Expensive CD players, are they worth it? - Page 4 - AVS Forum
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post #91 of 540 Old 02-25-2008, 11:56 AM
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I would have to agree that there are differences in the players. Obviously, the higher-end of speaker you get the more you will notice the difference. On my system I have been using the Toshiba HD-XA2 and Sony's first dvd player, the SD-700 (I believe that is the correct model number, I may be wrong). But between these two players, you can clearly hear a difference between the same CD. The Toshiba's bass is lacking and the music doesn't sound as warm as the Sony. The Sony puts out a much more musical sound, but doesn't separate the highs as well as the Toshiba. Originally I was using M&K S125s as my music speakers and the differences weren't that great. Recently, I just bought a pair of Legacy Classic speakers and the differences are very apparent with these speakers.

I often thought the music companies put out false rumours in the mid 80s saying that every CD player sounds the same just to get people to pick up any inexpensive cd player and then start buying cds. Becasue, after all, that's where the music business makes all its money...in cd sales.

Just my 2 cents.
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post #92 of 540 Old 02-25-2008, 02:12 PM
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I can see why there might be a difference across different DACs, but still can't understand the perceived difference across various transports. Aren't digital bits still digital bits?
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post #93 of 540 Old 02-25-2008, 02:45 PM
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Originally Posted by intence View Post

I can see why there might be a difference across different DACs, but still can't understand the perceived difference across various transports. Aren't digital bits still digital bits?

The audiophile explanation is a thing called clock jitter which describes the timing of the transmission of data from the transport to the DAC. Unfortunately clock jitter is one of those things that is measurable but not audible. I can't tell you the hassle we went through during our testing just to measure it. Not audible, however.

I've done quite a bit of DAC testing. Frankly I haven't uncovered anything audible in units made since the mid 1990's - including 1 bit DAC's. We tested everything from a Sony portable player to an Audio Research unit costing several thousand dollars and couldn't come up with any audible differences in bias controlled tests. What that tells me is that the DAC technology is mature and stable and has been since the mid 1990's. They have it nailed.

If you want an expensive CD player then I suggest you buy it because you like the way it looks and feels. I would be very skeptical that it would have any real audible impact on your system.
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post #94 of 540 Old 02-25-2008, 10:07 PM
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Time to add my $0.02:

One of the easiest way I can convincingly tell differences between CDPs is in the soundstage. I have two CDPs in my set up, a Marantz CC4300 CD changer and an Onkyo DX7555. With my reference CDs (for example, FIM Audiophile Reference CD II, Patricia Barber: A Fornight In France), it is easy to pick the CDPs apart. The imagery from the Onkyo is way more precise and believeable than the Marantz.

Of course in order to throw a convincing soundstage, the rest of your system should all be at a certain level of quality. By convincing, I am talking about a 3D, holographic soundstage, with jet black background in which each instrument and singer occupies its/his/her own space. With this kind of instrument separation, you should be able to hear the reverb, venue and hall sounds from within the soundstage and between the instruments. On certain "live" recordings, you should also be able to hear distinctly, members of the audience, conversing, laughing, whistling, and so on.

Seated in the sweetspot of listening room, especially with high quality recordings, your speakers should "disappear" and all you hear are the instruments and voices producing full bodied sound coming from distinct fixed spots. Within the sounstage these instruments and vocals should sound real or almost real, and depending on the recordings the instruments/vocalists should sound "in the room".

(I am not making this up, nor, for the curious among you, am I smoking anything. I don't smoke and I limit my alcohol intake to a few glasses of beer or wine in the weekend only. I you still think I am making this up, then I can provide you the name and location of some excellent audio dealers who have set up their audiotioning room optimally.)

IME, it's NOT only a question of room acoustics or speaker placement, although these are very important factors.

