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post #1 of 203 Old 07-18-2006, 09:31 PM - Thread Starter
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I own both a Denon DVD-5910 and a Ayre C-5xe. The other day I hooked them both up to my Ayre K-1xe Amplifier and noticed a very large difference in sound quality.

I was expecting the Denon to sound better because the discs I was playing were all HDCD discs and the Denon processes HDCD while the Ayre doesn't (as far as I have seen in any information I have read in the manual and online). The Denon sounded more distorted and more confined in its presentation.

Givens:
  • No break in of the single ended lines used on the Ayre K-1xe.
  • The C-5xe was connected with balanced cables and the Denon with single ended cables.
  • The balanced cables were of high quality, while the single ended cables were a cheap Best Buy brand.
  • The K-1xe converts single ended signals to a balanced signal since its internal processing is handled as balanced.
  • The Denon is being outputted to the K-1xe through its stereo outputs (DSD1792s in dual differential mode)

Supposedly none of these things should make a difference. So why is there such a large difference in the sound quality? Both players use the same Burr-Brown DSD1792 DACs. Is it the cheap OpAmps I've read about in the Denon DVD-5910?

I was really upset about this, because, to be frank, I was hoping my Dick's Picks Grateful Dead concerts would sound better since they utilize HDCD (No, I didn't use those when noticing the difference in sound quality - I was using Flaming Lips CDs). I'll still be using my Denon DVD-5910 for surround sound, but I am a little peeved. Does anyone know why the sound quality isn't even close in comparison?

I'm glad I own the C-5xe, but I want to add another CD source of similar quality to my system that only works with CD and includes good HDCD processing, since the Denon isn't giving me any advantage with its HDCD processing. Or, is the HDCD itself just BS?

Thanks for any input in advance... :cool:

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post #2 of 203 Old 07-18-2006, 09:50 PM - Thread Starter
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BTW, I expected the Denon to sound better with HDCD. That is what really surprised me! :eek:

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post #3 of 203 Old 07-19-2006, 04:56 AM
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Were the output levels the same going to the speakers?

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post #4 of 203 Old 07-19-2006, 05:47 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chu Gai
Were the output levels the same going to the speakers?
The gain was initially lower on the Denon, so I set them to the same level. Turning it up to the same level made problems in the sound quality more noticeable.

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post #5 of 203 Old 07-19-2006, 06:12 AM
 
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As someone who does not believe that one CD player can sound noticeably better than another (different, yes. Better, no) I would tend to look for the explanation in one of the other aspects of the system. One possibility is that your amp, being Ayre, has characteristics that are more compatible with the Ayre CD player than the Denon.
Then again, maybe this proves me wrong, and the Ayre is really better than the Denon. Was it a lot more expensive?
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post #6 of 203 Old 07-19-2006, 06:56 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PULLIAMM
As someone who does not believe that one CD player can sound noticeably better than another (different, yes. Better, no) I would tend to look for the explanation in one of the other aspects of the system. One possibility is that your amp, being Ayre, has characteristics that are more compatible with the Ayre CD player than the Denon.
Then again, maybe this proves me wrong, and the Ayre is really better than the Denon. Was it a lot more expensive?
The Denon is a universal DVD player (multichannel with video, etc, pretty much everything but the kitchen sink), whereas the Ayre is just a stereo all format player. The price on the Denon when I bought it was around $3500, the price on the Ayre was around $6000. The Ayre gear is set up to run in balanced mode internally, so I am thinking this might be one reason, as you mentioned concerning compatibility, since the C-5xe is built to work in balanced mode internally as well. So when both devices are in balanced mode there are no changes being applied to the signal to change it from single ended to balanced mode. I did/do expect a sound difference between the regular formats in stereo mode, since the Ayre gear is highly polished, but since it doesn't have HDCD I expected to be able to hear more dynamic range on the Denon with the added bits via HDCD processing, which I didn't (in fact it seems to be the exact opposite!). What I didn't expect was to hear such a large difference even with HDCD processing being used on the Denon and none being used on the Ayre, it is like a veil of grain is being lifted when I switch between the two.

