The Definitive "Best of CD players" $0-500, $500-1000, $1000-1500, $1500-2000, 2000- - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 209 Old 09-07-2007, 12:04 AM - Thread Starter
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Based on what i have seen on the forums so far, many members are asking the same questions over and over about cd players. My suggestion is to have a definitive thread with reviews and opinions on cd players in all price ranges and categories.
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post #2 of 209 Old 09-07-2007, 12:06 AM - Thread Starter
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Best cd player $0-500 "used" no longer in production

Rega planet "original"

Reviews:

http://www.soundstage.com/revequip/staff06.htm

http://www.stereophile.com/cdplayers/634/

http://www.audiophilia.com/hardware/regaplnt.htm

Best cd player $500-1000 "used" no longer in production

Rega planet 2000

Reviews:

http://www.audiophilia.com/hardware/planet2000.htm

http://www.audioreview.com/cat/digit...3_1586crx.aspx

http://www.enjoythemusic.com/Magazin...regaplanet.htm

http://www.positive-feedback.com/Iss...planet2000.htm
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post #3 of 209 Old 09-07-2007, 04:53 AM
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The original Planet was a turd.

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post #4 of 209 Old 09-07-2007, 05:31 AM
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Isn't what you're proposing somewhat of an oxymoron - a definitive list based on opinion?

We have already one dissenting opinion.

Just because there is a knob doesn't mean you should turn it.
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post #5 of 209 Old 09-07-2007, 08:16 AM
 
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The best players under $500 produce such excellent sound that, while improvements might be possible "on paper", they cannot be detected by the human ear. Determine a winner within the $0-$500 category, and the other categories may be safely ignored.
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post #6 of 209 Old 09-07-2007, 09:37 AM - Thread Starter
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Ok, thanks for the opinions. I was just hoping I might be able to help the community. No biggie, ill just keep trying to help the best I can without making an ass of myself.

Thanks for all the quick, well thought and constructive replies.
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post #7 of 209 Old 09-07-2007, 10:01 AM
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I'm sure you were looking to help out but best is a relative term considering that people weigh things differently. For example, is a player that needs to be serviced by you or shipped overseas a good deal? What about one that was found to use a Burr Brown bottom feeder DAC that when mated to certain types of devices resulted in audible IM distortion but with others was just fine - that's the Rega Planet btw. It wasn't the only one though.
Some value exclucivity, some top or front loaders, for some the remotes are problematic, some embrace harmonics, some the vendor of the DAC, some value a professional grade transport. You run your question on different forums or hit up audio dealers and you simply won't get any sort of consistency whatsoever.

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post #8 of 209 Old 09-07-2007, 08:56 PM
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I have a couple nominations

$0-499 Music Hall CD25.2
$500-999 Consonance CD120
$1000-1999 Shanling CD3000

Speaker Designer/Builder
Vapor Audio
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post #9 of 209 Old 09-10-2007, 12:59 PM
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$2000+ : IMHO most anything from Wadia.
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post #10 of 209 Old 09-11-2007, 01:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PULLIAMM View Post

The best players under $500 produce such excellent sound that, while improvements might be possible "on paper", they cannot be detected by the human ear. Determine a winner within the $0-$500 category, and the other categories may be safely ignored.

Wow! Do you really believe that? How many CD players over $500 have you heard? If you line up different CD players in a highly resolving system, you would have to be deaf not to hear the differences! Let me guess, you are an engineer of some type, right?

To attempt to answer the question (with the obvious caveat that different people prefer different sounds, and it's very dependent on synergy with your existing equipment) is tough. I'll throw a few out there.

Favorite all around player less than $3,000--Ayre CX-7e
Favorite price is no object player--Audio Aero Capitole CD player (about $8,500)
Favorites in the $500-$1000 range--the Music Hall players, the Rotel and the Rega Apollo all do pretty well.

If you put a gun to my head and made me listen to something under $500 on a regular basis maybe one of the Oppo combo players.

Of course, there are lots I haven't heard.
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post #11 of 209 Old 09-11-2007, 01:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by badgerdms View Post

If you put a gun to my head and made me listen to something under $500 on a regular basis maybe one of the Oppo combo players.


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post #12 of 209 Old 09-12-2007, 01:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by badgerdms View Post

Wow! Do you really believe that? How many CD players over $500 have you heard? If you line up different CD players in a highly resolving system, you would have to be deaf not to hear the differences! Let me guess, you are an engineer of some type, right?