Musical truth and enjoyment. Ultimately this is all the audiophile thing is about. Lower quality CDPs and DVDPs simply cannot throw convincing soundstage. (I forgot to mention, I also have a Panasonic DVD-F87 changer in the listening room. Through the analog out its soundstage is good, but not as good as either the Marantz or the Onkyo that I mentioned.)

All things in your audio chain matter, from your power supply to your cables and speakers. Once you get your system to a certain level of transparency, you should be able to easily tell differences as you change components or cables.

C N Machani
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post #95 of 540 Old 02-26-2008, 01:56 AM
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If two CD players sound audibly different...

A) One or both is malfunctioning/poorly designed
B) You have inadvertently adjusted your observations to fit your expectations
C) All of the above.

Horrible CD players exist at all price points and excellent CD players exist at all price points beyond a certain minimum. That is, a $50 CD player from walmart may have undesirable build quality and maybe undesirable sound quality, but I'm pretty sure you can build a reference quality CD player and sell it for $200 while still making a decent profit. There just isn't a lot to them. The fact that many companies will sell you a product that has intentionally been designed to deviate from reference quality is a testament to the phrase "a sucker is born every minute." Anyone who writes off B) as impossible needs to get out some psychology books and anyone who writes off A) as impossible should get out some books on signal processing and human perception.
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post #96 of 540 Old 02-26-2008, 04:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by machani View Post


(I am not making this up, nor, for the curious among you, am I smoking anything. I don't smoke and I limit my alcohol intake to a few glasses of beer or wine in the weekend only. I you still think I am making this up, then I can provide you the name and location of some excellent audio dealers who have set up their audiotioning room optimally.)

Only a few glasses...


"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 #97 of 540 Old 02-26-2008, 05:33 AM
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Originally Posted by machani View Post


Musical truth and enjoyment. Ultimately this is all the audiophile thing is about.

Not in my experience. Time to do some reading about "placebo effect." Your browser should be able to find you plenty of things on the subject.
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post #98 of 540 Old 02-26-2008, 07:11 AM
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Originally Posted by FMW View Post

Not in my experience. Time to do some reading about "placebo effect." Your browser should be able to find you plenty of things on the subject.

The problem with the placebo effect theory, IMO, is that it's only like a third of the people tested who are susceptible to it. It's not a universal phenomenon by any means...not even close.

I will throw out another psychological term, though...self-fulfilling prophecy. Just to use FMW as an example, he's a self-professed "cured audiophile". From a psychological standpoint, he's just as likely to NOT hear differences (for psychological reasons) as others are to hear differences.
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post #99 of 540 Old 02-26-2008, 07:26 AM
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The point in mentioning psychological factors at all is that when we are offered with the chance to make a vague determination of quality, our "faith" will dictate the outcome of the evaluation far more often than fact. Its why we can't "trust our ears."

Since "I heard..." and "I didn't hear..." are both anecdotal statements and not evidence by any mean, you have to get into facts. Deciding whether a component is snake oil or not by the scientific method requires you to do the following:

First, you'd have to understand what human in hearing in general is capable of. Not necessarily "the best" human hearing (since even those who think they have the best may be deluded), but merely above-average general hearing. Then find what the "just noticable difference" is for this hypothetical above-average (90 percentile? You can pick your own percentile as long as you have reasonable logic to do so). Yes, this means that to conclude what REALLY affects sound or not you have to ask more than yourself "Hows it sound?" You must determine whether, statistically speaking, good hearing can distinguish the components at hand.

Then, once you've established what people can and can't hear, you have to determine whether the components exceed that just-noticable-difference threshold. Some components may sound different because they were intentionally mal-designed, some components may because they were unintentionally mal-designed, but I'm not personally making an attempt to deem any specific hardware acceptable or not right now.

What it comes down to is that because anecdotal evidence is useless in these arguments, you have to turn to more rigorous attempts at "proof." The reason why these will never end is because the side that believes they have a definitive answer has nothing to offer except their personal observations without turning that observation into a hypothesis and conclusion that can be tested on anyone but themselves. Its why we don't give drugs to just a single person and then ask them "So, ya feelin better or not?"