I've had both units for quite a few months now and have never A/B tested them before, but when I put in the HDCD and was expecting a greater range but didn't hear it, I decided to set them up for A/B (The Denon was going to be moved to our bedroom, until I decided to turn my listening room/office into a listening room/HT). It also seems that the Ayre player is revealing more acoustical ambience (subtle recording space details) compared to the Denon. Is it possible that the naturally balanced mode between all the Ayre gear is responsible for these differences? I'm also running the preamp to the ampllifier in balanced mode as well. I do remember reading somewhere that the output stage on the Denon isn't that great which is why people are modding them, but I don't know much about OpAmps...

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post #7 of 203 Old 07-19-2006, 09:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PULLIAMM
As someone who does not believe that one CD player can sound noticeably better than another (different, yes. Better, no) I would tend to look for the explanation in one of the other aspects of the system. One possibility is that your amp, being Ayre, has characteristics that are more compatible with the Ayre CD player than the Denon.
Then again, maybe this proves me wrong, and the Ayre is really better than the Denon. Was it a lot more expensive?
Pulliamm, you really go out of your way to discount any sound quality differences between players. What specific technical characteristics would make the amp "more compatible" with the Ayre player? I'm not trying to be snarky. I'm not that smart about audio equipment and am sincerely interested in your reasoning.

Conversely, although the players both use the same DAC, I'm sure there are many other differences that could account for the difference in sound quality. For one, all the video circuitry in the Denon could color or affect the sound.

Finally, QueueCumber, many people just don't like HDCD. I only have a few (Mike Oldfield & King Crimson catalogues), but to me HDCD sounds overly bright and harsh. Steve Hoffman (not that I'm putting myself in his league!) also doesn't like it. Maybe your ears like regular CD better than HDCD.

Regards,
Doug
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post #8 of 203 Old 07-19-2006, 09:32 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dougotte
Pulliamm, you really go out of your way to discount any sound quality differences between players. What specific technical characteristics would make the amp "more compatible" with the Ayre player? I'm not trying to be snarky. I'm not that smart about audio equipment and am sincerely interested in your reasoning.

Conversely, although the players both use the same DAC, I'm sure there are many other differences that could account for the difference in sound quality. For one, all the video circuitry in the Denon could color or affect the sound.

Finally, QueueCumber, many people just don't like HDCD. I only have a few (Mike Oldfield & King Crimson catalogues), but to me HDCD sounds overly bright and harsh. Steve Hoffman (not that I'm putting myself in his league!) also doesn't like it. Maybe your ears like regular CD better than HDCD.

Regards,
Doug
It is definitely possible, though I wouldn't say it sounded bright, just grainy in comparison.

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post #9 of 203 Old 07-19-2006, 09:39 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dougotte
What specific technical characteristics would make the amp "more compatible" with the Ayre player?
I have no idea. I only know that they know the exact output of their own equipment, and can match them with each other better than with equipment from other brands. This is why, in any complete system, I always try to stick to one brand of electronics as closely as possible. (Speakers are another matter, as speaker specialists usually make better products than electronics companies.)
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post #10 of 203 Old 07-19-2006, 11:15 AM
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What happens when the levels are the same (BTW, how did you determine that?) and you play a non HDCD disc?

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post #11 of 203 Old 07-19-2006, 11:25 AM - Thread Starter
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I used an SPL meter and the same pink noise disc on both sources to mark out with tape the volume level where they match at an SPL of 80. I haven't A/B tested any non HDCD discs as of yet. I will when I get a chance later today or early tommorrow.

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post #12 of 203 Old 07-19-2006, 11:29 AM
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Note that there is an obligatory level change that goes with the decoding of an HDCD disc. So, if you use a non-HDCD pink-noise disc, the levels will be different when you compare decoded and non-decoded (on the same or different machines).

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post #13 of 203 Old 07-19-2006, 11:32 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kal Rubinson
Note that there is an obligatory level change that goes with the decoding of an HDCD disc. So, if you use a non-HDCD pink-noise disc, the levels will be different when you compare decoded and non-decoded (on the same or different machines).

Kal
So how would I go about compensating for this? Does anyone know how to record pink noise with HDCD? Or can I turn one or the other's gain up, or lower, a little bit to compensate?

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post #14 of 203 Old 07-19-2006, 11:34 AM
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We(!) willl have to do a little research on this but, iirc, it was a 6dB level cut.

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post #15 of 203 Old 07-19-2006, 11:41 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kal Rubinson
We(!) willl have to do a little research on this but, iirc, it was a 6dB level cut.

