player audibly distinguishes itself from the next. And being a relatively vague term, they can use it to maintain their positional cover (i.e., a belief in audible differences between $100 and $1000 and $10,000 players) whereas a DAC is relatively too straightforward by comparison.

Mourning the disappearing usage of the -ly suffix. Words being cut-off before they've had a chance to fully form, left incomplete, with their shoelaces untied and their zippers undone. If I quote your post (or post in your thread) without comment, please check your zipper.
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post #13 of 177 Old 10-06-2013, 08:46 AM
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So is the analog stage. Unless you tried really hard to make it otherwise, the analog stages are free of audible distortion. There is simply no point whatsoever in buying an expensive CD player unless you enjoy having bouts with your hearing bias.
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post #14 of 177 Old 10-06-2013, 03:40 PM
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Originally Posted by FMW View Post

So is the analog stage. Unless you tried really hard to make it otherwise, the analog stages are free of audible distortion. There is simply no point whatsoever in buying an expensive CD player unless you enjoy having bouts with your hearing bias.

Correct. They can if manufactures want it to have a certain sound characteristic. I remember some manufacture used tubes in the output stage, it was also very expensive.

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post #15 of 177 Old 10-06-2013, 04:58 PM
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Originally Posted by grigorianvlad View Post

I think you are right. Speakers are the most important factor in the process of listening. Upgrading other components (amplifier, wiring, CD transport, etc.) will not result in a dramatic improvement. Next to the speakers I would mention the quality of original master recording, but this is beyond our control.

I have to disagree with you on this one. I just replaced a 2-year old, $400 Yamaha integrated amplifier with a Creek Evolution 50a and it's the only part of my system that I upgraded. The improvement in sound quality is really remarkable. I've been listening to a Django Reinhardt record I've had for over 30 years (and listened to hundreds, if not thousands of times). The new amp reveals subtleties and textures that I had never heard before. It's a pretty dramatic improvement.

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post #16 of 177 Old 10-06-2013, 05:32 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Skullbros View Post

I have to disagree with you on this one. I just replaced a 2-year old, $400 Yamaha integrated amplifier with a Creek Evolution 50a and it's the only part of my system that I upgraded. The improvement in sound quality is really remarkable. I've been listening to a Django Reinhardt record I've had for over 30 years (and listened to hundreds, if not thousands of times). The new amp reveals subtleties and textures that I had never heard before. It's a pretty dramatic improvement.

Well, that depends.
Take a new CD of some rock group that plays so loud that your ears bleed. But when it comes to hearing all the subtle details your power amp is sure to enhance and bring forward, they are not even recorded. So, it does not matter if you have a super power amp. The source (the master tape) was created for mass market that mostly uses iPhones or PC speakers, not your McIntosh MC2KW power amp. The only possible complain of this target market listener group is that "it isnt loud enough when I work out in the gym".

But then again, if you have an excellent master recording - then it is another story. Then you are right. Power amp is the next important upgrade to the speakers. But still, I enjoy a good recording even without my power amp, directly from the receiver.

Let me give you an example. Michael Franks (smooth jazz) released a CD "Barefoot on the Beach". In 1987, if I am not mistaken. It sounds very detailed. Every background sax, cymbal crashes, background solos, every whisper is very vivid and distinct. You can enjoy it on almost any source, with or without a power amp (good speakers notwithstanding). Then he releases some kind of a retrospection 5 CD collection for a hundred bucks a year or two ago. Some of the old 1987 songs included as well. You would have thought the sound is going to be better, but hell no. It sounds louder, yes. But quality wise - not so much. Its like you are listening with pillows over your ears. It does not matter what sort of power amp you add into the mix. If source has no details for the power amp to accentuate, to bring forward, it will still sound dull. Listening to the older version without a power amp beats the new version with one by a mile! You dont need a spectroscope to pickup the difference. You can catch it from another room, that is how dramatic it is.

That is why I am listing good master audio recording after the speaker upgrade and before the power amp.

See my thread "A Perfect CD to Showcase Your Speakers - Does it Even Exist?"
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post #17 of 177 Old 10-06-2013, 05:57 PM
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I have to disagree with you on this one. I just replaced a 2-year old, $400 Yamaha integrated amplifier with a Creek Evolution 50a and it's the only part of my system that I upgraded. The improvement in sound quality is really remarkable. I've been listening to a Django Reinhardt record I've had for over 30 years (and listened to hundreds, if not thousands of times). The new amp reveals subtleties and textures that I had never heard before. It's a pretty dramatic improvement.
Hate to burst your bubble, but this is unlikely, unless there was something really wrong with the Yamaha. You're not hearing anything different. The change in amps has convinced you you're hearing something different. If we had you switch back and forth between the old and new amps, you'd never be able to tell which is which.

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

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post #18 of 177 Old 10-06-2013, 06:10 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by mcnarus View Post

Hate to burst your bubble, but this is unlikely, unless there was something really wrong with the Yamaha. You're not hearing anything different. The change in amps has convinced you you're hearing something different. If we had you switch back and forth between the old and new amps, you'd never be able to tell which is which.