Your personal perception is not "all that matters" when it comes to repeatable experiments that other people can actually agree or disagree with for logical reasons.
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post #100 of 540 Old 02-26-2008, 07:34 AM
 
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Originally Posted by FMW View Post

If you want an expensive CD player then I suggest you buy it because you like the way it looks and feels. I would be very skeptical that it would have any real audible impact on your system.

Looks, feel, build quality, and long-term reliability were the reasons I bought my new Cambridge Audio CD player and integrated amp. I was quite amazed to hear a distinct audible improvement as well. Of course, having upgraded both components at once, I cannot determine how much each contributed individually to the improvement.
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post #101 of 540 Old 02-26-2008, 07:50 AM
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The problem with the placebo effect theory, IMO, is that it's only like a third of the people tested who are susceptible to it. It's not a universal phenomenon by any means...not even close.

You are entitled to your opinion. But it has no basis in fact. "Placebo effect" is the audio equivalent of optical illusions, and everyone is susceptible.

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

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post #102 of 540 Old 02-26-2008, 07:52 AM
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If two CD players sound audibly different...

A) One or both is malfunctioning/poorly designed
B) You have inadvertently adjusted your observations to fit your expectations
C) All of the above.

Even more likely is a difference in output levels. That sounds like what machani is experiencing.

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

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post #103 of 540 Old 02-26-2008, 07:58 AM
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Originally Posted by PULLIAMM View Post

Looks, feel, build quality, and long-term reliability were the reasons I bought my new Cambridge Audio CD player and integrated amp. I was quite amazed to hear a distinct audible improvement as well. Of course, having upgraded both components at once, I cannot determine how much each contributed individually to the improvement.

Although this is well in line with your history of audio schizophrenia....you should apologize to everyone on this site that has had to endure your countless haughty posts on how all CD players necessarily sound the same.

P.S. All CD players sound the same and if you spent more than $200 on that player, you're just throwing your money away and trying to convince yourself that your "audio jewelry" sounds better than any other CD player.

P.P.S. Annoying, isn't it?


Scott
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post #104 of 540 Old 02-26-2008, 08:06 AM
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I currently have 3 CD/DVD players and they do not sound exactly the same. The Sony Changer and my Yamaha player both sound very similar, my Oppo sounds better in some respects and they all sound different if connected by analog vs optical to my preamp.
With some music, it can be very difficult to ascertain any differences, but with other music the differences stand out. Whats also difficult sometimes when you do hear a difference is determining which one you like better. But as far as do differences exist? Theres not even a question.
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post #105 of 540 Old 02-26-2008, 08:07 AM
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Summa, just running with your numbers, unless you do a blind, level matched comparison, how do you know if you're in the one third or the two thirds?

"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 #106 of 540 Old 02-26-2008, 08:07 AM
 
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Originally Posted by ssteel01 View Post

Although this is well in line with your history of audio schizophrenia....you should apologize to everyone on this site that has had to endure your countless haughty posts on how all CD players necessarily sound the same.

P.S. All CD players sound the same and if you spent more than $200 on that player, you're just throwing your money away and trying to convince yourself that your "audio jewelry" sounds better than any other CD player.

P.P.S. Annoying, isn't it?


Scott

Nah. Nice try, though. (Besides, it has not been ruled out that the integrated amp is responsible for 100% of the improvement.)
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post #107 of 540 Old 02-26-2008, 08:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Chu Gai View Post

Summa, just running with your numbers, unless you do a blind, level matched comparison, how do you know if you're in the one third or the two thirds?

I don't. All I can really say is that I've noticed differences - improvements and detractions - from the sound of my system when I've made changes and additions.
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post #108 of 540 Old 02-26-2008, 08:24 AM
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Originally Posted by mcnarus View Post

You are entitled to your opinion. But it has no basis in fact. "Placebo effect" is the audio equivalent of optical illusions, and everyone is susceptible.