Kal
So would changing the dB-SPL on the Denon gain setting +6 to 86 on the SPL meter be a solution (or +n where n = the level cut)?

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post #16 of 203 Old 07-19-2006, 11:48 AM
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I believe you're right Kal. Better level matching could be done with pink noise or even better like a test tone at 1 kHz using a VOM at the speaker terminals, Queu. Right now Queu, all you're able to determine is that for whatever reasons, you prefer the non-HDCD processed version of the disc. You'll get more meaningful results that you can ponder if you do better level matching and use a non-HDCD disc.

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post #17 of 203 Old 07-19-2006, 12:10 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dougotte
Pulliamm, you really go out of your way to discount any sound quality differences between players.
When the CD format was first developed, standards were set that all CD players had to meet from then on. These standards are so high, that any deviation from a perfect signal is not detectable by the human ear. My reason for emphasizing that more money only buys build quality is that even the cheapest entry-level units have less noise and distortion and better channel separation, etc. than the very best receivers/amps and speakers.
My first CD player was a cheap (for the time) portable. Every time I connected it to a friend's system, they were astonished by how much better it was than the tape deck and/or turntable they had been using.
I believe that the only audible limitations of the CD format, even for a cheap player, are in the mastering of the discs themselves.
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post #18 of 203 Old 07-19-2006, 03:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by QueueCumber
I'm glad I own the C-5xe, but I want to add another CD source of similar quality to my system that only works with CD and includes good HDCD processing, since the Denon isn't giving me any advantage with its HDCD processing. Or, is the HDCD itself just BS?
HDCD is definitely not BS. Reference Recording's catalog, for example, is a testament to that.

You may have to find more HDCD albums to do more comparisons for yourself...

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post #19 of 203 Old 07-21-2006, 02:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by QueueCumber
I own both a Denon DVD-5910 and a Ayre C-5xe. The other day I hooked them both up to my Ayre K-1xe Amplifier and noticed a very large difference in sound quality.

I was expecting the Denon to sound better because the discs I was playing were all HDCD discs and the Denon processes HDCD while the Ayre doesn't.
You are correct that the Ayre player does not perform HDCD decoding. There are a few points to note:

1) Contrary to the inexperienced opinions expressed by some on this forum, there are significant audible differences between CD players. The Ayre has many design features that are lacking in the Denon, as well as featuring significantly improved parts quality.

2) Contrary to the inexperienced opinions expressed by some on this forum, there are significant audible differences between interconnects. Using a high-quality balanced cable on the Ayre versus the cheap single-ended cable on the Denon makes it difficult (at best) to make a meaningful comparison.

3) The 6 dB level change (if implemented on a particular disc, more below) would make the Denon *louder* than the Ayre, and not the other way around. So this would tend to make the Denon sound "better" when comparing discs.

4) Finally, there is not really such a thing as an HDCD disc. Instead, there are a multitude of processes that can optionally be applied to a disc. The HDCD encoder (discontinued for three years now) could apply the following:

a) Adaptive low-pass filter -- the encoder would sense the spectral content of the signal and insert one of at least two low-pass filters. One applied a gentle rolloff for improved transient response, while the other introduced some ringing while providing flat response up to 20 kHz. This process is applied to all HDCD discs.

b) Peak extension -- this is a limiter that compresses the peaks of the music signal. An HDCD decoder will decompress these peaks and also increase the gain by 6 dB. This was intended to compensate for the different average signal level, but tends to over-compensate a bit. The use of this is optional and is selected by the mastering engineer.

c) Low-level extension -- this is a compressor that boosts the quiet passages of the music signal. An HDCD decoder will decompress the low-level signals and restore the full dynamic range. The use of this is optional and is selected by the mastering engineer.

The interesting thing is that if both the "b" and "c" processes are turned off by the mastering engineer, there is absolutely no need for decoding upon playback. However, the HDCD light will still light up on playback with a disc like this.

I suspect that fewer and fewer "HDCD" discs are made with the compression features these days, and therefore fewer and fewer "HDCD" discs actually require decoding.

