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Was a $1000 CD Player Better than a $150 one? My view. - Page 3

post #61 of 413
Quote:
Originally Posted by smitty View Post

Their experience (i.e., an observation) does indeed "logically" support their conclusion. It is just not irrefutable evidence, which is why some people don't accept it or find it persuasive (which is fine); hence, the reason the debate continues.

I'll have to disagree with you on that. There is no debate. I've been to other forums and they have the same pattern.


However, there is dismissal but not debate. Thus the same pattern continues to exist.
Quote:
Originally Posted by smitty View Post

Not gonna take the bait. Have a good day.
post #62 of 413
Heres the question as it exists in my mind.

What is the least complex device that would still have an impact on the actual sound quality that would be audible by at least 90% of all audio enthusiasts, assuming all factors that could mess up the test are actually accounted for.

I would list in order of complexity/difficulty in reproducing the signal like so:

1. Speakers/Room Acoustics (Almost inseparable)
2. Power Amp (Has to potentially put out a lot of power)
3. DACs (have to turn digital into analog, there are a lot of ways to do it and not every way is necessarily "the right way")
4. Pre amp (Deals with low level signals that are going to be amplified even more further down the line, so you need low noise and good stereo separation)
5. CD Transport (only has to read data off a disc and pass it along to the next stage.)
6. Signal (RCA) cables (Bad cables may be improperly shielded or may loosen up over time, though its not hard to build a "good" cable)
7. Speaker cables. (These are about the simplest required part of any audio system. If the resistance is low enough, you're all set. L and C are generally not factors, even in undersized wire).

Now, if you feel like any component should be higher or lower on the list, feel free to adjust that one component with a good explanation was to why you think so, but if you just totally throw out the list and write a new one without explaining why anything should be in a different place, that is the "dismissal, not debate" that diomania is referring to.

My hypothesis is that as you go down the list, it gets progressively more difficult to identify components by their sound AND ONLY their sound. (Which does mean the test has to be blind. If you identify the component by a trait other than sound, then you're not answering the question.)

I think most CD players, even the relatively inexpensive ones, are potentially indistinguishable unless the manufacturer has done a horrible job designing them, or else has intentionally inserted an undefeatable EQ that would change the sound.

I realize that I put DACs higher up on the list, but only because there are some bad DACs out there. I also think its pretty electronically simple to design a "good" DAC, its just that the odds of a very inexpensive component having an unsatisfactory DAC are fairly high.

An underpowered amp can definitely distort your sound, and not everyone can afford a properly powered amp. Speakers and room treatments have a huge overall effect on the sound.

So, to reiterate the basic question: Of what I listed, and including any other component you feel should be included in the list, what do you believe is the simplest component that can still audibly affect the sound quality?
post #63 of 413
I really think we need a DBT section on this forum so that all the constructive discussions regarding DBT method and testing device can take place in a single location. Often times the discussions are spread among many threads with many information repeated.
post #64 of 413
+1 to that, MoltenLava.
post #65 of 413
I fail to see the point. Who would post there?
post #66 of 413
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pitot Static View Post

in reproducing the signal like so:

1. Speakers/Room Acoustics (Almost inseparable)

They are very separable, but I agree with the order - #1

Quote:
2. Power Amp (Has to potentially put out a lot of power)

The good ones are just a big op amp.

However we have several other kinds of them that are made in such a way that they are pretty much guaranteed to cause random audible. These particular kinds are designed built to have audible distortion.

Quote:
3. DACs (have to turn digital into analog, there are a lot of ways to do it and not every way is necessarily "the right way")

Then you must put anything that has a DAC in it, like a surround receiver, a CD player, or a DVD/Blu ray player in this category.

Then you must put them down the list because DACs are among the most perfect and perfectable of all audio components, right after op amps.

Quote:
4. Pre amp (Deals with low level signals that are going to be amplified even more further down the line, so you need low noise and good stereo separation)

Noise only need be an issue if a phono preamp is involved.
A good line-level preamp is just an op amp and a volume control. Also, many systems can be assembled with no preamp at all - just a passive volume control.

Quote:
5. CD Transport (only has to read data off a disc and pass it along to the next stage.)

The only parts that have a chance of making an audible difference is the DAC and the output buffer op amp. The rest is basically digital and either works or does not work. Lump CD players with DAC.

Quote:
6. Signal (RCA) cables (Bad cables may be improperly shielded or may loosen up over time, though its not hard to build a "good" cable)

Actually, its hard to build a bad one. Generally, they are slam dunk audibly, unless physically broken. Since I do a lot of pro audio, I see a lot of broken cables.

Quote:
7. Speaker cables. (These are about the simplest required part of any audio system. If the resistance is low enough, you're all set. L and C are generally not factors, even in undersized wire).