That's simply not true at all. If that were true, the placebo effect would be completely useless, because there would be nothing to compare it to. We're not hard-wired to it as we are with optical illusions.
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post #109 of 540 Old 02-26-2008, 09:09 AM
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Chu Gai, PULLIAM, ncnarus, FMW, and other self-proclaimed experts,

A 3D, holographic, soundstage is not due to "placebo" effect, but the sound of a highly transparent system. If your system can't produce this, then I'm sorry to say your system is not up to scratch and you've got ways to go. And it also speaks volumes of your level of "expertise" in high-end audio.

Like I said, you don't need to take my word.

C N Machani
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post #110 of 540 Old 02-26-2008, 09:16 AM
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Originally Posted by machani View Post

Chu Gai, PULLIAM, ncnarus, FMW, and other self-proclaimed experts,

A 3D, holographic, soundstage is not due to "placebo" effect, but the sound of a highly transparent system. If your system can't produce this, then I'm sorry to say your system is not up to scratch and you've got ways to go. And it also speaks volumes of your level of "expertise" in high-end audio.

Like I said, you don't need to take my word.

I didn't say sound stage was due to placebo effect. Placebo effect would come into play when you are comparing two different components without controlling bias. Actually sound stage is due primarily to the recording venue and the way the recording is mixed. Secondarily it is affected by speaker systems and room acoustics. Input components have nothing to do with sound stage.

In my high end audiophile days I owned a system that cost $40,000 that included brands like Audio Research, B&W, VPI, Magnum Dynalab. Is that "up to scratch" enough for you?

I've been involved in consumer audio for 40 years and I've been a part of the industry as well as a part of the consuming public. I've written articles for audio magazines. Does that speak volumes about my lack of experience?

Tell me about your experience.
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post #111 of 540 Old 02-26-2008, 09:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by machani View Post

Chu Gai, PULLIAM, ncnarus, FMW, and other self-proclaimed experts,

A 3D, holographic, soundstage is not due to "placebo" effect, but the sound of a highly transparent system. If your system can't produce this, then I'm sorry to say your system is not up to scratch and you've got ways to go. And it also speaks volumes of your level of "expertise" in high-end audio.

Like I said, you don't need to take my word.

Honestly, that's pretty much my take on it, too. Putting together a very transparent system, and then taking the room out of the equation to the greatest degree feasible in my environment, differences in gear really became apparent. They may not be blow your doors off significant to others, but they are clearly discernible to me. I'd much rather they NOT be discernible, cause I would rather just spend less money on my gear and more money on media. I have no desire to have quality correlate with cost, yet I have to be honest with myself when I observe it.
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post #112 of 540 Old 02-26-2008, 09:27 AM
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That's simply not true at all. If that were true, the placebo effect would be completely useless, because there would be nothing to compare it to. We're not hard-wired to it as we are with optical illusions.

I would respectfully suggest that you trot down to your local college and take a course in perceptual psychology. You have a lot to learn.

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

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post #113 of 540 Old 02-26-2008, 09:31 AM
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Originally Posted by mcnarus View Post

I would respectfully suggest that you trot down to your local college and take a course in perceptual psychology. You have a lot to learn.

I"m a summa cum laude graduate in psychology. If something like the harvest moon illusion is an example of what you're referring to, you couldn't be more wrong. Optical illusions are nearly a universal phenomena. I'm sure they exist, but I have yet to meet anyone who hasn't experienced the harvest moon. It has more to do with physiology than it does psychology.

Your comparison of the placebo effect in audio to optical illusions is your own home grown construct.
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post #114 of 540 Old 02-26-2008, 09:35 AM
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A 3D, holographic, soundstage is not due to "placebo" effect, but the sound of a highly transparent system. If your system can't produce this, then I'm sorry to say your system is not up to scratch and you've got ways to go. And it also speaks volumes of your level of "expertise" in high-end audio.