Hope this helps,
Charles Hansen
Ayre Acoustics, Inc.
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post #20 of 203 Old 07-21-2006, 06:03 PM - Thread Starter
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I was thinking it might be a combination of many of the things I listed. I won't make it a secret that I believe my Ayre equipment is some of the best sounding stuff out there, which is why my two channel gear is all Ayre (Or will be once the MX-R amps ship!), especially with el presidente watching. :D Likewise, when my K-1xe was away for a few weeks and I had to use my Bryston SP1.7 in two channel bypass mode during that time I became worried that there might not be a huge difference in the sound since I had never A/B tested the two. While I did believe that the music sounded more veiled or grainy (if that is the correct term), I couldn't be certain, and the Bryston still sounded great also, even if different. When the K-1xe came back and I plugged it back in, I was no longer uncertain, in particular because during the time it was gone I was listening to the same group of albums. It was a noticeable difference right away, no matter which one I played louder... It was most noticeable with acoustic material like Clapton's Unplugged.

I did believe that HDCD added more dynamic range, so I was expecting some level of compression to be alleviated and for the music to open up more, but it didn't at all. It was quite the opposite. I was hoping that the Denon would be useful to me HDCD two channel wise instead of just being useful for multi-channel, or at the least equal in sound quality. Though, after this experience, I am fairly convinced that besides upgrading cables (which I won't bother doing since it isn't a balanced player), I will need to upgrade my multichannel source sooner than I originally thought I would (and while I'm at it upgrade to something with balanced outputs). I will try to borrow some nice cables and see if it makes a large difference over the ones I am using though. I suppose I might as well wait for HDMI 1.3 and HD Dolby and DTS before I make the change and upgrade my preprocessor and source at the same time. Right now it would probably be a waste of money until the new formats gain more market presence.

When I get some extra time I'll have to dig through my CDs and see what other HDCD material I can find and see if any of them differ at all in these respects. As far as A/B testing other formats between the two players, it has never been a huge issue to me since I bought the C-5xe because it sounded better with normal CDs, DVD-As and SACDs to me. I just never expected the difference to be as stark as it was when I compared the two to see if the HDCD would be better on the Denon compared to the C-5xe without it. It blew my mind, which is why I started the thread! :eek: The Denon doesn't sound bad, I just didn't expect for the difference in sound between the two to bite me in the ASCII like it did.

What lead me to test them side by side was that I had listened to the Flaming Lips "The Soft Bulletin" album a few times during that day and when I went to put it back in the CD case I noticed the HDCD logo on the back. I was thinking along the lines of, 'too bad the C-5xe doesn't have a decoder in it for this, so it could take advantage of the extra bits encoded into the disc.' (I'm obviously no expert on HDCD... LOL.) Then it occured to me that my Denon did, and I should play it on there instead since it will at least have the added dynamic range. When I put it in and started playing it, it didn't sound as detailed, the vocals sunk further back into the music and it sounded like there was noise/distortion/fuzz in the music. I just wasn't expecting it...

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post #21 of 203 Old 07-22-2006, 02:09 AM
 
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I find it hilarious to have some pretty solid facts referred to as "inexperienced opinions" by someone with a product to sell.

What I prefer was never the question... the issue is whether everyone else here who has a distinct preference can repeatably identify their "preferred" equipment, without prior knowledge of which piece of equipment they are listening to.

I do believe its possible/likely that the Denon player is doing some sort of unnecessary processing (perhaps the HDCD feature itself) that audibly degrades the sound quality, and if that is the case then I'd trust the difference in quality of the players should be identifiable in a blind test as well.

The problem is that when non-scientific minded people are bombarded with pseudoscience and "Of course our product is better and you'll be able to tell immediately!" they start to believe what they hear coming from every direction, even if that isn't NECESSARILY true.

If anyone has a study of audiophiles being rounded up to identify their own CD players/botique cables/whatever, I might be more inclined to believe Mr. Hansen's assertion that even fundamentally basic CD players with no unnecessary processing/eq/dynamic range compression/expansion or WHATEVER, can be identified by by their sound and only their sound.

What this boils down to, is that for you to have a preference, there must be some actual fact or objective difference between two choices for your preference to be rational. If no identifiable "difference" in sound quality (Yes, sound quality, not physical hardware) exists between two CD players, then you can not prefer one over the other. I.e. if A = B then, by fundamental comparative logic, A can not also be > B.

This excercise is not attempting to prove whether A > B or B > A, but that attempts to determine relative quality based on the most important criteria (sound quality) are ONLY valid when it can be first shown that A != B, when evaluated by sound quality alone. The reality is, most casual tests are NOT solely by sound quality ALONE. When you know what you're listening to (and don't know whether all possible variables have been minimized, not limited to output levels), erroneous conclusions can be made.