Better yet: double blind study method. Place each setup behind a curtain and ask which is which 10-20 times. I realize this is not gonna happen, but if it did I think mcnarus is 100% on the money here! No difference will be heard.
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post #19 of 177 Old 10-06-2013, 06:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FMW View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by grigorianvlad View Post

Not to make this thread even more convoluted than it already is, what about the difference between PC CD/DVD/BD drives? Are there better ones and worse ones?
Again , I am taking about an audible difference while listening to music . Thanks.

No difference.

There lots of differences between many of the various drives in PCs, but they don't relate to sound quality. They are all read digitally and the error rates for playback are generally very low and correctable.
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post #20 of 177 Old 10-06-2013, 06:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Skullbros View Post

I have to disagree with you on this one. I just replaced a 2-year old, $400 Yamaha integrated amplifier with a Creek Evolution 50a and it's the only part of my system that I upgraded. The improvement in sound quality is really remarkable. I've been listening to a Django Reinhardt record I've had for over 30 years (and listened to hundreds, if not thousands of times). The new amp reveals subtleties and textures that I had never heard before. It's a pretty dramatic improvement.

Two words: sighted evaluation. I've heard these stories about "reveals subtleties and textures that I had never heard before" many times before. If the units meet minimal standards, and the comparison is time-synched, level-matched, quick-switched under listener control and bias controlled, that sort of thing just goes away. That I've seen it happen many times including to myself. It is universal.

Compare the artifacts produced by a good modern amp to the threshold of hearing, including the effects of concurrent spectral masking. No way are they going to be heard.
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post #21 of 177 Old 10-06-2013, 07:07 PM - Thread Starter
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Two words: sighted evaluation. I've heard these stories about "reveals subtleties and textures that I had never heard before" many times before. If the units meet minimal standards, and the comparison is time-synched, level-matched, quick-switched under listener control and bias controlled, that sort of thing just goes away. That I've seen it happen many times including to myself. It is universal.

Compare the artifacts produced by a good modern amp to the threshold of hearing, including the effects of concurrent spectral masking. No way are they going to be heard.

Actually, a good power amp indeed improves sound greatly. I wouldn't say it is a night and day difference, but Skullbros is right. If you have good speakers and good source recording the difference is remarkable. Are you saying that all power amplifiers are useless, arnyk?
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post #22 of 177 Old 10-06-2013, 07:14 PM
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Actually, a good power amp indeed improves sound greatly. I wouldn't say it is a night and day difference, but Skullbros is right. If you have good speakers and good source recording the difference is remarkable. Are you saying that all power amplifiers are useless, arnyk?

It depends on the receiver... I'm using a 25 watt Technics receiver and couldn't be happier. There comes a point where a receiver isn't going to sound better, look at distortion ratings and the line input s-n-r.

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post #23 of 177 Old 10-06-2013, 07:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grigorianvlad View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

Two words: sighted evaluation. I've heard these stories about "reveals subtleties and textures that I had never heard before" many times before. If the units meet minimal standards, and the comparison is time-synched, level-matched, quick-switched under listener control and bias controlled, that sort of thing just goes away. That I've seen it happen many times including to myself. It is universal.

Compare the artifacts produced by a good modern amp to the threshold of hearing, including the effects of concurrent spectral masking. No way are they going to be heard.

Actually, a good power amp indeed improves sound greatly. I wouldn't say it is a night and day difference, but Skullbros is right. If you have good speakers and good source recording the difference is remarkable. Are you saying that all power amplifiers are useless, arnyk?

The above post is really beneath responding to because it makes such illogical statements and so thoroughly twists what I said.
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post #24 of 177 Old 10-06-2013, 07:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grigorianvlad View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

Two words: sighted evaluation. I've heard these stories about "reveals subtleties and textures that I had never heard before" many times before. If the units meet minimal standards, and the comparison is time-synched, level-matched, quick-switched under listener control and bias controlled, that sort of thing just goes away. That I've seen it happen many times including to myself. It is universal.

Compare the artifacts produced by a good modern amp to the threshold of hearing, including the effects of concurrent spectral masking. No way are they going to be heard.

Actually, a good power amp indeed improves sound greatly. I wouldn't say it is a night and day difference, but Skullbros is right. If you have good speakers and good source recording the difference is remarkable. Are you saying that all power amplifiers are useless, arnyk?

I have a few good power amps as well as receivers....I'd say they make little difference. Audiophoolery especially when you think your ears somehow can tell the difference with "good speakers and good source" as if that's something special. If you need the power of an outboard amp, that's one thing, but I don't think the boutique amps are game changers at all....

What's the quantitative difference between "improves sound greatly" but not a "night and day" difference?