To attempt to answer the question (with the obvious caveat that different people prefer different sounds, and it's very dependent on synergy with your existing equipment) is tough.

I hear you.

As one who once spent about two months listening to high end CD players before pulling the trigger, there are actually pretty vast audible differences between them that would be obvious to most any listener on any system capable of revealing them.
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post #13 of 209 Old 09-12-2007, 04:33 AM
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$1000-1500 The Cambridge Audio Azur 840C - nothing even comes close. Check out the Absolute Sound Review they like it better than anything less than five thousand and call it one of the best deals in all of audio.

I have one and agree it is unmatched in it's price range.
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post #14 of 209 Old 09-12-2007, 06:00 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by badgerdms View Post

Wow! Do you really believe that?

Obviously I really believe that, or I wouldn't have written it. Also, your guess was not too far off, as I am a mathematician rather than an engineer (this is why I understand the sampling theorem.)
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post #15 of 209 Old 09-12-2007, 09:03 AM
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Originally Posted by PULLIAMM View Post

Obviously I really believe that, or I wouldn't have written it. Also, your guess was not too far off, as I am a mathematician rather than an engineer (this is why I understand the sampling theorem.)

Understanding sampling has nothing to do with how a CD works and the workings of CD player that can lead to differences in how players sound. Open minds vs. knowing very little or next to nothing and assuming one knows everything can lead to more meaningful evaluations on differences or similarities. Many players use the same DAC chip. However, at some point the signal needs to be converted to analog, whether that's in the player, in an outboard DAC or in a DAC contained in a receiver or processor. There are differences in those analog output stages and we don't have digital ears. Receivers or processors with probable rare exceptions have the DAC piggybacked off of the DSP (as they are devices designed to properly decode surround sound that way) which means dragging the signal through that circuitry too. Then there is the problem of jitter or timing differences. There is good information at that at places like www.lessloss.com (slaving the clocks to achieve the way that most professional equipment operates I would that I would think a competent mathematician would really appreciate). Then there is the matter of the transport which can cause issues too as noted in places like: http://www.audioasylum.com/audio/dig...13/131976.html

I think we have gotten off track a bit (what a surprise) and the intent of the original poster was for people who believe there are differences to give their opinions. I apologize for any contributions to that. I think that those who don't believe there are difference should either list the same player in each category and perhaps be polite enough to start their own thread on why there are little or no differences and I would hope that they receive respect for the opinions posted in such a thread. That seems to be a recurring problem

I've owned the original Planet many moons ago (and having extensive experience with it - it is not a turd) My friend at that time worked in a high end shop and we spend all night at one point comparing everything in the store. We liked the Planet better than a $3k player at that time from a name high end manuf. While I have not heard it in some time, it might be a bit dated by today's stds. It is really hard (for me) to compare players I've had extensive use of (either owned or borrowed) but at different times, even on the same or similar system.

I recently compared a $3k Ayre (CX-7e), and the Rega Saturn and the Bryston BCD-1 (which are about $600-700 less - and I got a kick out of the owner of the store referring to players in terms of $700 better based on price alone as if that was supposed influence my decision). I honestly can see anyone liking either of the players. The Ayre to me tended to make things easier to listen to - e.g. less harsh and digital sounding. It certainly made a so-so or badly recorded CD almost sound listenable. It was a bit too mushy for my personal tastes though and on certain CDs I was familiar with seem to take away some of the music. The Rega and Bryston had more similar tonal qualities. The Rega to me was more polite and laid back (in a much more refined way vs. the orig. Planet) and not as crisp or forward as the Bryston and the background of the Bryston seemed the quietest of the the three in terms of the background. So for that category, I'd definitely prefer the Bryston w/o listening to something much more expensive. For the lower end of the scale in the orig. post. I liked the Rotel and Rega Apollo players from what I've heard. I have not heard the Cambridge, Music Hall, Shanling, Audio Aero or the other players noted. I generally either listen to players when I'm in the market or I decide to take a rainy day and go to the local audio shop or if I have people over (or vice versa) and we bring players over. I also did not mean to down the Oppo in a prior post. I recently got the Oppo 980 for my bedroom (I also have a Sony 2000ES CD/SACD changer in there) and the player looks great on video and it is nearly impossible to criticize its sound quality at $169.
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post #16 of 209 Old 09-12-2007, 10:56 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PULLIAMM View Post

I am a mathematician rather than an engineer (this is why I understand the sampling theorem.)