The response to these sort of posts has, in the past, been along the lines of "you don't have the right to tell me what I think is > or <" but in reality, I'm merely pointing out the logical impossibility for something to be objectively equal but subjectively "better." It is a paradox.
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post #22 of 203 Old 07-23-2006, 12:06 AM
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What axe do you have to grind Cowclops? I find the assertion by some others in this forum that a $200 CD player to be the ultimate in digital sound reproduction utterly prepostorous and false. And this assertion that there is no difference in SACD also runs contrary to my experience.

I had a good laugh at PULLIAM's assertion that his cheap portable CD player could beat a turntable. Come on now, he must have been using a clapped out $5 cartridge that he bought at K-mart. Let me tell you that my old turntable (with a Denon DL804 cartridge) could beat CD players 5x its price.

A good CD player can and will pull out more information from the disc. I'm into car audio as well, and some months ago I replaced my CD player with a better one. The system was equalized with an RTA, and you could hear a noticable improvement. More detail was present, with better instrumental timbre. Among other things which I won't prattle on about because you probably won't believe me.

Honestly, if you were to believe these cork-eared skeptics you would have a $200 CD player, running a $200 amplifier, running $200 speakers, using cable that has been salvaged from a train wreck. And it would produce ultimate sound that would shame a Krell.

BTW I have no product to sell so you'll have to invent a new label for me.
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post #23 of 203 Old 07-23-2006, 06:55 AM
 
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Amfibus, i'm saying that if your assertions of relative sound quality are true, they should be as easily confirmed in an appropriately scientific (i.e. blind with variables minimized) test as they supposedly are in a casual "I hooked this up and listened and then I hooked the other one up and listened" test. If it is really the sound that is different, it should STILL be the sound that is apparently different when you take away the knowledge of which component you are listening to.

If you are confident that you could recognize the difference in "timbre of the instruments" in an appropriately scientific test, then I have no beef with you. But there are others on this board that pretty much say "scientific tests are unscientific so no way would I agree with the results of any of YOUR tests."

My problem is with the people who say that minimizing variables and reducing observer bias is "unscientific." The same people usually continue to make the same anecdotal claims that there are "night and day" differences between pieces of equipment that should by all means sound identical in blind tests.

Amfibus, I don't doubt that you believe you have heard differences between even "good" quality CD players. If you understand that the possibility for these "differences" may be subconscious bias, it may be mismatched levels, and it may be that one CD is trying to be a wire-with-gain approach and the other one has all sorts of fancy pants processing. If there are "true" audible differences (i.e. ones that can be identified in a non-biased test), it is probably because of some actual circuit that is specifically filtering the waveform somehow, and not just because they went with panasonic capacitors instead of whatever cheap crap they found in a land fill.

My opinion is that some people imagine differences and convince themselves that they are real to make the hobby more fun. You can disagree with the hypothesis, which is fine, but to disagree with the manner of TESTING the hypothesis (i.e. round up audiophiles and set up an ABX test) would pretty much be nutty knee-jerk reaction with no rational basis.

If you have no problem with my manner of TESTING my hypothesis (even if you believe my hypothesis to be false), then I have no axe to grind with you, amfibus.
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post #24 of 203 Old 07-23-2006, 03:02 PM
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Cowclops, considering that I am a scientist myself and a member of the Australian Rationalist Society and a fully paid up member of The Skeptic, of course I have no objection to a blind listening test. I also enjoy my wines, and I have no objection to being served a glass of wine with no idea of its providence, and being asked to criticize it. So why not with hi-fi?

You obviously have thought about this subject quite a bit (otherwise you wouldn't have such strongly held opinions) but we actually have compared CD players using a hand-held SPL meter. That does not measure the frequency response, just the SPL to some pink noise. There is still a very large difference between CD players.

And this is where I hit a brick wall - I cannot describe the difference in sound to you any more than I can describe the taste of wine. I hate using audiophile wank terminology but that is all I can use. So i'll just finish this off by saying that maybe you should conduct that test on yourself and see if you can hear the differences. Some people can, some people can't. You have to be trained to listen, just like you have to be trained to appreciate fine wine.
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In that case, we are certainly on the opposite side of the same page.