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post #25 of 177 Old 10-06-2013, 07:31 PM - Thread Starter
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It depends on the receiver... I'm using a 25 watt Technics receiver and couldn't be happier. There comes a point where a receiver isn't going to sound better, look at distortion ratings and the line input s-n-r.

I dont know what kind of source you are using and what sort of speakers you have, but there is no way in the world a Technics receiver (I've owned two, one used with a top of the line Technics power amp) is the perfection achieved. The consumer division of Technics went out of business almost 20 years ago.
Are you saying that there will be no audible difference between your system and the likes of this? I am only trying to understand this "There comes a point where a receiver isn't going to sound better".
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post #26 of 177 Old 10-06-2013, 07:39 PM
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I'm just looking for amplification, not some sort of on paper perfection of specs, somewhat that diminishing returns concept. I have several different brands of amps and avrs, but not those two. McIntosh is nice but I would never spend that much, may as well get that $12000 cd player. Still, I'd bet you'd get fooled in an ABX test.

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post #27 of 177 Old 10-06-2013, 07:58 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by lovinthehd View Post

I have a few good power amps as well as receivers....I'd say they make little difference. Audiophoolery especially when you think your ears somehow can tell the difference with "good speakers and good source" as if that's something special. If you need the power of an outboard amp, that's one thing, but I don't think the boutique amps are game changers at all....

What's the quantitative difference between "improves sound greatly" but not a "night and day" difference?

Here is my experience after an upgrade to an external power amp:

"The music becomes muti-dimensional even in Stereo mode, just like you opened a pop up 3D book. It expands, deepens. The tweeters are now awake, working overtime. Midrange sounds much clearer than VSX'-53s, it isnt mumbling to itself as before. Every instrument is distinct, clearly pronounced. The crashing of cymbals is suspended in the air a second longer, it does not overshadow the vocals or guitars anymore. Instruments, voices are not reproduced, but rather completely reincarnated in their original glory. I can enjoy nuances I didn't even know where originally recorded (and I heard these BluRays a thousand times before). It isn't just listening to music anymore. It is experiencing it, like you are actually there, in the recording studio."

This above is "improved greatly". A night and day difference is not applicable to amplification. But lets say you will experience it if you upgrade your speakers from these:

Processed By eBay with ImageMagick, R1.1.1.||B2||T0JKX0lEPTVjYTFhYjFlYTQ1YTAyODgwNTIxNzc4MWFjZjlkZDA1MjI0MDZkYTdkNTA4fHxPUklHSU5BTF9FQkFZX1FVQUxJVFlfU0NPUkU9NHx8Q1JFQVRJT05fREFURT05LzIxLzEzIDEyOjQxIFBN

... to these:


CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v62), quality = 90
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post #28 of 177 Old 10-06-2013, 08:06 PM
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You quote yourself? Weird. Sounds like something from an audiophool magazine selling stuff that costs too much via "reviews". So just what was this magic amp that changed your life? Did you do a proper ABX with the previous setup? Or using your golden ears, sonic memory and wallet to judge?

What speakers are those? The bottom one looks interesting.

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post #29 of 177 Old 10-06-2013, 08:07 PM
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Originally Posted by grigorianvlad View Post

Not to make this thread even more convoluted than it already is, what about the difference between PC CD/DVD/BD drives? Are there better ones and worse ones?
Again , I am taking about an audible difference while listening to music . Thanks.

Not for music listening (well, except faulty ones, I had a blu ray drive that couldn't find audio CDs). There are otherPC elements in the motherboard sound or soundcard that can affect sound, but mostly only if they are not any good. I SPDIF out to a DAC.
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post #30 of 177 Old 10-06-2013, 08:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grigorianvlad View Post

Here is my experience after an upgrade to an external power amp:

"The music becomes muti-dimensional even in Stereo mode, just like you opened a pop up 3D book. It expands, deepens. The tweeters are now awake, working overtime. Midrange sounds much clearer than VSX'-53s, it isnt mumbling to itself as before. Every instrument is distinct, clearly pronounced. The crashing of cymbals is suspended in the air a second longer, it does not overshadow the vocals or guitars anymore. Instruments, voices are not reproduced, but rather completely reincarnated in their original glory. I can enjoy nuances I didn't even know where originally recorded (and I heard these BluRays a thousand times before). It isn't just listening to music anymore. It is experiencing it, like you are actually there, in the recording studio."

This above is "improved greatly". A night and day difference is not applicable to amplification. But lets say you will experience it if you upgrade your speakers from these:

Processed By eBay with ImageMagick, R1.1.1.||B2||T0JKX0lEPTVjYTFhYjFlYTQ1YTAyODgwNTIxNzc4MWFjZjlkZDA1MjI0MDZkYTdkNTA4fHxPUklHSU5BTF9FQkFZX1FVQUxJVFlfU0NPUkU9NHx8Q1JFQVRJT05fREFURT05LzIxLzEzIDEyOjQxIFBN

... to these:


CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v62), quality = 90

You could upgrade from those blows to white van specials and have improved sound.
lespurgeon is offline  
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