I thought you were a draftsman? Thats what you told me before. And for the record you are wrong about CDPs.

I own 2 different players, both costing around $300 when new and they sound different.
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post #17 of 209 Old 09-12-2007, 11:08 AM
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$0-500,
$500-1000 are the Cambridge SOundworks units in this range, they get good marks from what I have read - never tried one
$1000-1500
$1500-2000 - Raysonic 128 is excellent
2000 - now have the Raysonic 168 and am thrilled with it

Cary 303/300 also just as good but more moola
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post #18 of 209 Old 09-12-2007, 11:12 AM
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Open minds vs. knowing very little or next to nothing and assuming one knows everything can lead to more meaningful evaluations on differences or similarities.

So, how did you ensure that you did level matched comparisons?

Quote:


...and we don't have digital ears.

The auditory peripheral nervous system doesn't work in a continuous manner. Discrete amounts of energy are needed to elicit responses. Our brain then seams it all together to create the illusion of continuity. Like motion pictures. Does that sound analog to you?

Quote:


Then there is the problem of jitter or timing differences.

The majority of one-box players use the DAC to slave the output so that the buffer is properly filled. At least nowadays. What jitter remains by and large is below the threshold of audibility when listening to music.

Quote:


Then there is the matter of the transport which can cause issues too as noted in places like: http://www.audioasylum.com/audio/dig...13/131976.html

And this is supposed to mean something?

Quote:


I've owned the original Planet many moons ago (and having extensive experience with it - it is not a turd)

It used BB's bottom of the barrel DAC that was known for putting out ultrasonic grunge. Depending upon what it was mated to, it could and did result in audible IM products that individuals picked up and was also replicated in blind testing. You may've not had such a preamp and hence, the problems. But they were real. Rega wasn't the only company that tried to foist this off on the public but once they and others were aware that they'd f'd up, they moved to something else. I'd call this an example of poor engineering and worthy of the turd designation.

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post #19 of 209 Old 09-12-2007, 11:17 AM
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At 14,000 USD a bargain at twice the price. I mean having a drawer that will withstand 100lbs of force should be worth something.

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post #20 of 209 Old 09-12-2007, 11:17 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nuthed View Post

I thought you were a draftsman? Thats what you told me before. And for the record you are wrong about CDPs.

I own 2 different players, both costing around $300 when new and they sound different.

I am currently working as a draftsman, but I have a master's in math (drafting is mostly geometry.) I have also taught high school.
For the record, decoding a digital signal is an all or nothing propostion. Any CDP that does it correctly is as good as any other CDP that does it correctly.
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post #21 of 209 Old 09-12-2007, 11:27 AM
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It means that little 4'11" honey you met can sit her ass down on the drawer and the player will still work, Art.

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post #22 of 209 Old 09-12-2007, 11:41 AM
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Chu, I am all ears (digital or analog - take your pick) to hear what you have listened to on what system and how they were interconnected and what conclusions you have reached. Yes the demos were level matched and I even brought in my own cables and power cords as at the 1st initial listen the owner used different connections (hooked to an all Ayre system with one player connected balanced and the other single ended which I did not know until I left). I'm not sure what you don't understand about the transport quality having the ability to influence the sound by the way it works.