I will add that, as far as I am aware, wine experts can routinely identify what they're drinking in blind tests, and there is no "blind tests are unscientific" knee-jerk reaction in that hobby. It is still my opinion that an extremely large proportion of audio-hardware testimonials are unrealistic and stem from observer-expectancy rather than the actual performance of the product in question, but that can change pending results of actual experimentation.

What I fear is that there are a significant number of people who have utterly convinced themselves that they "heard" an improvement, yet the same people won't even in THEORY participate in a sort of test that may validate or may invalidate their claims. If someone can tell the difference between a $6,000 botique CD player and my Panasonic RP82 in a blind test, I would readily concede that their hearing abilities exceed mine. The problem is that the people who most often make the claim also refuse to participate in any sort of conclusive test. To them, "all that matters is what they hear" rather than what is verifiable and rational. To me, such a statement is pretty much intentional ignorance, similiar to a child sticking his hands in his ears and going "LALALALALA" rather than facing up to their detractor. Your opinion is all that matters when it is agreed that "real" (rather than imagined) differences exist in sound quality, but when the question at hand is whether differences exist at all, even an infinite number of opinions would be unable to determine the facts.
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post #26 of 203 Old 07-23-2006, 04:30 PM
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[quote=Amfibius]I find the assertion by some others in this forum that a $200 CD player to be the ultimate in digital sound reproduction utterly prepostorous and false.

Well, firstly we would have to define what you mean by 'ultimate' wouldn't we? And, if in fact, that is what was stated or, your, your bias is reading what was not there. Yes, I read your memberships in skeptical societies. Is that a certification and guarantee that you are being objective in all audio?
Then, you must have credible evidence to support your contentions to something different.

And this assertion that there is no difference in SACD also runs contrary to my experience.

Yes, I am sure it does. My experience when I stick a pipe in a bucket of water that it is bent in that water. Perhaps my experience and perception not quite real?

I had a good laugh at PULLIAM's assertion that his cheap portable CD player could beat a turntable. Come on now, he must have been using a clapped out $5 cartridge that he bought at K-mart. Let me tell you that my old turntable (with a Denon DL804 cartridge) could beat CD players 5x its price.

Well, this would all depend on what we or you mean by 'beat' right? It cannot beat your preference for a turntable sound. But, it most assuredly beats it in technical specs, by a very wide margin.
But then, you posted being a skeptic an following objective means to arrive at reality and facts? If so, I think, you left the baloney detection bag at the skeptic society and don't apply it to audio. That is what I gather from your posts.

A good CD player can and will pull out more information from the disc. I'm into car audio as well, and some months ago I replaced my CD player with a better one. The system was equalized with an RTA, and you could hear a noticable improvement. More detail was present, with better instrumental timbre. Among other things which I won't prattle on about because you probably won't believe me.

Not sure what you are driving at here with this. EQ alters speaker and acoustic space responses. That has absolutely nothing to do with accuracy of mediums, etc.

Honestly, if you were to believe these cork-eared skeptics you would have a $200 CD player, running a $200 amplifier, running $200 speakers, using cable that has been salvaged from a train wreck. And it would produce ultimate sound that would shame a Krell.

Where do you get your logic from? Obviously not from the skeptic society as concerned to audio.
Perhaps there are other preference issues driving his choice of audio gear, price not being one of them??? Maybe he has a different need in some area that needs a $$300 amp? Or a $1000 speaker? Maybe he likes the way it fits his artistic side of picking components??? Mayne he is partial to a brand name??? Al are valid reasons for buying. What you should ask is what testable claims he has made for his components, no???
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post #27 of 203 Old 07-23-2006, 04:39 PM
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[quote=Amfibius]...
but we actually have compared CD players using a hand-held SPL meter. That does not measure the frequency response, just the SPL to some pink noise. There is still a very large difference between CD players.


What large differences are you implying? Please explain.
Ah, flawed protocols for comparison will produce an unreliable outcome. You may want to consult the James Randi offer and see if that $1mil applies to CD players that are well designed? Or, how they run their level matched DBT protocol?
I can tell you that spl meter is not part of that protocol for reliable outcomes.



And this is where I hit a brick wall - I cannot describe the difference in sound to you any more than I can describe the taste of wine. I hate using audiophile wank terminology but that is all I can use. So i'll just finish this off by saying that maybe you should conduct that test on yourself and see if you can hear the differences. Some people can, some people can't. You have to be trained to listen, just like you have to be trained to appreciate fine wine.