Machani: Please scroll up to the top of this page. See in the left-hand corner, where it says AV? What's the word right next to that? Yes, it's "Science."

So here's some science about soundstage: It's a function of the recording itself, plus the interaction of your speakers with your room. It's not a function of your CD player. If you think you hear a difference in soundstage between two CD players, it's caused by something else. Might be placebo effect, although I suggested a difference in output levels as the cause. Try level-matched comparisons some time. It'll open your eyes--and ears.

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

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post #115 of 540 Old 02-26-2008, 09:52 AM
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I was down with all of this, until this:

See in the left-hand corner, where it says AV? What's the word right next to that? Yes, it's "Science."

It's a great website name, but there is about as much "science" in any of this as there is truth in politics or (fill in your own analogy here.)

This "hobby" (obsession?) is all about entertainment and is based on perception, likes, dislikes, and a hundred variables including source, equipment, environment etc etc.

It reminds me of standing in a museum watching people go ga-ga over some famous painting while I'm thinking my 6 year old coulda slapped some paint on canvas and produced the same shiite.

Argue and discuss all you want. Talk about sound compression and sampling rates and speaker design and amp architecture, but, science, well, I don't know about all that!

(BTW, you all know about the definition of a boat........a hole in the water where you throw money.)
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post #116 of 540 Old 02-26-2008, 09:53 AM
 
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My components look stunningly beautiful (even more so together than seperately), have an undeniable heaviness and solidity, and are operated by an equally good-looking and heavy remote that is a joy to use. They are also by far the most expensive components I have owned.
There is no denying that these factors effect my perception, and could arguably be responsible for the improved sound I hear (or think I hear.)
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post #117 of 540 Old 02-26-2008, 09:57 AM
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Originally Posted by zoney99 View Post

.

It reminds me of standing in a museum watching people go ga-ga over some famous painting while I'm thinking my 6 year old coulda slapped some paint on canvas and produced the same shiite.

lol, that's exactly how I feel a lot of the time...
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post #118 of 540 Old 02-26-2008, 09:58 AM
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There is no denying that these factors effect my perception, and could arguably be responsible for the improved sound I hear (or think I hear.)

I completely agree.
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post #119 of 540 Old 02-26-2008, 10:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Summa View Post

I"m a summa cum laude graduate in psychology. If something like the harvest moon illusion is an example of what you're referring to, you couldn't be more wrong. Optical illusions are nearly a universal phenomena. I'm sure they exist, but I have yet to meet anyone who hasn't experienced the harvest moon. It has more to do with physiology than it does psychology.

Your comparison of the placebo effect in audio to optical illusions is your own home grown construct.

I'm not a psychologist but I have spent countless hours doing bias controlled listening tests. Placebo effect might be the wrong term but it is the term we have been provided with by those who explain it to us. In the same way patients who are involved in drug tests have been known to cure themselves with placebos, so have audiophiles heard audible differences that turn out to be inaudible when biases are controlled. Countless hours. No kidding.

I've heard everything you describe without bias controlled listening tests. We all do. It is human psychology. Our brains process what our ears input to them. Do the bias controlled tests for yourself. It shouldn't be hard for someone with a science background. I know you didn't get a degree in psychology without a lot of lab work.
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post #120 of 540 Old 02-26-2008, 10:03 AM
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I"m a summa cum laude graduate in psychology.

Based on what you've written here, I find that hard to believe, but perhaps I've just misread what you're trying to say, and we're talking past each other. Non-specialists tend to use terms like "placebo effect" somewhat casually to refer to any form of perceptual bias. But surely you agree that perceptual bias (in various forms) exists, and that for a comparison to be meaningful such bias must be addressed? And when these biases are addressed, CD players and DACs generally turn out to be audibly indistinguishable, the occasional pathological design excepted.

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

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Closed Thread CD Players & Dedicated Music Transports

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