It seems as I noted that vs. reply to the thread as started with choices (and it is OK to put the same player in all categorites if that's what you hear and/or what you believe) there are a vocal couple who would appear to have minimal knowledge and virtually no experience in the area (and their lacks of hands on experience and expertise appear quite obvious that it is beyond embarrassment) hijacking the thread in a manner that is quite frankly rude to what appears to be the intent of the orig. poster. Why feel the need regardless of what you think or believe to crap on people who want to share the real world experience in the hobby? I've really got nothing to say in addition to the above in relation to the question in the orig. post and I've contributed what I know about players so I'm bowing out of the rest of it to let others have their say. I think it is a shame that most of these threads need to go in this direction. Certainly there is a forum hear on audio set-up theory and chat as well as numerous other forums where you can start your own list - e.g. most overpriced audio components or tweaks in different price ranges or the most overhyped marketing claims by product type or whatever. I'd be happy to put things on your list (assuming I'd have some and I might have more than you think) w/o the need to crap on your thread. If you feel that there are players that are overpriced for what they do this thread would seem to be a good source of information to start yours. This is a hobby meant to be enjoyed. It's bad enough that many places someone goes into hear a component it is not under conditions where the people working there are not looking out for your best interest or the best choice for you. It's a sad day when one comes to this place for opinions and information and people are effectively doing the same thing in the other direction. Why not leave the thread for those who are interested in CD playback withint their budget and want to hear the opinions of others? Reviews are nice, but sometimes reviewers get accomodation sales (and magazines ad revenues) and over the years I've not seen too many products reviewed and blasted in the review (you'd think the odds every now and then would favor that). So why feel the need to be in the way of people wanting opinions of their peers? Is your opinion absolute vs. anyone elses? Some people like vanilla and some like chocolate and some like strawberry, etc. Thank goodness we have lots of choices vs. the generic $400 player as the rest of them would not matter anyway.
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post #23 of 209 Old 09-12-2007, 11:58 AM
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How did you level match?

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post #24 of 209 Old 09-12-2007, 12:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chu Gai View Post

How did you level match?

Test tones (e.g. Delos "Surround Spectacular" has one disc of music and one of test tones) and an SPL meter is the easiest way in going to a store. At home I have an Audio Control 1/3 Octave RTA as I believe I get a drop more accurate results. I think that most people understand that in listening to audio louder generally sounds better (contrary to rumor, I am not that stupid). Some things just have obviously different sonic characters that some may prefer vs. other things. So that I understand what you are saying is that all CD players sound the same? You've based this on what?

I just put back together my bedroom system. I have an Oppo 980, a Sony 2000ES CD/SACD changer and both are also hooked (via the same coax type cable) to a Micromega DuoPro DAC. Even by ear, getting the levels as close as I can I can tell differences when listening to a cut from a CD I've listened to many times over and over. The Oppo sounds thinner and more recessed. There is nothing wrong with it and it is quite possible that some may prefer it. I've had many people bring over many different players in my main system over the yrs. in addition to what I have and have had. Even changes in the transport are something that can easily be noticed in many cases. For example, my DAC has had an XA-777ES attached to it at one point, then a modded Modwright XA-777ES at one point, a couple of different LD players (Pioneer 704 and CLD-79), the Sony ES Changer, a Proceed PMDT DVD Transport, a Pioneer Elite CD Recorder, a Marantz DV9600 universal, a rare (37.5 lb) Samsung HD 1000 DVD-A/DVD-V Player, a Rotel RDV1060 among a couple of other things. Some things just produced a puffed up tubby bass sound that was easily noticed on certain things and some things produced a better image. I'm not saying I could pick out the transport 100% of the time but maybe 75-80%. I'm also not justifying price differences vs. performance. What I may like, someone else might not. What someone hears I'm not going to tell them. I've known people to hear things I don't and vice versa. You seem so concerned about how others come to conclusions but I still have not seen how you have? Please share.
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post #25 of 209 Old 09-12-2007, 01:21 PM
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Level matching using test tones with an inexpensive VOM at the speaker terminals. Usually at 1 kHz but with checks at 100 and 10K. The run of the mill SPL meter is notoriously inaccurate and highly dependent upon placement as well as other variables in the room remaining constant. Further, it doesn't address left/right channel imbalances. It gets harder when you don't know what's playing.

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post #26 of 209 Old 09-12-2007, 02:21 PM
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Chu, I'm perfectly familiar with what was playing as I brought it. I have a tripod with the SPL meter and I'm perfectly familiar how to use it. If there were channel imbalances (which I doubt) they were the same in all cases. As I noted, I've contributed what I can for this thread. As I noted I've done similar things with an RTA in systems I know had no imbalances with differences noted on players and I have no reason to come to the conclusion that a store owned by someone who has been involved in high end audio for 20+ yrs. Forgive me, this is by no means a personal attack - you may be the brightest overall person on earth, even comparable to Da Vinci - I don't know you. But I see no response to the questions I've asked about your experience specifics and all I have to judge is but what I've seen you post. It might be a very unscientific way of coming to a conclusion but I'd have to conclude you know minimal, if anything, about audio. You seem to want to crap on anyone's thread who suggests another way of thinking and seem to excel at that. You seem to assume that everyone who believes differently has someone fell under a spell of a marketing campaign or a dealer/warlock type person and is not capable of making a valid choice based on reality.