Are you a trained listener by chance? Would that guarantee that you will hear differences? Or, that you will hear it quicker if there is any, or what to look for?
I bet you ask all the 'golden ears' if they are properly trained when they claim audible differences. Or, that is just expected.
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post #28 of 203 Old 07-23-2006, 04:43 PM - Thread Starter
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Crap, I really didn't want this to turn into a DBT vs. Non-DBT debate.

I couldn't tell the difference between my players initially when I switched out the Denon for the Ayre. Given, I didn't sit around trying to tell the difference, and my setup was on the other end of my room with the speakers in a terrible setup position. All I did was switch it out, no A/B testing and no trying to tell the difference. Since then I have received consulting from Rives Audio and I am about to begin construction soon on a level 2 setup. My speakers and seating position are currently in their recommended positions, and it has made a tremendous difference in the sound of my system. It has also likewise made the difference between these two components fairly obvious to me. Like I mentioned, one's dynamic range is more condensed, the voices are more recessed and quieter, and there is a fuzz/grain/(whatever people call it - I don't know...) to the sound. Is this character? I wouldn't call it character as much as a product of cutting corners in the design which resulted in the signal not being as clean by the time it was outputed via the analog outputs. I was using a Meridian G8 for awhile, and I would say I would be harder presssed to find differences between that player and the Ayre, but the G8 only has CD playback; the G8 also had similar contrasts when compared to the DVD-5910. Ultimately, I can't be sure of this since I never compared both players (C-5xe and G8) directly and am working off longer term memory.

As far as differences between players in an acoustically properly engineered room. I believe this is true, or in my experience, I should just say it is true. When I was initially A/B testing the Rega Planet vs. an Arcam FMJ CD23, it took awhile, but I found areas in some CDs that did not sound the same (in particular the CD23 had moments where the sound became congested when the music was busier - it took me a long time to find one spot where I could definitively locate the same thing occuring every time I played that passage in Steve Vai's "Two Sisters" song). Are they differences that I would say identify the player as having overwhelmingly unique character? No, but one did output the music with more clarity in that passage (on the Arcam, in the busy passage toward the end of the song, the linear movement of the music seemed to go off tempo and congest/condense time wise). Would I have found that difference if not spending a significant amount of time trying to and not just listening to the music? Probably not, but it was just listening to it over and over on each player that made me aware of the difference in comparison, not on a stand alone basis. I'm glad I did find that difference though, because the resolution and clarity (if these are not the same thing...) was definitely affected by something in the design of that player over the other one. With a lot of players I think it is arguable that the differences amount to much in similar price classes where a lot of the same technique went into isolating the circuits/lines/power/etc. Between the DVD-5910 and the Ayre C-5xe though, I didn't expect to find such a large discrepency because they use the same 1792 DACs, so I was happily surprised (I did expect some discrepency because the Ayre is not jammed full of all matter of electrical items...). With the HDCD I expected this difference to give the DVD-5910 a leg up, which it did not at all...

"It is worse still to be ignorant of your ignorance."
-- Saint Jerome (374 AD - 419 AD)

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post #29 of 203 Old 07-23-2006, 04:52 PM
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here i quote again:

there is rumour that the guy who put up big prize for someone to pass blind tests cancelled the offer and used the fund to fix up his impaired hearing.

cpu8088 - OLD and SLOW !!!
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post #30 of 203 Old 07-23-2006, 09:23 PM
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I am not a trained listener, just a trained musician :) Well, playing music is my hobby so I know intimately well what a piano or a violin should sound like. And if I forget, I just walk next door and pick up the instrument. You can't get closer to reference than that ... can you?

I can not provide evidence that my ears hear a difference between a $2000 CD player and a $200 CD player, any more than I can provide evidence that a $500 bottle of wine tastes different to a $5 bottle of wine. I could start telling you about the length, the softness, the wood ... but it would all be meaningless to you if you have no frame of reference. And I get the feeling that some of you really have no frame of reference.

I guess you just have to take my word for it unless you want to fly down to Australia and let me demonstrate the difference to you on my system. Oh, and it's not just my word for it - the number of people who would disagree with fringe lunatics like CharlesJ must be something in the order of 1000:1.

Honestly, having to debate such widely accepted facts is a bit like arguing with a creationist. I know there are a lot of them where you live ... you may even be one :)
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