Grossly undersized speaker wires have more potential to be
audible than undersized interconnects.

Quote:
My hypothesis is that as you go down the list, it gets progressively more difficult to identify components by their sound AND ONLY their sound. (Which does mean the test has to be blind. If you identify the component by a trait other than sound, then you're not answering the question.)

In a good system, the only interesting part of the list is the speakers and the room. They can be as tough as you want to stand up to. *Nobody* has them under prefect control, but the means for making them very good is well-known.

Quote:
I think most CD players, even the relatively inexpensive ones, are potentially indistinguishable unless the manufacturer has done a horrible job designing them, or else has intentionally inserted an undefeatable EQ that would change the sound.

Agreed. Also true for amps, preamps, DACs, and wires.

Quote:
I realize that I put DACs higher up on the list, but only because there are some bad DACs out there.

There's bad *everything* DACs used to be a far dicier item than they have become. There has been tremendous progress.

Quote:
An underpowered amp can definitely distort your sound, and not everyone can afford a properly powered amp.

One of the amps I listen to frequently is the 100 wpc stereo power amp in a $79 receiver. I did ABX its predecessor which was of a similar kind. I didn't bother with this one. The predecessor matched straight wire.

Very few home systems need more than 100 wpc. If you want more than 100 wpc, you might actually spend several $100 per channel. There's sort of a big jump at 100 wpc, more or less.

Quote:
Speakers and room treatments have a huge overall effect on the sound.

Totally agreed. Once you get rid of the more obvious screw-ups, this is where the big bang-fo-buck sound quality benefits are. There are a jilliion audio systems that would receive a major benefit if even $10% of their cost were invested in the room design and treatments.
post #67 of 413
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arnyk View Post

Listening tests that are *not* level-matched, or time-synched, can be clearly shown to be illusions. It is easy to prove that they are illusions if they are taken to be characteristic of the equipment being compared. The results are due to the absence of level-matching and/or time-synching.


Quote:
Originally Posted by MoltenLava View Post

Sometimes, but not always.

No, always. This is because the results are generally due to somethingo ther than the characteristics of the equipment. The results are almost always due to the absence of level matching and/or time-synching


Quote:


Placebo effect is probably the most popular strawman target on this forum.

A straw man is a misrepresentation of the other guy's position. The placebo effect is not a representation of anybody's position, but rather a possible explanation for results that were obtained. It seems difficult to make a connection between these two things.
post #68 of 413
Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

No, always. This is because the results are generally due to somethingo ther than the characteristics of the equipment. The results are almost always due to the absence of level matching and/or time-synching

Your third sentence contradicts with your first sentence.

Anyways, it looks like what you are saying is any perceived difference is usually due to the lack of proper control. I'm saying it could very well be, but not always.
post #69 of 413
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arnyk View Post

No, always. This is because the results are generally due to somethingo ther than the characteristics of the equipment. The results are almost always due to the absence of level matching and/or time-synching


Quote:
Originally Posted by MoltenLava View Post

Your third sentence contradicts with your first sentence.

Please explain.

Quote:


Anyways, it looks like what you are saying is any perceived difference is usually due to the lack of proper control.

Agreed.

Quote:


I'm saying it could very well be, but not always.

The chances of getting adequate level matching *and* time synching without doing something intentional and effective are about zero.

Admittedly, sometimes time-synching is automatic, such as comparisons of power amplifiers. But level matching rarely is.

Either error will almost always result in the perception of an audible difference.
post #70 of 413
Using a computer and a high end microphone, couldn't you monitor the audio coming from the speakers at a specific spot in the room and compare the recordings from both players on the screen to visually see the difference?
post #71 of 413
Quote:
Originally Posted by EVizzle View Post

Using a computer and a high end microphone, couldn't you monitor the audio coming from the speakers at a specific spot in the room and compare the recordings from both players on the screen to visually see the difference?

That's a good point however there is a belief out there that not everything we hear can be measured. I've done a good bit of search on that subject but haven't come across one yet. I would be interested in hearing from those who's found otherwise though.
post #72 of 413
If you're testing CD players, this is totally unnecessary. Just hook a two channel scope up to the output of the CD player. You'd get the same effect, regardless of whether you'd be able to make any meaningful conclusions out of that sort of test.

The crux of the matter is that some people think their perception is better than it actually is, and the refutation of that requires us to test their actual perceptive abilities. Its easily shown that different components can have different measurable specs like frequency response and distortion, but just because you can measure it doesn't mean you can hear it.

I don't think there are things we can "hear but can't measure" but I'm pretty sure there are things we can "measure but can't hear." Its not so easy to measure time effects that a room imparts on an audio signal, but its pretty easy to record the output of a CD player and observe it in amplitude vs time and amplitude vs frequency domains.
post #73 of 413
Quote:


there is a belief out there that not everything we hear can be measured.