You are welcome to your opinions. I have friends who have Bose, I have friends who are real neurotic audiophiles (and if I told you some of what they did you'd probably recommend a straight jacket and I'm not sure if we'd be 100% apart on that issue - a lot closer than you might think). So if you want to respond, what you own, how it is hooked up (in detail), have owned or have use of long term in terms of audio equipment and how you came to the conclusion based on that experience that we are misguided fools, I don't feel the need to continue this as I'd sooner listen to a good CD on some piece of equipment I was obviously tricked into buying by a crooked manufacturer and dealer as they were obviously were obviously able to tell just like you that I was not capable of hearing and was gullable as well. As I noted it's a hobby to be enjoyed. I'll say one thing you are (entertaining and) consistent and there is something to be said about that. If I do feel like I'm listening to stuff at a store and feel like I may be falling into that stupidity or under that spell again it's good to know there is a resource looking to rescue me Again, please to not take this on a personal level. I think you need to understand that when you imply that others are being foolish there is the expectation that there is a real basis for that belief and when none is ever offered I don't think it is being unreasonable that a conclusion is reached. You remember the story of the boy who cried wolf. When the same stuff is done over and over people reach that conclusion. Why don't you bring a cheap CD player into some audio shop and do whatever you think needs to be done to do a fair test against some player you believe is overpriced (and don't tell me they won't let you - I've done it to various dealers and told them the stuff is built well, looks great and even if you gave it to me at your cost it is not my cup of tea and wished them well to sell to customers who think it is worth it) and then come back and tell us what differences you observed with all the details of the equipment used in a scientific manner. If those differences are none, then I respect your effort and opinion. I can't tell anyone what they hear to don't hear nor can anyone else. Feel free in my absence from the thread for using me as an example of how someone can try but still be a big fool. I may not reply, but I'm sure I'll be very entertained by it.
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post #27 of 209 Old 09-12-2007, 02:57 PM
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I had one of the EAD DVD players that Absolute Sound (I think it was them) raved about as a CD player a few years ago and I don't think it sounded any different (bettter or worse) than the Oppo, but anecdotal really doesn't mean much either way in my opinion.
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post #28 of 209 Old 09-12-2007, 03:18 PM
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You're welcome to conclude what you want. I've observed net channel imbalances between players of around 0.3 to 0.4 dB played through different inputs on preamps. Channel imbalances have also been noted in technical reviews and fwiw by Tom Nousaine and others. Overall level differences when playing different CDP's have also been noted by other members in the CD section of AVS. CD standard is 2 volts and one can be 1.51 or 2.49 and still be technically in spec. Some are even further off. This is nothing new although it's often overlooked or trivialized. Normalizing the levels makes for a rather humbling experience when it comes to differentiation. Doing it unsighted and trusting one's ears may cause further humbling. This doesn't mean you won't detect a difference and if you do it won't be because one was louder. BTW, although there is a tendency to prefer the louder playing unit, it should be noted that it is merely a tendency. Not 100%.

Further, rooms in hifi shops aren't the best when it comes to speaker/room setups and one can get a rather different presentation simply by modest changes in position. I'm not calling nor have I called you stupid. I think your technique needs to be refined though. Either everyone else is doing it right or you are. Maybe bring along a VOM next time or do it at your home and compare the results to the SPL meter. I've yet to meet a salesman that can pick them out though. They're good people to test, if they'll let you. After all, they are intimately familiar with their equipment, right?

I'll be happy to discuss further in PM so as not to derail the thread.

"I've found that when you want to know the truth about someone that someone is probably the last person you should ask." - Gregory House
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post #29 of 209 Old 09-12-2007, 07:53 PM
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At it again I see Chuey... Tsk tsk, you and Pulliamm need some new hobbies. All you two do is repeat yourselves over and over again in these threads. Don't you two get bored of pursuing the same argument over and over again? Perhaps it would be healthy to graduate to some other type of material. I'm surprised Krabbie, CharlesJ, et al., haven't showed up to chime in with the same old song and dance.

"It is worse still to be ignorant of your ignorance."
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post #30 of 209 Old 09-12-2007, 07:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chu Gai View Post

The original Planet was a turd.

Now, you're a cosmologist!

Kal Rubinson

"Music in the Round"
Senior Contributing Editor, Stereophile
http://www.stereophile.com/category/music-round

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