Originally Posted by NIN74
No one says that there are no difference, but in most cases it is VERY small and sometimes you cannot even hear them.
But the mainreason people hear big difference is both placebo and different levels. You have to match the levels to 0,1 dB to know that what you're hearing is not because of different levels.
I can agree with that.
Aside from some very cheap and poor quality CD players, most CD players sound excellent.
It's not hard to get great CD playback. A couple hundred bucks or so and CD playback is solid. Differences beyond this level of performance (cost aside) are minor and subtle. But sure they are there. This is sticking with solid-state players.
People crying huge differences with CD players are exaggerating. They are like amplifiers, differences are extremely minor, and may often be not audible. Compared to the room, or the speakers, changes in CD players are dwarfed or even completely masked as to be inaudible. In many cases the differences may be so small that most or all of perceived difference is placebo.
That's my experience, and I think it's also a fair and honest and objectively defensible position. But DACs and analog stages do differ.
Just for my own disclosure and history, for instance I purchased an NAD cd player for my system to replace an old sony CD changer. I felt immediately it sounded better with analog and had more detail, but this was done sighted. However, I ended up using that same player as a transport (where I believe there are no audible differences) because I ended up slightly preferring the sound as decoded by my receiver which I felt is more detailed. The extra cost to purchase a nicer NAD cd player rather than other options was thus wasted. I've just moved to a Musical Fidelity CD player, which I now use analog out because it sounds superior to all of the above. I did this because my NAD is on the fritz. I did my own self-blinded test between the MF cd player as player and as transport (which should sound identical to the NAD as transport since it depends on the receiver's DACs entirely). As for methodology since I'm sure that will be assailed, my receiver remote has an analog/digital button to choose between A or D inputs, and the delay the same in switching from one to the other. I turn off the receiver's display and press the button a large number of times so that I don't know which one I'm listening to, and then A/B various material. On some material it's hard or impossible to tell any difference. On other material it's possible, but subtle. Every once in a while when I feel confident I hear difference that has been repeated and I decide which I prefer, I turn on the receiver display to see what it was I preferred. In this instance I preferred the analog output of the MF cd player. When I have done this in the past (many times) with my NAD cdplayer, I usually always preferred the receiver as the decoder rather than the NAD.
I haven't compared the NAD and MF analog a/b yet since I don't have a self-blinded way to do that, and I would need a helper. But I will get around to that at some point.
I'm sure the objectivists will decry my methods, and I'm sure the subjectivists will decry my assertion that all transports should sound the same.
But what's new. I guess that's the new purpose of the high-end forum.