In an age of electron microscopes, it's pretty unlikely that there's anything we can sense but not measure. The human body is not a precision calibration device.
post #74 of 413
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcnarus View Post

In an age of electron microscopes, it's pretty unlikely that there's anything we can sense but not measure. The human body is not a precision calibration device.

Ummm...
- fear
- paranormal/supernatural phenomena
- pheromones & scents

...to start with.
post #75 of 413
Quote:
Originally Posted by Asrale View Post

Ummm...
- fear
- paranormal/supernatural phenomena
- pheromones & scents

...to start with.

Sorry, that's not a strong case.
fear - polygraph test can reveal it. If not, there is fMRI.
paranormal/supernatural phenomena - ever watch Ghost Hunters on TV and the devices they use?
pheromones & scents - odor analyzer can reveal it. Miners use it to detect gases we can't smell.
post #76 of 413
Quote:


Ummm...
- fear
- paranormal/supernatural phenomena
- pheromones & scents

Fear isn't itself an external stimulus. Of course we can measure odor.

Paranormal/supernatural phenomena, OTOH, gets us back on-topic.
post #77 of 413
LOL. We've succeeded in scaring off the OP (again).

As much as everyone talks about it here, I doubt anyone DBT's two players they're considering buying - just to make sure they sound exactly the same and thus will save a few bucks going for the cheaper rig. They'll buy the player they can afford.

Hehe... another thread wasted.
post #78 of 413
Quote:


As much as everyone talks about it here, I doubt anyone DBT's two players they're considering buying - just to make sure they sound exactly the same and thus will save a few bucks going for the cheaper rig.

Well, of course not. But you don't have to. As long as you stay away from ultra-cheapo models and high-end exotica, you can be reasonably sure that anything you buy will be sonically transparent. Science is useful.
post #79 of 413
Quote:
Originally Posted by Christian View Post

LOL. We've succeeded in scaring off the OP (again).

As much as everyone talks about it here, I doubt anyone DBT's two players they're considering buying - just to make sure they sound exactly the same and thus will save a few bucks going for the cheaper rig. They'll buy the player they can afford.

Hehe... another thread wasted.

But isnt this whole forum about helping others maximize ones dollars to get some sort of sonic improvement. Also define afford. Anyone here can probably "afford" a $1000 CD player. The point is what improvement do you get from it. Right?

Regardless, If the OP had anything of value to add to the discussion he probably would have. My gut tells me he realized had had two players hooked up inconsistantly after he tried to pass one off as a legit upgrade. Or I guess it was more just justifying of a purchase perhaps? There is a lot of that going on around here lately. Talk to some of the guys who dropped $500 on speaker cable.

If I spent $1000 on something and realized it was no better sonically than its $150 replacement I suppose telling the whole forum would not be my first move.

Bottom line - What does a DBT have to do with anything at this point? This guy couldnt even hook up two players using the same method at least giving the forum a true shot at actually learning something.. That is the true waste.
post #80 of 413
Quote:
Originally Posted by Christian View Post

Hehe... another thread wasted.

Wasted? Quite the contrary. A lot of good information got posted.
post #81 of 413
You're back.

The last three posts? spot on.
post #82 of 413
Quote:
Originally Posted by geekhd View Post

Wasted? Quite the contrary. A lot of good information got posted.

No kidding. I learn a lot from threads like this one.

Thanks especially to arnyk and Pitot Static for their information and professional experience and expertise. Contrary to how some of the noise that gets posted represents threads like this one -- and even some of the stuff posters write to try to get a thread supposedly back on track (like in this one; the OP was doomed from the first post, given his flawed methodology) -- there is very good information in these threads (I've bookmarked this one for arnyk's posts alone).

We should all try to remember the main topic of these forums more often -- audio and video science. It's not AV quasi-religious-nonsense. There is good science explained in this thread.
post #83 of 413
Quote:
Originally Posted by Will2007 View Post

We should all try to remember the main topic of these forums more often -- audio and video science. It's not AV quasi-religious-nonsense. There is good science explained in this thread.

Good point. It is the title of this forum. I do have an open mind - engineer trained, after all.

I do move, however, to close this section of the forum permanently - after all, if there isn't audible difference, why discuss? Just a thought.
post #84 of 413
Well, its still ok to discuss the non-audible functionality of CD players and whatnot. Like disc capacity, reliability,ability to read damaged discs, multi format playback, and the like.
post #85 of 413
Quote:
Originally Posted by Christian View Post

I do move, however, to close this section of the forum permanently - after all, if there isn't audible difference, why discuss? Just a thought.

Good luck getting that to happen.
post #86 of 413
With the growth of digital solutions, whether it be your basic mp3 players & related system docking solutions or your "audiophile" approved Sonos/Squeezebox/Olive products, this forum will peter out on it's own soon enough. At the very least, we should rename it the "Dedicated Music Transports. Oh.. and CD Players too, if anyone still cares" forum.

Btw, anybody need a Marantz cd changer for cheap?
post #87 of 413
Quote:
With the growth of digital solutions, whether it be your basic mp3 players & related system docking solutions or your "audiophile" approved Sonos/Squeezebox/Olive products, this forum will peter out...

Um, given the growth of digital solutions, I don't see why this category should peter out. Quite the opposite. Arguments about sound quality might peter out. That'd be good thing, in my book.

"Digital Sources and Computer-based Audio" might better capture the field, however.
post #88 of 413
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcnarus View Post

Um, given the growth of digital solutions, I don't see why this category should peter out. Quite the opposite.

Agreed. The genre, even as stated is still very strong and dynamic.

Quote:


Arguments about sound quality might peter out. That'd be good thing, in my book.

Audio discussions have historically been very simplistic. Sound quality was pretty much all that was talked about.

That's very one-dimensional.

It's like saying that acceleration is the only relevant property of an automobile.

However, sound quality is the most important thing, and if there are sonic differences, then its still a very relevant discussion.

My objections to much of what's been said are related to the naive way that people have gone about evaluating sound quality.

Back in the 50s and 60s when much of the behavior of audiophiles were established, much gear did sound significantly different. Analog playback is subject to far more sound quality variations than modern digital gear.

On the one hand, the analog playback gear of the 60s and 70s could deliver high quality reproduction, if not totally transparent. On the other hand, it took nearly constant maintenance to deliver this reliably.

The promise of digital has always been "perfect sound forever", and while this is at the most detailed level sheerist hype and at best optimism, digital technology has taken a tremendous proportion of the cost and trouble out of delivering transparent reproduction.

Since the equipment is as a rule performing better and more reliably, reliable and relevant subjective evaluation has become far more difficult.

Behaviors that were adequate in the 60s are not reliable practices in the next millenium. This was pretty much established for audio professionals in the 1980s.

Because they have so much to lose economically, the high end audio press has not exactly been enthusiastic supporters of evaluation technologies that were accepted and generally agreed-upon for use by serious audio professionals by the end of the previous millenium.

This leaves us with a vast population of audio enthusiasts who are easily blind-sided if they come in contact with audio professionals in academia or commerce, outside of audio's high end.

Quote:


"Digital Sources and Computer-based Audio" might better capture the field, however.

"Dedicated Music Transports" seems to capture the idea, and is consistent with the current name.
post #89 of 413
Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

Because they have so much to lose economically, the high end audio press has not exactly been enthusiastic supporters of evaluation technologies that were accepted and generally agreed-upon for use by serious audio professionals by the end of the previous millenium.

If these products offered performance advantages of any significance, it would make perfect sense for manufacturers to invest in empirical SQ evaluation procedures and include results in marketing efforts, as such information would have great value in being highly persuasive. Dedicated enthusiasts would undoubtedly be swayed by any level of statistical significance, and happily invest disproportionate sums for incremental advantages verified by scientific means. The fact that there isn't a single CE which employs objective comparative perceptual testing as a prominent element of their marketing efforts, speaks volumes.
post #90 of 413
Thread Starter 
Holy #^%*, this thread is still alive! I took off for Rome for several weeks a few days after I wrote the OP. Sorry everyone, but I spent my time there touring Italy rather than reading avsforums. This is the first time I've touched the forum since the OP.

Anyway, after a brief glance at the responses it looks like there's basically what I expected: the perfectly valid (and interesting but in my view ultimately irrelevant) point that they're not hooked up consistently, as well as some of the typical "expensive components are voodoo" polemics.

At the same time, there's also some "good science explained in this thread" in some excellent posts, some of which provide good rationale for the conclusion that expensive components are not worth it and I thank respective posters for that. I look forward to reading the thread.

Ultimately, the "output" I'm looking for is a system that accurately depicts the sound of the instruments and performance space (as they were captured on disc), which is easy to listen to (i.e. I can listen to the sound emitted "comfortably" for hours), within the limits of a certain budget. I don't really care how I get there.

ETA: I remember how the Oppo sounded from the analog and wasn't too impressed. I'll re-do the Oppo analog and do the marantz digital sometime in the next few weeks and post my thoughts here. And for better or worse I can't conduct a blind-test because I can't get anyone to help - my friends will think I'm crazy for asking, it's not something you ask your houseguests, and as for the wife.......... well, maybe I could get her to help. But that would require at least a week's worth of doing housechores in return. No way.

Edited to add: "in some excellent posts, some of which provide good rationale for the conclusion that expensive components are not worth it"
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